Austin is the fourth fastest growing city in the U.S. and second fastest growing in the south. As any Austinite will tell you, things have definitely changed since the days when you could rent an apartment for $600 a month, and that wasn’t even 10 years ago. Now the average rent is up to $1,455!
Besides the skyrocketing housing prices, it’s not all bad. Austin has always been more culturally open-minded and, as a result, we have a growing variety of restaurants, bars and entertainment options. In spite of its growth, Austin has held to its traditions and newcomers are happy to participate.
I’ve compiled an Austin neighborhood guide for life in the city today, including insight on rent and home prices, entertainment and atmosphere to help you navigate rising costs and changing neighborhoods.
The perks of living in any city center are obvious: cafes, bars, restaurants, theaters and museums are all within walking distance, and there’s easy access to public transportation.
However, some cities’ downtown areas can become fairly quiet at night. This isn’t the case in Austin. Visitors are often pleasantly surprised at the hopping nightlife downtown that spans several districts. There are always people out and about on any given night of the week. Live music, plus great food and drinks, are just a few steps away from hotels. As soon as newcomers step outside onto the street, they know something is happening here. Staying in a hotel downtown often forms people’s first impression of Austin and, depending on their personality, they fall in love with the idea of Austin.
Downtown Austin used to roughly include the area between I-35 and Lamar, bordered by Cesar Chavez on the south side and the UT campus on the north side. Now, downtown spans east to Chicon Street, and it’s quickly growing beyond that.
- Downtown average monthly rent: $2,857
- Average one bedroom rent: $2,240
- Average listing price: $649,000
North Central Austin
The North Central neighborhoods of Austin have become hot spots for young families that want an urban lifestyle rather than suburbia. There are a few pockets where apartment buildings have sprung up, but they come at a high price these days.
Crestview attracts both families and young people, with the Crestview Metro station in the area and new apartment developments.
Burnet Road, which serves as the border between Crestview and Allandale, is quickly becoming the main drag in the area. People drive across the city to eat at restaurants like the Peached Tortilla and Pinthouse Pizza, and indulge in the baked delicacies at the Upper Crust.
Hyde Park is the north central neighborhood closest to the UT campus and maintains the “Keep Austin Weird” vibe.
- Crestview average rent: $1,692
- Average one bedroom rent: $1,127
- Average listing price: $275,000
- Rosedale average rent: $2,193
- Average one bedroom rent: $1,455
- Average listing price: $545,600
South Central Austin
For me, South Austin was always the area with the most laidback vibe among Austin’s neighborhoods. It had the most creatives, the most hippies and the biggest “Keep Austin Weird” attitude. It also used to be more affordable, but now that has changed. Home and rent prices around South Congress and South Lamar have skyrocketed, and for obvious reasons. These areas already had interesting nightlife and restaurants years ago, but the addition of new eateries and entertainment options isn’t letting up.
On weekends, South Congress (SoCo) is as busy as downtown Austin. South Lamar (SoLa) is home to Uchi, Alamo Drafthouse, Odd Duck, Gourdough’s Public House, The Highball (craft cocktails and karaoke) and The Broken Spoke (two-stepping for generations). New condos, apartments and townhomes can be found under development everywhere you look.
- SoLa average rent: $2,333
- Average one bedroom rent: $950
- Average listing price: $499,900
Beyond 78704, on the other side of Ben White Boulevard, South Austin remains more affordable than it is on the north side of the freeway. Neighborhoods in this area include Sunset Valley, Sweet Briar and Cherry Creek, and residents enjoy grocery shopping and entertainment at Central Market’s south location.
The vibe in this area is still fairly laid back, but new homes are popping up everywhere. Entertainment venues that define the vibe include Strange Brew, Moontower Saloon (outdoor, dog friendly bar with live music and fire pits) and Radio, which creeps one block north of Ben White but is representative of the area’s nightlife. A new Alamo Drafthouse location is located at Slaughter Lane and Mopac, and the Veloway offers the perfect paved track for bikers and roller bladers.
- Sweet Briar average rent: $1,728
- Average one bedroom rent: $1,106
- Average listing price: $250,000
East Austin has probably seen the most change in all the city. Restaurant, bar and nightlife development on East Cesar Chavez is so far reaching that popular venues have almost stretched to Highway 183. An abundance of nightlife can be found anywhere from Cesar Chavez to Manor Road.
East of downtown, prices are fairly close to what they are downtown. Residential neighborhoods of note include Upper Boggy Creek and Mueller Park. Mueller Park, which used to be occupied by Austin’s airport, has become a sprawling housing development that includes townhomes and single family dwellings in a walkable area. Shopping and dining are within walking distance of most homes.
Upper Boggy Creek has become a hot residential neighborhood, featuring large homes just a short driving distance from downtown.
- Upper Boggy Creek average rent: $2,322
- Average one bedroom rent: N/A
- Average listing price: $450,000
West Austin has some of the most beautiful landscape in our area, with rolling hills and the Colorado River. There are plenty of options for outdoor entertainment in the area, including hiking, kayaking and swimming. Red Bud Isle is an island dog park just west of downtown, where dog lovers from around the city bring their companions for swimming and socializing every weekend.
Food and drink options include Midway Food Park on 360, Abel’s on the Lake, Hula Hut, Grove Wine Bar and more.
- Tarrytown average rent: N/A
- Average one bedroom rent: N/A
- Average listing price: $899,000
When it comes to Austin’s suburbs (Kyle, Buda, Manor, Leander, Round Rock, Four Points) costs are generally the same in all directions and vary by the size and quality of the home. There is one exception, however. If you ask me, homes east of Austin have the best bang for the buck. The East Austin “suburbs” start as close as 5-6 miles from downtown. The only downside is the area is still underdeveloped. There are no malls, major retailers or many options for grocery stores, but this is sure to change soon enough.
*Listing price averages include condos and single family homes.
*Rent and home prices based on current listings on Realtor.com.
@natalien_n wants to know:
What is your favorite neighborhood in Austin and why?