Rapid population growth has somewhat diluted the sense of weirdness that set Austin, Texas, apart from other cities, but the lure of being in a place where you can be yourself still draws a young crowd. Austin holds the highest number of 25- to 34-year-olds on this list, and that demographic continues to grow as recent college grads from the University of Texas and beyond look for a city where they can find a job, fit in and enjoy a wildly creative culture. It’s a place where musicians can be found not just in concert halls, bars and street corners but playing guitar in a few grocery stores.
The city pulsates with music, art and individuality. Many residents make it clear that the work they do to pay bills is just a “day job,” but view their real careers as something different, whether it’s making art, music or a mockery of social norms. Strong support of local businesses has kept some colorful independent shops and restaurants in the black. The city’s food scene is ripe with spice as breakfast tacos are a popular item, along with barbecue and anything that can be covered with queso. South by Southwest, once a small music festival, has grown to become one of the country’s largest annual events and includes tech conferences, a film festival and hundreds of performers.
Austin’s economy is as diverse as its residents, who come from east and west looking for a unique American experience. Major industries here include computer technology, research and development, and engineering, but there are also a bevy of entrepreneurs, artists and musicians. Austin’s rental vacancy rate hovers around a healthy 5 percent, showing that newcomers can find a place to stay but demand is high.
Number of 25- to 34-year-olds: 171,526
*Number of available jobs: 20,025
Hot jobs: computer technology, research and development, engineering
Top employers: IBM, Apple, Advanced Micro Devices
*According to Indeed.com