Living in New Braunfels vs. Austin

When it comes to a new home in Central Texas, there is no need to present Austin. With its vibrant art scene, quirky vibe, and a growing reputation as a Mecca for young entrepreneurs, Austin has been one of Texas’ fastest growing metros. However, New Braunfels, situated closer to San Antonio, is showing up on the radar as the new cool kid in town with one big difference - cost. Living in New Braunfels does not come with the hefty price tag of the Live Music Capital of the World but still offers access to some of the same Central Texas attractions.


Want to take a deeper look? Here are some everyday expenses to take into account to help you decide whether you should call Austin or New Braunfels home.



Austin Cost of Living

While overall, Texas' cost of living is below the national average with an index of 93.9. Austin cost of living is above average at 119.3 driven by housing, transportation and childcare.


Housing Costs

Housing costs are the main reason why it is so expensive to live in Austin. If you want to buy a house, be prepared to spend a significant amount of cash. The median house price for a new home in Austin is $369,000, compared to the US average of $231,200. Although it may be significantly more affordable than major cities on either coast, it can come with a sticker shock compared to the rest of Texas.


If you are considering renting instead of buying, the average apartment lease is $1,439. Of course, it varies based on the size of the property, the amenities, and the neighborhood. For example, the average rent in Johnston Terrace sits at $1,061/month, whereas you would spend $2,826 on average to live in Downtown Austin.


Transportation Costs

Traffic can be a headache in Austin, and parking is scarce and expensive. However, the good news is that the city has developed an excellent bus and light rail system, which is many Austinites preferred modes of transportation. Fares start at $1.25 for a single ride, but there is a comprehensive range of passes.


Austin is also a pedestrian-friendly city, rending a car redundant for those living closer to downtown. Although real estate comes as a premium, you could save on transportation by walking and biking instead.


Childcare Costs

The cost of daycare is a significant part of any family's budget. It is particularly true in Austin, where tuition can be as expensive as a mortgage. According to a study by Children at Risk, a family of 4 with an infant and a toddler could be spending 25 percent of their income on childcare. Although a 2018 study set the average of childcare for a toddler at $700 per month, this number appears to be well below the reality for most Austin families.



New Braunfels Cost of Living

Meanwhile, New Braunfels, situated northeast of San Antonio and southwest of Austin, cost of living hovers around the national average with a cost of living index of 100.3. Similar to Austin, housing, transportation and child cost represent the largest buckets of spend, but, with a few notable differences.


Housing Costs

Compared to Austin, the prices of homes in New Braunfels is a breath of fresh air. Although the median home price in New Braunfels sits slightly above the national median at $260,700, it is well below its neighbor in the north.


The average rent in New Braunfels is somewhat below the national average. You can expect to pay $1,196 per month for the typical apartment compared to $1,468 nationwide.


Transportation Costs

New Braunfels public transportation is virtually non-existent, and housing is spread in sprawling suburban neighborhoods. Therefore, driving the preferred mode of transportation of most inhabitants. On the plus side, parking is affordable and abundant. Besides, the downtown area is very walkable.


Childcare Costs

Like Austin – and Texas in general - New Braunfels suffers from the lack of affordable childcare. The monthly tuition for a toddler will set you back around $800 per month on average. However, the overall more affordable cost of living in New Braunfels can help compensate for this expense.



Why Consider New Braunfels

Beyond the more affordable cost of living, New Braunfels also offers several additional benefits for folks looking to call Central Texas home. Let’s take a quick snapshot look at what makes New Braunfels a great place to call home.


Convenient Location

Located about 30 miles from San Antonio and 50 miles from Austin, New Braunfels offers convenient access to both major cities and their surround suburbs and employment hubs. As an added bonus, since New Braunfels sits in center of Hill Country, residents can enjoy the majestic scenery and winding roads this part of Texas offers.


Kid-Friendly Activities

New Braunfels also offers plenty of fun for the whole family. With several lakes like Canyon Lake and Lake McQueeney, as well as the Comal River nearby, it’s easy to back up the bags and spend the afternoon boating, skiing or tubing on the water. If you are looking for a little more excitement, a visit to the Schlitterbahn, one of the nation’s best water parks, is definitely in order.


Growing Art, Food and Music Scene

While perhaps not as big as its major metro counterparts, New Braunfels’ art, food and music scene have been a growing stable for this suburban city. Take time to explore the eclectic collection of TexMex, Texan BBQ and traditional German cuisine (the city was founded by German immigrants) and find a dish that suits your fancy. Or, appreciate the arts with the town’s First Fridays, a monthly celebration of art in the city, with exhibitions of various mediums and age groups. And, if you are a big fan of live music, be sure to stop by Gruene Hall, which houses both local and (inter)national fan favorites.


While Austin is undoubtedly a fun city to live in, its high cost of living, especially when it comes to housing expenses, can make you think twice before settling for good. If you want to maintain easy access to all the fun attractions in the region but prefer a more affordable alternative, New Braunfels may be the place for you.


With its convenient location between Austin and San Antonio and plenty of new homes for sale in New Braunfels, the city offers a little bit of something for everyone.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Alix Barnaud

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Published 2.4.2021

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