Are you torn between San Francisco and Austin as your new potential home? Both cities have their own unique charm, making it difficult to decide which one to choose. Here, we will compare and contrast the two cities to help you make an informed decision. While there always seems to be a dose of Texas vs. California rivalry, the two cities have similarities like a laid-back lifestyle, a reputation for “hippiness”, and a booming tech sector that is quickly changing the landscape of both Austin and San Francisco. But when it comes to San Francisco vs. Austin there are a few crucial differentiators to help make your decision whether that’s population density, access to the coats or home values.
San Francisco vs. Austin Quick Stats
San Francisco Stats
- Population Density: 18,846 people per square mile
- Median Household Income: $126,187
- Unemployment Rate: 2%
- Median Age: 38 years old
- Average Commute: 30 minutes
- Median Home Value: $1,277,409
- Population Density: 3,006 people per square mile
- Median Household Income: $75,752
- Unemployment Rate: 3%
- Median Age: 35 years old
- Average Commute: 25 minutes
- Median Home Value: $572,500
Cost of Living in San Francisco vs. Austin
San Francisco is known for being one of the most expensive cities in the United States, and its cost of living is considerably higher than Austin. Housing costs are one of the biggest factors contributing to this disparity, with the median home price in San Francisco being more than double the cost of a home in Austin.
Additionally, everyday expenses like groceries, dining out, and transportation are also higher in San Francisco. That being said, salaries in San Francisco are also typically higher, especially in the tech industry, which is a significant employer in the city.
San Francisco vs. Austin Geography & Location
San Francisco Geography & Location
Situated on a hilly peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay San Francisco has a picturesque geography worthy of endless postcards and family group text updates for once you move.
San Francisco covers an area of approximately 47 square miles and has a population of around 880,000 people, making it the fourth-most populous city in California. The city is known for its unpredictable climate, as temperatures rarely exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but it is just as likely to be foggy and chilly, even during the summer months. So much so that San Francisco’s fog has its own Instagram account and nickname (Karl the Fog).
Just remember the quote often associated with Mark Twain which goes “The coldest winter I ever spent, was a summer in San Francisco.”
Austin Geography & Location
Located in the central region of Texas, Austin rests on the banks of the Colorado River. Rolling hills, green spaces, and lakes define its terrain.
With a population of around 1 million people, Austin is the 11th most populous city in the United States and has experienced significant growth in recent years, fueled in part by a thriving tech industry, an affordable cost of living, and a high quality of life. This booming location is considered to be a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and mild winters.
San Francisco vs Austin Things to Do
San Francisco Culture & Entertainment
San Francisco offers an array of activities for locals and tourists alike. For those interested in the arts, the city boasts numerous museums, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young Museum, showcasing a diverse range of contemporary and classical art.
San Francisco has some of the most iconic landmarks in the country like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Alcatraz Island, whose dark past still permeates over tourists who pay the old prison a visit. The city is also a formation of neighborhoods that range from upscale to gritty to strange to classically California chill. Walking from one to the other is worth the adventure—and worth the treks up San Franisco’s hills.
Austin Culture & Entertainment
Austin, Texas, is widely known for its lively music scene, earning the title of “Live Music Capital of the World.” Iconic venues such as the Continental Club, the Cactus Cafe, and the famous Stubbs BBQ attract both local and international acts. Austin is also home to several annual festivals such as South by Southwest (SXSW), Austin City Limits, and the Urban Music Festival. These events draw music lovers worldwide, further solidifying the city’s reputation as a hub for music and entertainment.
Beyond music, Austin also offers plenty of outdoor activities. The city boasts several parks and nature preserves, such as the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Lady Bird Lake, and Zilker Park, where locals and tourists can go hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, or simply enjoy a picnic with family and friends.
San Fransisco vs. Austin Industries & Local Economy
San Francisco Economy
San Francisco is home to some of the world’s largest and most influential technology companies, including Salesforce, Twitter, and Uber. The city’s financial district, known as the “Wall Street of the West,” houses numerous banks, venture capital firms, and investment companies, making it a hub for finance and business.
Tourism is another vital industry in San Francisco, attracting millions of visitors annually who come to experience the city famous for the panoramic views and its history of embracing all sorts of counter culture.
In recent years, Austin has experienced significant growth in the tech industry, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the United States. The city’s favorable business climate, reasonable cost of living, and quality of life have attracted many startups and established tech companies, leading to the creation of thousands of jobs and a surge in economic activity. Companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon have opened offices in Austin, while other tech companies like Dell, IBM, and Apple have long-standing roots in the city.
How to Choose Between San Francisco vs. Austin
Both cities have thriving cultures and booming economies, so how do you choose where to plant your roots? Ultimately, the decision of which city to call home will depend on individual preferences and priorities. Those who are drawn to San Francisco may value the city’s lifestyle, cultural diversity, and opportunities in the tech industry, while those who prefer a more laid-back atmosphere may find Austin’s vibrant music scene, outdoor activities, and growing job market more appealing.
Life at Lakeside
If the Lone Star State is calling your name, send us a message. We’re excited to help you find your dream home on Lake Travis.