If you’re moving to a new city like Austin, it’s crucial that you study the location before planting your roots. Consider factors like your job location; traffic; preferred activities; personal characteristics; mode of transportation; as well as your budget, including aspects like housing, transportation, entertainment, etc.
The Traffic Scoop
Austin’s traffic is noteworthy if you are thinking about commuting. The city is working and planning to allow for greater mobility and accessibility throughout Central Texas, including projects like the Urban Rail, TX-45 toll extension, and improvements to Mopac, IH-35, and the US 290 Intersection, to name a few. However, traffic is still an important and unavoidable factor to work into your daily plans and travel. Study this estimated traffic time chart, view Google’s Austin Traffic Map or the Statesman’s Traffic Map, and/or consider finding the right smart phone app to alleviate your traffic concerns.
The Neighborhood Low-Down
Below is a snap shot of each major area in Austin.
Downtown: Ideal for those who work downtown and want to avoid long commute times, as well as those who are seeking convenient access to live music, bars, restaurants, and more. You won’t need a car (but you will need a bike) if you plan to work, play, exercise, and live here.
Central Austin Neighborhoods: The area along Mopac/Loop 1 includes some of Austin’s wealthiest neighborhoods, including Bryker Woods, Clarksville, Enfield, Tarrytown, and Rosedale. This area is known for rolling hills, older homes, “McMansions,” plush green lawns, etc. The areas north of UT Campus, like Hyde Park, include a diverse mix of 1950s architecture and Victorian-styled homes. Brentwood, Crestview, and Allandale sport homes built in the 1950’s and 60′s, are typically larger floor plans than downtown homes, and have good school districts.
West Austin: Another one of Austin’s wealthier areas adorning some high-end homes, great school districts, and convenient access to shopping. This area ranges from Mopac/Loop 1 to Lake Travis. Westlake Hills has a reasonable reach to central Austin, while the Lake Travis area is about a 30-minute drive, not including traffic. Home construction ranges from the 1960’s to today.
South Austin (78704): The saying, “Keep Austin Weird,” can best be seen alive in South Austin. This area includes the coveted South Congress (SOCO) and is known for its eclectic and funky mix of artists, families, hippies, tons of 20-somethings, liberals, naturalists, and so much more. Neighborhoods include Travis Heights, Bouldin Creek, and Barton Hills. If you’re budget conscious, consider the areas beyond the 78704 zip code.
Southwest Austin: This area includes Oak Hill and Circle C Ranch, both of which have highly-rated school districts. Tucked away, Oak Hill is ideal for middle-income households. Circle C Ranch is about 15 minutes from downtown and has great amenities and moderately priced homes.
Southeast Austin: Comprised of an abundant amount of rentals, you’ll find UT students and people looking for a more affordable housing option than South Austin. There are newer subdivisions growing closer to the airport area, too.
East Austin: This up-and-coming area is filled with hipsters, artists, young professionals, trendy shops and restaurants, accommodates a wide price range, and offers the best chance for a bargain. Architecture is mostly older with some Victorian homes and has some newer construction, like the Mueller development.
North Austin: This area has plenty of space for families, offers a wide range of affordable housing options, and provides easy access to great shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. Round Rock, Pflugerville, and Cedar Park all have highly-rated school districts, too. If you work downtown, consider the commuting drive time.
West Campus/UT Campus: This area has a large student population, as it is situated around the University of Texas campus. Think college students, restaurants, shopping, bars, lots of foot traffic, coffee shops, Greek life…you get the point.
For more information, the City of Austin is a great resource, as is this list of maps. Learn more about where newcomers to Austin are settling in the Austin Business Journal’s interactive map. Still not sure? Take this quiz. Visit AustinHomeSearch.com’s Community Information page for more information, including school districts and Home Owner Associations & Property Owner Associations. As always, talk with your REALTOR® about which area would be best for your family. No matter where you land, you’ll join one of the world’s biggest hot spots!