Waco vs. Austin

Alico building in Waco, Texas

While these two Texas cities are separated by less than a two-hour drive, they offer their residents different lifestyles and access to outdoor opportunities. Let’s take a look at these two Texas cities to see how Austin and Waco compare against each other.

Waco vs. Austin Quick Stats

Waco Stats

  • Population Density: 1,560.7 people per square mile
  • Median Household Income: $40,349
  • Unemployment: 3.4%
  • Median Age: 34 years old
  • Average Commute: 20.1 minutes
  • Average Home Value: $225,963

Austin Stats

  • Population Density: 3006.4 people per square mile
  • Median Household Income: $75,752
  • Unemployment: 3%
  • Median Age: 35 years old
  • Average Commute: 27.4 minutes
  • Median Home Value: $578,000

Size & Location

Waco Geography & Population

The smaller northern city of Waco encompasses nearly 102 square miles, with a population density of 1,589 people per square mile. The topography surrounding Waco is relatively flat, with abundant water sources nearby. The Brazos River runs through the city’s heart, and nearby Lake Waco is an enjoyable recreational opportunity for Wacoans. The metro area surrounding the city is a touch larger, with a population of 280,428.

Austin Geography & Population

The vast topography and layout of the 326-square-mile capital city provides ample space for residents to enjoy the best of the Texas Hill Country. The population of the immediate city is shy of 1 million residents, resulting in a density of 3,006 people per square mile. Austin residents typically enjoy the rolling hills and nearby Colorado River, and access to the Gulf Coast is a mere three-hour drive.

Things To Do

Waco Culture & Entertainment

While Waco has numerous attributes to visit and enjoy, one of the most notorious is the Magnolia Market. Waco is home to the Texas power couple Chip and Joanna Gaines, best known for their HGTV’s Fixer Upper TV series. The Gaines built the two-block Magnolia Market shopping center with a bakery, garden shop, food trucks, and outdoor recreation space in 2015. Whether you live in Waco or visit, it is a must-see. In addition to the Magnolia Market, the Brazos River, and the 416-acre Cameron Park provide opportunities for kayaking, picnicking, and enjoying the outdoors.

Austin Culture & Entertainment

Whether you enjoy listening to blues, country, jazz, punk, or indie, the city of Austin is a music  lover’s dream. With over 250 music venues spread across the city, the city offers endless live music opportunities for a night out with friends. Not only does Austin have a thriving music scene, but the college sports scene has strong ties in the youthful city. The University of Texas at Austin is known for its notorious Texas Longhorns.

If music and sports are not at the top of your priority list, Austin offers plenty of unique art, shopping, nightlife, and outdoor recreation options that cater to individuals of all ages. A few worth mentioning are:

Industries & Local Economy

Waco Economy

Waco’s economy has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. In 2021, the small, diverse city saw a 45% growth in tourism. In addition to booming small businesses and a tourism-based economy, Waco’s primary industries revolve around health care, manufacturing, and Baylor University.

Austin Economy

The nearby southern city of Austin also has a strong economy and has undergone considerable growth in the last decade. Most recently, Austin ranks as the 13th best-performing city among the top 50 metros. Since 2020, the city has added nearly 100,000 jobs and growth of 8.6%. And it shows no signs of slowing down. The industries fueling Austin’s growth are primarily focused around large technology, defense, and pharmaceutical companies.

Waco vs. Austin Cost of Living

Even though the two Texas cities are only two hours apart, the cost of living varies significantly. Since Austin has become such a popular city in Texas with so much to do, it has a  64% higher cost of living than its northern neighbor Waco. While utilities and groceries share a relatively similar price, the significant differences lie in housing and transportation. 

How To Choose Between Austin vs. Waco?

Both cities offer great opportunities and benefits, making it hard to decide whether to move to Austin vs. Waco. It all comes down to your lifestyle preferences and what qualities or characteristics of a city you desire. Fortunately, you can always visit both cities, given their proximity to one another!

Life At Lakeside

If Austin 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. Schedule a tour today!

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