Phoenix vs. Austin

City comparison of Phoenix vs. Austin.

Considering a move? When comparing Austin, TX vs. Phoenix, AZ both cities offer wonderful year-round climates, strong job markets, and plenty of outdoor recreation. Let’s take a closer look at how these two capital cities compare.

Beautiful Scenery

Both cities are built among natural beauty. The greater Phoenix area sprawls over 2,000 square miles and intersects with stunning desert mountains. Residents and visitors have access to amazing hiking and biking with mountains located on every side. The Salt River runs through the city, providing ample kayaking opportunities. 

Austin is built among the Texas Hill Country. A short drive south or west and you’ll encounter rolling hills, rocky bluffs, and scenic overlooks. The city is surrounded by quaint towns such as Wimberley, Blanco, and Fredericksburg all offering wineries, bodies of water for floating or paddling, and mom and pop shops. The Colorado River runs through Austin, flowing into tributaries around the city such as Town Lake and Lake Travis. 

Cost of Living

When comparing the cost of living between the two cities, Phoenix is considerably less expensive. In Phoenix, the state income tax ranges between 2.5% – 4.5% while Texas residents don’t pay state income taxes. However, the lack of income tax isn’t enough to offset Austin’s inflated housing costs. Phoenix’s median home sales price is around $380k compared to Austin’s median of $575k. Currently, Austin has one of the strongest housing markets in the nation, as housing costs continue to climb and inventory remains low.


Tourism is one of the main industries in both cities. Over 46 million people fly through the Phoenix airport each year, using the city as a launch point for their Arizona adventures. In 2019, spending by visitors impacted more than 55,00 jobs and brought in over $6 billion for the city of Phoenix. In Austin, South by Southwest and Austin City Limits are responsible for a large portion of tourism. Cumulatively the city brought in just over $3 billion in tourism in 2019 and impacted over 37,000 jobs. 

Healthcare, education, and government also make up a large portion of the economy in both cities. Banner Health in Phoenix is one of the city’s largest employers, as is Dignity Health and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Arizona State in Tempe employs over 12,000 residents and the city of Phoenix employs over 50,000 residents in government positions.

Austin is home to 18 full-fledged colleges, the largest and most well-known being the University of Texas, one of the largest employers in the greater Austin area. Government entities such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employ over 10,000 residents each.

Phoenix has a robust financial industry with employers such as American Express, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Bank of America. While Austin’s financial sector isn’t as robust as that of Phoenix, the city is considered a tech hub with major players such as Oracle, Facebook, Tesla, and Amazon all calling Austin home.

Out and About

Due to their scenic beauty and pleasant climates, both cities attract people year-round with outdoor activities. In Phoenix, the Phoenix Mountains Preserve includes Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak providing ample hiking and biking opportunities. For those looking to get a better idea of the wide array of plants the area offers, head to the Desert Botanical Garden. Spanning over 140 acres, it showcases the largest collection of arid plants in the country. Phoenix is also a major golf destination with over 200 courses throughout the area. Looking to escape the heat? Museums such as The Heard, which features American Indian Art, and the Musical Instrument Museum are both popular attractions.

Within Austin, there seems to be a park, hiking trail, or swimming hole on every corner. Austin’s most frequented park, Zilker Park, sits just across the river from downtown Austin. Zilker Park is home to some of the city’s most beloved attractions – Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Park Disc Golf Course, and the Zilker Park Botanical Gardens. The Barton Creek Greenbelt, whose trailhead is located within Zilker Park, weaves over 12 miles of trails through the city where residents can enjoy hiking, biking, bouldering, or swimming. Austin is also home to world-class museums such as the Bullock Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art, or the Contemporary Austin. And with over 250 music venues in the city, residents can catch a live show any night of the week.

And The Winner Is…

Both cities would be a great place to call home, offering strong economies, plenty to do, and beautiful, sunny weather. All things considered, you can’t go wrong with a move to either city.

Lakeside at Tessera

When weighing a move to Austin, Lakeside at Tessera in Lago Vista promises a quiet and peaceful atmosphere, while still being close to all the modern conveniences Austin offers. Contact us today for more info about what our Lake Travis new home community has in store!

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