Trying to find reasonably affordable places to rent in Austin, TX, without going insane?
It’s harder than you might think! This city is notorious for having very a very competitive rental market. Application processes can be long and arduous, and large percentages of locals’ incomes go toward rent (often above the recommended 30 percent). But we have some tricks up our sleeves for snagging the best places to rent in Austin, TX.
Here are some of the top tips for finding an apartment in Austin as well as things to keep in mind.
Don’t rely only on Craigslist.
The secret of how to find an apartment in Austin is to not focus exclusively online on sites like Craigslist. In other cities, you might be able to get by with free-for-all listing sites like that, but in Austin, where the renters need to fight over each other for a loft, many landlords work through a rental broker.
Also, Craigslist ads aren’t always up to date or accurate, and there’s always the occasional scam. You’ll likely find a better deal on a house, condo, or apartment when you work with a rental agent anyway.
I wrote an article about why Craigslist is so terrible in the Boston rental market. There's almost a direct parallel between the issues and pitfalls of Craigslist in Boston and Craigslist in Austin. Bottom line, the lack of any recourse for false ads or misdirection rewards poor behavior from agents. Click the image below to read the full article.
There are only advantages to using an apartment locater/real estate agent.
The short version is that a real estate agent is professionally trained to help people find apartments and they don't cost you (the renter) a cent. But don't just take my word for it. Austin.com has a great write-up on why using an apartment locator makes a lot of sense in Austin.
"Yes, it’s possible to find an an apartment that meets all your needs online, but it takes a lot of time. You likely have a job and you also have to pack because, you know, you’re moving soon and you have a hundred other things that need your attention. This isn’t like finding the best price on a flight to Vegas – this is where you’re going to live.
Apartment locators, on the other hand, do this all day. It’s their jobs. And they’re not charging you a cent to help you. If you rent an apartment through them, they get paid. If they find you a great place to live, you’re probably going to tell your friends on what a great job they did. On top of everything else, they can help you get special deals that you couldn’t get on your own.
If you don’t have the time or the energy to do it yourself, let an apartment locator do it for you." Source: Austin.com
Understand the neighborhood and wider area you’re looking to rent in.
Do you want your new home to be near frat houses and breweries or quiet suburban sprawls? If you do no research, you may find an apartment in Austin, Texas, in entirely the wrong area of the city for you. Use our Austin neighborhood guide to see which region of the city is right for you. Remember that they vary wildly: You can find a reasonable room in one of the best hipster neighborhoods in the country not too far away from an available duplex in a very quiet, family-oriented area. It depends on what you want.
Map the public transportation systems as well as your commute.
Public transportation is the only thing not big in Texas. On the other hand, there are plenty of biking and walking areas, and if you live in pricey Downtown, you’ll likely be able to ditch the car. For those who can’t afford the average rent of that area (which is $1,870 per month), you’ll likely be driving. Traffic isn’t as bad as in other cities, but it’s not great, either: I-35 is one of the worst roads in Texas.
Avoid moving in the summer (unless you have friends who really, really owe you one).
First off, the heat. There are parts of the country where 100-degree weather is absolutely unheard of and considered dangerous and worrisome. That’s comical in Austin, where it can stay at 100 degrees for days on end. In the summer of 2011, temperatures hit 112 degrees. So it’s hot. (Bob doesn’t make his friends help him move out during the summer in Austin. Be like Bob.) At least you won’t need to deal with moving during the winter, either.
Know that your rent will likely go up after a while.
The economic boom in Austin means that there’s rapid growth. That’s good for the economy but bad for renters, as sometimes, there’s simply less housing for rent. Austin, TX, has seen an increase in property values. Your monthly rent will therefore likely increase after your lease is up. Keep that in mind as you’re shopping around.
Image source: Zillow Market Research
Talk to locals or, if possible, future neighbors.
The landlord will likely be getting referrals for you, so try to get referrals for them. It’s not against the rules to read online reviews, talk to previous tenants, or just chat with neighbors around the block. People here are friendlier than in, say, New York City.
You can politely get a lot of information, like how many owners have controlled the building, whether work has been done, and what’s happening to the neighborhood. Pick up as many tidbits as you can without being invasive.
Use a locator service.
Landlords aren’t dying for tenants here: They often have the opportunity fill vacancies shortly after offering housing for rent. Austin, TX, renters usually use some form of locator service to find the best situations first, connecting with agents like those at Jumpshell. Enlist the help of a local expert; it’s easy. We’ll be able to help you find apartments in Austin without a hassle.