Denver Vs. Austin: Which City Is Better To Live In?

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by Upgraded Home Team

With both cities located in the United States’ center, both Denver and Austin share several similarities. These cities are up-and-coming and welcoming to new residents moving to the city. However, when looking at measurable factors, there is one clear winner between the two.

Denver is the largest city in Colorado by population, but Austin is bigger. Austin is a better place to live because of the affordable housing costs and job opportunities. You are also much safer in Austin than in Denver where 1 in 23 residents suffer a property crime.

Denver has plenty to offer new residents, especially if you enjoy skiing and winter sports. With endless outdoor opportunities, Denver may appeal to the right resident considering relocation. Of course, reaching out to a real estate agent, or a member of the city’s chamber of commerce can help answer questions and determine which city is right for you.

Which City Is Better: Denver or Austin?

Choosing between Denver and Austin can be difficult, especially with so many factors to consider. While the cost of living is certainly a significant component, quality of life and available entertainment also make compelling arguments to propel one city over the other. For argument’s sake, let’s consider the average person choosing to live in Denver or Austin.

Quality of Life

Many factors contribute to the quality of life, some measurable and others abstract. When it comes to the overall quality of life, both Denver and Austin are above average compared to other cities in the United States, and both have an outstanding quality of life. However, when it comes down to the measurable components, Austin is a clear front-runner, able to provide a better overall quality of life. Austin offers a better commute, lower pollution, and better healthcare coverage and treatment options.

Winner: Austin

Cost of Living

Comparing the overall cost of living, people will find that Denver is a more expensive city, costing the average resident almost 8% more than Austin. The largest contributing factor to Denver being a more expensive city lies in the housing prices for both rent and the median home price. Housing will cost more than 15% more in Denver than it will in Austin.

When examining groceries and transportation costs, Denver is still more expensive, but only marginally so, averaging about 5% more than Austin. Still, looking across the board at the overall expense, Austin is a clear winner in this category. If you can get past the increased housing costs, Denver becomes a more attractive, yet still more expensive living option.

Winner: Austin

Housing Costs

The biggest contributing factor to the higher cost of living in Denver than in Austin is the housing price. Both the median cost of a home and the average monthly rental for a one-bedroom apartment are more than 15% higher in Denver than in Austin. In Denver, it is an even split among the residents, with 50% of the population owning their home and 50% renting. In Austin, slightly more people rent, accounting for 55% of the residents.

Median House Price$337,400$390,600
Average Rent 1 Bedroom$1,280$1,311

Winner: Austin

Job Market

Austin has a booming job market, which is predicted only to continue to grow in the next ten years. This city boasts several attractive industries like advanced manufacturing, technology, and life sciences. Not only is the median household income higher in Austin, but the unemployment rate is lower.
Although the median personal income in Denver is comparable to that of Austin, the higher cost of living, coupled with a higher unemployment rate, makes Austin a clear winner in yet another category.

Projected 10-Year Growth47%45%
Median Household Income$71,576$68,592
Median Personal Income$39,418$39,806

Winner: Austin


When it comes to determining the clear-cut winner for culture, it’s hard to pick a winner. Austin is famous for having a vibrant culture that prides itself on being different and eccentric. Plus, Austin is home to some incredible BBQ food which is unlike anything in the Southern states. Couple this with some Texan hospitality, and it is hard to beat.

Denver offers an entire city filled with people who love the outdoors. Between mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and hiking through the Rocky Mountains, it’s hard to compete with the outdoor adventures Denver can offer. There is no clear winner for culture, and it depends on what excites you most about each city.

Winner: Tie


Much of Denver’s entertainment and leisure activities take place outdoors. Between the beautiful vistas, the Rocky Mountains can offer and the countless ski resorts just hours away from the city center, living in Denver offers non-stop outdoor adventure. Plus, fantastic concert venues like the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater are pretty unique and hit most people’s bucket lists.

Comparatively, Austin has its own unique vibe when it comes to leisure. Lady Bird Lake offers opportunities for watersports, especially with year-round warm weather. The city is rich with history, offering residents a chance to visit museums and the Lynden B. Johnson Library. Plus, it is impossible to forget about the large group of bats that reside under the Congress Avenue Bridge.

Winner: Tie


Comparatively, transportation in Denver and Austin will cost about the same, with Denver costing only marginally more. Austin features a commuter rail system that helps transport people around the city. A major airport and a bikeable location make maneuvering in the city easy, but reaching the suburbs will require a car. Austin is well connected to other major cities in Texas via an extensive and reliable highway system.

Likewise, Denver also has excellent public transportation infrastructure and even has commuter trains that extend to popular suburbs. Denver is a bikeable city, has a tremendous and reliable bus system, and features an international airport in the city.

Winner: Denver


If you are looking for a fun city with plenty of diversity, Austin may be just your place. There is an even range of age groups living in Austin, but the education level and ethnicity are also equally as diverse. About 68% of the population identifies as White, while 35% of the population identifies as Hispanic.

On the other hand, Denver is also diverse, with 68% identifying as White and 33% of the population identifying as Hispanic. Age groups are widely diversified in Denver, but most residents at least have their Bachelor’s Degree.

Winner: Slight Edge to Austin


Austin has a strong reputation for providing sound education. Public schools are highly rated, not only for academics but for athletics also. Denver just can’t come close to Austin’s public school prowess and routinely only ranks as a mediocre option for families enrolling their children in public schools.

From a higher education standpoint, Austin is home to several branch campuses from prominent educational institutions. Both the University of Texas and Texas State have campuses in Austin, Texas. On the other hand, Denver is home to the University of Colorado and the University of Denver.

Winner: Austin


The winner when it comes to weather is really up to the individual. Austin has a high in January of 60 degrees, making it warm and balmy. However, summers can be outright sweltering, regularly averaging 96 degrees F. Austin is home to severe thunderstorms, and hail and high winds can be problematic.

Denver, comparatively, is quite the opposite, and winters can drop to below 20 degrees F. Summers are cool and comfortable, peeking around 90 degrees F. Denver is home to some wicked snowstorms, generated with changing weather patterns through the Rockies. The average yearly snowfall tops 60 inches routinely, which is wonderful news for ski enthusiasts.

Winner: Tie (preference-based!)

Crime Rates

Violent crimes in Denver are frighteningly high and almost double the national average. Among the leading crimes in this city, assault and rape are far higher than in other cities across the country. While property theft and damage are about the same as the rest of the country, motor vehicle theft is disproportionately high.

On the other hand, Austin has about an average violent crime rate, seeing the same as the national average for assault, murder, and rape. Theft, however, is much higher than average. Determining a clear winner for crime is hard, but Austin is the clear winner when just severe and violent crimes are factored in.

Winner: Austin

Related Questions

What skiing options are close to Denver?

Denver is home to several outdoor enthusiasts, and skiing and snowboarding are popular sports. There are several top-rated ski resorts located just a few hours outside the city. Home to Vail Ski Resort, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, Snowmass, Aspen, and Keystone, the options are truly limitless for outdoor winter adventure.

Is there fun nightlife in Austin?

Austin is a fun, lively, and youthful city that offers plenty of nightlife. Most of the bars and activities seem to be centered around 6th Street. Landing on 6th Street will put you in the heart of the entertainment district, offering plenty of options for bars, clubs, and restaurants to explore.


Undeniably, both Austin and Denver are great cities to live in, with both scoring higher than average regarding the quality of life. But, when you consider both the measurable factors, like housing costs and employment opportunities, combined with the intangibles like culture and entertainment, Austin is a clear front-runner.

Not only is Austin expected to have a strong job market, but the cost of living is low coupled with attractive median incomes. Austin also has fantastic educational opportunities as well as year-round warm weather to attract new residents.

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