Sacramento vs. Austin

People having picnics in a green park next to downtown Austin, Texas

Despite both being capitals of their state, Sacramento and Austin don’t appear to have much in common on the surface. But is there more than meets the eye? Let’s take a deeper look at these two cities and see how they compare.

Location, Location, Location

Sacramento, located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River, is settled within the Sacramento Valley just over an hour and a half northeast of San Francisco and two hours southwest of Lake Tahoe. Sacramento appears to be a little fish in a big pond, often overlooked by more popular cities in California, such as Los Angeles and San Diego. The close proximity Sacramento has to the mountains and the beach means residents can spontaneously embark on an adventure whenever the mood strikes.

Austin, located in the center of Texas, is one of the four major metropolitan areas in the state. Nestled in the Hill Country, Austin is surrounded by charming small towns such as Dripping Springs, Lampasas, and Fredericksburg. Bodies of water such as Lake Travis and Lady Bird Lake, both within Austin city limits, offer endless opportunities for fun in the sun.

Sports Teams

Both cities are home to their own sports teams. In Sacramento, the Sacramento Kings rally the hearts of residents. The Kings originated in 1923 as the Rochester Royals and have made their home in a number of cities including Cincinnati, Kansas City, and finally Sacramento in 1985. Fans can catch the Kings playing throughout the season at Golden 1 Arena. 

In addition to the Kings, Sacramento is home to two universities – U.C. Davis and Sacramento State, both of which field over 21 varsity teams. Sacramento has frequently hosted the NCAA Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship as well as the 1st and 2nd rounds of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship.

At the center of Austin is the University of Texas, a Division I school and member of the Big 12. The Longhorns boast of strong sports teams all around and their football program is historically in the top five most winning teams, claiming four Division I-A national championships and 32 conference championships. Longhorn baseball is a powerhouse, with the most winning games in college baseball history, both in terms of total wins and win percentage. The University is located downtown in the heart of Austin, allowing fans to easily cheer on the Longhorns any given day.

Cost of Living

When considering the cost of living, Sacramento and Austin are neck and neck. Where one may be slightly lower in one area, the other is slightly lower in another. In 2021 the average cost of a week of groceries for a family of four is 8.4% lower in Sacramento, whereas the cost of gas in Sacramento is an average of $1 more.

The two places where there is the largest difference are minimum wage and housing costs. California’s minimum wage is $14/hour, almost twice as much as Texas’s minimum wage at $7.25/hour. The median cost of homes in Sacramento is around $407K, compared to the median cost of homes in Austin at $475K, while both have an average price per square foot in the $270s.  

The difficult aspect of the housing market in both cities though is the housing demand. In Austin, housing demands are skyrocketing resulting in an inflated housing market. Sacramento doesn’t fare much better with most homes selling in under 9 days, 55 days quicker than the national average. For every home that sells in Sacramento, it receives an average of 5 offers.

Key Industries

Government and health care are the two main industries in Sacramento. UC Davis Medical Center and Sutter Medical Center employ a large number of residents. Leisure and hospitality are other industries that make up a large portion of the job market due to Sacramento’s ability to host large conventions. Other growing business sectors are clean technology, education, and agriculture.

A large portion of Austin’s job market consists of jobs in government, tech, education, and tourism. Because Austin is the state capital, large government agencies such as the Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Education Agency operate out of Austin. Within the tech industries, notable companies such as Dell, Amazon, and Facebook all call Austin home making it the best place to be if you live in Texas and work in tech, manufacturing, or warehousing.

So Which City Is Best?

That’s a great question! Both cities offer pros and cons and depending on what you are looking for, you could find a good quality of life in either city.

Lakeside at TesseraIf you are looking to live in Austin, Lakeside in Lago Vista, Texas (just outside Austin) is the ideal location to make your home. Contact us today to find your dream home and explore all Lakeside has to offer.


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