An overhead view of Austin, TX, which is currently the 10th largest city in the US

Austin is currently the 10th largest U.S. city. How did this happen, you may ask? First, a little historical background.

The 862-mile Colorado River in Texas, not to be confused with the larger Colorado River which runs through seven U.S. states and two Mexican states, is the only river in the Lone Star State which begins and ends within the state boundaries. Settling along riverbanks was common for frontier folks with livestock for having a ready source of water.

From Waterloo to Austin

The first permanent town here was called Waterloo, with a name change to Austin in 1839, when it was chosen as the capital of the new Republic of Texas. In 1888, its new capitol building was advertised as the “7th largest building in the world.” It is to this day, the 2nd largest capitol building in the U.S. with only the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. being larger.

By 1900, the population had soared to 22,000 from less than 1,000 in 1850. Another 50 years would see it increase by more than 10-fold on its way to today’s 974,447 and the declaration of it being the 10th most populous city in the country. Three other Texas cities have places in the top 10. Texas is not only very big, but enjoys having a super big draw for people of all ages to move, live, work and retire in the largest land area state in the lower 48. And it’s this big: 60% larger than California in 2nd place.

The appeal is some combination of 300 sunny days a year, myriad career and entrepreneurial opportunities across several industries, great schools, cutting edge medical facilities, music, art, culture and breakfast tacos. More than 20 million people a year visit Austin, many of them as participants or spectators in the music scene. Dubbed the Live Music Capital of the World, the longest running music television program show is Austin City Limits.

More People Means More Services

Any population increase is a catalyst for additional municipal services like water, sewer, trash management, streets and parking, public transportation, schools, hospitals, parks, law enforcement and emergency medical services. As more people move into the Austin area, several municipalities need to embrace responsible urban planning for housing, shopping and working. Of course, the tax base increases, providing more financial resources to respond to growing demands.

How Austin Made it to the 10th Largest U.S. City

Austin came to the 10th spot on the U.S. city population list recently by nudging out San Jose, not totally because of Austin’s population growth, but also for San Jose’s population decrease. Texas is the most recent state to experience the largest gain in population, topping 30 million residents, joining California as the only state with more than 30 million people.

The increase in Austin and all of Texas comes from a combination of domestic migration, international migration and natural increase (i.e., more people are born than die). Texas is a very business-friendly state with fewer government regulations than other places and levies no personal state income tax. It is endowed with natural beauty, warm temperatures most of the year, wide open spaces, intriguing cuisine, rich history and, in many places, a reasonable cost of living.

Austin Home Prices and Population Increases

Austin may be somewhat pricing itself out of the affordable cost of living realm, depending on your definition of affordable. Wages and salaries are above the national average, and there’s a high concentration of government jobs. As of May 2023, Austin home prices, according to, are down about 14% from 2022. Still the median listing home price is $567,000. Luxury condos downtown top $1 million and more, while average rent for a 1-bedroom apt is $1,625.

However, with Habitat Hunters at your side, you’ll have an excellent selection of homes or rentals from which to choose in a vast range of prices. When you know where to look, when to look and how to look, you can find reasonable housing possibilities that fit most budgets. The best time to plant a tree, they say, is today. And the best time to lock into a house, mortgage or rental contract is also today. The rising population and associated cost of living expenses in and around Austin appear to be here to stay, at least through this decade.

Should you Move to Austin, the 10th Largest City in the U.S.?

It’s a wonderful place to live with the best of both worlds: big city amenities, dining, culture, restaurants and entertainment with small town atmosphere in commercial shopping clusters and residential neighborhoods. There are cafes galore, the Cathedral of Junk, a thriving food truck scene, the largest bat colony in North America and bars and hangouts, yeah, where they know your name. And breakfast tacos you never knew you wanted.