Austin is the best city in the United States for aspiring homebuyers between 20 and 34 years old, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It said even though housing prices in Austin have shot up in the last few years, the city's median home value of $252,520 is still about half of what it is in Boston and a third of what it is in San Francisco.
"Which is the reason why we still place Austin as reasonably affordable," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says. "This is where the millennial generations are moving into and [where] the job opportunities are available."
Austin's unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in June, lower than Dallas, Houston, San Antonio or El Paso. Nationally, Austin is tied with Abilene for the 39th lowest jobless rate of any metropolitan area.
Another factor NAR cited in choosing Austin was the sudden reversal in the number of homes available to buy. Earlier this month, the Texas Association of Realtors reported a 19 percent quarterly increase in Austin's housing inventory. However, the number of homes on the market is still down 10 percent from a year ago.
Austin is "an exceptionally tight market," Yun conceeds, "but we are seeing the [home building] permit situation beginning to enlarge in the Austin-area, so that will help on the inventory front."
The NAR study placed Austin above highly walkable cities such as Portland, Oregon, with an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent. Researchers say those types of cities, with shorter blocks, narrower streets and more mixed-use development are often appealing to young professionals.
"Those most congested cities are the ones that those kids want to go to, where people can still get around walking and biking," Colorado University professor of engineering Wesley Marshall says. "You need to have that sort of vibrant street life."
Marshall just co-authored a study, published in the Journal of Transport and Health, that found more intersections a city has per square mile, the healthier the people who live in it.
Correction: This article originally quoted an unemployment rate from Portland, Maine instead of Portland, Oregon. It has been corrected. We regret the error.