Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Austin is the epicenter of everything Texas. One of the fastest growing cities in the United States, Austin offers an eclectic mix of arts, music, history, natural beauty, and urban trendiness that appeals to most everyone. If you read last week’s blog, we introduced three of the best neighborhoods in Austin. In today’s follow-up post, we’ll explore three additional areas of the city you may want to consider calling home!
The East SideThe East Side of Austin has undergone a drastic transformation in the last decade and is rapidly becoming one of Austin’s most popular neighborhoods. Once run-down and crime-ridden, the area is now home to the young and trendy. Historically a working-class neighborhood, East Austin has become a newly chic arts district filled with galleries, studios, trendy bars and cafes, and food trucks. From refurbished single-family homes to new condominiums, East Austin is an affordable area that attracts both residents and business owners. The blending of old and new in this the tree-lined neighborhood makes for a diverse mix of culture and housing. Just two miles from downtown, East Austin was named #7 out of 250 cities on Forbes’ 2012 America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods list.
West Lake HillsIf an older, established neighborhood is more to your liking, consider West Lake Hills. This neighborhood on the west side of Austin offers spectacular views and stunning natural beauty. On the south side of the Colorado River, West Lake Hills was established in 1953. This desirable neighborhood boasts some of the most expensive addresses in the Austin area, but a fair number of more modestly priced homes are still available. West Lake Hills has many long-term residents and features older homes on big lots with mature trees. The neighborhood prides itself on its dedication to preserving the rural environment and natural beauty of the area. Only a short drive to the downtown area, West Lake Hills offers a convenient location in the Austin area and features exemplary public schools and family-friendly restaurants.
Northwest HillsFor a more suburban area that still offers easy access to the city, Northwest Hills in West Austin is a more affordable, family-oriented area with highly rated schools. Featuring traditional and ranch style homes built in the 1970s and 1980s, this hilly neighborhood offers spectacular views and frequent deer sightings. In addition to single-family homes, Northwest Hills also contains several newer apartment buildings and condos, making for a diverse population that includes everyone from families to UT commuters. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the easy access to Bull Creek District Park and Bull Creek Greenbelt. Northwest Hills provides a convenient location for commuting, with Mopac, 360, Hwy 183, downtown, and UT all with easy reach. Austin is truly a one-of-a-kind city with its own unique style of quirkiness. This rapidly growing area is ideal for families, urban professionals, artsy types and everyone in between. The slogan "Keep Austin Weird" captures the essence of eclectic style that defines Austin, which is certainly exemplified in its great diversity of neighborhoods.
Over the last 20 years, Austin has become one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. People flock here for various reasons, but chief among them seems to be the capital city’s proven record as a hospitable place to do business. In particular, Austin has made a name for itself in the tech realm, earning it the moniker “the Silicon Hills”. Several tech companies have set up shop here in recent years, including names like Apple, Dell, PayPal, and Facebook, which has created a lot of new employment opportunities. In addition to plentiful jobs, Austin is also an attractive place to live because of its low cost of living, great live music scene, laid back ways, and fantastic food.No matter what your reason, if you’re considering a move to Austin, Texas you should take some time to familiarize yourself with local real estate. Though home prices have been inching upwards, Austin is still more affordable than most large cities and offers residents a great variety of neighborhoods to choose from. Here’s your guide to some of the best Austin neighborhoods:
TarrytownJust west of Mopac, between Enfield and 35th Street, sits the West Austin neighborhood known as Tarrytown. This area of high-end homes is just a couple of miles from city center, making it one of the most convenient neighborhoods for those with downtown commutes. The almost 19,700 people who call Tarrytown home enjoy amenities like neighborhood parks, shopping at Casis Village and Tarrytown Center, and the Lions Municipal Golf Course in nearby Deep Eddy. This neighborhood is also home to Laguna Gloria, an historic home turned art museum overlooking Lake Austin, which hosts several family-friendly events throughout the year. Residents with children will also be delighted to know they can send their children to nearby Casis Elementary or O’Henry Middle School. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see parents walking their kids to school in the mornings instead of contending with traffic. If you can afford it, Tarrytown is an amazing place to call home.
Travis HeightsTravis Heights is a neighborhood located in South Austin, just south of the Colorado River and east of South Congress. This historic neighborhood was founded in 1913 by General Stacy and Charles Augustus Newning for Austin's elite. Although no longer exclusively for Texan bigwigs, the average home price in this popular area is around $688,000. Homes here are an eclectic mix of bungalows and edgy rebuilds tucked along winding streets in the neighborhood’s green rolling hills. Residents of Travis Heights are walking distance to SoCo, which boasts some of the best food trucks, music clubs, restaurants, and shops in all of Austin. The neighborhood’s proximity to downtown and its laid back, hipster vibe, makes it one of the most desirable neighborhoods in all of Austin.
MuellerThe Mueller Community is a Planned Unit Development located in East Austin. Built around the site of the former Austin airport, this planned community currently has around 35,900 residents. When the airport was relocated to Bergstrom Airforce Base during the 1990s, developers began working on plans to transform the Mueller area into a model suburban area. Today, this neighborhood features a mix of apartments, condos, and single-family homes and even offers financial assistance programs to underprivileged families. Residents of this idyllic community have access to a variety local and chain restaurants and stores, and can walk to fun destinations like the Texas Farmers Market and the Thinkery.
Whether you’re moving to the capital city for the first time, or just moving to a new neighborhood within Austin, there are five critical things you should have on your Austin moving to-do-list. Making sure these items get crossed off will help your transition go smoother.
1. Update Your AddressTo ensure mail gets delivered to your new address, file a change of address form with the U.S. Postal Service. This may be done in person at your local branch, or you can skip the line and submit the form online. If you submit your change of address far enough in advance, you can designate the date you’d like your mail forwarding to begin.Additionally, you’ll need to update your address with your employer, your bank and credit card companies, insurance providers, utility providers, your child’s school, subscription publications, plus friends and family.
2. Transfer or Set-up Your Austin UtilitiesNothing is worse than moving into a house without lights and running water. Before your move, make sure you’ve scheduled turn-on dates for essential utilities like electricity, water, and gas. There’s only one provider for each of these Austin utilities, which means you won’t have to spend time shopping around:
- Electricity: Austin Energy serves not only all of Austin and Travis County, but provides power to part of Williamson County as well. Rates for this public utility are set on an annual basis by the Austin City Council. To set up your electric service, call the Austin Energy customer service line at 512-494-9400. Alternatively, you may register online with the City of Austin Utilities, where you can manage both your electric and water service in one easy place.
- Water: Austin Water, a department of the City of Austin, has been providing its customers with clean water for over 100 years. This progressive water utility has come a long way in the last century; today they even have an app available so users can easily track their water usage. As previously mentioned, the easiest way to start water service is through the City of Austin utilities site.
- Gas: For natural gas service, give Texas Gas Service a call at 1-800-700-2443, or create an online account here to request new service.
3. Find an Austin Cable and Internet ProviderThese days WiFi is almost as important as water or electricity. After all, how are you supposed to get your Netflix fix without it? There are four main providers of internet and cable services in the Austin area. Most of them require a week’s notice or longer to get your service switched on, so make sure to schedule in advance. Here are your main options:
- Google Fiber: Austin was one of the first cities to get tapped for the revolutionary Google Fiber, a fiber optic cable that delivers unparalleled internet speeds. The initial Google Fiber networks were built in South Austin and East Austin, but sign-ups are now available across most of the Austin area. You can quickly check availability in your area and sign up for this lightning fast internet service online. Depending on the package you choose, you may also opt to get up to 220 TV channels and avoid using a traditional cable provider. If you’re still hooked on using a landline, Google Fiber does that too.
- AT&T UVerse: In the Austin area, AT&T offers a variety of home services, including high speed internet, cable, cell phone service, home security, and home phone service. AT&T offers lots of great bundles so you can sign-up for exactly what you need. If you’re already an AT&T customer, you can easily transfer your service to your new address.
- Time Warner Cable/Spectrum: Communications magnate Charter Communications recently completed a merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The plan is to eventually rebrand as Spectrum, but in the meantime, Austin area service still goes by Time Warner Cable. With TWC, users may select from internet, TV, and phone service. Check service in your area and shop for services here.
- Grande Communications: Like TWC and AT&T, Grande Communications also offers phone, internet, and TV services in Austin. Find out more about Grande’s services in Austin.
4. Transfer School RecordsIf you have school-aged children, make sure you have their academic records transferred to their new district or school so there aren’t any hiccups getting them enrolled. Here’s more information on transfers in the three of the main Austin-area school districts:
- Austin Independent School District (AISD): AISD serves most of the neighborhoods in Austin. Generally, the district begins accepting transfer requests in January of the preceding school year. You may download a transfer form here, or obtain a paper copy from a school or the Office of Student Services. Submit the form in person at the Office of Student Services or mail it in. Parents must attach proof of residence and a copy of a photo ID; students new to the district will also need to provide a birth certificate.
- Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD): RRISD primarily serves Round Rock, a community just north of Austin, though some Austin addresses are zoned for this district. Transfer applications may be submitted online or directly through the district; do not submit applications to individual schools.
- Eanes Independent School District (EISD): A small district serving the West Lake Hills area of Austin, Eanes has a total enrollment of 8,000 students at 9 campuses. Though not a large district, Eanes is known for its academic excellence. Find out more information on transferring to Eanes ISD.
5. Update Your Information with the DMVThe state of Texas gives residents a grace period to update the address on their licenses after a move. If you get pulled over without an updated address or license plate after the grace period ends, you could be subject to fines or penalties. What you need to change and the applicable window depends on where you’re moving from.
In-State MovesIf you’re moving within Texas, you’ll need to request a replacement license with your new home address within 30-days of your move. There are three ways to update your license:
- Fill out a form online
- Mail-in your form
- In-person at your local Texas Department of Public Safety location
Out of StateIf you are new to Texas, you have 90 days after your move to request a new license. This must be done in-person at a Texas DPS location.Additionally, your vehicle must be inspected and registered within 30 days of your move to the Lone Star State. There are several inspection stations in the Austin area. Once your vehicle passes inspection, you must register your vehicle in person at the Travis County tax office. Make sure to take your insurance card, proof of vehicle inspection, and proof of ownership with you. Once your car is registered, you’ll receive new TX license plates.
There's nothing quite like Texas football - from high school level to the NFL, fans around Texas flock to cheer on their favorite teams. Many will agree, one of the best parts of football is how it brings family and friends together in the All-American pastime known as the tailgate. Open up that tailgate, put up your antennas, and get the BBQ smoking - here we unveil the 5 must-haves for the ultimate Texas tailgate.
1. Yeti CoolerThe Seider brothers, both avid hunters and fishers, started Yeti in 2006 with a vision to create coolers that would exceed the expectations and needs of the outdoorsman's lifestyle. What they created with their home-grown Austin company completely revolutionized the cooler industry. Designed with 2-inch thick polyurethane walls, these coolers are not only durable enough to keep out grizzly bears, but keep ice frozen for days on end. A Yeti will be sure to keep your beverages cold for an entire day of tailgating so you don’t have to worry about the ice running out. Now these incredible coolers come with collegiate designs, including a handful of Texas schools: UT, A&M, TCU, and Tech. If you don't need a whole cooler, Yeti also offers a Rambler Colster to keep your 12 oz. beverage of choice crisp and refreshing for hours.
2. Local BrewsThe cheap country songs Nashville churns out today may reminisce of glory days spent drinking PBRs and other cheap brews, but any good Texan likes to keep it local and crafty when it comes to stocking their tailgate bar. The state is brimming with stellar craft breweries and distilleries to keep the crowds around your watering hole happy. Some of our favorite places to stock up in and around Austin include:Live Oak Brewing Company: With a name that pays homage to our state tree, this local brewery has been whetting the palettes of Austinites since 1997. While favorites like the Big Bark Amber, Hefeweizen, and Pilz have long been available on tap in local bars and by the keg, the Company promises that these brews will also be available by can this winter. For big tailgates this fall, you’ll have to stick with Live Oak by the keg, but who's complaining about 62 pints of refreshing deliciousness?!Thirsty Planet: If you’d rather have bottles to fill up your Yeti, Austin brewed Thirsty Planet can accommodate, with their popular Thirsty Goat Amber, which is available at HEB, Whole Foods, Spec’s, and an assortment of other retailers. This particular brew is a crowd-pleaser, and bonus, Thirsty Planet is also planet conscious - re-purposing and recycling the materials used during production...so you are basically helping the environment with every gulp.Real Ale Brewing Company: Another favorite in Austin bars, Real Ale Brewing Company brews less than an hour away in the small town of Blanco, nestled in the folds of the Texas Hill Country. Their most popular year-round beer is Fireman's #4, a smooth and balanced blonde ale so good that it medaled at the Great American Beer Festival. Canned, kegged, or bottled, you can pick up a supply of Fireman's 4 at a number of local retailers.
3. BrisketMost Texans would tell you they are proud of Texas' heritage - there's a distinctly Texan nostalgia and mystique shrouding this vast, variable, and sometimes unforgiving land where cowboys of old toiled to raise cattle and earn a living. During the 1800s, in the boom of Texas ranching, Texan cowboys drove millions of cattle north for rail distribution to other parts of the US. Ranching is still a big deal here, and if you know anything about Texas BBQ, you know that the quintessential meat of Texan tailgates, born out of Texas' ranching heritage, is the beef brisket. Fine Texan brisket requires 4 essentials:
- Quality beef: Look for a cut with marbling and a fat cap that render a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
- Wood chips: Soak them in water before throwing them in the pit to lend extra smokiness to your end product.
- Dry Rub: Typically a mixture of good ole salt and pepper, with additional spices as you see fit.
- Patience: Plan on smoking that brisket slow and steady (up to 2 hours per pound of meat), but this is no problem since there's plenty of football to be watched.
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