/Already a Haven for People Leaving the Bay Area, Austin Set to Rise in Popularity With Growing Apple Presence

Already a Haven for People Leaving the Bay Area, Austin Set to Rise in Popularity With Growing Apple Presence

As big tech companies open new offices outside Silicon Valley, the migration trend toward affordable cities is likely to continue.

Apple’s recent announcement that it’s adding thousands of jobs in Austin is likely to heat up the housing market in the city, which was already the seventh most popular destination for people moving from one metro area to another in the third quarter of this year, according to data on Redfin.com user searches.

Even before Apple revealed plans to significantly expand its presence in Austin, people from the Bay Area—home to the tech giant’s Cupertino, California headquarters—were showing interest in the Texas capital city. Among Redfin.com users searching for homes in Austin in the third quarter of 2018, 28 percent were from outside the area. And of the people who were looking to move into Austin from outside the area, nearly 19 percent came straight from the Bay Area, the largest share of any region.

Migration into Austin


As for Redfin.com users looking to leave the Bay Area last quarter, 2.9 percent sought out Austin, making it the sixth most popular destination for people considering a move away from the region—and the most popular for people searching away from the West Coast.

Bay Area migration

Andrew Vallejo, a Redfin agent in Austin, said that over the last two years the majority of his clients are from the Bay Area, and a large portion of them work for tech companies. The new Apple campus will be housed close to North Austin, which is about 10 miles from downtown and a popular location for tech employers. “When people come to me and ask where in Austin to invest, I tell them North Austin,” Vallejo said. “Tech companies are already having a major impact on the Austin market, but the Apple announcement is adding to the buzz.”

The steady inflow of residents into Austin is likely due in part to its relatively affordable real estate. As of last month, the typical home in Austin sold for $304,000. That’s marginally higher than the national median of $299,000, but significantly lower than the median home price in traditional tech centers like San Francisco ($1,340,000) and San Jose ($1,090,000).

The substantial difference in price between a home in Austin and a home in the Bay Area has already contributed to driving up home prices in the Texas city. “People who sell their house in San Francisco or San Jose and move to Austin often have much more money than they need for a house in their new city,” Vallejo said. “Some homebuyers are willing to do whatever it takes to beat out another offer, and that’s what ultimately drives up prices.”

The addition of more high-paying jobs, from Apple and potentially from other employers, is likely to continue to drive up home prices, particularly in Apple’s backyard. In Northwest Austin, a neighborhood that’s close to both the existing and new Apple campuses, prices are already slightly higher than they are in Austin as a whole: The typical home in Northwest Austin sells for $327,000, up from $192,000 in early 2012. Vallejo said he expects prices in the area surrounding Apple to continue to rise.

Eric Hegwer, another Redfin agent in Austin, said North Austin is attractive to major companies like Apple largely because it’s a residential neighborhood with proximity to highly rated schools, which is helpful for recruiting tech workers with families and children. The neighborhood is also set to be the site of a new Major League Soccer stadium in the coming years.

“Kids are the driving factor in North Austin,” Hegwer said. “A lot of tech workers are choosing a neighborhood not just based on a short commute; they often target a specific school, and are looking for a community with amenities like parks, playgrounds, libraries and recreational centers, and that’s North Austin.”

Another thing that makes Austin as a whole a popular destination for people making moves from one region to another is its vibrant jobs market. Apple already employs 6,200 people there, and its forthcoming 133-acre campus will house an additional 5,000 employees with the capacity to grow to 15,000 total workers. Dell, IBM, Amazon and Google are among the other tech companies with significant footprints in the area.

Apple’s plans to add thousands of jobs in Austin may inspire other tech businesses to pick up hiring in the area. “When one tech company decides to make a big investment in a city and hire thousands of workers, it makes it more appealing for competitors to follow suit because they can benefit from the increased labor pool,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “Tech workers tend to not stay at one job for very long. The median tenure at Apple is only two years, which is actually long compared to the tenure at Amazon or Google. Tech companies are constantly recruiting and often poach talent away from each other, so they tend to open offices in the same cities. That’s because it’s much easier to convince a worker to switch companies if you don’t also have to convince that worker to relocate.”

Apple is also adding a significant number of workers to other regions, and it’s not the only tech giant to announce its expansion outside the Bay Area this month: Google has revealed plans to establish a new campus in Manhattan and add thousands of new employees in the city, in addition to several other offices outside the Bay Area it’s opened this year. Below, we’ve put together a table showing some of the areas that will welcome new Apple and/or Google employees, listed by the share of people searching Redfin.com from out of town.

Company Location of new office (and closest metro for which Redfin tracks migration data) Median sale price Share of local Redfin.com searches by out-of-towners Top origin (metro) of out-of-state Redfin.com users searching for homes in the area
Google Bridgeport, AL (Birmingham) $196,000 36% New York
Google Clarksville, TN (Nashville) $283,000 33% New York
Apple Austin $304,000 28% San Francisco Bay Area
Apple Pittsburgh $161,000 27% New York
Apple San Diego $562,000 25% New York
Apple Portland, OR $385,000 19% San Francisco Bay Area
Google Detroit $126,000 19% Chicago
Apple Boulder, CO (Denver) $490,000 17% San Francisco Bay Area
Apple Seattle $546,000 12% San Francisco Bay Area
Apple Boston $471,000 12% New York
Apple & Google New York $1,026,000* 11% Philadelphia
Apple Culver City, CA (Los Angeles) $615,000 10% New York