Williamson County is the fourteenth fastest-growing county in the nation and fourth in the state of Texas. With smart growth and a strong economy, Williamson County is often ranked in many other national listings as providing a safe, vibrant and affordable place to live.
Again this year, the U.S. News and World Report ranked Austin as America’s best city to live in, as part of its annual rankings of the 100 largest cities in the country. Additionally, Round Rock, Williamson County’s largest city, was designated the 18th best city to raise a family in America by Niche, which takes into account quality of schools, crime rate, housing trends, employment statistics and access to amenities.
Clearly, life is good here. And more and more people are discovering this. From a quaint rural area, Williamson County has doubled its population in the last decade and is one of the fastest- growing areas in the United States. It is no longer a sleepy bedroom suburb north of Austin; it’s a thriving community with major employers and amenities, but one that offers its residents the chance to get away from it all.
Williamson County straddles a transition zone where Texas Blackland Prairie, with its rich, fertile farmland, gives way to the Upland of the Texas Hill Country, with its undulating, rocky terrain which features hardwood trees, rivers and vistas. Bisecting the county from north to south (essentially along I-35) is the Balcones Escarpment, the surface expression of
the Balcones Fault, which has cliffs, hills and caves. Running through the center of the county is the San Gabriel River and underneath it, the Edwards Aquifer, fed by rainwater percolating through the porous, honeycombed limestone of the area.
All this scenic topography, together with generally pleasant weather, means the folks of Williamson County get to enjoy the outdoors year-round. Even if you’re not interested in golfing, hunting, hiking or fishing, it’s delightful to sip a latte on an outdoor patio, gather with friends for a backyard barbeque or picnic in some of the finest parks in Texas. With about 228 sunny days a year, an average January low of 37 degrees and an average July high of 95, the weather is mostly warm and welcoming.
But there’s lots to do inside, too. The numerous excellent institutions of higher learning are a breeding ground for a lively arts scene. Many artists, arts supporters and art councils and projects work to ensure an enriching cultural life. Perhaps inspired by the local scenic beauty, visual and performance artists, and musicians abound. There are a multitude of performance spaces, artistic schools, and museums, so it’s easy to be inspired.
Yes, families are flocking to Williamson County, with its opportunities for employment, exemplary school districts, major medical centers, institutions of higher education, well-managed communities and award-winning park systems. It offers an outstanding quality of life in an urban, small-town or country setting.
Starting in the middle of the southern border of Williamson County, there is a thick concentration of people, but this thins out as you progress outward to the borders of the county. The communities range from the urban frenzy of Austin, which spills into Williamson County from the south, to the city of Round Rock, to smaller cities like Cedar Park and Georgetown, to charming towns like Leander, Taylor and Hutto, to rural villages, and beyond to vast open spaces of ranch and farmland. The following is a brief description of just a few of the places people live in Williamson County.
Cedar Park is on the northern edge of Austin and features 47 city parks and 22 trails covering 98 miles. But it’s a bustling high-tech employer hub too, with a median age of 35 years, 49.2 percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher and an average household income of $101,845. Cedar Park offers high quality of life, with low cost of living.
Georgetown, was founded back in 1791 when the county seat moved there from Lewes. It is home to the most beautiful town square in Texas as well as the highly-respected Southwestern Univerisity and the active retirment community of Sun City. With a city government that keeps infrastructure and the transportation system ahead of growth and encourages business, over the past few years multiple new jobs have been added to the city providing room for those looking to relocate.
Hutto is the only town in America to adopt the hippo as its mascot, and there is now an entire herd of concrete hippos outside of local homes, businesses and buildings in a show of community solidarity. Once a sleepy town 30-miles from downtown Austin, Hutto is now home to many jobs and the Eastern Williamson County Higher Education Center.
The small community of Jarrell (about 38-miles north of Austin’s downtown) offers a cost of living that is about 10 percent lower than the national average, quality public schools and wide open spaces where you can grow a garden and raise a family.
In recent years, the city of Round Rock has received the following national accolades: 5th-safest city, 3rd best city to raise a family, 13th most affordable city and 12th best city for retirement, which is why it was ranked 9th fastest-growing city in America. With a population of around 133,372 residents, Round Rock is not just a cool Austin suburb; it is a dynamic city with an exciting cultural scene, a commitment to youth sports and the worldwide headquarters of Dell. One of the best managed cities in the state, Round Rock maintains a high quality of life in the face of rapid development.
Sun City in Georgetown is an age-restricted community where residents can drive golf carts on the streets. It is made up mostly of single-family dwellings, but also has duplexes and includes three golf courses, Legacy Hills, White Wing, and Cowan Creek. With many amenities and activities, residents don’t have to slow down just because they’re retired.
In Williamson County, newcomers have choices. There are stunning new residential developments with all the latest features and amenities, established tree-lined neighborhoods and quaint historic homes. But there are also working and gentlemen’s ranches, farms, and tracts with water frontage or hilltop views. You can have a backyard on the 18th green or a smart home with a golf cart in the garage. There are master-planned communities with handsome custom homes and communities of the year. And there are lots for sale of a half an acre to hundreds of acres.
But all are situated in a setting of natural beauty with easy access to work, school and play.
Business and Economy
Many employees in Williamson County don’t have to commute to Austin. Large employers and other businesses have transformed Williamson County into a dynamic self-sustaining community with less dependency on its big southern neighbor. Since establishing its worldwide headquarters in Round Rock, Dell, Inc. has led the way in the development of the high-tech sector of the county, which now also includes NXP Semiconductors, Emerson, Oracle, and a new Apple corporate campus in 2020. Many other business sectors are represented in the county too, including agriculture and agribusiness, manufacturing and assembly, oil and drilling, government and education, tourism, construction, real estate and health care. Major retail and commercial developments have been appearing, including the Rivery in Georgetown, the Premium Outlet Mall, the IKEA-area retail development and the La Frontera in Round Rock. In addition, two new colleges and two new hospitals have opened in the last five years. All are significant economic contributors to the robust economy.
Williamson County is pro-business. There are large tracts of land available for the development of sprawling corporate campuses, and a highly educated and youthful population lives nearby. An efficient transportation infrastructure of high-speed toll roads, freeways, railroads and airports assures ready movement of people and goods. The area boasts low unemployment rates, reasonable wages, high standards of living, but low cost of living, little crime and low taxes.
Employment opportunities are drawing people in from all over the U.S., and they’re choosing to live in Williamson County. The excellent school system from Pre-K through a variety of colleges, is the perfect partnership to build the future here. When you add the excellent quality of life, cost of living, and charm of the locals, you will look no further for your forever home.
Learning is a priority in Williamson County, which boasts a highly educated population. The county has 15 independent school districts and over 170 public schools that offer education from pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade. All Texas public schools are rated by the Texas Education Agency which oversees curriculum standards and college and career readiness. Public schools in the area offer a wide range of programs, extra-curricular activities, advanced academics, college courses, and even vocational, technical and career training.
In addition, charter schools operate to provide flexible education to meet the needs of individual students and encourage innovation in education. They are free and provide the same academic and financial accountability as public school districts. Williamson County has many college preparatory, charter, private and parochial schools to choose from.
As far as advanced educational oppor- tunities, the county is home to many institutions of higher learning. Austin Community College (in Cedar Park and Round Rock), Texas A&M in Hutto, Texas State Technical College in Hutto and Taylor, Temple Junior College in Hutto and Taylor, National American University and Southwestern University in Georgetown are all located in the county.
It’s good for you to be in Williamson County, which, once again, was ranked as one of the healthiest in Texas. The 2018 county health rankings rank the county as the second healthiest place to live among 242 counties in Texas.
Not only does fresh air and lifestyle contribute to health, but access to care does too. Seton Medical Center Williamson is the largest hospital in the county, providing unique and advanced features like a healing garden, state-of-the-art technology and a dedicated women’s center.
Cedar Park Regional Medical Center is a new $125 million medical center serving western Williamson County with a full-service hospital, physician offices, labs and diagnostic services. St. David’s Georgetown Hospital is an acute-care hospital with intensive care, 24-hour emergency services, inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient therapy. The hospital is now a nationally certified Chest Pain Center, allowing more rapid assessment and treatment of cardio- vascular and stroke patients.
Choosing alternative transportation and combining more than one mode helps us all get around and out more efficiently. Bus and bike, park and ride, rail, or a combination – all are available in Williamson County.
The county maintains a network of approximately 1,400-miles of county roads that cross an area of 1,124 square-miles and connect to state highways and freeways. The area’s major ones are I-35, State Highways 45, 130, Loop 1, US Highway 183 and 183A. With the population of Williamson County projected to hit 2 million by 2050, it’s good to know that county and transportation officials continue to plan and add new transportation options to keep Williamson County moving.
MetroRail offers comfortable and reliable train service between the city of Leander and downtown Austin along the 26-mile line. The Downtown Austin Station is conveniently located outside the Austin Convention Center on 4th Street. Additional lines are being planned to connect downtown Austin to other Williamson County communities over the next few years Capital Metro offers transit services in an around Round Rock connecting to Tech Ridge and the Howard Metro Rail Station. Morning and evening transit is also offered from Round Rock to Austin along North Mopac Express. City officials and Capital Metro partnered to provide real transportation alternatives for Williamson County. “We’re proud of our partnerships with the cities and agencies in the region and are thrilled to be able to provide public transit for the people of Round Rock,” said Capital Metro President/ CEO Linda Watson. Capital Metro has also been working with the city of Georgetown to expand their public transit options within Georgetown. The collaboration is called Go Geo, which is the city’s new fixed-route bus system that recently launched and has been off to a successful start. It has enabled residents to easily move through and around Georgetown to run simple errands and commute to work.
Other public transportation options in Williamson County are offered through the Capital Area Rural Transportation System, known by locals as CARTS. They operate more than sixty buses from seven transit stations located throughout Williamson County. Fixed-route service is available to anyone in the service area, and CARTS also provides curb-to-curb service, also known as on-call service, for mobility-impaired individuals and individuals in need of special assistance in the CARTS service area.
Austin Bergstrom International Airport is the major air hub in the area, but several private and public airports, including Georgetown Municipal Airport and Taylor Municipal Airport, serve the residents of Williamson County.
Things to Do
Visitors and locals gather for celebrations like Round Rock’s Pioneer Days Festival or Music on the Square summer concerts in Georgetown. They enjoy softball or tennis at the Williamson County Regional Park or play a round of golf at any of the many courses in the area. They drop deep inside the earth to discover dramatic formations and prehistoric fossils at the Inner Space Cavern. They taste an award-winning drop or get away for a weekend at a local winery.
Residents can also take advantage of the scenic topography, sparkling lakes and gurgling streams to boat, hike, hunt, fish, cycle, rock climb and gather with friends for a picnic.
The arts are also celebrated throughout Williamson County, which each year sees many festivals, performances and experiences. Galleries, museums and exhibitions also occur year-round and in many locations.
And while it’s easy to stay at home and enjoy excellent creations, crafts and concerts, locals also travel down the road to take advantage of Austin’s world-class art and music scene.
Shopping and Dining
There’s plenty of stuff to buy in Williamson County. From boutiques to department stores, markets to malls, supermarkets to superstores, you can find it here. The family-friendly Premium Outlets at Round Rock consists of 125 stores with 25 percent to 65 percent off everyday prices and has become a popular shopping destination. The eclectic and quaint shops around
Georgetown’s historic square offer art, antiques, artisan crafts and more. The numerous malls across the county house a collection of national retailers and restaurants. And there are many farmers markets held on a variety of days in numerous locations for local produce and products. The wide range of restaurants in Williamson County will please every palate, preference and pocketbook. You will find eateries that serve traditional Chinese, Southern, and down-home cooking. There are places that dish out Asian Fusion, Irish Pub food, German meals, French confections and Italian fare. Plus, you can find Tex-Mex, Cajun/Creole and barbeque. Here, you can enjoy restaurants that grow their own menu items or source local produce. There are chefs who are creating works of art and cooks sharing recipes handed down from their mothers and grandmothers.
The eclectic enthusiasm for all things to eat and a practically year-round growing season mean it’s easy to enjoy a fresh and wonderful meal.
Active Adults and Senior Living
Seniors can be as active as they want in Williamson County, as the weather allows for outdoor activities year-round. The Sun City development in Georgetown offers golf, games and good times for people over 55 – the ones who may have stopped working and are ready to play. There are also a wide variety of senior living apartments, and assisted living and full-care manors and facilities.
Many people have recently moved into Williamson County – the U.S. Census indicates it has grown by 39.8 percent over the last ten years – and more are coming. So, the companies, services and systems for moving in, sorting out and setting up are all in place. In this guide, you’ll find the information and contacts you’ll need for relocation services, utilities and local laws to help you get settled as quickly and painlessly as possible.