Austin folks, please put your pitchforks down. We come in peace.
Mention to an Austinite that you moved here from California or are thinking of moving here and you will get a death stare. Our rebuttal? Don’t advertise your amazing city, music, outdoor lifestyle, food, and then tell us NOT to move here!
Over the past 4 years we have spent several weekends in Austin, a short 3 hour flight from Los Angeles. Our good friends made the leap and left Los Angeles 2 years prior and each time we visited, we asked them if they had any regrets.
“Our only regret is not moving here sooner”, was the answer we were always met with. Each visit we would explore a new area, spend a day or two with a realtor showing us houses, canoeing down Ladybird Lake, and of course eating everything in sight.
Rent in our area of LA (near UCLA /Santa Monica) averages to $4,400 per month for a 2 bedroom apartment. These are not newly remodeled, beautiful apartments. We are talking 1988, shag green carpet, pink elevator, yellow refrigerator, apartments. To buy a home, the minimum price is about $600k. For your $600k you are getting a 1960’s, 1200 sq. ft. home that needs major renovation. That is considered a “good deal”.
Without a $200k down payment, there is little chance of buying a home in Los Angeles. Sure, you can move to the outskirts, Palmdale, Temecula (not really L.A.) and then drive 2-3 hours each way into LA for work. But WHY?
After 4 years of seeing the Austin home prices rise, and planning to buy a home, we pulled the trigger. When we first started looking at houses in 2013, you could find a great house that would be about $600k in Los Angeles for about $150k. In 2014 we returned on 4th of July weekend and noticed that you had to spend about $180k to $200k to get that same type of home. In 2015 we again returned for 4th of July weekend and $230k seemed like the median home price. In March of 2016 we decided to get serious, and spent hours online looking for homes, doing “open houses” with our realtor via Skype, and then flying in on weekends to see our top choices in person.
We looked everywhere from very South (Buda) to very North (Georgetown) to the Hill Country (Spicewood and Dripping Springs).
Looking at so many homes, we were torn in between having an acre or more of land and living further out in an older home, versus living in a planned development in a brand new house on a smaller lot.
We looked at a 1970’s Spanish style home with a creek in the backyard on 1 acre, but it happened to be in Onion Creek, and area that was prone to flooding. After hearing the horror stories about the recent floods over the past few years, we reluctantly changed our mind.
Eventually, our dream of having over an acre and a farm style home faded. The commute from most of the houses to downtown was over 45 minutes. Our friends lived in Pflugerville, just outside Austin, north of the city. They seemed to love it, and since it was such a new area, it was developing rapidly, and prices were great but rising fast. There was an appeal being a quick drive from downtown, but still having space and green country side to enjoy.
We looked at over 600 homes online. Yes, 600. We flew in and saw about 30 in person. Having a good realtor is SO important. Sometimes we would see what looked like a dream home, and our realtor would tell us important things like, there is a middle school across the street or there is a dump site one block away. Things you cannot tell by looking at photos.
We saw the above home online and fell in love right away. The same home would be over a million easily in Los Angeles. A house we never dreamed of of being able to afford. On 3/4 acre, 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, 14 foot ceilings throughout, a huge open kitchen……we were sold. We put an offer in before even seeing it in person. We learned from experience how quickly the houses sell, and once you have an accepted offer, you still have time to back-out if needed, and do your inspections. We flew out the next weekend and it was even better in person.
The community was brand new, the houses around it are still being built. 4 ponds, a community center, basketball and volleyball courts, walking trails, playgrounds and a swimming pool all within walking distance from our front door.
We expected a bit of a bidding war, which we experienced with other homes we liked, but since it was being sold by the builder, our offer was accepted in less than 24 hours. Reality set it.
WE JUST BOUGHT A HOUSE IN AUSTIN!
We used the builder’s preferred lender for our loan and we closed within 20 days. Everything moved quickly and we found U-Pack moving who helped us immensely. We told them we had a lot of stuff, but not sure how much, we told them we needed it picked up in 1 week and delivered on a certain date and they made it such an no-stress experience.
The trailer was dropped off in front of our apartment building, we loaded it, and called them to pickup and transport it to Austin. You only pay for the space in the truck you use. So simple! They also go by ABF Moving, which SO many people recommended. You pack, load and unload, and U-Pack does the driving.
They had online tracking so we could see where our truck was and coordinate the delivery date.
We decided to drive to Austin in our car with our dog and the last of little things we didn’t put in the moving truck. The drive was LONG. We aren’t big road trip people, our longest drive was from LA to Phoenix which was 6 hours and seemed never ending. We were so happy to see our truck waiting for us at our new home.
July 1st marked our first full month living in Austin. We even wrote a blog about the best food trucks in Austin, attended the X Games, and checked out the best breweries. Next step? Turning this house into a smart home!
So far these are some things we learned in the short time we’ve lived here:
- Traffic is bad around downtown, but if you have ever driven in NYC or LA, its not bad in comparison.
- There is such a great work/life balance. People are laid back, and enjoy their time off outdoors.
- Its very family oriented and yes, its in the “bible belt” aka: churches everywhere.
- Its diverse for Texas. Its not diverse like NYC or LA, but its the melting pot of Texas.
- Fried food and chain restaurants are everywhere, but there are plenty of healthy restaurants, organic, and vegan and vegetarian places.
- Barbecue is a religion. You will be judged based on what barbeque you say you like best.
- There is no Uber or Lyft in Austin currently, and not much public transportation.
- Aside from all of the aforementioned fooding, Austin was ranked one of the fittest cities in America by Shape Magazine. Austin has over 220 parks, filled with running and biking trails, lakes for water sports, over 250 gyms, yoga studios, healthy restaurants, and health food stores.
- Recently ranked the No. 1 city in the U.S. for dogs and dog owners, Austin is home to 12 off-leash parks, lots of swimming holes, and tons of restaurants and bars that will not only allow your four-legged friend, but welcome them with water bowls and biscuits.
- Companies like AMD, Apple, AT&T, Dell, Google, Intel, Facebook, 3M, and PayPal are just some of the bigger name tech companies in the city.
Thinking about moving to Austin? Ask us anything in the comments below!