We are proud to say that our hometown of Austin, TX, was just named the best place to live in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Apple Moving Austin has long known that Austin is a special place – from the tacos to the mild weather to the live music, there is [...]

What to Know About Austin Real Estate

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Austin

We are proud to say that our hometown of Austin, TX, was just named the best place to live in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Apple Moving Austin has long known that Austin is a special place – from the tacos to the mild weather to the live music, there is a lot to love about living here. In recent years, it seems the world has taken notice of our beloved city, which explains why Austin suddenly seems so crowded. People who have lived here for a while can remember a time when Austin still seemed like a sleepy hippy town. Today it’s a cultural mecca with a strong economy and a booming population. If you’ve been on the market for a new house in Austin, you might be disappointed to find just how much housing prices have increased in recent years. Whether you’re moving here for the first time or looking for a new neighborhood, here are some things to know about Austin real estate:

Population Growth Is Booming

Over 150 people are moving to Austin every day, making this the fastest growing city in the U.S. That growth means a lot more people competing for real estate in the metro area. If you are discouraged by the lack of affordable homes in Austin proper, you might want to look at outlying areas like Round Rock, Kyle, Buda, and Cedar Park.

Local Real Estate Prices Are Increasing

Per Zillow, the median home price in Austin has increased from $196,000 to $318,000 over the last ten years. While the change has been rather astounding to watch, the median list price of $375,000 is still relatively low compared to prices in other major metro areas like L.A., New York, or San Francisco. Though you can’t expect to buy a place in Central Austin on the cheap, overall the cost of living in the Austin area is low, which means most people can afford to live somewhere in the greater metro area.

No Income Tax, But Property Taxes Are on the Rise

One of the many perks of living in the Lone Star State is the fact that we don’t have to pay individual state income tax. However, to offset this tax break, the state relies heavily on property taxes. Based on taxes as a percentage of home value, the state of Texas has the 6th highest property taxes in the country. This should be a consideration if you are debating between buying and renting.

More Renters than Homeowners

Around 47% of the Austin population rents while approximately 45% of residents own a home. Since just slightly more people rent than buy in Austin, experts say this indicates that the dream of home ownership is not out of reach for most of Austin’s citizens. Additionally, homeowners in Austin only spend about 13 percent of their income on mortgage payments, while nationwide, the average income spent on mortgage payments is about 4 percent higher. So if you’re a renter looking to make the leap to home ownership, Austin could be a great place to do it.

What Realtors are Expecting for 2017

While real estate appreciation is expected to slow down over the next five years it is still predicted to outpace the national average. The job sector is booming in Austin and will continue to do so this year, fueling increases in population and home values. As more skilled workers and young people flood into the city there will be increased demand for rental properties. This, in turn, will create more demand for housing, raising home values even higher.Relocating to Austin may be the best move you ever make. The city’s growing population, relatively affordable real estate, and booming job market make it one of the best places to invest in real estate. See for yourself why Austin is the greatest place to live in America. 

Guide to Setting Up El Paso Utilities

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El Paso

If you’re moving into a new place in El Paso, TX, then setting up utilities should be one of the first things on your to-do list! Make sure you schedule the turn-on of your utilities well in advance of your move to ensure the water is running and the lights work when you go to move in. Here are some helpful tips for getting your basic El Paso utilities transferred or switched on:

El Paso Natural Gas Service

Many homes and apartments use natural gas for warmth, cooking, and heating water. If your new place has gas, you’ll need to set up service or transfer your existing service through Texas Gas Service. Headquartered in Austin, Texas Gas Service provides natural gas to over 644,000 customers across Texas, including El Paso and the surrounding areas. You can easily start, stop, and transfer service using the Texas Gas online portal or by calling 800-700-2443.
Welcome to El Paso! Make sure to get your utilities scheduled for turn-on prior to your move.

Welcome to El Paso! Make sure to get your utilities scheduled for turn-on prior to your move.

El Paso Water Utilities

 The city of El Paso, also known as Sun City, has a desert climate, which means it’s usually sunny and dry. Thankfully, El Paso Water Utilities provides residents with sustainable water services for their homes and businesses. To turn on new service, call 915-594-5500. If you have an existing account and would simply like to transfer services, you can do so by using the convenient WebConnect portal.

Environmental Services Department Garbage & Recycling Collection

To request garbage and recycling collection through El Paso’s Environmental Services Department, you’ll first need to establish an account with El Paso Water Utilities. Once your water utilities account has been opened, call 915-212-6000 to request new garbage collection service. The standard account comes with one 96-gallon garbage bin and one recycling bin, though additional bins may be requested. The monthly fee for garbage collection is $17 plus tax per bin, which will be added as a solid-waste fee on your water bill.

El Paso Electric

The El Paso Electric Company has provided electricity to the residents and businesses of El Paso since 1901 and remains the sole energy provider in the area. EPE has a 10,000-square mile service area, providing power to customers across the Rio Grande Valley in West Texas and parts of Southern New Mexico. To use the EPE self-service portal, you’ll need to have an existing El Paso Electric account. To set up new service, call the customer service line at 1-800-351-1621.
El Paso Electric has kept Sun City glowing for over 100 years.

El Paso Electric has kept Sun City glowing for over 100 years.

Cable/Internet/Phone Providers in El Paso

There are two primary providers of residential cable, internet, and landline phone services in El Paso:AT&TAT&T offers both U-verse and DIRECTV cable services in El Paso, though the choice may be limited to DIRECTV depending on where you live. AT&T also delivers ultra-fast internet service to the city through its fiber-optic network. You can save money by bundling your cable, internet, phone, and even home security services through AT&T. Check availability of services at your new address here, or call 844-723-0252 to speak with support.Time Warner Cable | SpectrumCharter Communications recently acquired Time Warner Cable, and will soon be offering services to its Texas residents under the Spectrum brand name. For now, El Paso residents will still be able to receive all the same Time Warner TV, phone, and internet services they have always had. Select services individually or bundle all three to save. Shop for new services here or call customer service 855-892-1002.   

The Stories Behind Austin’s Best Street Art Murals

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Austin

Our hometown of Austin, Texas is known for its live music, scrumptious food, and happening art scene. With so many local coffee shops, food trucks, landmarks, and unique boutiques to choose from, a day spent hanging out in Austin is sure to be jam-packed. On your next day out on the town, be sure to stop by and see some of Austin’s most prized landmarks - our vibrant art murals, which can be found painted in alleyways and on the sides of buildings all over town. If you’re looking for some good Instagram-worthy shots of Austin, here are five of the most iconic Austin street murals to check out:

Greetings from Austin

Inspired by a retro 1940s postcard, this iconic mural can be found on the side of the Roadhouse Relics building at the intersection of South First and Annie Street. Owner Todd Sanders originally bought the building when it was practically in shambles, long before South First transformed into the hot spot it is today. In 1998, he and friend Rory Skagen painted the “Greetings from Austin” mural hoping to brighten up the declining neighborhood. The mural was more than well-received - people loved it! In 2013, the community raised funds for a $10,000 restoration of the mural in less than a month, demonstrating the depth of Austin’s love for this cherished work of art.
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The Greetings from Austin mural was recently given a facelift thanks to neighborhood fundraising efforts. Photo credit Philip Kromer on Flickr

If you decide to stop by for a selfie with Sanders’ mural, you might just want to pop your head into the Roadhouse Relics shop. Inside, Sanders designs fabulous vintage neon signs that harken back to the 1950s. These glowing works of art were recently featured in the Macy’s American Icon Series, and the current inventory includes everything from a rocket ship to a cowboy hat and boots. If you’re looking for design inspiration, one of these hand-crafted signs would really light up that blank wall you can’t figure out what to do with.

You’re My Butter Half

You can find the playful “You’re My Butter Half” mural on the side of the United Way for Greater Austin building on East MLK. Artist John Rockwell of Creative Suitcase painted the mural in 2012 as part of a rebranding effort for the United Way. Rockwell, who was inspired by his teen years working at a dairy in Wisconsin, hopes the mural exemplifies the values of the United Way and spreads positivity throughout the neighborhood.

I Love You So Much

Located on the side of Jo’s Coffee on South Congress, this simple mural features the words “I love you so much” scrawled in red cursive handwriting. Austin musician Amy Cook spray painted the words for her then-girlfriend and Jo’s Coffee owner, Liz Lambert.
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Grab a coffee from Jo's, then pose for a pic with someone you love next to this SoCo icon. Picture credit Ms. Akr on Flickr

"I can’t remember if she was mad at me, or if we were in a fight, or if she was having a bad day. Most likely she was mad at me, and I knew it would make her happy," Cook told the Austin Post. The mural has since become one of the most popular landmarks for locals and tourists alike and is the setting of countless couples’ photos.

Jeremiah the Innocent

Better known as the “Hi, How Are You?” frog, Jeremiah the Innocent made his debut on Daniel Johnston’s 1983 release, Hi, How Are You: The Unfinished Album. The Sound Exchange record store commissioned Johnston for a mural of the frog on the side of their store at 21st Street and Guadalupe in 1993. The mural inspired numerous protests after the building’s new owners scheduled its removal when the Sound Exchange closed in 2003. However, the city’s love for the mural successfully stopped the frog’s removal, and you can still see it adorning the outside of the building when strolling along the Drag.
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Thanks to protesters, Jeremiah the Frog was saved from demolition.

South Austin Music

Home to SXSW and Austin City Limits, Austin has long been known as the Live Music Capital of the World. Novice and accomplished musicians alike flock to Austin for a chance to play at one of the city’s many live music venues. And when local musicians need new gear and equipment, they head to South Austin Music, an Austin institution. Since 1986, South Austin Music has served artists with everything they need to make great music.In 2006, the store commissioned local artist Aaron Sacco to create a mural featuring the images of over thirty local Austin musicians, including Kevin Fowler, Guy Forsyth, Patrice Pike and Alejandro Escoveda. You can see this awesome mural for yourself by moseying on down to the store’s long-time location on South Lamar, right next to the Saxon Pub.

Guide to the Best Neighborhoods in Austin: Part 2

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Austin

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 Side

The 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.
Austin's East Side has changed a lot in recent years, with new construction, like this modern condo on 11th Street, popping up everywhere. Photo credit Flickr user Matthew Rutledge.

Austin's East Side has changed a lot in recent years, with new construction, like this modern condo on 11th Street, popping up everywhere. Photo credit Flickr user Matthew Rutledge.

West Lake Hills

If 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 Hills

For 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.
Just south of Northwest Hills, this shot from the top of Mount Bonnell beautifully displays the area's hilly topography. Photo credit Flickr user Randall Chancellor.

Just south of Northwest Hills, this shot from the top of Mount Bonnell beautifully displays the area's hilly topography. Photo credit Flickr user Randall Chancellor.

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.