17 Austin

PopulationMetro: 2,115,827
The home of SXSW and the purported best live music scene on the planet fights hard to keep it weird.

A hacked bumper sticker never said more: Keep Austin Wired (‘Wired’ changed from ‘Weird’).

The rebellious Texas city—forged with the Longhorn State’s can-do persistence cut with a university town’s political activism and social diversity—has long attracted the misfits that didn’t quite fit into the south’s expectations.

That foundations of thinking differently drew dreamers for decades, manifesting in one of the nation’s top music scenes. The city’s marking organization, Visit Austin, trademarked the city as “Live Music Capital of the World.” There’s truth in advertising (at least in this case): Austin ranks #8 in big-city Nightlife.

Place 53
Product 16
Programming 19
People 74
Prosperity 43
Promotion 18

On any given night, the city’s various entertainment districts—from the 6th Street District’s dozen blocks of festive bars and venues to Rainy Street’s shows in converted living rooms—serve up performance experiences like nowhere else on earth.

The city keeps adding venues and destination neighborhoods, the newest being the mega-development South Austin called St. Elmo Public Market, a new mixed-use district set to open in 2019, with even more music venues, a market and work spaces to accommodate all the young employees streaming into town.

Said The Sky performing at SXSW

As creative and educated as Austin is (the University of Texas helps the city land at #17 in our University category), it is drawing new residents and infrastructure due to its productivity and business-friendly atmosphere. South By Southwest, the annual summit of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences (plus a fair share of historic product launches like Airbnb) has seeded the area’s magnetism for new ventures.

As such, monikers like ‘Silicon Hills’ have followed campus opens by Apple, Facebook, Google, Oracle, Dell, Cisco, and Hewlett-Packard. A skills shortage, isn’t an issue, after all, with a steady flow of graduates pouring out from the University of Texas, and the promise of epic nights after hard days.
The city ranks #17 overall in our Prosperity category, including #7 for Household Income and #35 for Fortune 500 companies based here.