Rental Basics in Austin>Question Details

KH, Home Buyer in Pflugerville, TX

Want to explore the area...advice appreciated!

Asked by KH, Pflugerville, TX Thu Jan 22, 2009

Hello all,

My husband and I are considering relocating to the Austin area in the next month or two, and we may or may not have the chance to fly out there to check out the area before moving. We plan to rent to start, but we don't know the greater Austin area at all.

This might seem like a crazy question, but does anyone have advice on checking out neighborhoods and picking out possible apartments...from a distance? How does one figure out what neighborhoods are a good fit having never been there? Even if we fly out there, we need to narrow down our options to a few places to go look at as it would only be for a day or two. What resources would you recommend? We also might be open to renting a small house if the price was right.

Thank you in advance!
~JT Hill

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BEST ANSWER
Jt Hill, Here's how I would start to get a better idea of the possibilities. I would start checking in on a couple forums where people from Austin talk. What better place to hear opinions on all aspects of somewhere you are not that familiar with..
Like these....http://www.city-data.com/city/Austin-Texas.html ...has info on Austin and an active forum
http://www.austinchronicle.com/ ...alternative newspaper with forum
http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=messages&we…
You can find all kinds of places to ask questions from people who live there or just listen in and learn things you did not know about Austin.

http://www.zilpy.com/
http://www.rentometer.com/
I'd use these site to get comparables for rental trends/prices ect..

http://www.bhgrealestate.com/Views/Look/Default.aspx ..I'd use this site to help research neighborhoods, schools, crime, housing info. All info from county public records.
http://www.trulia.com/home_prices/Texas/Austin-heat_map/ ...lots of good info to be gotten from Trulias interactive map...
https://www.bidselect.com/servlet/RouterServlet?p_build_page… ...I'd keep an eye on this..

I'd cruise thru these REO bank sites to see what I could learn....http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/wiki/REO_Database_List.asp

I think those are the things I would start with...Dunes
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 30, 2009
Hi JT,

I have to agree that a five minute conversation with a realtor will really help you narrow down where you should focus pretty quickly. Having said that, here is a super quick overview of the major areas of Austin:

Central Austin is great - lots of young people, families, clubs, restaurants, hike and bike trails etc...It can also be a little pricey and the properties can be a little older. (I'm including SOCO or South Congress, downtown, UT campus area, Hyde Park...basically from Ben White Hwy in the south to Hwy 183 to the North, and Mopac to the west, I35 to the East)

North Austin you get into the sprawling suburbs - lots of new construction and space for your money. Chain restaurants and the like.

West Austin is scenic with lots of hills and lakes - can get pricey and can be a drive into town if you are commuting. Very beautiful, but no coffee shop culture if you're into that.

South Austin is reasonably priced, nice - not as much suburban sprawl as to the north, but still suburban.

I would steer clear of North-East and South-East Austin. Just east of downtown is a quirky, artists area, very up and coming, but certainly not for everyone!

Hope that helps! I'd be happy to chat with you on the phone or via email if you do have more questions. Good luck!

-Kam McCoy
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 23, 2009
Dear JT,
It was a real pleasure working with you this spring. I hope you are still happy with your home. Give me a call or email anytime if you need anything.
Sincerely,
Betina
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 20, 2009
Hello JT,

1st and foremost get with a good REALTOR, and establish a plan. Austin and the surrounding area is one of my favorite parts of the country (and I have been in all lower 48). There really are just too many options.

You need to hire a REALTOR and then start working on your needs and must have list, to start developing a plan of attack.

Good luck with your endeavors.

Jay Warren
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 30, 2009
Dear JT Hill,
The best place to start is to determine what you want from Austin and find out about your lifestyle. Do you have children? Where will you be working? Are you into fitness (do you want to be close to hike and bike trails? How much space do you need? What is your price range? Do you want a big yard or a pool? Do you need to be close to the university? If you can answer these questions it will give me a starting point to be able to suggest a neighborhood that will be a good fit for you. There are a multitude of different living options in Austin: downtown lofts or condos, suburbs, neighboring cities like Lakeway that offer resort style living on the lake. If you would email me these answers I can suggest some neighborhoods for you to look at. When do you plan to come to Austin to see properties and explore the city?
Sincerely,
Betina Foreman, Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 23, 2009
Hello JT,

It is difficult to determine a good fit over long distance. I believe your best bet is to have a conversation with a Realtor®, a friend or relative, or search for a club or organization that might be in line with your current activities, interests or clubs and locate a member or officer with which to have a conversation. Someone who shares your interests might be able to advise you on locations that best fit for you. Online, every neighborhood looks/sounds good and desirable. Austin is a great place filled with unique neighborhoods. I am sure that you will find a place that "fits".

Best regards,
Dugg
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 23, 2009
JT,

My web site would offer you assistances with your concerns about becoming familiar with the area. Following is a sample of some of the information what would be readily available for your viewing:
Click on community information
Click on useful links
Information about Austin area
Schools
Property taxes and much more

In addition, I could provide you with your own private web site making properties available to you by area based on your home search criteria. This has the ability to provide you a birds eye view of each area selected.

Finally, I would be happy to send you a relocation package about the Austin area. If interested, go to my web site for my contact information.
Web Reference: http://jwattsrealestate.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 23, 2009
There are many options for renting all over the greater Austin area so much depends on where you will be working and considering traffic and drive time. The north west and south west parts of town as well as central Austin offer a lot of flexibility in either a house to purchase or lease, apts, or condos of which there are a great many in Austin. If you would like more specific help please feel free to email me or call so we can discuss your idea price range and what certain areas may offer over others.
Best regards,
Doug Stewart
Web Reference: http://www.goodlifeteam.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 23, 2009
Since you are not familiar with Austin, it might be a good idea to rent for a short time until you are familiar with the area. It may be that your best bet is to rent an apartment,. In my experience it is easier to negotiate a shorter term lease with an apartment complex than a privately owned property. Most owners would like a 12 month lease, but apartment complexes will usually accept a 6 month lease and some as short as 4 months.

Having said that, it is possible that a private owner would agree to a shorter term lease as long as it is again available for rent during the summer months (June - end of July at the latest). In addition to being the busiest season for real estate for sale, summer is also the busy season for the rental market as well.

If your plan is to move during the summer, you will probably have to agree to a 12 month lease if you choose a privately owned property such as a single family house, duplex or condo.

I would suggest you contact a REALTOR who handles both leasing and sales. In this way you can get expert advice about which Austin areas and neighborhoods might be most suitable for your long term purchasing criteria AND get help locating available rentals in those areas.

When you get in touch with an Austin REALTOR, you will probably be asked about your list of criteria in order of importance. Location, price, size, proximity to work, school, amenities, pets, etc.
Web Reference: http://habitathunters.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 23, 2009
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