Here’s a general run-down of our neighborhoods with a rough price outline for the areas. Generally, the closer you are to downtown or to the west of town, the more expensive ($$$$$) things are. More affordable housing ($$) can be found on the outer edges of town and in the suburbs, especially to the east of the city. Sadly, we’ve run out of super-cheap housing relative to Texas, but you might be able to find affordable houses ($) in smaller towns within 30 mins to an hour away.
|Central – Downtown||South – 78704|
|Central – Old West Austin||South – South of Ben White|
|Central – UT & Hyde Park||Southwest Austin|
|North Central Austin||West Austin|
|North Austin||Southeast Austin|
|East Austin||North suburbs|
Downtown – $$$$$
The obvious center of activity for the city. Here you’ll find the vast majority of our bars, upscale restaurants, and high-rise (relative to Austin) living. There’s been a huge increase in condos being built downtown – which is going to vastly expand the number of places to live downtown. With Whole Foods and Trader Joes right in the middle of the condos, you could potentially ditch your car if you choose to live here. Imagine walking to work, playing, or exercising along our beautiful Lady Bird Lake trail.
Old West Austin – $$$$$
This area includes some of Austin’s wealthiest neighborhoods – gorgeous older homes on gracious manicured lawns.
This area is just to the northwest of downtown, and includes the neighborhood names of Pemberton Heights, Tarrytown, Clarksville, Enfield, Bryker Woods, and Rosedale.
You can find a range of size in the older homes – from the tiny 2 bd/1 baths to the palatial manors, plus new “McMansions.” The schools are consistently graded with top marks and are some of the hardest to transfer into. The topography has some wonderful rolling hills, which along with the old oak trees makes this area a gem.
UT & Hyde Park $$$-$$$$$
Austin is home to the University of Texas, which is just north of Downtown. You will find tons of rentals in this area ranging from hovels to penthouses. If I were you I would avoid moving to this area unless you’re a student and love being surrounded by keggers.
However, just north of this area is one of my FAVORITE areas – Hyde Park. When I first moved to down I found a cute little 2 bedroom place to rent here with my husband, and we still miss the neighborhood.
Hyde Park is one of Austin’s oldest neighborhoods where you can find gorgeous old Victorian homes mixed with 1950’s cottages. Towering oak and pecan trees and big front porches make this area an absolute delight to bike through at twilight, with the lightning bugs blinking all around you. There are cute rentals in this area as well, perfect for students or for families. Overall – this can be an expensive neighborhood, but with a more diverse population due to the nearby university.
North Loop is right above Hyde Park and has 1950’s cottages and fun vintage stores. It’s got a cute hipster vibe going for it.
North Central Austin – $$$$
Brentwood and Crestview (which are essentially the same neighborhood) are between Burnet Rd and Lamar near 2222. They feature smaller homes from the 1950s and 60’s, tree-lined streets, and a quiet neighborhood feel.
Allandale is across Burnet Rd and has homes from the 1960s and 70s. The footprints of these houses are slightly larger than Brentwood/Crestview, but still smaller than those in the suburbs.
As the real estate market tightens, more and more of the smaller homes are getting torn down and replaced with larger million dollar homes, but for the moment it retains a quiet, laid-back feeling. It’s relatively flat here which makes it fun to bike through, and lots usually have older pecan and sycamore trees providing shade.
Schools tend to be ranked in the mid-to-upper range here.
North Austin – $$-$$$$
North Austin is a great place to find more affordable housing with larger floor plans than in central Austin. Most of the homes were built in the 60s – 80s. I love all the post oaks in this area. The Domain is a newer shopping district in this area with lots of commercial space, so it’s becoming quite a place for businesses to move to. Apple will be opening up a new campus in this region soon, so prices are expected to go higher. You may find that some schools are in the Round Rock school district, which tend to score higher on state tests.
East Austin $$$$-$$$$$
Historically this area has been home to those on the lower end of the economic spectrum; however, the past 20 years have completely changed East Austin. Now next to a run down shack you might find a huge loft-style condo project filled with artists and young professionals. Many long-time residents resent the rise in property values (and taxes), so there’s a slight fracturing of the community. It’s hard to find a bargain in this area now as more and more people flock to the east-side. East Austin was recently ranked as one of the top hipster places to live in the US.
This is my favorite part of the city to go out to listen to music or have a bite to eat with friends. You’ll find great bars and restaurants along E. 6th St. If I were in my 20’s and new to town, I’d find an apartment around here.
Homes are older – even dating back to the Victorian age the closer to Lady Bird Lake you are, with the exception of the new Mueller development where the old airport used to be. Here you’ll find new homes in a planned community- similar to being in the ‘burbs, but close to downtown.
You might want to check out the Windsor Hills / University Hills area for pockets of more affordable housing. These homes were built in the mid-century and schools tend to rank mid-level on state tests.
South Austin – 78704 $$$$$
Every travel show you watch about Austin features this zip code. The main drag is South Congress, or SoCo, which has lots of funky shops, restaurants and bars. It’s a tremendously popular area which has made prices skyrocket. Each time I drive around here I’m astounded by how many new condo buildings I see.
South Austin tends to attract those who are more artistically inclined, liberal and/or natural (i.e. hippie).
Travis Heights is a stone’s throw away from downtown (in fact, just across Lady Bird Lake from it) making it a perfect place for those who want to be close to the city center. It’s a gorgeous neighborhood made up of rolling hills, old oak trees, and period homes from the 1920’s and up. It is also the most expensive neighborhood in 78704.
Other notable areas in 78704 is Bouldin Creek, a funky and hip neighborhood around South Congress that has a definite laid-back hippie style. You’ll find a funky stew of 1940s bungalows, apartments and newer modern McMansions here.
Barton Hills has a great family vibe. The ranch homes are mainly from the 1960’s era – though with older and younger exceptions. There are lots of nice hills in this area, and it’s very close to Zilker Park, a wonderful city park. This neighborhood also has great access to the greenbelt, where you can hike along Barton Creek and feel far away from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
South Austin – South of Ben White Blvd $$-$$$$
Homes are more affordable south of the 78704 zip code, or rather south of Ben White (Hwy 71). Their prices and the relative proximity to downtown and the funkiness of SoCo are why many people choose to call this area home. Think of it as trendy-adjacent. Houses and apartments were mainly built in the 60’s and 70’s, and schools are mid-range.
Southwest Austin – $$-$$$$
Southwest Austin includes Oak Hill, an area of town with older subdivisions (1970’s and up). It also feels like it is part of the hill country — as the name implies, there’s lots of oaks and hills. This is a more conservative, middle income part of town, and you’re likely to find a wide range of prices to fit your budget. You may even find large acreage sites out here — and deer and coyotes.
There are some newer subdivisions in this area too, like Circle C Ranch. Circle C has all the amenities that you’ve come to expect from similar neighborhoods – golf, swimming, schools, parks. There’s a cool veloway nearby – a circular bike path that’s dedicated to bikes and rollerblades – and the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. From what I hear, people choose this region because of its proximity to downtown (about 10-15 minutes), as opposed to the subdivisions up north. It’s also pretty close to fun barbecue joints and beer gardens that have been popping up west of town.
If you keep driving out Hwy 71, you’ll get to Dripping Springs, which is a suburb featuring many new large acreage subdivisions and top-rated schools.
West Austin – $$$$$
West Austin is generally considered to be the wealthy part of town, extending from the Mopac Expressway (Loop 1) all the way to Lake Travis. Whereas the central and east side of Austin is generally flat, this area is full of hills dotted with cedar and oak trees. Unsurprisingly, schools in this area are some of Austin’s highest rated.
Westlake Hills, along FM 2244, is a community barely 5-10 minutes from downtown, but parts of it still feel like it is in the hill country. If a famous Hollywood star moves to Austin, you can be sure they’ll buy one of the huge mansions along Lake Austin. You can also find smaller older 1960s bungalows here too, though they’ll still cost a pretty penny.
Steiner Ranch is a gigantic subdivision near Lake Travis with homes built in the 2000s-2010s. This is where you should live if you love the lake, though be warned that it’s quite a commute to downtown. It’s got a new subdivision kind of vibe – with golf clubs and neighborhood parks, plus newly built schools. It’s a great place for families and retirees, a people who work in the suburbs.
Another neighborhood worth noting is Northwest Hills, an older neighborhood around FM 2222, west of Mopac Expressway (Loop 1). Homes here tend to be ranch style from the 1960s-80s and remind me of what you’d find in the Hollywood Hills.
Southeast Austin – $$-$$$
Southeast Austin has a lot of rentals, so you’ll find a lot of UT students here. There are some homes, too, but it’s not what this area is known for. The closer you are to South Austin, the more expensive the homes are, but overall this area is affordable.
Check out some of the new subdivisions on the way east part of town – near the airport – if you are looking for the most affordable. The public schools don’t score as high on state tests as other parts of the city – but– you’ll be super close to the legendary barbecue in Lockhart, TX. That should more than make up for it.
Northern suburbs – $$-$$$$
Let’s say you are moving to Austin but are not really into the whole hippie-artsy-liberal scene. Welcome to Williamson County, home to Austin’s three major suburbs. All of these areas have a wide range of housing prices – so you’re sure to find something that will fit your budget.
Round Rock is the largest, and has the most of the suburban comforts – big box retailers (my favorite being IKEA), chain restaurants, and a minor league baseball team. It also is the 13th Safest City in America. The schools are highly rated. It is probably pretty similar to the suburbs around most other cities. The commute can be AWFUL. See if you can avoid driving to and from Austin on I-35 every day.
Pflugerville is tucked in next to Round Rock on the southeast, a town of mainly subdivisions. If you live here you will need to get used to companies with a silent P in their names. One plus for Pflugerville is that it is closer to town via I-35 than Round Rock, and more affordable. A downside is that Pflugerville is not known for having much personality, nor having the houses increase much in value.
To the northwest is Cedar Park. It’s a typical suburb with planned communities, schools that score well on state tests, and great outdoor parks. It also has a pretty awful commute into Austin on Hwy 183, but a commuter rail from will take you straight to the Domain area or Downtown for work.