Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

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Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:16 pm

I'm taking a job with the V.A. in Austin, TX, though I'm not sure when I'll be starting yet. With that being said, it's never too early to start looking into things such as neighborhoods, schools, etc. If anybody is from the area, or has extensive knowledge about it, please drop a line. I have a few friends in the area, but I'm always open to ideas and suggestions.

I'm actually pretty excited as this will be my first job that's not directly DoD related since I joined the Air Force in 2001. The past 11 years have consisted of 4 years in the Air Force, 3 years as a DoD contractor, and nearly 4 years as a DoD civilian. It's easy to say that I'm used to that type of environment, though I welcome the change of pace. I'm sure that the V.A. won't be too much different, after all, I'm still working for the government. The best thing, other than the raise and change of scenery from OKC, is that I'm not going to be on-call 24/7 anymore. My entire career has either consisted of me being on shift work or being on-call. I have no doubt that my wife and kids are going to appreciate that as much, if not more than, I am.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:23 pm

congrats! my brother recently moved nearby in Waco over there. say hello to him! :P
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:39 pm

Congratulations!

If you haven't already seen this NYTimes article about breakfast tacos and all the other wonderful restaurants in Austin, TX, you will enjoy this. Hope you can see the content at this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/dining/10united.html
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:57 pm

thegleek wrote:congrats! my brother recently moved nearby in Waco over there. say hello to him!
The chances of that happening are slim-to-none. Then again, I did have a beer with Pillow when I lived in the U.K. Small world.
phileasfogg wrote:Congratulations!

If you haven't already seen this NYTimes article about breakfast tacos and all the other wonderful restaurants in Austin, TX, you will enjoy this. Hope you can see the content at this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/dining/10united.html
We have our own badass tacos here in OKC, but I'll be more than happy to give the Austin taquerías a once over. ;) As far as non-work related stuff goes, I'm super excited about all of the new restaurants I get to try out, not to mention Austin's infamous live music scene.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:44 am

I was born and raised in Austin and was residing there prior to joining the Army. Not sure where you'll be working but I can offer a few recommendations if you give me some more information. Be happy to help you out!
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:15 am

montiac wrote:Not sure where you'll be working...
I'll be working here which is right off of I-35.
montiac wrote:...but I can offer a few recommendations if you give me some more information. Be happy to help you out!
Right now, I'm curious about what parts of town are sketchy and not suitable for me and the family to live in. Also, the same goes for areas outside of Austin proper (Red Rock, Pflugerville, etc.) My mortage in OKC is around $950 for a 3 bedroom, ~1700 sq. ft. house. I know that the housing market in the Austin area is comparable to OKC, but I'm curious what kind of house I can afford since my salary will be increasing by about $6000/year before taxes. Schools are also important, as my son will be going into the 1st grade this fall, and my daughter will be going to Pre-K. All day Pre-K is preferable, but if the Austin area is anything like here, you either have to be really lucky (lottery) or know someone to get a slot.

Once I actually get there, then I'll be looking for recommendations for restaurants, concert venues, etc.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:23 am

Okay, I know exactly where that is. I grew up not far from there. If you're looking for non-sketchy parts of town, your best bet is to stay West of IH-35. East Austin is trying to go through a revival, but it's still kind of sketchy there. As far as Round Rock/Georgetown/Pflugerville are concerned - those are great suburban areas with less expensive homes and good developments, but you would have to go through downtown on your way back and forth from a commute...Horrendous traffic. Easily a 45-60min trip one way, if you're on the southern edge of Round Rock. Another thing about Texas is that we don't have an income tax so we make up for it in property taxes - especially in Austin(tons of tons of free concerts and parks will do that). Just keep that in mind. If you can swing it, the Zilker area and Barton Hills area are probably some of the more desirable places to live(I grew up in Barton Hills), plus both Zilker and Barton Hills elementary schools are top notch. In Barton Hills, you're looking at a little bit bigger houses and they are fairly expensive - 300s-900s. Zilker has much smaller houses, still expensive, but quaint and the location is second to none(Zilker is just a couple miles to the east). A little further down 290 West you'll hit S Mopac - the neighborhoods in that area are also nice, location still good, not sure about the schools. I can't really give much information about schools - I went to Barton Hills Elementary, O Henry Middle School and Austin High School. That 290-West corridor as well as N Mopac around 45th street are pretty nice areas. I had some friends that went to Anderson High School, and they enjoyed it. That South Austin area is where I grew up and I love it. Lots of that "weird" Austin culture and close to the greenbelt, hike and bike trails, and music.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:52 am

Man I would move to Austin if there was the right opportunity. Congrats Dizik.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:00 am

I'd second staying west of I-35, unless you're up in Pflugerville/Round Rock. The central Austin areas are nice, but you're going to pay a lot more for a small, older home. If you don't mind cookie cutter homes out in the suburbs, you can get much more for your money. If you can stay out of Austin ISD or Austin city proper, your taxes will be less. The other ISD's have pretty high taxes as well, but city taxes are often less. For reference, I'm out in Cedar Park in Leander ISD and my annual taxes are a hair over 2.9% (so I pay about 2.9% of my home's appraised value each year in taxes).

Schools in Austin are hit-or-miss. If you get into a nice, older neighborhood, the schools are excellent. If you move to a less-desireable part of town, well, you're not going to like the schools.

I've mostly lived in the north and NW areas, so I'm not too familiar with the south, but I prefer NW anyway (has a different "feel" to it), although this of course makes your commute longer. I live about 23 miles from downtown (where I work). If you leave early enough, it takes about 30 minutes. If you leave during rush hour, it'll take 60-90 minutes. So, if you have a flexible schedule, live out in the suburbs, leave for work early (6:30-6:45) and you won't have traffic issues. At least on the way in....

If you want to live near the lake, there's no direct route to the downtown area, so it will take longer. But out in west Austin the schools are excellent, and housing is expensive.

Once you find an area you're interested in, here are some of the school district's websites so you can look at the "standardized testing" results of each school, as well as the other metadata about the schools. If you're like me, the schools are one of the most important aspects of where you live.

Round Rock ISD is huge, and spans into NW Austin, as does Leander ISD (The city of Leander is way out NW of Austin, but the ISD covers some parts of Austin, most of Cedar Park, and of course Leander).

Austin ISD:
http://www.austinisd.org/

Round Rock ISD:
http://www.roundrockisd.org/

Leander ISD:
http://www.leanderisd.org/

Pflugerville ISD: (Pflugerville is a small city between Austin and Round Rock that's popular)
http://cms.pflugervilleisd.net/site/def ... x?PageID=1

Eanes ISD: (lots of rich folk)
http://www.eanes.k12.tx.us/

Lake Travis ISD: (out west near the lake along with Eanes ISD)
http://www.laketravis.txed.net/site/def ... x?PageID=1

There are other small suburbs south of Austin (Buda, Kyle, Wimberly, etc) but I don't know much about them. Traffic to/from Austin on I35 seems to be worse south of downtown at most times. North isn't much better, but seems to move better.

I'm biased, but Austin's the best place to live in Texas!
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:53 pm

Dizik wrote:
thegleek wrote:congrats! my brother recently moved nearby in Waco over there. say hello to him!
The chances of that happening are slim-to-none. Then again, I did have a beer with Pillow when I lived in the U.K. Small world.

Holy crap!!! Are you serious? This is the same Pillow that was on SG (sillygoth)... I don't think she was ever on TR... Maybe you knew her from TG?
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:13 pm

www.chuys.com -- the giant fajita chicken enchilada with Tex Mex sauce and bottle of cold beer is the answer. :D
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:19 pm

thegleek wrote:Holy crap!!! Are you serious? This is the same Pillow that was on SG (sillygoth)... I don't think she was ever on TR... Maybe you knew her from TG?
Yeah, the same girl. I think I had been living in Harrogate for about 6 months before it came up on IRC or the TG forums. Turns out that she lived there and tended bar, and was nice enough to pour me a pint of Guinness. She's been on here before, but it's been a while since her last visit. The last I heard, she was moving to York to go to the university there. Nice girl.


Anywho...thanks to everybody for the suggestions. Keep 'em coming!
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:59 am

Neutronbeam wrote:http://www.chuys.com -- the giant fajita chicken enchilada with Tex Mex sauce and bottle of cold beer is the answer. :D



Chuy's is okkkayyy. If you want some incredible enchiladas - Manuel's on Congress(between 3rd and 4th) has AMAZING chicken suisas and Sazon on S. Lamar is not far behind. Z'Tejas has an incredible smoked chicken breakfast enchilada plate that will blow your mind. I start nearly every Sunday I'm home with a plate of breakfast enchiladas and a frozen margarita at Z. LOVE that place!
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:25 am

Just f*cking awesome. I finally got my start date with my new employer. My report date is April 8, 2012 meaning that my first work day will be April 9. That gives me less than 3 weeks to do whatever I can to help my wife get my current house ready for the market. I guess that means I'll be crashing at a friend's house in Austin while my wife stays back with the kids trying to get the house sold. All this, despite the hiring manager stating that he would work with HR to move my start date as far out as possible. :-?
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:59 am

Any chance you can get them to cover the cost of going back home on the weekends until the house is sold?
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:57 am

just brew it! wrote:Any chance you can get them to cover the cost of going back home on the weekends until the house is sold?
Since they won't pay for my move at all, and they wouldn't/couldn't give me the Grade and Step that I requested, I doubt it. However, I talked to the HR lady this morning and it turns out that the start date that was given to me yesterday was due to procedure. She said that since I talked to management last week, I can expect a different start date soon; though no indication on when to expect said revised start date.

At least it'll give me more time to work on the house. I'd love to have the house sold prior to moving to Austin, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if that doesn't happen.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:30 am

Looks like a 6-7 hour drive each way between Austin and OKC. Painful to do every weekend, but you could do that for a while until the house sells.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:58 am

just brew it! wrote:Looks like a 6-7 hour drive each way between Austin and OKC. Painful to do every weekend, but you could do that for a while until the house sells.
Yeah, I've already come to grips with the fact that I'm probably going to be putting a lot of miles on my car soon.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:52 pm

Congrats on the new gig and welcome to Austin :) I don't have much to add on schools other than Dieter's post is pretty much exactly what I found from research and talking to coworkers. Montiac's post is good too, but that area is pretty pricey per square foot.

I'm currently in SW Austin, and it's a good area for family-type stuff since it's more suburban than Central Austin. For your commute, it would be fantastic as long as you don't have to contend with The Y. It may look innocuous, but it backs up on all 3 prongs during rush hour. Common avoidance techniques are Southwest Parkway to the north if you're off of 71, and 1826 if you're off of 290 (which can put you well out of your way). There's a pretty big spread in price ($200k-$400k for 1700 sq ft) in the SW area that we looked in when we bought in 2008. The names of the neighborhoods around there are Lantana, Circle C/Meridian, Travis Country/Travis Country West, Legend Oaks, Maple Run, Harris Ranch (not Harris Branch), Shady Hollow, and the area I think that's called Westgate (it's just south of 290 off of Westgate). I'm not sure how schools are, but people flooded the Circle C/Meridian area for that reason initially, so that is probably quite good. Anything in the 78704 area code (South Central) is generally overpriced to me. That said, as overpriced as I think it is, I'd say that it's reasonably safe to say that it will always be one of the hotter real estate areas of town. I'm pretty sure this zip includes what montiac mentioned.

To preemptively hit on what you had mentioned wanting to know about, there's a decent bit of food to choose from S/SW - oddly enough, for Mex/Tex-Mex you actually have to dig a bit. To me, Sazon (S. Lamar) and Habanero Mexican Cafe (S. 1st) are the ones to beat west of 35, but if you're down to go east past the gentrification, there's a cornucopia of awesome Mexican and Tex-Mex. Breakfast tacos are ubiquitous and no 2 are the same, so get ready for stinkers occasionally. BBQ is having a resurgence - the lines at Franklin (Eastside) are out of control, but even on an off day it is really good and out of this world when it's on. J Mueller (S. 1st) is probably about to start having its lines pile up, and I'd say trades blows with Franklin meat-for-meat. Pizza has had a resurgence that's hit-or-miss, but Homeslice (S. Congress) is consistently quite good. Red's Porch (S. Lamar) has excellent views from the upstairs balcony, occasionally a spectacular burger, great beer selection, and is a good take on the trendy "Upscale Bar Food" thing without the implied attitude. This is the tip of the iceberg - trailers are everywhere, and there are tons of good ones. Torchy's (S. 1st) is extremely popular (I like them, but recognize that they're really just OK) but Izzoz Tacos (S. 1st) is just all-around better. The food "scene" is big and getting better, so I'll just stop before I tldr this any more.

Music venues vary drastically depending on the band and sound engineer. I've loved and hated shows at just about every venue in town, but it seems that Stubb's outdoor stage is the hardest to get right. It's also pretty big, so depending on where you are it can either sound fantastic or terrible. La Zona Rosa (Downtown) is supposed to be going away, but that's been generally good for sound. The new Austin Music Hall (Downtown) gets knocked a lot, but the shows I've seen there have generally sounded the very good. Beyond that (beer prices, etc.) I don't really know. Personally, I prefer the smaller venues that don't get too packed, so depending on what you like to see, that will heavily influence your opinion. We generally don't get big acts, but occasionally one comes through. Austin City Limits Festival (Zilker Park) is generally a lot of fun, and since it's in October now the temperatures are a little more tolerable. Plenty of big acts and small acts, great food for a festival, reasonably sane beer prices, and overall kid friendly. That said, depending on where you end up in the crowd, you can either love it or end up wanting to tell everyone around you to shut it! SXSW is its own ball of rubber bands, and you have a year to prepare for next year.

Speaking of beer, we have a disproportionately large craft brewing scene. Every month or 2, we have another brewpub/brewery opening up and they range from decent to spectacular. I'm not an expert by any means, but for me Live Oak (Eastside) absolutely nails traditional German/Czech style brews, while Jester King (SW Hill Country) is pushing out some fairly crazy beer that ranges from interesting to insanely good. Both do tours/open houses. Shiner's near by, but no one takes them seriously any more - Real Ale (Fireman's #4) and Independence (Amber) are the go-to session beers. In the SW, there's Fion Wine Pub (Bee Cave) that has a great beer selection, along with wine.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:39 pm

First off, congrats!

I lived and worked off of Bannister Ln for several years before I headed North to Georgetown. I am somewhat into the property scene in Austin, and can tell you that the cost of living to be close to downtown (work) and in a good school district is very high. One of my best friends is a realtor, if you are not already hooked up, I would suggest that you meet him.

If you want a nice, family oriented, well managed property to rent before buying, I recommend Sundance apartments. (http://sundanceaustin.com/content/sundance-apartments) I know the owners (I lived there) and they are a super couple. Their kids are great, too.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:36 am

Thanks for the help, but living downtown in not a necessity. I'm more than happy to live in the suburbs provided that my commute isn't unbearable. Also, living in an apartment, even for a short term, is absolutely out of the question.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:43 pm

Joshvar wrote:Habanero Mexican Cafe, Franklin BBQ


I managed to hit those places when I was in Austin a few months ago. I gotta say, you guys have so many options for good food.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:53 am

Dizik wrote:Since they won't pay for my move at all, and they wouldn't/couldn't give me the Grade and Step that I requested, I doubt it.

What does that mean? "Grade and Step"?
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:11 pm

thegleek wrote:What does that mean? "Grade and Step"?
Google must be broken. ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_schedule
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:44 pm

"Locality Adjustment" neat. Wasn't aware of these things. Must be handled all by HR. So no worries.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Wed May 02, 2012 2:06 pm

I'm starting the job on May 21, which means I'll be heading down to Austin on the 18th. I'm gonna have to stay in an extended stay hotel until June 2nd, unless somebody has a room/couch they can offer me. On June 2nd I'll be moving into one half of a duplex owned by a friend of a friend, so at least I have that going for me. Unfortunately, the cost of the place is going to be close to what I'm currently paying on my house's mortgage. $800/month plus the cost of utilities for a 1 bedroom place with about 600 sq. ft versus $945/month for my 1687 sq. ft house. :o

Speaking of which...if anybody in the OKC Metro area is looking for a house, mine is up for grabs. ;)
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Sat May 05, 2012 10:44 am

tanker27 wrote:Man I would move to Austin if there was the right opportunity. Congrats Dizik.

Likewise! I almost did, last year. Didn't work out.

Congrats, Dizik!
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Fri May 18, 2012 12:10 am

I'm driving down tomorrow and I start my job on Monday. Hopefully the house here in OK sells soon, because driving back and forth on the weekends is going to suck.
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Fri May 18, 2012 7:43 am

Good luck!
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Re: Moving to the Austin, TX area - help needed

Postposted on Tue May 22, 2012 5:32 pm

Well, you're here. What do you think so far?
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