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Old 05-02-2015, 06:56 PM
 
948 posts, read 338,789 times
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This is a bit long.

If you want to bypass it, here's my question in a nutshell - what neighborhood would you recommend for an ethnically diverse family with young children, who greatly desire a sense of community, without pretension, but with room to roam for less than 500K? Schools/commute not a factor.

If you want some history of our situation and a bit of entertainment, continue...

I moved to Austin (RR specifically) last year, with my husband and two young sons. We lived in ATL for about four years, and Miami beforehand. ( I was raised in Florida, but have lived in a bunch of places before heading back). We decided to move to Austin after contemplating where we would want to raise a family. Seattle, Boulder, Portland, Asheville were all on the list, but each fell short for one reason or another. So we moved to ATL, just to escape Miami (you think Californians are pretentious? Miami invented the word plastic). I resigned myself to never actually finding "home", until a friend mentioned Austin, to which I laughed hysterically. You mean, Texas? More laughter. I'm Dominican, did you forget? And Red isn't my color. But I Googled and happened upon a website that listed all the alternative pre-schools and schools in the greater Austin. (Search for it if you have kids. It was an eye-opener). I choked up as I learned about one school after another and what it could potentially mean for my boys - an education I couldn't even begin to imagine as child for myself.

So, we visited, thinking if there are people here who can create such testaments to childhood education that honor their inherent curiosity and freedom, there has to be more to uncover. So in the course of five days, I fell in LOVE with Austin - the river or as I have learned, the lake, the bats, the enormity of the sky, the miles and miles of unique shops and restaurants, KUT, the trails and parks everywhere, the Thinkery, small theater groups and art walks. Hill Country. Be still my heart. It makes you feel like anything is possible. And BOOK PEOPLE. Thank you!! I thought that I would have to do without Powell's in Portland, but BP you saved the day. But all of this pales next to the people. Everywhere we went, people looked me in the EYE. When they asked, "how you doing?", they actually meant it! We struck up random conversations. And I saw enough diverse faces to feel comfortable bringing our mixed Latino babies here. Granted, I wouldn't find a Dominican hair salon for a kick-ass blow out, but we could still participate in other Hispanic cultures. Day of the Dead anyone?

So we decide to move. (We both telecommute, so work isn't an issue).

But then... we realized... that Austin is... Expensive.

Well at least the real estate is. Everything else is cheaper from our perspective. In ATL we rented a 3200sf house for $1600 smack in the center of the city, two blocks from a popular park. I naively started searching for something similar. Bwaawwaa haha. I was coldcocked by reality. So we found a new rental community right next to 45 in RR and decided we have a year to figure it out.

So now that we've driven every neighborhood, a have come to terms with real estate prices, we have a problem. We want to live in house that we can string those big, bright light blubs across the deck, and invite the block over for a dinner party, and in a neighborhood where I see children of various shades (I know I can't ask for NYC, but a sprinkling of diversity is important) and the people around us wouldn't bat an eye if I walk to the mailbox barefoot on the day I decide to streak my hair blue (which I'll have to do myself, because again, no Dominican hair salon). But, and here's the catch, my tiny little babes will one day become strapping young men. And who knows if there will be more than two. So a small house probably won't cut it. Also considering that I do need a separate office space and my husband would really prefer a separate studio space.

So to the Hill Country!

But, there's a place called Steiner Ranch. We drove through. I left with hives. There are a bunch of signs that read "Live It, Love It, Share It". My eye twitched.

Lakeway...maybe. But wouldn't it suck to investment in forever home, only to find out the neighbors won't talk to you.

Apache Shores (I think that's what the area is called). A little rough around the edges, and the roads aren't exactly bike-friendly. Hello, deep ravine at the edge of the road.

Cuernavaca? We'd probably have to buy raw land and build a house with old cargo containers, which isn't a bad thing.

So where should we go, for less than 500K (Gulp. I'd really like to stay in the 300k, but that pipe dream burst)? That has a tight community/neighborhood, with unpretentious people, some diversity, a sense of independence, and with some breathing room? (Um, new home builders - must every house you build be the same shade of brown brick and limestone? Stucco doesn't hurt, you know?) Schools don't matter. But a view would be awesome.

As an aside, to the old Austinites, not everybody who moves here wants to change things. We came here for the people, the ones that delight in engaging our boys in conversation, who offer to take our cart back in the Costco parking lot (whaat?!, yeah that happened) and who reveal the secrets of true Texas BBQ at at a random food truck park. (Hint, it's not Franklins.) The bats are just a bonus.
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Old 05-02-2015, 07:22 PM
 
147 posts, read 163,039 times
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If you're looking charter school, you might be able to dig something up in East Austin, or be a pioneer in the "rough" neighborhoods NE.

Otherwise, Cuernavaca might be your best bet. And don't sell Apache Shores short just on the roads, there's some spots better than others.
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Old 05-02-2015, 08:38 PM
 
913 posts, read 992,118 times
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Limestone is local. That's why all the houses have it. It is literally dug out of the ground locally. That's an architectural change you should probably learn to live with.

I'll ponder your questions and if I think of anywhere, I'll post.
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Old 05-02-2015, 08:45 PM
 
Location: central Austin
7,155 posts, read 13,092,615 times
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Schools aren't an issue? East Austin is for you. You can still find big lots and large homes in your price range, will be a bit rough around the edges but rough in Austin is laughably safe anywhere else.
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Old 05-02-2015, 08:54 PM
 
913 posts, read 992,118 times
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Canyon Creek, Austin, Texas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maybe not diverse in the way you were hoping, but diverse: Four Points area increases in size, diversity Demographics show younger, affluent population - Four Points News

Houses in your price range - most 400-500k.

No idea if these are near the schools you're interested in, but the public school track there is very good.
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Old 05-02-2015, 09:00 PM
 
913 posts, read 992,118 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by centralaustinite View Post
Schools aren't an issue? East Austin is for you. You can still find big lots and large homes in your price range, will be a bit rough around the edges but rough in Austin is laughably safe anywhere else.
Most of east austin is very flat aka no views. But there is modern/green/funky development off of 969 that actually has some houses built into a hill over there. Does anyone remember what that is called? We knew someone who rented over there for a bit. Very cool houses.
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Old 05-02-2015, 09:34 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
7,183 posts, read 16,276,906 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kajo13 View Post
the lake, the bats, the enormity of the sky, the miles and miles of unique shops and restaurants, KUT, the trails and parks everywhere, the Thinkery, small theater groups and art walks. Hill Country. Be still my heart. It makes you feel like anything is possible. And BOOK PEOPLE. Thank you!! I thought that I would have to do without Powell's in Portland, but BP you saved the day
Ding ding!!! You win at Austin. Welcome.

Many on this thread will tell you what you are looking for is already gone, too expensive, etc. Don't listen; look for yourself and be diligent.

Check out Oak Hill, Travis Country (78736 and 78749), Lakewood and Balcones Village (78750). Apache Shores and Cuernavaca on your list are also good, if you can find a place in your price range. I'd skip Lakeway.

Then tell no one else
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Old 05-02-2015, 09:40 PM
 
Location: Austin TX
6,060 posts, read 3,480,602 times
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I second Oak Hill. You can still get a house on an acre out here for 300-350k. Beautiful starry nights, room to roam, good schools. Good luck!
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:47 PM
 
147 posts, read 163,039 times
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This one says string up them lights.

But damn, $415K for '23?

Austin real estate | Homes for Sale Austin | Austin Homes

Or, I hope you like blue:

http://m.austinhomesearch.com/Mobile...407efb&first=1
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Old 05-02-2015, 11:41 PM
 
948 posts, read 338,789 times
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Thanks everybody!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam.adams33 View Post
And don't sell Apache Shores short just on the roads, there's some spots better than others.
Yep, I think we need to drive around again. But it's becoming very clear that there are two types of neighborhoods in Austin; ones with HOAs gone crazy and others which are very much laissez-faire, so you may end up living next door to a peacock farm. It can't be true that you can't park in your own driveway overnight in River Place?

Quote:
Originally Posted by centralaustinite View Post
East Austin is for you.
We thought about it when we first moved here, but the whole gentrification made me uneasy. Then after watching an excellent documentary series about East Austin's history on PBS, I really can't do it. I know the change can't be stopped and it's debatable whether it should be, but not for us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mesmer View Post
there is modern/green/funky development off of 969 that actually has some houses built into a hill over there. Does anyone remember what that is called?
Is it Agave? We drove out there when we were visiting, but we didn't see much retail to support the area. But apparently a new developer bought all the land that was empty after the previous developer couldn't complete the project. The houses are very cute, affordable by Austin standards, and yep the views from the top of the neighborhood are pretty stellar. However, still not sure what's going to pop-up around there and when. But the drive into East Austin isn't a big deal. As for Canyon Creek, a little more traditional, but it's on our list to look into further.

Quote:
Originally Posted by atxcio View Post
Check out Oak Hill, Travis Country (78736 and 78749), Lakewood and Balcones Village (78750).
Oak Hill! I hadn't thought about it, so thanks. And yes, I promise to tell all my NYer friends that everyone here is a Ted Cruz clone.
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