The report analyzed 150 of the largest U.S. metros using two factors—professional opportunity and quality of life. Austin ranked sixth in each area, giving it a combined score that was high enough to secure third place, preceded by Orlando, Florida, and Salt Lake City, Utah, which ranked first.
Austin also ranked fourth for highest average starting salary, adjusted for cost of living. According to the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Texas as a whole has much lower aggregate cost for real estate, energy, wages and taxes than the rest of the country.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Austin’s annual mean wage at $50,830 as of May 2016, higher than that of San Antonio and Dallas but lower than Houston’s $52,870. However, the April jobs report published by the Texas Labor Workforce showed Austin to have the third-lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.2 percent, whereas Houston had an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, meaning workers might get paid more to work in Houston but may have a harder time finding a job.
In addition to low unemployment, the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area economy grew 5.0 percent last year, making it the second-fastest growing metro in the nation, according to a 2016 report released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. A growing economy means higher incomes and more spending power in the Austin area.
In 2016, Austin was also named the city with the most entrepreneurs and startup companies, according to the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity.
The only other Texas city to crack WalletHub's top 20 list was Irving, a Dallas-Fort Worth area suburb.