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zophu's avatar

Austin, TX: What are some of the best ways to live in and around the city?

Asked by zophu (5701points) August 28th, 2010

. . .when you make very little money, know no one in town, and are of a sensitive disposition?

I’m looking for a minimalistic studio or single-bedroom apartment in or around Austin, $300–475/m (optimism), not including utilities, with a bus route nearby.

I’m not too picky about the location as I’ll be working from home, but I’d like a place that has a distinctly not-crimey feel. An unsnobby-artistic-hippyish community vibe would be great.

I’d rather not have to depend upon a roommate(s) that I don’t know, but I’m not completely opposed to the idea. Is it still the best way to go even when all you need is the minimum? I’ve gotten great deals on apartments before, but never in a large city. I’d like to at least try renting a place on my own to start out with anyway.

These apartment listings websites annoy me greatly and I only have a couple of connections in the area; they aren’t very knowledgeable. I’ll be asking/looking around when I visit, and I’m making a list of specific places to check out. I’d love to hear any experiences you have to share. Advice is greatly appreciated.

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25 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Austinlad could probably help you with this.

Austinlad's avatar

Lots and lots of great areas in Austin, but I don’t know what rents are going for, as I own a house north of North Austin. I’‘ve also lived far South and suspect you’d find more what you’re looking for there.

mrentropy's avatar

This site looks like it covers downtown apartments pretty well, although $475 is a bit low. Unfortunately, I don’t know how the buses work around here since I drive, but here is the Capital Metro routes and times and stuff.

Do you have any idea if you want to be in town or in the outlaying areas?

zophu's avatar

@Austinlad Cool. I’ll start my search in the South, then.

@mrentropy Thanks for the links. I’d probably prefer the less dense areas, but I wont know for sure till I spend a few days in the city.

mrentropy's avatar

Damn. I may end up moving here unless I can swing a house in a year.

And hurry up and move so all four of us can have lunch at Panera.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Many people are beginning to move out of Austin because the Gulf Oil Spill is decimating the nearby beaches.

mrentropy's avatar

@Ben_Dover Do you have any citations on that? I haven’t heard anything about it, but then I’m not much for the news.

We’re almost in the middle of the state and our nearby beaches are on a lake. There are some rivers, but they go down to the Gulf, not up.

zophu's avatar

I don’t know but if the rumor spreads it might lower my rent, keep it up. :)

lillycoyote's avatar

Jeez, can you still get a one bedroom apartment in Austin for that kind of money? I paid $350 for mine and that was about 18 years ago and it was kind of “studenty”, you know, a little quirky and a little run down. It’s been a long time since I lived in Austin; but maybe you can find something near U.T.? Areas that cater to students tend to have lower rents.

zophu's avatar

@lillycoyote There’s a couple under $475 in @mrentropy‘s link. I’m hopeful.

lillycoyote's avatar

@zophu Great! Someday, I swear, I’m going to start actually reading what other people have posted on a thread before I comment. I understand that it’s a pretty good habit to get into and can increase the quality and usefullness of a person’s input :-)

zophu's avatar

@lillycoyote Oh, no problem. I had to dig to find them.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Ben_Dover Austin’s “nearby beaches”? What beaches? Lake Travis? Town Lake? Not exactly Gulf oil spill territory.

SeventhSense's avatar

I don’t know but I want a 300–400 apartment. That’s less than a third of my rent in NY.

mrentropy's avatar

@SeventhSense Back in the days when I would go to Austin visiting family we’d drive by a house that was for rent in the city. After seeing the price of the rent (like, $400 to $600 or whatever it was back then) my mom would say, “Oh my God, that’s so expensive!” At the same time I’d say, “Oh my God, that’s cheap!”

At the time I was living 50 miles away from NYC (in NJ) and was paying somewhere between $900 and $1,000 for a one bedroom apartment.

SeventhSense's avatar

Exactly. It’s like sweet! And you’re living in Austin!
Which of course is famous for uh…ummm..uhh

mrentropy's avatar

@SeventhSense Music. South by Southwest. Probably a lot of other things I haven’t paid attention to. But SxSW is a huge deal.

lillycoyote's avatar

@mrentropy South by Southwest was just getting started when I was living in Austin but now it really is huge, isn’t it?

mrentropy's avatar

@lillycoyote Yeah. It seems to encompass an awful lot these days. Music, movies, and technology shows. The SxSW web page is here. Maybe next year I’ll get to go.

For this years I was reading articles in a lot of non-local papers about it, on a whim.

lillycoyote's avatar

@mrentropy I was living in Austin when it started, which was in 1987, (previous life stuff) and at that point, SxSW was basically just a pretty cool, reasonably well organized and pretty interesting pub crawl. A whole lot more going on now, from what I understand!. And U.T. Austin has a very good film department, and Texas is the Third Coast after all, so integrating films and movies would have been a no brainer, and I understand that after I moved away, that would have been 1993, that a lot of tech companies migrated to town and that would all fit in too. I haven’t been back there since about 2002. I can’t imagine what it’s like now.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@mrentropy I only have the word of some friends who live there. they are pulling up stakes and moving on.
@lillycoyote Try looking at a map

funkdaddy's avatar

$475/mo is going to be tough to do solo, but easily achievable with a room mate. $750–800 gets you a decent two bedroom apartment if you look around, $950 might even get you a pretty decent house in some areas. Just something to consider, there’s always people looking for room mates, short or long term. Finishing up someone else’s lease with a room mate may be a good way to get moved here for a few months cheaply and make a more educated decision at that point?

If you can go just a little higher (over $500?) you’d probably find a lot more possibilities that open up for one bedrooms.

Either way, I’d start looking South as well as @mrentropy suggested, especially if you’re going to be using the bus. Maybe somewhere near Ben White (aka highway 71) between Mopac and I-35 would be great. Lots of good neighborhoods with their own vibe and lots to do without being overpriced. North of there is the whole SoCo/SoLa (South Congress and South Lamar) area that’s been the focus of a lot of the cool development that’s gone on lately, so you (and I) are probably priced out of there, but just south really has some cool neighborhoods at good prices and I’ve lived a couple places down in that area that I loved. Buses run throughout there and if you’re looking “hippy”, definitely start in South Austin.

You might also check out North central, north of 2222 (changes names about 5 times through town) but south of Braker has a lot of really good value and there are little pockets of really cool neighborhoods in there, without being too expensive.

East of 35 near downtown is a mixed bag, the areas that are developed tend to be expensive as they are close in and new construction, the areas that aren’t developed tend to be pretty sketchy. Everyone has their own tolerance though and if you want to be close to downtown that’s going to be the most affordable way.

The one other suggestion I’d make is that a lot of homes seem to be popping up with a small apartment in the back. Usually they’re in nicer neighborhoods but some of them can be pretty affordable. Check craigslist and the Austin Chronicle classifieds to start. Also great spots to find room mates if that’s an option.

Good luck with the move.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Ben_Dover Austin’s “nearby beaches” are about 4 hours driving distance. Galveston and Corpus Christi are both about 4 hours away. Those aren’t exactly “nearby.” How is the Gulf oil spill affecting Austin’s “nearby beaches”?

Ben_Dover's avatar

@lillycoyote The oil is coming ashore.

zophu's avatar

@funkdaddy Thanks! I’m making notes on my map now. :)

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