Texas’s state capital is attracting 184 new residents a day, which made the Austin-Round Rock metro area the fastest-growing in the U.S. in 2020. This city of 2.3 million was rated the best place to live by U.S. News and World Report in both 2017 and 2018, and its pleasant weather, booming tech scene, and diversifying economy are sure to keep drawing new residents to the Lone Star State.
Many of these newcomers are refugees from the Bay Area, as companies like Oracle and Tesla, which are both relocating their headquarters from to Austin, see the benefits of the low taxes and pro-business environment that is part of the culture of Texas.
Housing market is on a tear
- The median home price in the Austin-
- Homes are spending an average of just three weeks on the market, down from more than six.
- Rents are up as well. As of July, they were up 11.9 percent from the year before.
- Rent increases beat the national average of an 8.4 percent rise and the state average climb of 7.9 percent.
“The metro area offers great promise for investors, if outside the city proper,” says Wade Shoop, a Texas real estate broker with Mynd, who says areas north of the city proper will prosper from the attractions that are nearby, including the Q2 Stadium, home to the Austin FC, a new Major League Soccer team, and the Round Rock Express, a minor league baseball team. Another asset in the area is Domain, a mixed-use development that hosts companies like IBM, VRBO and Indeed.
Shoop picked out five promising areas for those aspiring to invest in Austin.
“The big news in the Austin area right now, aside from the $1.1 billion Tesla gigafactory and the $1 billion Apple campus, is the likely coming of an enormous Samsung plant,” says Shoop.
Samsung has a huge manufacturing facility in Austin already, and the Korean electronics multinational is on the verge of sealing a deal to build a $17 billion semiconductor plant in Taylor, which is about 30 miles east of Round Rock. (Yes, that’s billion with a B.) The plant could be as big as 6 million square feet and bring 1,800 jobs, not to mention the 10,000 construction jobs created to build it.
“It will totally change that area,” says Shoop.
“Samsung is moving a lot of its chip manufacturing out of China in order to diversify,” says Shoop. “This will really affect the Round Rock and Georgetown area, north of Austin.”
City and county leaders are all for it, and Texas Beer Company founder Ian Davis took part in a meeting of local leaders, saying it would be a “shot in the arm to existing local businesses.”
Davis promised to create a pale ale dedicated to Samsung if it set up shop here, according to local news outlet KXAN. Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell told KXAN that it would be Texas’s largest economic development project and the “largest economic development project with foreign investment ever in the United States.”
- Average median sale prices of homes in Taylor are already on their way up, says the Austin Board of Realtors.
- Median home value, August 2021, per Zillow: $303,129
- Increase year over year: 44.4 percent
- Median days on market, April 2021, per realtor.com: 46, down from 143 one year prior
2. Cedar Park
Fast-growing Cedar Park has plenty of amenities, like the HEB Center at Cedar Park, which hosts everything from rap concerts to rodeos, as well as the Texas Stars, an minor league affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Its population went from about 49,000 in 2010 to more than 77,000 in the 2020 Census.
Ensuring continuing growth are the new $1 billion, 133-acre north Austin Apple campus, which will start off with 5,000 employees next year (with more to come). The first phase of construction is set to be finished by the end of 2022.
“This area might look on a map like it’s the middle of nowhere, but it’s just 20 minutes to the Apple campus,” says Shoop. Two major roads, the I-183 and the Ronald Reagan Drive, run through Cedar Park, and the Apple campus is on the latter (also known as Parmer Lane).
- Median home value, August 2021, per Zillow: $529,605
- Increase year over year: 50.6 percent
- Median days on market, August, per realtor.com: 40, down from 42 year over year
3. Liberty Hill
Liberty Hill has seen explosive growth since the 2010 Census, when its population was just 967; it now stands at just under 4,000. And there’s lots of growth to come, says Shoop. It’s about 35 miles west of the massive Samsung semiconductor plant that’s likely about to descend on Taylor, and some 40 miles north of Austin proper.
It’s also less than 20 miles northwest of the in-progress $1 billion Apple campus in north Austin. As for amenities, it’s the same distance from the 8,700-seat HEB Center at Cedar Park, where locals check out events from rock concerts to hockey games.
- Median home value, August 2021, per Zillow: $514,264
- Increase year over year: 50.8 percent
- Median time on market, August 2021, per realtor.com: 42 days, down from 44 one year prior
Buda sits just between Austin and San Marcos, bordering the major I-35 highway.
“There has been tremendous growth here,” says Shoop. Growth in this bedroom community has mostly been driven by service industries like medical services, retail, and entertainment. The population, which currently stands at just over 15,000, more than doubled since the 2010 Census. It’s only about 15 miles south of Austin proper.
“Amazon has a couple of large warehouse facilities there, there are good schools, and with the opening of the State Highway 45, just to the north, getting from there to downtown Austin is no longer a trek on I35,” says Shoop.
- Median home value, August 2021, per Zillow: $427,817
- Increase year over year: 44.8 percent
- Median days on market, August 2021, per realtor.com: 36, down from 93 one year prior
Bastrop is growing steadily, from nearly 58,000 in 2010 to upward of 84,500 in 2020. It’s just 25 minutes away from the Tesla gigafactory, only 20 minutes from the airport, and has plenty of good schools, according to Shoop. It is about 30 miles east of downtown Austin.
“It’s right near Austin but really has a small-town feel,” he says, “with a cute little downtown area. There’s recently been a lot more new construction and development around Bastrop. For people who work on the south side, this could be a better option for a small town feel than some neighborhoods in the north.”
- Median home value: $321,089
- Increase year over year: 27.3 percent
- Median time on market, January 2021, per realtor.com: 74, down from 175 one year prior
- Median sale price was $400,000 in September, according to Redfin
- Increase year over year 41.8 percent
- Median days on market, per realtor.com: 38, down from 53 one year prior