We will be moving to Austin in the Spring and I'd love to hear from some local mamas. I am coming from NJ and have never been to Texas. Would greatly appreciate any info regarding family friendly neighborhoods, schools, websites I can check out for local info etc.. this is the first move for us and we are a bit intimidated but excited!
A lot of it depends on exactly what you are looking for. Housing prices, schools, location, etc. There are many wonderful areas, but each provides a bit of unique things. I have lived Central, North Central, and North mostly. However, my family has lived South, Lakeway, and North Central. If you can give me some specific things you are looking for, I can probably recommend some specific neighborhoods.
Andrea - Mommy to DD1 ('05), DD2 ('08), DD3 (6/17/11)
I moved to Austin 3 years ago from Philadelphia. I really do love it here. The best way to find out where to live is to visit and explore! Different parts of Austin really speak to different people. I love South Austin. To me it feels creative, unique, independant, hopeful and progressive. East Austin has a really exciting cultural arts movement. Central offers a lot- at a price.
There is a parenting/events magazine called Parentwise with a great local event calender. Our free paper, The Chronicle, can give you a great glimpse as well.
What is important to you in finding a place to settle?
Welcome (in advance)! We moved to Austin from North Carolina in 2006, and we love it here! We chose to live north, based on my husband's office location, but there are great neighborhoods all over the city. It really depends on what you're looking for in terms of proximity to your work/your spouse's work, type of neighborhood, amenities, price, etc.
On the one hand, I love the *idea* of living in central/downtown/SoCo, but I know the traffic would drive me crazy, and to be honest, we'd be crammed into a teeny tiny place given the prices there. We chose to move further out to get more house and yard for the money, and although I sometimes dislike the feel of our "master planned community" I do love the neighborhood pools, parks, hike and bike trails, etc., not to mention the great schools within walking distance.
Wells Branch is a fantastic neighborhood for young families. It's pretty far north, probably 25 minutes to central in no traffic, but the price is right. Good rental houses and affordable real estate. I loved central/SoCo/S Lamar when I was in college, but with little ones and a tight budget I think north central is where it's at. Arboretum/Great Hills, Allendale, Walnut Creek. Even Plugerville/Round Rock if you can be that far from the city. Or out 183 to Anderson Mill or Jollyville.
You definitely pay a premium to be central, but if you can afford it then it has a lot to offer. The hippest areas are South Congress, Barton Creek, South Lamar - lots of culture, fun stuff happening. Or French Place on the East side.
Good luck, and welcome!
Welcome to the area! I grew up in Austin but live in Cedar Park now. My husband and I always thought we would move back when we could afford it, but after having our son I think we are here to stay. The burbs are just so kid-friendly. There are tons of wonderful parks around here and the library has four story times a week. It's easy to make friends with kids the same age and there are tons of mom's groups to choose from. We are getting a Natural Grocers soon and a few more good restaurants here and there. Anything out 183 is a quick trip downtown.
I have worked in Austin, Round Rock, and Leander ISDs. (Leander covers a large area northwest of town, not just the city of Leander). It's just my opinion, but I would choose Leander ISD for my kids someday. Round Rock is fine, too. Austin ISD just doesn't have the same resources. And a lot of the better, smaller schools in Austin are in danger of being closed because of budget cuts throughout the state.
The Cedar Park area has homes from $130-300K plus. I also know several people who've moved here and rented in the Avery Ranch subdivision for a year first and then bought a house after they had time to explore some neighborhoods.
Good luck! PM me if you have anymore questions about the Cedar Park/Leander area.
We moved to Austin 1 month ago. We are renting a house in North Austin, right by Round Rock and Cedar Park. I like the location, there are a lot of parks and walking trails nearby. My husband works in North Austin, so this is an ideal location for us. When we are ready to buy a home, it will be up in this area, or even closer to north-central Austin.
I agree with a previous poster who said just come and check out the different areas. I think coming from NJ you will find the housing prices to be quite reasonable too :)
Good luck with the move!
i think it is important to be relatively close to where you or your husband are working. Public transportation, though getting better is not good here n Austin and during rush hour/s traffic here can be horrendous. Once you know the general area where you or he will be working, you can take a look at the various neighborhoods nearby and decide that way. Also, what younwant for your money. Austin is really diverse - you can live in a small funky 40s house in the heart of thngs, a modern condo downtown, or a huge home with a yard next to a 100 acre greenbelt all for about the same price, so that is something to think over too. This is a great city. Check out realtyaustin.com - a really good website with lots of info about the various neighborhoods. Good luck!
I agree about avoiding a long commute. My husband's office recently moved across town and it stinks. austinhomesearch.com is good website for searching all the MLS listings and get an idea of prices. I think they have rentals, too.
I worked as a nanny in Austin for five years for a lot of different families in different areas of town. The most family-friendly area I worked in was Steiner Ranch, which is west of Austin out by Lake Travis. It is a planned community in a BEAUTIFUL hill country area. The schools are excellent, and almost every house has a nice young family in it. There are parks everywhere, and neighborhood soccer leagues and events and all that stuff. I absolutely loved babysitting in Steiner Ranch because all the kids were friends with the neighbors' kids, and everyone was so friendly. The parks are a great plus too.
Other good areas for families are Westlake (very expensive, SW of downtown), Arboretum/NW hills, Wells Branch (north of downtown, much less expensive, but has a great park with a playground and running trails), and Cedar Park/Round Rock (also lots of parks and running trails, newer developments, less expensive).
The best school district is by far the Eanes district in Westlake, which is one reason houses there are at such a premium compared to the rest of Austin (although probably not compared to NJ). However, the Leander school district (which also includes Steiner Ranch) is also very good. There are good elementary schools scattered throughout Round Rock and Cedar Park as well, although the middle schools and high schools there aren't as good.
Austin is a GREAT place to live! I miss it so much! It's a wonderful place to raise a family.
Hi there! I recently relocated to Austin from Michigan (almost a year ago), and I felt similar. I had also never been to Austin, either, so it was quite different. When we were planning to move here, we figured that we wanted to be in the north 'burbs, because in Michigan, that's where we lived. However, for the past year, I've personally been connecting with a lot more Mama's that live in south Austin (south of the river). Our rental lease is up in a month, and we are looking to move to south Austin, so it's easier for my DH's commute, as well as mine. I have a great realtor/friend that is not pushy, a great listener, and super fun. If you want her info, pm me. Once here, I joined the Austin Attachment Parenting group on Big Tent. They do have an online message board which is super valuable for finding local resources, and they have a TON in IRL playdates and such. Give them a look-up. They really helped me to find where I "fit in", since it was so hard to leave my Mama-Tribe in Michigan. Good luck!!!