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Old 12-02-2011, 04:22 PM
 
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Hi Everyone! Hoping someone can help narrow our search down for us a bit. We are considering possibly relocating to Austin, TX and are planning a trip there in the next few months. We want to look at safe, walkable neighborhoods that would be suitable for a family with a 4 year old. Basically we are looking for a city type neighborhood where we can walk to little restaurants, coffee shops, parks, etc. We would initially be looking for an apartment to rent in the $1400 a month or under range. Commuting/work is not an issue as my husband and I both work from home. We are in our thirties so even though we want that city atmosphere we don't want to be in an area with just all college students. A nice neighborhood with a good age mix would be great as we would love to meet some other families with children but we hate the burbs! Any help is appreciated!!
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:23 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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My wife and I are currently looking for a place in Austin, and while our needs are different from yours, we spent Thanksgiving weekend touring a ton of neighborhoods - and we have a lot of family that have recently moved to Austin.

My impression is that the #1 'walkable' family-friendly neighborhood in SW Austin is Circle C, which is also an excellent place for value and for kids. But 'walkable' here means 'there are sidewalks and bike paths everywhere' and not necessarily 'it's a short walk to a restaurant,' though Circle C does have its own restaurants and shops (it feels more like SoCal than the rest of Austin, even with some of the same tile roofs).

Austin in general is not an especially walkable city unless you live right downtown or near UT. The bus system is pretty good, though. I'm not up on the rental market to know what you can get for $1400 but I suspect that's not enough to have a nice place anywhere right in downtown for a 3BR (maybe a 2BR but if you both work from home - as I do - I suspect you need more than 2...)

Circle C is 'the burbs' in many respects but it meets your other criteria. Anything you find right in Austin 'proper' will be significantly smaller than what you'd get even a 10 minute drive outside of the city. My wife and I also aren't wild about the burbs and thought for sure that we'd be looking in town or at least nearby in Zilker or Barton Hills or near South Congress but we ended up focusing on the Cat Mountain area in the North and Circle C to the South even though we don't have any kids - and we're coming from NYC.

The places where you could walk to more than one or two shops were in neighborhoods like Rosedale and Tarrytown, and the places we looked at in Rosedale were just a bit too expensive for us (and Tarrytown was totally out of our range).

I'd be interested to hear your experience once you look, though, since while I've digested a lot of info from family and friends (and Zillow) and visited Austin several times, we only spent two days actually touring all these places.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:39 AM
 
Location: Austin
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Suggestions

Austin Apartments | Triangle Apartments in Hyde Park, Austin, TX

http://www.muelleraustin.com/

Circle C is great but it's not urban living.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:13 AM
 
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I live in Circle C and love it, but it is definitely not urban! I'd agree that it is walkable. I love that we have neighborhood schools, a great park, and some shopping that we can walk to (although it is a bit of a hike for us). However, I would not recommend it for someone who hates the suburbs. It's perfect for a family that wants a bigger house in a quieter setting, but still be 10-15 minutes from downtown.

I personally love the Barton Hills/Zilker area. I have no idea what rents are in that area, but I love the feel of that area. The elementary schools in that area are very good as well.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:35 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
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For what you're looking for, I'm thinking either the Barton Hills area or perhaps Crestview/Brentwood/Allandale would be places to look for the kind of walkability I think you may be talking about.

Another possibility is Northwest Hills (Far West area). VERY walkable for what you're looking for.

Austin, as a city, does not count as "walkable" as the term is used these days. However, there are pockets within the city (most of them closer in, so housing is going to be older - and, yes, smaller, but somehow people have managed to raise families in houses that size for generations, go figure - but neighborhoods are going to be more established) that qualify.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:45 AM
 
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I live downtown and do not have to commute to an office. My apartment has a walkscore of 82 "very walkable," and on paper it is walkable but in real life it's not. There were 90 days this year when the temperature reached 100 or above, sometimes way above. On such hot days I could not leave my airconditioned apartment.

If you're used to extreme heat, you'll probably love Austin. Otherwise, you may find the climate limits your activities. Good luck!
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:46 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcaciaRose View Post
I live downtown and do not have to commute to an office. My apartment has a walkscore of 82 "very walkable," and on paper it is walkable but in real life it's not. There were 90 days this year when the temperature reached 100 or above, sometimes way above. On such hot days I could not leave my airconditioned apartment.

If you're used to extreme heat, you'll probably love Austin. Otherwise, you may find the climate limits your activities. Good luck!
You do realize that this was a very extreme year weatherwise, right?

Yes, it gets hot, but this year was tough even on those of us who have been conditioned to Texas heat for life.
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:17 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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Some of the more walkable neighborhoods in Austin are:

Arboretum area

Downtown - probably not in your price range.

Around 38th and Guadalupe or Lamar.


Just South of downtown...

Around Barton Springs Blvd. & Barton Springs Road.

SoCo - South Congress Avenue
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:56 AM
 
Location: SW Austin & Wimberley
6,276 posts, read 16,518,919 times
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Great responses so far.

Your problem is that some of your criteria is mutually exclusive. The most "walkable" areas in terms of being in Central Austin AND having shops and restaurants close by are not necessarily family friendly anymore.

Some will argue with me about that but, for example, both my kids were born 3 blocks from SoCo in Travis Heights. I would not live there today with small kids because of commercial parking and noise encroachment into the those nearby blocks. Loud drunks stumping around at 2AM looking for their cars, peeing in yards, causing dogs to bark, leaving trash at the curbs, etc. It looks great on a map, but the actual living experience has changed in the past 2 decades.

Deeper into Travis Height you avoud the commercial encroachment and have walkability to Stacy Park/Pool and just a pleasant "walk through a cool old neighborhood" experience, but probably not as close to coffee shops and restaurants as you'd like.

There are some planned areas, like Mueller, but many people are repulsed by the manufactured feel and appearance of those "new urban" enclaves. Others love it. It's worth a drive through, but in that case you'd be walking to strip mall and big box destinations, not quaint neighborhood shops.

In Crestview there is a great neighborhood strip center that's been there forever. It's probably the closest to what you're describing, though for $1,400 you'll have one of those older, small ranch houses, possibly a 3/1 with a carport.

I think if you alter you requirements to "neighborhood with great recreational neighborhood walking and parks AND either a long walk or a short drive to nearby shops and restaurants", you'll open up a wider range of candidate neighborhoods, such as the arboretum area, Allandale, Duval/Mopac area near the Domain, Circle C (give it a chance - it's a superb suburban area).

Finally, I'd do an initial search for rentals before you get too married to any area. Rentals are becoming more scarce and expensive. Many renters are feeling very frustrated that they can't find something in their chosen neighborhood. So the availability of suitable homes in your price range may very well be the only thing that determines your ultimate home, and your research on "best" neighborhood could be rendered moot.

Welcome to Austin!

Steve

Last edited by austin-steve; 12-03-2011 at 10:59 AM.. Reason: multiple typos
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Old 12-03-2011, 02:52 PM
 
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
1,309 posts, read 2,541,538 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcaciaRose View Post
If you're used to extreme heat, you'll probably love Austin. Otherwise, you may find the climate limits your activities. Good luck!
When I moved here last spring, I expected everyone to hide out indoors in the summer heat...but most people didn't seem to be limited by the climate. Tons of people still walk around everywhere, just perhaps avoiding the midday times at all possible. I bicycle commuted 10 miles round-trip daily to my job this summer and always rode with/passed loads of other commuters.

Plus, it's obivously not always extreme heat...the weather right now is wonderful for walking. I did grocery-getting on my bike on Thursday in shorts & a t-shirt, it was 60ish degrees and gorgeous. Where I came from in COLO it was blizzarding and single digit temps...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasHorseLady View Post
For what you're looking for, I'm thinking either the Barton Hills area or perhaps Crestview/Brentwood/Allandale would be places to look for the kind of walkability I think you may be talking about.
The OP could definitely find a place in the Barton Hills area within the $1400 range, but there just aren't too many options. Check out Barton Park Place on the corner of Barton Hills Dr & Robert E Lee...Parkside across the street is gross...I can't think of anything the OP would like off of Bluebonnet in Zilker area. There is a new construction on RE Lee before Barton Springs Rd that might be apartments, but not sure.

Barton Hills/Zilker is pretty walkable, but even better if you bike...there are great bike lanes in that area and you have awesome access to the Hike & Bike which provides easy access to Zilker Park, downtown, Lake Austin Blvd etc.
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