Austin is a unique city, with hilly, green terrain and academic, creative and high tech sectors that make the Texas capital one of the most desirable places to live – in the state and in the country. The city saw unprecedented growth in the last decade, and the laid back, easygoing traits that made it so attractive still apply. What is not to like about a city whose unofficial slogan is “Keep Austin Weird”?
What is it known for?
The city lives up to its official
slogan as well – the “live music capital
of the world” – with hundreds of gigs going on a month, playing any and all
types of music. Not to mention annual institutions like Austin City Limits and South
by Southwest (SXSW), which has morphed from a music festival into a
full-fledged film and interactive media event. From Tex Mex to vegan, restaurants
are crowded with hipsters, musicians, students, government workers and tech
American football games for the University of Texas Longhorns are
enjoyed by almost everyone — you’ll see a lot of UT longhorn stickers on car
windows as you drive through town — and the 50,000 students make their presence
known with a massive campus near the heart of downtown. The local hiking and
biking trails, and pools like Barton Springs, plus the generally pleasant
climate, make enjoying the outdoors a favourite pastime as well.
Overall, Austin’s reputation as an unconventional, liberal-minded city
in the conservative state of Texas entices many people from around the state
and the country to move here. Austinites strive to keep their city fun-loving and
full of character.
Where do you want to live?
It is very popular to live in downtown
Austin near the music venues, bars and restaurants of Sixth Street and there are
many apartments and condos in the surrounding area. Plus it is close to the
main UT campus.
Just west of downtown, Clarksville is hugely popular for its
neighbourhood feel, parks and area amenities. Across Town Lake, the South
Congress district, known to realtors as SoCo, has gentrified over the last
decade and is now home to a lot of new housing, restaurants and hip boutiques.
Just northwest of the downtown core, the affluent Tarrytown neighbourhood
attracts government workers and families, drawn to the historic housing stock
and parkland on the shores of Lake Austin.
The east side of town, across Highway 35, had traditionally been
overlooked, but housing prices and new developments are forcing potential
buyers to pay attention. “There was a land rush over there in the past five
years,” said Judith Bundschuh, the 2011 chairman of the Austin Board of
Realtors. Mueller Austin is a mixed-use urban development built on grounds of
the former airport, just across the highway from downtown.
Many of the tech companies are in northwest Austin and the city of Round
Rock, so that makes those areas very popular. “Northwest Austin suburbs, such
as Cedar Park, are in demand, because you can still get affordable homes and
there are great school districts,” Bundschuh said. There is also a light rail
from northwest Austin to downtown.
When Austinites tire of waterskiing in Lake Austin or hiking the local hills,
they head down to the Gulf Coast towns and beaches of Rockport and Port
Aransas, about a three-and-a-half hour drive. Closer to home, Fredericksburg in
the Hill Country is a popular getaway for the dozen
of wineries and historic
B&Bs, as is the San Antonio River Walk, which is just about an hour away.
It is a three-hour drive to Houston, a popular city break for the great
modern art museums and restaurants. Or you can fly there for around $100. The
airport has frequent flights to Houston and Dallas and non-stop service to
destinations such as New York, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle.
Because of Austin’s unique attributes, from its youthful, well-educated
population to its green terrain, it did not suffer the same downturn as the
rest of Texas over the past five years. It took a dip, but recently sales have
been booming. “Realtors are busier and the city’s fundamentals and job numbers
are helping turn it around,” Bundschuh said. “Overall the market is up.”
Buyers should be aware that while Texas has no income tax, property
taxes can be high and vary wildly from area to area. Also, the traffic in
Austin has become increasingly clogged and there is not an extensive public
transport system. “I recommend people drive the route they are going to take
before they buy,” Bundschuh advised.
Downtown condo prices can range from $300,000 and up, while
single-family homes in Clarksville and South Congress can range from $300,000
to $450,000. Rent in the same areas is around $1,200 a month. Farther into
South Austin the lots get bigger and the
prices smaller. Overall the median house price for Austin is around $250,000.
Austin Chronicle: alt-weekly with
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Austin 360: city guide to
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SXSW: site for the US’ hippest 10-day
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