Orlando vs. Austin
Orlando and Austin are both fabulous southern towns, offering year-round warm weather, plenty of recreation, and no state income tax. Whether you are considering a move or just looking for a fun place to visit, it’s helpful to know the area before you arrive.
Orlando has three very different vibes. If you say you are visiting Orlando you could mean you are visiting the theme parks, which is what most people think of when they think of Orlando. You could be visiting the residential area of Orlando, built in the 1920s as part of the “City Beautiful” movement featuring lakefront bungalows and canopy-lined streets. Or you could be visiting Downtown Orlando, full of the hustle and bustle of businesses, nightclubs, and restaurants. No matter which part you are visiting, each brings pride to its residents and contributes to the city’s economy.
Austin has a more laid-back vibe. The city is full of eclectic people taking pride in their individualism and creative abilities. The city offers residents many different living options from family-suburbs to a densely packed downtown. Sixth street, the University of Austin, and the state capitol are all located downtown, each bringing a separate set of crowds. Much of the city lies along the banks of the Colorado River providing residents with plenty of outdoor recreation. Year after year, Austin is recognized as one of the best places in the country to live and retire.
Orlando is the largest city in the state, with a population of 2.4 million in the greater Orlando area which includes the towns of Kissimmee and Sanford. Orlando proper has 280,000 residents and is 113 square miles.
Austin has a population of over 2 million in the greater Austin area and Austin proper has over 1 million residents. Austin is over twice the size of Orlando at 272 square miles.
Orlando has an abundance of outdoor recreational activities available to residents. Wekiva Island is the place to be if you want to paddleboard, kayak, or canoe. Visitors can rent a cabana and enjoy a day lounging in the sun. Orlando has earned the nickname “The Beautiful City” due in part to the many parks scattered throughout the city. The Orlando Urban Trail weaves through many of these parks, including Mead Gardens and Loch Haven Park. For those looking for something more low-key, pack a dinner and participate in one of Orlando’s outdoor movie nights. The city is a hotspot for outdoor movies where venues such as Leu Gardens show popular flicks under a clear night sky.
Austin is home to scenic beauties located in the heart of the city. On a sunny day, there is no better place to be than Lady Bird Lake. Here, visitors can rent paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks and head for the water as they soak up the sun. The Barton Creek Greenbelt weaves over 12 miles of trails through the city where residents can enjoy hiking, biking, bouldering, or swimming. At the trailhead is Zilker Park, which spans over 350 acres and is considered “Austin’s most-loved park”. While in the park, take a dip in Barton Springs Pool. Fed from underground springs with average temperatures between 60 – 70 degrees, the pool provides year-round swimming for residents to enjoy.
While Walt Disney is the largest employer in the Orlando area, the city has a dynamic and diversified economy that has seen enormous growth over the years. Some of the most important sectors are technology, aviation and aerospace, and education. Orlando has been on the cutting edge of aviation and aerospace for decades as the flight training industry was drawn to the city’s pleasant climate. Now, large companies such as Signature Air Services and Jet Blue are among the city’s top employers. Much of the area’s technology sector is represented through the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training.
Austin’s varied economy rests on the backs of industries such as technology, government, and higher education. Facebook, Oracle, Amazon, and Google all have offices here making Austin a hub for those working in software, technology, and warehousing. Large government entities such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employ over 10,000 residents each. The University of Texas, headquartered in downtown Austin, is the largest university system in Texas and one of the largest employers in the area.
So who wins?
Both Orlando and Austin are great cities. It will all come down to what you are looking for and what area of the country you want to reside in. Either way, you can’t lose.