Living in Phoenix vs Living in Austin

“Should I live in Austin or Phoenix?” This is a question many people have been asking themselves recently. As both cities grow exponentially, it’s clear that for a myriad of reasons, Americans are heading to the Valley of the Sun and Keeping Austin Weird. But what do both of these southwestern cities have to offer prospective residents? Is it more expensive to live in Austin than Phoenix? Is there plenty to do in either city? Is it easier to raise a family in Phoenix or Austin? Questions abound when you consider uprooting your life and heading across the county, so let’s look at a breakdown of living in Phoenix vs. living in Austin.


Differences between Austin TX and Phoenix AZ

Economy and Job Opportunity:

Phoenix is significantly bigger than Austin, and with that just comes more employment opportunity via sheer numbers. Phoenix has been the fastest growing American city for the past decade, and all of those people are finding jobs there.

Austin, however, has had a longstanding reputation for being one of America’s great boomtowns, with a bustling and thriving economy since its establishment. Especially if you work in the restaurant or bar industry, Austin will offer plenty of employment opportunities with its great nightlife and dining scene. Of course, you can find a job in nearly any field in Austin, but because it’s a smaller town than Phoenix, you can expect competition.

There is job competition in Phoenix as well, there are just more jobs to go around. As more and more people are working from home, the job opportunities in both cities are likely to shift, so don’t assume you won’t be able to find a job in either if you do a quick Google search of the city’s top employers. If you are serious about moving to either Austin or Phoenix and you are willing to be a little flexible in your job hunt, you are likely to find work in either place.

interview setting, Living in Phoenix versus Austin

Outdoor Recreation:

Both Phoenix and Austin offer an array of outdoor activities for those who want to get out and about in the temperate climate of either city. The terrain looks slightly different, so while both have plenty to do, your personal preferences may be the deciding factor in which has the most to offer. Without inclement winters, both of these cities provide nearly year round access to outdoor activities. But in the summer, expect it to be too hot in both places to do much during the middle of the day, unless you are cooling off in the water.

Speaking of water, Austin has more to offer the water enthusiast, when it comes to boating, kayaking, or even just jumping into creeks and swimming holes on a hot summer day. It also feels cooler in Austin (one, because it’s not quite as hot as Phoenix) but two, because Austin is much more lush and green than Phoenix. The canopy created by the trees cools down hiking paths and other outdoor spaces significantly.

There are places near Phoenix to get in the water, too. Arizona is home to some truly beautiful water features. But they aren’t close to the city, so if you’re thinking about the reality of easily getting to outdoor recreation, count those watering holes out. Phoenix does offer more elevation, however, and with that comes more mountains. All throughout the Phoenix area you can find wonderful hikes that not only offer stunning sunset views, but come in a variety of grades for all different physical fitness levels. Just a couple hours to the north, the mountains get snow in the winter, so Phoenicians can enjoy skiing. That is something you definitely won’t find in Austin!

There are certainly more places for hikers, bikers, and trail runners to get out in the Phoenix area compared to Austin. It doesn’t begin to compare if you are considering the mileage of recreational trails.  

outdoor hiking view in Phoenix AZ, Living in Phoenix versus Austin

Looking to move to the Phoenix area & need some help?

Schedule a zoom call with us today so we can help you get started & clarify what you need to do before moving here.


Entertainment can be a pretty broad topic, as the idea of what is entertaining is different for everyone. But strictly speaking about music, shows, bars and restaurants, Austin likely takes the lead in this category. There is plenty to do in Phoenix, you will by no means be bored, but it’s more suburban than Austin, which almost always means “less to do.” Of course there is Old Town Scottsdale, and Downtown Phoenix, but those are just a couple of areas in Phoenix to find nightlife and entertainment, and they aren’t very big. Phoenix is also a huge sports town (one of the few American cities to offer team representation in every major league professional sport) but if you aren’t one for spectator sports, this probably doesn’t mean much to you.

Austin is not only a big music city, but it’s actually considered one of the best “beer cities” in the world, as it has the highest concentration of craft breweries than any other city. Nearly every weekend you can find live music somewhere in Austin, and this doesn’t just mean up and down Sixth Street (one of Austin’s better known entertainment districts.) Austin is also better located for nearby entertainment. Phoenix is a hub out in the middle of the desert, so though there are cities within driving distance such as Flagstaff and Los Angeles, it is somewhat isolated. Austin is much closer to other big cities, such as Dallas, Houston, and everything else located in the center of the country as you near the Midwest.

Golf Course Things to do in PHX, Living in Phoenix versus Austin


Affordability is relative to each person, and both Austin and Phoenix can be affordable if you know where to live and how to budget wisely. With many people fleeing the expensive coastal U.S, both cities are experiencing newcomers who are coming specifically because of how much more they can have in Arizona or Texas. But that doesn’t mean either city is dirt cheap.

Overall, Phoenix is a little bit more affordable than Austin, but that number is changing all the time, and this might not stay true for long. Phoenix is getting more and more expensive by the year. Austin has been relatively expensive for a long time now, making it feel like it isn’t really getting more expensive than it already was. That being said, you can still find a one bedroom apartment in either city for under a thousand dollars a month if you are looking in more affordable parts of town.

If you really want to split hairs, your stage in life will also play into the affordability of either Phoenix or Austin. Austin is a city that is somewhat easier to manage when you are young and single. When you start looking for bigger homes to grow a family in, the cost really gets high. Austin will likely be more affordable to an individual if they only have themselves (or maybe just themselves and a significant other) to provide for. Phoenix is a great place to look for a family home because its spread out, suburban nature lends plenty of options for affordable, big homes with nice yards. Most of the neighborhoods in Phoenix are family oriented as well, so you are likely to create relationships with neighbors and their children.  

view of a PHX neighborhood at night, Living in Phoenix versus Austin

Cumulative Takeaway of Austin vs Phoenix

Both Austin and Phoenix are fantastic places to call home. Though they get compared often, they’re actually pretty different when it comes down to it. What you are looking for in a place to call home will have a lot to do with which city offers more to you. First of all, don’t lose sight of the fact that Phoenix is more than twice the size of Austin, so in general, you’re going to get more of a lot of things just due to the sheer size of the Phoenix Metro Area.

Generally speaking, Austin is a great place to live if you enjoy a bustling, urban environment, with a lot of dining and entertainment options, and don’t mind paying a little bit more when it comes to cost of living. This is a great place for young professional adults, or those who always want to be out and about enjoying what the city has to offer.

Phoenix is a great place to live if you want to raise a family, enjoy the outdoors, and get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to housing. Phoenix is known for its great school systems, and it’s a safe city as well. If you aren’t desirous of going out on the town every weekend, then much of what Austin has to offer might appeal to you less than a family-centric environment. That being said, there are definitely great places to raise a family in Austin, and there are plenty of single, young people in Phoenix. You just have to consider your needs and wants when you are thinking about moving to Phoenix or Austin.

Thinking of Moving to Phoenix, AZ?

Are you considering moving to the Phoenix Metro Area? Reach out to me today at AZLiveStyles, I would love to help you find the perfect home for you and your family in Phoenix, Arizona!