So you're moving to Austin. Your to-do list is almost as long as your list of questions and you can't wait to get settled in your new hometown. It's incredibly overwhelming to move to a new city (to say the least) and therefore very easy to make decisions that you may end up regretting. In order to give you a head start as you plan your move, I'm sharing with you what Pearl Street Concierge has seen as the Top Five Mistakes People Tend to Make When Moving to Austin and our Tips for How to Avoid Them.
Mistake #1: Not identifying what you want in a neighborhood before you begin working with a realtor. Deciding on a neighborhood is a huge decision (no pressure!) so it’s critical that you figure out the part of town you want to be in before you begin your home search. Not only do lot sizes, walk-ability, schools and views vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, but so do the vibes.
Tip #1: Make a (very) short list of neighborhoods you’d like to live in. Start by writing down what is important to you in a neighborhood. For many people, schools and budget are paramount, but in order to pinpoint the right neighborhood for you, consider the following as well:
- Space - Would you like room to grow or do you want to be in the center of things? Do you want a view? If so, do you prefer skyline or lake? Do you want to live in a historic part of town or in a newer development?
- Events/Attractions - Take into consideration all of the festivals, outdoor concerts, seasonal attractions and sporting events Austin hosts and how near (or far) you’d like to be to each of those.
- Commute - If you’re moving to Austin for work, consider the location of your new office and your commute. (See Tip #3 for more info on this.)
- Community - The community you choose to be a part of will play a big role in your day-to day life. In Austin, neighbors support and build life-long friendships with one another, so make sure you move to a neighborhood where you will be living among people you can connect with.
- Hint! This month's (June 2016) issue of Austin's own Tribeza Magazine is all about neighborhoods. Its "Love Thy Neighbor" article walks you through nine unique Austin neighborhoods, telling their stories through the voices of their residents. Get the complete issue here.
Mistake #2 Assuming all realtors are the same and have equal knowledge. The Austin real estate market is competitive and fast-paced. You need someone representing you who understands your needs and has deep expertise in the neighborhoods you are considering.
Tip #2: Be selective when hiring your realtor. Certainly it's important to work with someone you like, but remember, you are purchasing a home, not making a friend- yet. The best realtors in Austin specialize in one or two zip codes and have the inside scoop on what's popping up in their area at any given time. Once you have a sense of the areas of town you want to be in, do your research on realtors who have a proven track record in those areas and are moving homes there (quickly!). Insider knowledge and relationships are key. You want a realtor who knows which homes are going on the market before they hit MLS and who has good relationships with other realtors in town. Often it is those relationships that can make or break a deal and can be critical in getting to closing without any glitches.
Mistake #3. Underestimating the traffic in Austin. This small town has turned into a big city practically overnight and when you get here you’ll notice almost immediately that the roads have not kept up with its growth. Believe it or not, there was a time when we Austinites used to say, “You can get anywhere in 15 minutes,” and not only was that true, but that 15 minutes also left cushion time for “traffic.” Times have changed however, and these days, the reality is that it will probably take you more like 25 minutes, or even longer, to get where you are going depending on the time of day.
Tip #3: Get up to speed on the best routes and be realistic about drive-times.
- Get to know the best routes. Just like any other town, there are “secret” routes and back roads that will reduce your drive time, depending on the time of day. But be careful because some routes that look appealing on a map are actually full of stoplights and bottlenecks, which can add several minutes or more to a trip. Even so, be adventurous, get off the beaten path and check out alternatives to the usual routes. It’s a great way to get to know your new city. And keep in mind, people in Austin do not consider being stuck in traffic a valid excuse for being late!
- Be realistic about drive time. Many newcomers make the mistake of overlooking the traffic in Austin, but the struggle is real, y'all. Therefore, when you are choosing a neighborhood, consider how long it will take to travel from there to your job, your kids’ schools and after-school activities, and to the homes of your family and friends, taking into account how much time you are willing to spend in your car to get to those places and back. And remember, the distance from point A to point B in Austin does not always correlate to drive time.
Mistake #4: Being too hip for your own good. There is no shortage of cool, new places to check out in Austin, but there are many wonderful tried and true businesses as well. The oldies but goodies are often the best this town has to offer and provide a true sense of what makes Austin Austin.
Tip #4: Explore it all. Yes of course you should hit up the city's newest hot spots, but be sure not to miss out on experiencing our city's home-grown businesses. They have stood the test of time and for good reason. This advice applies not only to the food and wine scene but also the boutique retailers, salons, spas and even grocery stores.
Mistake #5: Relying too much on friends and family for advice about what is right for you in Austin. I work with people every day who are sorting out the many details of their move and I've seen how easy it is for them to over-rely on friends and family members who already live here for advice on the best the city has to offer.
Tip #5: Discover your Austin. Although you may want to consider the advice of your Austin friends and family members, and they definitely mean well, many times what is right for them is not going to be the right fit for you and your family. Stay true to yourself as you make decisions about neighborhoods, real estate, schools, and doctors, among many other things.
Starting over in a new city is exciting, but it can also be time-consuming, overwhelming and even a little terrifying at times. But you don't have to do it alone! Pearl Street Concierge provides a highly personalized service that's designed to help you discover your Austin and feel at home here right away.
We help our clients get plugged into the neighborhoods, schools, activities, healthcare providers and local businesses that meet their particular needs and interests by providing them with information and tailored advice just for them. We strive to help our clients make informed decisions about everything Austin with the goal of ensuring that their move here is as seamless and easy as possible.
Welcome to Austin!