If you’re planning a move to Texas but aren’t sure where to live in Austin, you’re not alone! In fact, Austin is currently the fastest-growing city in the United States, with a population growth of nearly 3% expected in 2021! Fortunately, Austin knows how to handle growth, and since we’re in Texas, there’s still plenty of wide-open spaces for everyone!
The Austin metro area spans roughly 4,300 square miles and is home to some 2.2 million residents—or Austinites, as we’re often called. Besides the city of Austin itself, there are various suburbs and, as in most cities, all those square miles are broken up into various neighborhoods. Each one has its own style and personality. If you’re looking for the best Austin suburbs or the best neighborhood for you and your family, we’ve got the info you need.
The first thing you’ll need to know is that most locals divide Austin into two broad regions: South Austin and North Austin. While some may have specific landmarks in mind when picking out the differences between North and South Austin, probably the easiest way to separate the two halves of the city—especially for out-of-towners—is by using the Colorado River and Lady Bird Lake, a long, river-like reservoir that sits right in the middle of Austin.
Why is the distinction of South vs. North Austin so important when you’re deciding where you want to live in Austin? There are lots of differences between the two regions, and one may be a better fit for you than the other. After all, just like the individual neighborhoods and communities that make them up, both North and South Austin have their own unique identities. Santa Rita Ranch is located just northwest of Austin.
More and more families are moving to Austin, drawn by our robust job market and affordable housing. Some of these folks are just getting started with their first home, and some are looking for a place their kids can grow up. If you fall into these categories, you should know that houses in North Austin tend to be more affordable. In fact, you can buy a beautiful new home in a master-planned community in the suburbs for a fraction of what a comparable home would cost downtown.
Where to live in Austin: The Northern Suburbs
North Austin is generally seen as a great place to raise a family and pick up an affordable home in a welcoming community. North Austin is still a big place, divided into plenty of neighborhoods and suburbs. To help prospective homebuyers figure out where to live in North Austin, let’s take a look at seven of the best Austin suburbs to the north of the city. We’ve included details on how far they are from downtown, what school districts encompass the area and more.
The Seven Best Austin Suburbs North of the City
Liberty Hill – Roughly 35 miles from downtown, Liberty Hill has a small-town feel. It’s far enough out to showcase the beauty of the Texas Hill Country, but it’s still close enough that residents have an easy commute into the city for work. With a population of around 2,000 people, Liberty Hill is served by the class 5A Liberty Hill Independent School District (ISD) and is also home to the Liberty Hill International Sculpture Park, along with plenty of charming stores and restaurants.
Georgetown – About 27 miles out from downtown Austin, Georgetown is considerably larger than Liberty Hill. It has a population of around 71,000, served by the Georgetown ISD. Called the “Red Poppy Capital of Texas” and home to the most beautiful town square in our fair state, Georgetown is actually the seventh-fastest growing city in the U.S., thanks to plenty of transplants from other parts coming in and making the booming “small” town their home.
Cedar Park – A little closer to the city, Cedar Park is just a short, 20-mile drive from downtown Austin. With a population of 75,000, Cedar Park is the second-largest of the seven suburbs we’ll be covering. The Leander ISD, which also serves the town of Leander, has more than 41,000 students at 44 campuses across the area. Cedar Park is also home to teams for both the American Hockey League (Texas Stars) and the NBA G League (Austin Spurs). Both play home games at the local H-E-B Center.
Leander – A little farther out from downtown than Cedar Park, Leander is pretty close to its larger neighbor, and the two share a school district. With a population of around 54,000, Leander is home to business, recreation, and plenty of families. The area also enjoys an interesting history, from the Texas Rangers who built one of the first forts in the area back in 1836, to the discovery of the “Leanderthal Lady” in one of the earliest intact archaeological burial sites ever excavated in the United States.
Round Rock – Round Rock, population 124,000, is the largest of the suburbs to the North of Austin, and it’s only about 18 miles from downtown. The Round Rock Independent School District, which ranks among the best in the state, according to the Texas Education Agency, serves students in Round Rock as well as parts of Austin and Cedar Park. CNN has called Round Rock the second-fastest growing city in America, while Money magazine named it one of the best American small cities in which to live.
Brushy Creek – Also served by the Round Rock ISD, Brushy Creek is one of the smaller communities north of the Austin metro area, with a population of around 18,000. Brushy Creek enjoys a position roughly equidistant between the larger communities of Round Rock and Cedar Park and is about 27 miles from downtown Austin.
Pflugerville – Named for the original German settlers who once farmed the area (“pfluger” means “ploughman”), this city of around 62,000 is located just 20 miles from downtown Austin, but you wouldn’t know it by driving through the Main Street Historic District, which is like stepping back in time. With five high schools and several middle and elementary schools, the Pflugerville ISD serves residents of the area.
Wherever you choose to live in Austin, it’s always an amazing experience! Many of the North Austin suburbs are home to master-planned communities (like Santa Rita Ranch) where you can find affordable housing alongside unbeatable amenities. Want to learn more about life at Santa Rita Ranch and everything that happens across our community? Just fill out the short form above to subscribe to our Ranch newsletter. We look forward to welcoming you to the neighborhood!