Welcome home to Texas! As far as residency I think that topic is covered below. As for the critter issue, I would contact Jan Peterson with One Spot Pest Control. Jan's number is (760)622-8290. He provides a great service and is very knowledgable about removing or preventing all kinds of pests. I wish you luck!
Michael Foster http://www.heritagepestcontrolma.com/Residential-Pest-Contro
As far as pests, more established neighborhoods will have less as you've heard, as areas under construction have a tendency to disrupt and displace many pests as you have heard. A good pest control company is also recommended and you can even do it yourself in most cases. I treat my own home and have had very few unwanted guests!
As far as neighborhoods I would recommend, I would need to speak with you and get some more details such as price range, et cetera. If you're not yet working with a realtor and would like some excellent free professional representation, please contact me and I will be happy to guide you through the process from start to finish. I have a great team of Lenders, Inspectors, and Title people at my disposal.
Feel free to click on my photo, review my Credentials and Client Testimonials, and contact me if you like to further discuss your situation. Thanks, Joe Jarusinsky, Keller Williams Realty, Realtor/Master Instructor, 512-261-4415
As for questions regarding neighborhoods, there are a lot of them! Best to discuss them on a case by case basis, rather than trying to define a community as diverse as Austin by simplistic discussions of what "good" neighborhoods are. It's more in the eye of the beholder than anything that is generic.
Feel free to contact me anytime to discuss any questions you have, and if you would like more information regarding Austin I'd be happy to send you a relocation package.
Because it is so vague, I would contact these people:
Student Services Division
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
PO Box 12788
Austin TX 78711-2788
(800) 242-3062, ext. 6387
If you need any additional help, feel free to reach out. Downtown and Central Austin are my specialties.