After a decade of being called the country's fastest-growing metro, Austin is about to learn early next year if the trend continues when census counts are released.
In anticipation, The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce revisited the latest U.S. Census migration insights in its latest economic report. Migration patterns help reveal where new Austin residents moved from and how that growth compares nationally.
Based on 2018-19 population estimates outlined in the report, Austin is now growing at 168 net new residents per day, mostly thanks to people who relocate here.
Here are three notable takeaways from the report:
1. Austin really is a 'Hotel California'
The cliche that Californians are flocking to the city has merit, based on the report takeaways.
California residents make up 8% of all migration to the Austin metropolitan area, according to 2014-18 U.S. Census survey data compiled by the chamber. That is significantly more than the next five states:
- California (8%)
- New York (3.3%)
- Florida (3.1%)
- Illinois (2.3%)
- Arizona (2.1%)
- Colorado (2.0)
But more than half (51.3%) of new Austin residents actually come from elsewhere in Texas, according to census survey data.
In total, 119,146 people migrated to Austin between 2014-18, a net gain of 25,769 residents. Most of these newcomers come from other Texas cities like Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, as well as from New York City and Los Angeles.
Ironically, California is also the top destination for Austin residents who relocate permanently, followed by Florida and Colorado.
2. No other city grew faster this decade
The percentage of Austin's population growth from 2010-19 exceeded every other metro area in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In fact, Austin grew at a 10% faster rate than any other Texas city despite The Lone Star State making up four of the nation's six fastest-growing cities this decade:
- Austin (29.8%)
- Raleigh (23%)
- Orlando (22.2%)
- Houston (19.4%)
- San Antonio (19.1%)
- Dallas (19%)
Austin's consistent growth the past 10 years comes from various factors. Census data shows about 32,000 people move within the U.S. per year and another 6,850 relocate internationally annually. An additional 16,200 people per year come from natural increase (births minus deaths).
Raleigh is the only city to have a higher percentage (6.8%) than Austin (6.6%) of overall residents who relocated within the past year.
3. Relocations skyrocketed in 2019
The majority of the city's annual population increase comes from domestic migration, or people moving to Austin from other parts of the U.S. Between 2011-18, Austin gained 30,798 residents, on average, who relocated here.
But that number ballooned to 41,334 new residents in 2019, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. That helped Austin reach a net population increase of 60,000 for the first time this decade.
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Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.
As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.
“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”
Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.
“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”
Actually, a purr-fect idea.
Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.
At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”
Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.
“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”
Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.
“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”
Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.
“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”
Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.
“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”
And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.
“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”
Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.
“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”
We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.
This restaurant claims to have the most authentic South Indian food, and from what I've heard, the claims might be true! Their menu features the traditional South Indian dishes of Idlis, Vadas, a variety of Dosas, and more.
If you're looking for an Indian and Tex-Mex fusion cozy restaurant, then look no further! Nasha on East 7th Street prides itself on its specialty margaritas, Tikka con Queso, Biryani, and more creative dishes!