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Moving to Austin - Neighborhood Advice

Chomp-ChompChomp-Chomp Shonen PrincessRegistered User regular
So, I'll be moving to Austin, TX in January, and I'd like to get some information on the various districts and neighborhoods so I can make sense of these Craigslist rental ads.

For example: North, North West, Central, Round Rock, Arboretum... ? All of them, really. What are these areas like?

What kind of people live there? Which parts are sprawly suburbs? Which parts are dense urban? Mass transit? Shops? Ghettos? Bike safe / fucked without car? Are any of these neighborhoods not really inside Austin?

What are the key selling points of each neighborhood? What's the cool stuff there?

If it helps, you can make comparisons to neighborhoods in Seattle, New Orleans, and Manhattan; I've lived in these places and can understand those analogies.

Posts

  • PirusuPirusu Pierce Registered User regular
    The biggest questions you need to answer for yourself are: Where are you working and what is your housing budget?

    Round Rock/Georgetown are going to be your "sprawling suburbs" but they're still tucked in pretty close to Austin proper.

    North Austin is more suburb-y, it's much more spread out, but is also where the big tech companies are (Samsung, Dell has a campus here, Apple, the new GM Tech Center, etc). It's more expensive to live in this area than, say, East Austin (which is where I'd say the "ghettos" are, basically East of I-35 and south of Parmer Lane aka FM 734). It's less expensive than downtown/Arboretum/Cedar Park/South West austin. The people who live here are reflected in that - tends to be families/tech people.



    Downtown is going to be the "hip/fun" place to be. It's where all the iconic stuff tends to happen, SXSW, ACL, 6th Street, etc etc. It tends to be young adults/college kids/tourists who hang out in this area, and the only people who can afford to actually live here are transplants from the Bay Area/North East. With apartment rents in this area being the most expensive. Downtown is also going to be the only "dense urban" part of Austin, though we aren't as spread out in the surrounding areas as Dallas or Houston. Austin is just a much smaller city, area wise.

    Public transportation is...bad to okay. There IS a CapMetro train, but it's next to worthless as it shares lines with the normal railroad, and doesn't even stack up to Dallas' metro line, let alone the NYC area. The buses are decent, but they're still buses.

    Austin is small enough that if you live in the downtown area, a bike is really all you need, and it does have a large cycling population. That being said, it's Texas. You might want a car.

    The arboretum is similarly priced, though less expensive than downtown.


    I have personal experience living in East Austin (right off of 183, in the Airport Blvd./Manor Road area) and it is not the best part of town. Definitely poorer, higher crime rates. Rent is cheaper though, and nothing bad happened to either my wife or myself.

    I'm currently in Pflugerville, which is a small suburb north east of Austin (South East of Round Rock). I love it - the town itself is easy access to the rest of the Austin metro area, it's sandwiched between the toll roads and I-35, close access to shops, etc. But it also has a "small town" feel to it with lots of townie events at the local parks and whatnot. It also has one of the better school districts in the area, so there's lots of families here.

    South Austin (South starts just south of the Colorado River/Town Lake/Lady Bird Lake) tends to be where the hippies/hipsters are, and it definitely has a unique charm all its own, and South East now has the Circuit of the Americas, which not only has F1 races but other events (like the X Games starting next year).

    You also can't discount the areas a little further out like Manor, Hutto, Leander, etc, especially if you're looking at planting roots here.

    Austin and Pflugerville (anywhere in Travis County) have the highest property tax rates in the area, so if you're looking at buying a house, buying in Williamson County will be cheaper (This includes Round Rock).

    This is really disjointed and not very well organized, but if you have any other questions, I'll be happy to answer them.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    We just moved to Austin! My boyfriend made a thread and we got some choice info from it:
    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/180121/places-to-live-in-austin?new=1

    But you'll want/need a car. It seems a bit crazy to live around here without one. We ended up in "The Domain" which is a giant ritzy mall and we hate it and are going to move as soon as our lease is up. Its mostly the specific building and being inside the mall we hate, the surrounding area has a nice selection of grocery stores, and its nice for me to be able to hit costco/wholefoods/heb/natural grocers within 10 minutes of each other.

    I wish I could give you more info, but we are still learning ourselves!

  • Mad JazzMad Jazz gotta go fast AustinRegistered User regular
    The best place I ever lived in Austin was on South Congress just south of Riverside. It's more expensive than most of the places listed above, but the location is out of control amazing. That said, I've lived in pretty much every part of the city except for the East side, and there's enough variation between areas that you can get exactly what you want in a neighborhood if you have an idea of what you're looking for going in. Pirusu's post is pretty spot on. One thing I'll add about CapMetro is that the goodness/badness of the system is totally dependent on where you are and where you're going. When I was finishing up some stuff at UT, I primarily took the bus and it worked out great for me (and that was from SoCo and North Austin at different times).

    Anyway, you'll love the city, especially if you dig going to see live music; moving away was one of the worst things ever. I continually look for excuses to make the drive up. Feel free to PM if you have any specific questions, although my specific housing information will be ~16 months out of date at this point.

    camo_sig2.png
  • PirusuPirusu Pierce Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    I realized you said you were looking at Craigslist rental ads - as someone who was used to trawling Craigslist for rentals, it's much harder to do in Austin. Most of those ads are placed by apartment locators who give the absolute minimum of details.

    These are usually licensed real estate agents who work with local apartments who pay them a "finders fee" meaning it's free for you. This was really weird for us when we first moved here, and we had an awful first experience.

    But when you find a good one (And I'll be happy to recommend the one we ultimately used, she was awesome) it really does make things easier. Tell them your budget, what area you want to live in, what amenities you're looking for, etc and (again, the good ones) they will take you around to the different properties.

    Also, as an overall caveat, Austin is currently at ~97% rental capacity, with so many people moving here. Even though you're moving during an "off time" and prices will be cheaper, don't expect a whole lot of deals. Places don't have to offer deals as apartments just don't remain on the market very long, and houses go even quicker.

    Pirusu on
  • SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    As stated, specifics like amount of space needed and budget, and what sort of nightlife or activities you're looking for would help to narrow things down.

    I generally prefer Austin north of the river(and north of the university), between the two main north-south highways, and south of the intersecting highway 183. However, renting inside that box won't be cheap for non-tiny apartments, maybe $850+ as a general number, but along the edges of that box to the north it gets a lot more feasible.

    PSN: Kurahoshi1
  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    My personal recommendation would depend entirely where you're going to be working. Traffic sucks here, and our mass transit is on the poor side of crappy, so the less you have to commute, the better. I live in Round Rock (for the past 7 years, after living in South Austin for 4 years before that) and love it, but I hate my drive and if my employer weren't offering me the chance to start working from home, I would be looking for a job north of Austin.

  • Chomp-ChompChomp-Chomp Shonen Princess Registered User regular
    Pirusu wrote: »
    I realized you said you were looking at Craigslist rental ads - as someone who was used to trawling Craigslist for rentals, it's much harder to do in Austin. Most of those ads are placed by apartment locators who give the absolute minimum of details.

    These are usually licensed real estate agents who work with local apartments who pay them a "finders fee" meaning it's free for you. This was really weird for us when we first moved here, and we had an awful first experience.

    But when you find a good one (And I'll be happy to recommend the one we ultimately used, she was awesome) it really does make things easier. Tell them your budget, what area you want to live in, what amenities you're looking for, etc and (again, the good ones) they will take you around to the different properties.

    Also, as an overall caveat, Austin is currently at ~97% rental capacity, with so many people moving here. Even though you're moving during an "off time" and prices will be cheaper, don't expect a whole lot of deals. Places don't have to offer deals as apartments just don't remain on the market very long, and houses go even quicker.

    This rental agent thing is interesting. So, do I contact the agent through craigslist, or should I actually look up an agency? I wouldn't mind having someone on the ground do the legwork for me.

    Thanks for the advice so far, and here are some more details to help!

    2 people, would prefer 2 bedrooms.

    One car (S.O.'s car, I'd like to get back into biking)

    S.O. is enrolling in UT Austin, so close to university is nice.


    Something I'm very concerned about is internet speed and availability. Hows the market? Which parts of town are wired better? What about Google Fiber, which I hear is coming eventually?

    I'd really like to forgo all TV and cable and just do internet; which section of Austin is this possible/impossible in?


    And thanks again guys, keep it coming!

  • PirusuPirusu Pierce Registered User regular
    Sounds like the area Septus mentioned is right up your alley, though that's basically the Arboretum, which is a little pricier. This area the bus access is great, though, and you could definitely bike downtown.

    Internet availability isn't bad. Time Warner and AT&T are both in the area, with AT&T offering its highest tier 25Mbps package, and Time Warner I believe is offering 50Mbps. There's also a local cable company that services parts of Austin, (Grande Cable) and it is generally considered fantastic. You can do just internet with any of the companies. So as long as you're within the Austin City Limits, you should have zero trouble with internet. The outskirts is where stuff gets gross, like areas of Hutto only offering Sudden Link, which is awful.

    Google Fiber is still in the infrastructure stages at this point. They aren't going to start doing the neighborhood surveys until early next year, so who knows where they'll end up.

    I'm going to send you a message with the contact information for the locator we used - she's an awesome older lady. We met her at a grocery store parking lot, and she drove us herself in her car to all the properties she found that matched our criteria.

  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    for internet I reccomend grande communications, they are a bit cheaper and all around less shitty than time warner.

    I live just short of cedar park off 183 and it's not too bad. I am moving closer to downtown for a job this january though... not looking forward to the traffic...

    Local H Jay on
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Holy crap how have I missed two Austin threads?

    Everyone else has covered the basics, so I'll just say welcome!

    Also, Hey @Pirusu

    I'm also in Pflugerville!

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    Grande has a 110 mbit offering right now, but they are not available throughout Austin, and it's not obvious where they have service. They are based out of San Marcos, but there are bits of north Austin where they have residential service.

    I would not base my residential decision on where Grande has service though. Your commute has a large bearing on your well being. Cap Metro has decent round trips for your SO into/out of campus. So where you work would be a big determinant in where you live, but only if you don't want to hate life.

    AT&T uverse has been pretty solid for me though I'd go grande if i wanted to cordcut.

    Djeet on
  • Chomp-ChompChomp-Chomp Shonen Princess Registered User regular
    Excellent info!

    Okay, one more question:

    I want to get back into biking, and I hear that Austin is relatively bike friendly. Good so far.

    But, are there any areas of town that are inaccessible by bicycle?

    Like, can you get under/over the highways? Over the river? Which parts have the best lanes/most connectivity?


  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    Here.. Mapmyride will give you changes in elevation. Use these 2 to figure out routes. Crossing mopac on steck is ridonkulous.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Excellent info!

    Okay, one more question:

    I want to get back into biking, and I hear that Austin is relatively bike friendly. Good so far.

    But, are there any areas of town that are inaccessible by bicycle?

    Like, can you get under/over the highways? Over the river? Which parts have the best lanes/most connectivity?


    There are a ton of cycling routes and plenty of off-road trails as well... I'm going to guess dropping into some of the local bike shops is going to pay off for you. Commuting by bike will be very hit-or-miss depending on where you're located and where you need to go, but there's a robust cycling community for road and offroad interests.

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