One of the reasons we chose to relocate to Austin versus a lot of other cities was how Austin was constantly talked about in articles like “best places to raise a family” “best city for kids” and “best cities to live”. Having lived in Austin for just over five years, I can say these lists all lived up to the hype. Austin is a great place for families, kids and people who are looking for a higher quality of life. You’re probably excited about the new possibility, but the reality is moving to Austin with a young family is hard. We couldn’t agree more and have tried to make it easier for you in our Moving to Austin with a Young Family Guide.
Research Neighborhoods to Minimize Moving
Moving is hard enough without having to worry about entertaining your kids and about how they’ll deal with the transition. Putting a little bit of time into researching Austin neighborhoods and areas of town to ensure they are a good fit before you move is the best way to minimize your chances of moving twice. You may not know where to find these neighborhoods in Austin, but if you can articulate the type of neighborhood you’re looking for, we can show you where to find them. Our Austin Neighborhood Finder is a great tool if you find yourself in this camp. Want to browse some of our best neighborhoods? Check out our Best Austin Neighborhoods lists.
Once you make a list of neighborhoods that might be a fit, start reading about those areas and prioritizing. This way, all you have to do when you visit Austin is check out the list you’ve made and confirm what you saw online is the same as how you envisioned. Skipping the step of thoroughly researching neighborhoods and you’ll end up wasting a lot of time on your house hunting visit and end up more confused than you were before you left home.
Private Schools vs Public Schools
Even if your kids are years away from school, you’ll want to pay attention to schools in the neighborhoods you’re considering. Schools have a direct influence on home values and though ratings can change from year to year, you’ll want to make sure you’re in a district where you would consider sending your children.
Austin has highly rated public schools in all areas of town. If you’re looking for the best public schools, here are a few posts to check out.
- Top School Districts in Austin
- Best Schools Around Austin
- Top Elementary Schools in Austin
- Top Middle Schools in Austin
- Best High Schools in Austin
Private schools are an option for those considering a religious or charter education for their children. Though there are no geographic restrictions for most Austin private or charter schools, you want to make sure you are within a reasonable commute. Here is more info on Austin Private Schools and Austin Charter Schools to help you with your search.
Are Community Amenities Important?
The community pool, park or activities planned by the HOA are all great ways to meet your neighbors. Ask yourself if you are the type of family who will use the amenities, or would you prefer having your own pool or play structure? If community amenities are important, focus on the neighborhoods that have them. If not, it might not make sense to pay extra for a neighborhoods with extravagant community amenities.
Is Commute Time Important?
Austin traffic has gotten worse in the last several years and it isn’t expected to get much better. You’ll find some relief during off peak hours, but if you have to commute during regular hours and the time you spend in the car is important, you’ll want to have a good handle on how long it takes to travel to and from work. The best way we’ve found to monitor traffic is by using Google Maps. Put in your proposed work address (or area of town) and your proposed neighborhood at a few different times during the day and you’ll start to get an idea how long it will take with traffic. Then ask yourself if you can live with that. If not, it might be time to reevaluate your list of neighborhoods.
Visit Austin At Least Once Before You Move
This is one of the most important steps of the process and one that is often missed. You can read all you can about Austin, but it doesn’t replace the feeling you get when you are experiencing the city firsthand. The worst thing would be to move and decide Austin isn’t a fit when it could have been ruled on a weekend trip.
I encourage people to devote quite a bit of time to exploring Austin. Some focus too much on the housing aspect of the trip, and though housing is important, it doesn’t give you a feel for what the city is like. Here are a few posts to make your trip successful: Top 10 Things to Do on Your First Visit to Austin and the Best Places to Stay when You Visit Austin.
Need to Find a House on Your First Trip to Austin?
If you only have time for one trip and you have to find a house on that same trip, don’t panic. You’ll just need to be extra diligent during the research phase of the neighborhood search. Make sure you have a pretty clear neighborhood priority list. If the neighborhoods you’ve selected are small, there might not be a lot of choices of homes for sale that coincide with your timeframe. Come up with several solid backup options in case that happens. The goal is to do as much of the research as you can before you get to Austin. This way, you’ll be able to focus your time on finding the right house, not the right neighborhood.
Kids Are Welcome All Around Austin
We are often asked where a family with kids should live in Austin and our answer is kids are welcome all around Austin. We find that in neighborhoods located in good school districts, kids are always active members of that community. Austin isn’t the type of city that only plans adult activities. If the neighborhood is having a get together, it is always a family friendly activity. With the exception of adult only activities – like bars on 6th Street – there are very few places kids are excluded.
Austin is a Friendly Place
I’ve had client after client tell me that they met their neighbors within hours of moving in and within a few weeks, their kids are playing together and they are having get togethers. I went to a housewarming party at a client’s house the other day. This family moved to Austin two months ago, not knowing a soul. At the party, they had a house full of new friends and neighbors. They told me there was no way they could have a party that big in the city they came from, even though she grew up there. If you are afraid you won’t know anyone in Austin, that will last a couple of hours max. There are so many transplants in Austin who understand what it is like to be the new person in town. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how welcoming and friendly everyone is.
Be Prepared for a Work/Life Balance
Austin is not like the coasts in terms of amount of hours put in at work. Our employees work hard and a lot of them work a lot of hours. But, most employers expect you have a work/life balance. I haven’t found too many families with young kids who are upset by this change, though.
Urban Austin versus Suburban Austin
Though Austin doesn’t have an urban area like a New York or Philadelphia, it does have a more urban part of town and a more suburban part of town. The urban part of town is found near Downtown Austin and has several neighborhoods with shopping, dining and coffee within walking distance. Suburban Austin is where you’ll still find these amenities, but you’ll have to drive 5-10 minutes to get them. Urban Austin tends to have smaller homes, but there is more to do. Suburban homes are generally much larger and less expensive. Ask yourself if you would prefer an urban or suburban location? This will help you start your search.
Contact HOA’s, Sports Teams and Mommies Groups Before You Get to Austin
The key is to get your kids involved in the community as quickly as possible. Having activities lined up for them as soon as they move will help ease their transition. If your home is located in an HOA, call them and find out what activities are available for kids. If not, check out what local sports teams might interest your kids. Mommies groups are another popular Austin activity for the smaller kids and are located all over the city. They’ll have friends in no time.
Work with a Realtor as Early in the Process as Possible
An experienced buyer’s agent who is familiar with relocation is an invaluable member of your team as they can save you a ton of time. They can take your vision of the type of area you want to live and tell you where you can find it It took us years to learn all the neighborhoods in Austin and you don’t have years to research your move. Buyer’s agents can also answer all of your questions and help you avoid common relocation mistakes, most of which will end up costing you money. A buyer’s agent’s fee is paid by the seller, so it costs you nothing to hire your own Realtor.
Tips for Hiring an Experienced Buyer’s Agent who Knows Relocation
Work with a Realtor who knows the entire Austin metro area, not just one small neighborhood or section of town. You never know where you might end up. Here are some additional tips for What to look for in a Realtor when relocating to Austin.
Take the Plunge – No Amount of Research Will Totally Eliminate Your Nerves
You can research your move everyday for a year, but no amount of research will totally eliminate your nerves about moving. Spend an adequate time researching, but know that at some point, you just need to take the plunge. I’m more of a research everything to death kind of person and when my husband wanted to move to Austin 22 days after we visited Austin, I thought he was crazy. Well we moved and it was the best decision we made. We couldn’t have researched enough to completely eliminate the transition. The faster we got started on that process,the faster we were able to move on with our lives.
Considering Moving to Austin with a Young Family?
Our team relocated to Austin from San Francisco and know exactly what you’re feeling. We specialize in relocation and have helped many young families like yourself tackle their home search from far away. Use our experience to avoid costly relocation mistakes. Check out our Guide to Relocating to Austin and our Austin Relocation Blog for more relocation tips and tricks. Then, fill out our Relocation Survey, email us at info@11OaksRealty.com or call us at (512) 827-8323 to schedule a no obligation consultation.