Look around Austin these days and you’ll see company names that used to be reserved for Silicon Valley. But, tech giants aren’t the only ones looking to Austin for a new home, so, too, are residents. So for everyone debating between the capital of tech and the capital of live music, let’s look at San Jose vs. Austin and see how the cost of living, culture, and outdoor recreation options compare.
Austin Vs. San Jose Quick Stats
San Jose Stats:
- Population Density: 5684.69 people per square mile
- Median Household Income: $125,075
- Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
- Median Age: 37.1 years old
- Average Commute: 29.4 minutes
- Median Home Value: $1.1 million
- Population Density: 3006.4 people per square mile
- Median Household Income: $75,752
- Unemployment Rate: 3%
- Median Age: 35 years old
- Average Commute: 24.5 minutes
- Median Home Value: $572,500
Cost of Living San Jose vs. Austin
As shown above, some significant differences set these two cities apart. For starters, the median home value is nearly double in San Jose compared to Austin. If you’re looking to move and purchase a home in San Jose, experts say it will cost you 171.9% more than in Austin.
In addition to increased housing costs in San Jose, expect to pay more for groceries, transportation, and health care. While the cost of utilities are slightly higher in Austin—gotta pump the AC in those summer months—it is minimal when comparing everything else. Overall, living in San Jose is 68.1% more expensive than living in Austin.
Austin vs. San Jose Size & Location
San Jose Geography & Population
The city of San Jose is the third most populated in California, behind Los Angeles and San Diego. The 181 square mile city encompasses a population of over 1 million people, making it the tenth largest in the U.S., one spot ahead of Austin. An hour east of “Surf City USA”—Santa Cruz, California—San Jose has the advantage of easy day trips to the Pacific Ocean or enjoying the hikes offered in the Santa Cruz Mountains which stand between the two cities.
Austin Geography & Population
While the Texan capital isn’t near an ocean or mountains like San Jose, Austin lies amongst the gorgeous Texas Hill Country. With rolling hills and the picturesque Colorado River, the 326 square mile city provides plenty of opportunity to explore the Texas countryside and the vast network of parks and green space. Austin is undoubtedly more spacious, with nearly double the square footage for its 1 million residents.
Austin vs. San Jose Things To Do
San Jose Culture & Entertainment
While San Jose is known as the center of the tech world, the city is remarkably diverse and provides plenty of entertainment and cultural opportunities. If you’re interested in exploring San Jose’s premier location for work and play, check out Santana Row. This hub for innovation offers luxury rentals, private condos, trendy restaurants, and 50 different stores for shopping.
If you’re a history buff and enjoy a little mystery, check out the historical Winchester Mystery House to take a guided tour and ponder the spookiness that is the ‘staircase to nowhere.’ Be sure to continue your cultural exploration with a visit to Japantown. Following the settlement of Japanese immigrants in the late 1880s, the Santa Clara Valley remains to this day, immensely rich in Japanese culture. Alongside LA and San Francisco, San Jose is one of only three US cities that still has an intact Japantown. Located just blocks from downtown, J-Town is one of the best places for authentic, unpretentious dining experiences and often hosts a bevy of cultural events and festivities.
Visitors and residents looking for things to do in San Jose can also enjoy:
- San Pedro Square
- Sports games: 49ers of the NFL play in neighboring Santa Clara, while the Sharks (NHL) call the SAP Center home and the Earthquakes (MLS) play at PayPal Park in San Jose proper.
- Los Gatos Creek Trail
- The Tech Interactive Museum
Austin Culture & Entertainment
Austin’s culture is rooted in music and creativity. As a result, the vibrant capital city is recognized as the Live Music Capital of the World,and for a good reason. The city has over 250 music venues and offers live music nearly 365 days a year. In addition to live music, the city is nestled along the Colorado River and the Texas Hill Country, providing limitless opportunities for kayaking, swimming, and winery tours.
Visitors and residents looking for things to do in Austin can also enjoy:
- Waterloo Records, Austin’s largest music store
- Zilker Park
- Paramount Theater
- Mount Bonnel
Austin vs. San Jose Industries & Local Economy
San Jose Economy
The region of California surrounding San Fransico and San Jose is considered a global center for innovation, startups, and big tech. Large company headquarters in Silicon Valley include Adobe, Apple, Google, Meta, Cisco Systems, IBM, among many others. In 2018, San Jose had a GDP of $1.03 trillion, due to the high concentration of these companies. San Jose has the most millionaires and billionaires in the U.S. per capita.
Similar to San Jose, Austin’s economy has dramatically expanded in the recent decade. While new companies are moving into the capital city, industry revolves around technology and defense. Major companies headquartered in Austin include:
- Whole Foods
Austin is also home to major branches of companies like:
With the title of Live Music Capital of the World and a reputation for a great night on the town, the tourism business has also grown in recent years. This has helped fuel small businesses like boutique shops and restaurants and has allowed for the growth of already big-ticket events in Austin like SXSW. Since 2020, Austin has added nearly 100,000 new jobs, helping it rank as the 13th best-performing city among the top 50 metros for job growth.
How to choose between Austin vs. San Jose?
Despite sharing similarities in population size and economic growth, these two cities offer their residents different lifestyles. If you’re itching to be close to the coast and work in Silicon Valley, San Jose may be the city for you. But Austin is ideal if you enjoy great music, lakeside views, and a more affordable cost of living–who doesn’t?
Life at Lakeside
If Texas culture is calling your name, then contact Lakeside at Tessera to find your dream home! Lakeside offers some of the best outdoor recreation amenities and opportunities in the Texas Hill Country region. Contact our office today.