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Old 03-21-2007, 10:36 AM
Location: Downers Grove
39 posts, read 184,745 times
Reputation: 31


My family is moving to the Austin area from Metro Detroit in a couple months. We've visited Austin a couple of times, but only downtown. Our needs have changed since having kids so we are considering the NW area. My husband is a software consultant and I stay at home with our two preschool aged children. I have heard so much buzz about Steiner Ranch, but not much about Cedar Park. Steiner has lake access, do people swim or is it more for boating? Our price range is around $300,000, so we would be looking at a resale, four bedrooms, maybe 2500 square feet. Is Cedar Park as scenic as Steiner only further out? Do the two areas have a totally different vibe? Good schools are a must, which is why we are sucking it up and willing to pay the $8000 plus in taxes for the area. Cedar Park seems a bit more economically diverse (refrain from laughing here) which we like. I have heard the phrase "the OC of the South" when referring to Steiner, is the area materialistic? Any advice would be appreciated, thank you!
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Old 03-21-2007, 10:48 AM
Location: Austin 'burbs
3,225 posts, read 13,615,528 times
Reputation: 781
I actually like Cedar Park, and really, I think with all the hype surrounding Steiner - it has got to be overrated. I have never been out there though - so take that with a grain of salt. That's all I seem to hear about nowadays thought... Steiner Steiner Steiner... it's annoying! Like it's some utopian community of stepford families! (that's a joke)


Cedar Park seems far away to me - but with the toll roads, it's likely not an issue... and there are probably "backroads" that I don't know about, being a newbie.

I do believe Cedar Park has lake access... isn't Volente Beach in Cedar Park - which is on Lake Travis... I think we were looking at a home in CP and they said it was "10 minutes from the lake" so I think that's Lake Travis.

There is also plenty of shopping, restaurants and businesses in Cedar Park - so you wouldn't HAVE to go elsewhere, I think... unless you were purposely looking to go somewhere specific.

The school district is still good - though I don't know what it's officially rated.

EDIT : here are the ratings http://www.leanderisd.org/District_School_Info/TEA_ratings.html (broken link)

From what I hear, water quality (hardness) is pretty bad out that way - but it's like that through out most of the suburbs. Water softeners are a must.

I would check the property taxes (probably much higher here than what you are used to), and the location of the new water park for potential traffic congestion issues.... those are the only drawbacks I can see with Cedar Park, initially.

Oh, just thought of another thing... most people commute OUT of Cedar Park for work, so someone who lives there will have to chime in on this - the commute I assume would be pretty bad.

Last edited by jwb123; 03-21-2007 at 11:17 AM..
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Old 03-21-2007, 10:54 AM
Location: Texas Hill Country
2,392 posts, read 9,288,190 times
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I have a friend that lives in Cedar Park and she commutes down to 183/Mopac area and she said on a good business day it runs about 30 mins bad traffic type of day long time. Weekends to that area around 15-20 mins.
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Old 03-21-2007, 11:14 AM
Location: Austin, TX
14,852 posts, read 33,433,175 times
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I don't know what other criteria you have, but SW Austin (Legend Oaks, Village of Western Oaks, Western Oaks) seems to also fit your criteria with a little less of a commute. Steiner has the more interesting topography of the three places (Steiner, CP, SW Austin), but I think it also has the highest prices. In SW Austin (the only area I am familiar with the prices), houses are going for ~$120/sqft. Single story houses are more, two stories a little less, generally.

I know that SW Austin has some good schools (Mills, Clint Small, and Bowie are the 'chain' for our location), but I am not as familiar with Steiner or CP. Generally speaking, due to the long history of property tax funding schools, the price of the house corresponds almost 1:1 with the quality of the school.
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Old 03-21-2007, 12:40 PM
Location: Downers Grove
39 posts, read 184,745 times
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Jenbar: So I have to break out an apron and some high heels to live in Steiner? (Kidding). I can see how all the Steiner talk could get annoying, even if you live there,. I had no idea about the water in CP, something to take into consideration. I'll also look into the water park, you've helped a ton!

Neddy: To me 30 minutes isn't too bad a commute. From experience, most people underexaggerate their commute times- so I'm guessing it's more like 40. My husband will be working from home or traveling, so it's not as much an issure now, but who knows where his next job will be.

Trainwreck20: I wasn't thinking SW, but will be sure keep an open mind and check out those neighborhoods. I would love the more open minded vibe of SW, I was just concerned about AISD. Good to know they have some good schools in there. It's Interesting that single story homes go for more than two stories, it's the opposite in the Midwest.

If you guys are any indication, Austin has some great folks. Thanks again, I have lots to think about!
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Old 03-21-2007, 01:13 PM
Location: Austin TX
1,207 posts, read 6,064,446 times
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Charlotte, I will post a bit later on this topic. I live smack between Steiner and Cedar Park. and pretty much spend all of my time in one place or the other. I can give you a lot of insight, but I have to wait til my kids go down for a nap .
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Old 03-21-2007, 03:02 PM
Location: Austin TX
1,207 posts, read 6,064,446 times
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Okay, here goes.

Steiner Ranch v. Cedar Park.

Topography: Steiner Ranch's topography is much hillier than Cedar Park. However, in parts of Cedar Park you'll see lots more trees than you do in the newer parts of Steiner.

Demographic: you are right that Cedar Park is more economically diverse and Steiner Ranch is probably more economically homogenous. Are there a bunch of women wearing stilettos and Juicy Couture around Steiner? No. I mean, there are probably some, but my son goes to school in Steiner and you're more likely to see moms wearing normal workout clothes (baggy shorts and Tshirt, not overexposed jogging bra and boy shorts) than anything else. Cedar Park is more of a mix of old business and new growth - driving up the 183 you see some pawn shops and old businesses and you kind of go, whoa, what the heck is going on up here? but then you dig a bit deeper and you find really nice communities.

Proximity: Cedar Park has more to offer within a 10 minute drive than Steiner does - meaning all big shopping, the mall, restaurants, etc. are all RIGHT there, as are numerous highways and toll roads (183, 45, 620). Steiner is a bit farther out and therefore it's not as proximate to things and drives anywhere can be longer. I think commute to downtown is probably roughly the same from both places, depending upon where in Cedar Park you are looking.

Amenities: Steiner is sort of a self contained bubble. Your parks, your community pool, your social activities, your schools, can all pretty much happen without ever having to leave its boundaries. They are building a lot of retail within Steiner right now - a gas station, a Wag a Bag, allegedly a sushi bar, from what I heard today...there is also a gym and other stuff, with more to go in.Cedar Park doesn't really have a community of that scale. However, if you're okay with driving outside of your community to get gas, there are plenty of options in Cedar Park that have lower housing prices, and some of the same amenities (like pools, parks, etc.).

Schools: both CP and Steiner are part of Leander ISD. Steiner's schools are newer and currently are more highly rated than most of the rest of the elementaries in LISD, but I know people who send their kids to several of the CP elementaries and are very pleased.

The Lake thing - so they have day boat access in Steiner at the very back of the development to Lake Austin, not Lake Travis. Up here Lake Austin looks more like a large creek or small river than a lake. I don't think people typically use it to swim - more for canoeing or boating. Most use the community pools.

Housing - you'll get more for your $ in CP. Hands down. Probably $40-$80K less for the same house if buying new. In Steiner, plan to wait for the right house to come on the market, inventory sells pretty fast and there's not always a lot of choice in resale.

I'd say there's definitely a different vibe to Steiner v. Cedar Park. Neither is negative, just different. People who live in Steiner love it and love talking about how much they love it and that is awesome. We all love our specific areas of town and enjoy telling others how great the place we live is, right? Truthfully, the reason you hear so much buzz about Steiner is because simply of marketing. It's a large community with a lot of $ to spend on advertising and that's the buzz you're catching. It's up to personal decision whether the buzz is worth it. If you want a more intimate sort of community, one of the dvelopments in CP might be more up your alley. If you like the large, sprawling feel of a big master planned, steiner's a better choice.

I do get slightly frustrated when I hear people say "Steiner is just like Orange County, but cheaper!" I lived in Orange County for a year. Steiner is NOT like Orange County, IMO. And, I wouldn't want ANY part of Austin to be just like OC. Otherwise, I would have stayed there and not moved here! The only similarity is that Steiner is very neat, clean, well put together, sort of Disneyland picturesque, like a lot of the OC. But some of the OC "vibe" - people getting into major debt to drive a luxury car and carry a $1000 purse and that sort of thing - I don't really see here. Yet. I really woe the day it does.

I hope my long diatribe helped you somewhat....
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Old 03-21-2007, 04:17 PM
Location: Downers Grove
39 posts, read 184,745 times
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Thanks so much Gigi! That's the inside scoop I was looking for, you rock.
From the sounds of it, CP may be more our style. Steiner sounds beautiful, but may be a bit too "perfect" for our taste. I'm not so sure about the inclusive nature of it. We're not familiar with living in a huge master planned communitity, maybe it's just not our style. It will be interesting to visit the area and see for ourselves. Thanks again!
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Old 03-21-2007, 04:38 PM
2,256 posts, read 7,023,200 times
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Gigi, you definitely have a knack for describing areas! I have to tell you all about the first and only time I went to Steiner. My then real estate agent recommended that my husband and I go check it out. This is after I told him all about us and what we were looking for. (We live in an old Central Austin neighborhood now if that gives you an idea of the type of area we prefer).

Anyway, we drove all around Steiner and I noticed that both of us were really quiet. I finally said, "It's so perfect, and neat, and clean, and perfect!" My husband just cracked up and said he was thinking the same exact thing.

Needless-to-say, I got a different realtor.

I am definitely NOT saying that Steiner Ranch is not a nice community. It absolutely is nice and it's exactly what some people are looking for, lots of people actually. It just wasn't what we were looking for.
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Old 03-21-2007, 04:44 PM
980 posts, read 2,829,653 times
Reputation: 621
I still want to take a drive through Steiner myself since it sounds like it may be a place I want to live in the future. One thing I've noticed from my interactions with longtime Austin residents, is that there is a bit of an anti-Steiner bias among people who were born and raised in Austin. It could be because it is "so perfect" and made up mostly of people who move to Austin from elsewhere.

So, is Steiner like the anti-Austin within Austin?
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