Moving across the country — or even just
across the state — can be a huge decision.
The solemnity of saying goodbye to friends
and family, mixed with the excitement of
starting a new life somewhere else, can
leave you at your wit’s end. Making decisions about where and how to live your
new life can be downright frightening.
Finding a place to call home is challenging
in any city, but with a little knowledge and
a little help, transplants to Austin have
some pretty good odds of doing just that.
THE APARTMENT MARKET
Austin is one of America’s fastest growing
cities. Since the year 2000, Austin’s population has increased by over 150 percent.
Why are people flocking to Austin? Could
it have something to do with the fact that
it was named the 12th Best City to live in
by Business Week and Bloomberg in 2011?
Maybe it’s the 36. 8 park acres per 1,000
residents, the great air quality, or the low
3.8% unemployment rate at a time when
the national unemployment rate is 6.3%.
Perhaps it’s the amazing music, nightlife,
and culture, as some Austinites insist.
Whatever it is about Austin that brings
flocks of new residents to the area each
year, one thing is certain: most of those
new residents will be renting apartments,
at least for their first six months to a year.
The cost of living in Austin is considerably
lower than most big cities, as well as the
national average. Sitting at a cost of living
index of 95. 4 (with the national average
being 100), Austin is a very affordable place
to live. There are no personal or corporate
income taxes in the state of Texas, and
the average annual state and local taxes in
Austin are $3,440 — almost $600 below the
national average. Home prices, however,
have increased 6.6% over the last two years,
compared to a national average of just 2.2%.
What does all that mean? It means that,
while Austin is an inexpensive place to
live, owning a home in Austin isn’t within
everyone’s reach. Renting an apartment is
an excellent alternative. Apartments offer
Austinites “lifestyle, convenience, and
flexibility,” according to Tiffany Walters,
Senior Marketing Manager of Greystar
Real Estate Partners in Austin. In addi-
tion, apartment renters can usually afford
better amenities than they might in a single
So what can you expect to pay for an
apartment in Austin? “New one bedroom
apartments in the suburbs run about $885
for a 650 sq. ft. apartment,” says Michael
Reeh, owner and founder of Apartments
HERE!, an Austin apartment locator
service. Two bedrooms range anywhere
from $1,000 to $1,400, and three bedrooms
from $1, 200 to $1,800 per month. How
much for a one bedroom in Downtown
Austin? Upwards of $1,500 —if you can
find one that’s available.
The Austin apartment market is a competitive one. While the city’s population has
boomed for decades, available housing has
not kept up. Texas, as a whole, leads the
country in building new homes, contributing 20% of America’s new homes
(including apartment and condominium
units). Austin, however, ranked 67th for
new home construction during the same
Photos courtesy of ARIA Steiner Ranch