Editor’s note: As 2022 comes to a close, we're looking back at the stories that defined Austin this year. We've covered food, real estate, and travel, and now it's time to set our sights on Austin at large. This year, we saw big economic gains in Austin, both in where people live, and where people spend their free time. Some Austinites are riding the wave, and some are hoping for better balance in 2023 as the pendulum keeps swinging. Here are the 10 most-read Austin stories of 2022.
1. This surprising place should be ‘the next Austin,’ says Bloomberg columnist. Bloomberg Opinion columnist Conor Sen, founder of Atlanta-based Peachtree Creek Investments, made the case for the mountainous Northwest Arkansas region to be the Austin-in-waiting. He said the region is an ideal destination for folks who feel they’ve been priced out of Austin.
The formerly sleepy — and always gorgeous — region of Northwest Arkansas could be the next Austin.
2. $45 million Lake Travis mansion makes a splash as most expensive home for sale in Texas. A Lake Travis estate fit for a celebrity hit the market at $45 million this spring. The property came with big-as-Texas bragging rights, as it was the priciest home on the market in Texas at the time. In 2013, the estate was listed for sale at just $15 million.
3. Austin drops out of top 10 on U.S. News’ list of best places to live. Austin was knocked out of the top 10 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the best places to live in the U.S. The Austin metro area tumbled from No. 5 in 2021 to No. 13 in 2022. Austin ranked No. 3 in 2020, and No. 1 in 2017, 2018, and 2019. It remained the top-ranked place in Texas, though.
4. Austin rolls out the welcome mat as America's nicest city in new ranking. Language-learning app Preply surveyed more 1,500 residents of the country’s largest metropolitan areas to determine which cities are home to the politest people and the rudest people. Fortunately, Austin topped the list of the polite cities (or, put another way, the least rude ones).
5. Texas' largest crystal lagoon dives into summer with floating cabanas and more. Lagoonfest Texas returned for its third year with crystal-blue water, white beaches, and the favorite aquabanas — the floating cabanas. The festival ran Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day in the Houston suburb of Texas City. Visitors saw cabanas on the beach and on the water and the largest inflatable obstacle course in the nation located on a crystal lagoon.
6. Popular podcaster Joe Rogan tied to new downtown Austin comedy club. A new comedy club associated with local comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan is on tap for downtown Austin’s vacant Ritz Theater, formerly home to Alamo Drafthouse. Asylum Real Estate Holdings, which bought the landmark last year from Craddock Properties, plans to convert the theater into a venue called Comedy Mothership, according to public records.
Landing soon at the Ritz: Comedy Mothership.Alamo Drafthouse/Instagram
7. 4 Austin billionaires join Elon Musk on Forbes' list of the world's richest.Forbes magazine’s 2022 ranking of the world’s richest people put Musk at No. 1, with a net worth of $219 billion. That’s up from $151 billion in 2021, $24.6 billion in 2020, $22.3 billion in 2019, and $19.9 billion in 2018. CEO of Austin-based vehicle manufacturer Tesla and leader of a host of other businesses, Musk was ranked second on Forbes’ 2021 list. He sat behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
8. Austin-based Hopdoddy beefs up with acquisition of popular Texas burger brand. In early 2022, Austin-based Hopdoddy Burger Bar acquired Bryan-based Grub Burger Bar to form a new company that unites two of Texas’ most prominent better-burger joints. Now known as HiBar Hospitality Group, the new company is led by Hopdoddy CEO Jeff Chandler, with Grub founder and CEO Jimmy Loup taking a seat on the board of directors.
9. Austin housing market to see most dramatic shift in 2023, forecast shows. A summer forecast envisioned a massive shift in Austin’s homebuying market next year. By July 2023, the Austin metro area is projected to witness the most dramatic swing from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market among the country’s 100 largest metro areas, according to the Knock real estate platform.
10. Austin’s first ‘supertall’ tower could be the tallest building in Texas. Plans are underway for what would be the first “supertall” building in Austin — and perhaps the tallest building in Texas. In April, Augustine Verrengia, civil market leader at civil engineering firm WGI, said the height of a 74-story tower on tap for 98 Red River St., near the Austin Convention Center, would exceed 1,000 feet. He claims it would earn status as the tallest building in Texas.