Austin is known for a lot of things: being a tech hub, having a killer music scene, and, well, weirdness. But in addition to drawing young tech entrepreneurs, it's proven itself a great place to raise a family. In fact, the Eanes Independent School District was recently ranked the second-best school district in the nation by Niche, earning an overall grade of A+! Austin also gets an honorable mention for its killer food scene – and not just for those looking for barbecue. Austin is home to some amazing Tex Mex joints, food trucks, and even vegetarian restaurants, landing the city a spot on lists of best places to dine out by both City Observatory and WalletHub.
Austin has also long been on the map for telling the rest of us what's cool, starting with the founding of South by Southwest in 1987. What began as a music festival now includes film and interactive (our favorite). But Austin's tech roots actually stretch back further.
"Since the early 1970s, Austin [has been] one of the technology hubs in the US," says Eric Klasson, CEO and Co-Founder of Snaptrends, a location-based social insights company. "While you have tech giants like National Instruments here, we also have a huge number of startups that are incubated in Austin."
So how robust is Austin's tech scene? According to a report by Forbes, Austin was America's fastest-growing city last year, and much of that growth was fueled by tech. It added 53,118 tech industry jobs in 2014 for an overall tech growth of 73.9 percent. Meanwhile, 512Tech reported this year that there are more than 5,400 technology companies in the Austin metro area, employing roughly 115,000 tech workers, or nearly six percent of the area's population.
One way for techpreneurs to get engaged in the local scene is the Austin Technology Council, which helps connect people and companies in the tech space. Meetups like Intro to the Austin Tech Startup Scene and Startup Grind Austin are other good ways to get connected. If you don't have the stamina (or budget) for SXSW, there's also Austin Startup Week, which we highly recommend combining with the Austin Startup Crawl. If you'd rather not rub elbows with other techies, you can stay in the loop with Silicon Hills News.
Bottom line: Austin is a cool city with a friendly, laidback atmosphere.
"People wear shorts and flip flops to work, and in many places dogs are welcome at offices, so it's a very relaxed atmosphere, where you can get some really creative people doing some amazing stuff," says Klasson. "Tech employment right now is at 100 percent. So if you want to be in tech and you have a solid résumé, even if it's only a couple of years' experience, you can get a job here."