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Guest AH_MA

Austin, TX

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Hi MPP_RT. Depending on where you live, a car is not a necessity. The city's bus system is great and the university's wing of the city's bus system is better. UT students always ride free with their ID cards.

I've lived and went to school there without a car for about a year and it was fine... a little hassle waiting for buses but otherwise no problems. If you're looking to save money it should be an option. One of the most convenient neighborhoods without a car is North Campus/Hyde Park -- campus is minutes away and there's a major shopping center and a mall a little further north via bus.

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I have been in Austin for the past two years doing my MA at UT. I moved from NYC and hadn't driven in almost 10 years. Not having a car was okay my first year, but this year has become really frustrating. The majority of the city is not pedestrian friendly at all and, with the exception of going to and from campus during school hours, the public transportation system is pretty bad. I got a part-time job in East Austin during the summer and fall semester. A commute that would have taken less than 10 minutes by car took an hour on two buses each way. Not fun. The only thing that made this year bearable transportation-wise is Austin Carshare (http://www.austincarshare.org) If you live near one of their parking spots, you can borrow a car to do your grocery shopping, laundry, etc...things that are very difficult to do without a car (particularly in the heat) and without having to bum rides from friends all the time (which gets old for everyone involved). Just my two cents on the matter....

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Care to elaborate, freshprince? I'm seriously considering Austin in the Fall, and very excited about it. I keep hearing about how great it is, but people are usually short on specifics. What do you all (or, y'all) like about it?

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Austin is a great city, I have lived here eight plus years.

There are a lot of free/cheap activities, you can find most of these in the weekly alternative paper, the Chronicle. (also available in a limited capacity online, just google Austin Chronicle.) For example is First Thursday which happens on south Congress the first Thursday of most warm months. I would start there...

Austin is green and pretty, although hot in the summer. But almost everyplace has central AC. Also there are great natural places for cooling off, like Barton Springs.

There is a large emphasis on the "local" scene, local shops and restaurants are what makes Austin awesome. However in recent years condominium and other development has begun to choke some of these businesses out. (Even on the main campus "drag" Guadalupe st) Be aware that the locals will scoff at you for going to Wal-Mart or eating at Chili's. They are a bit snobby in this way, because not everyone can forgo the cheap prices at big block stores.

The people are very accepting, get used to seeing people from all walks of life, tattooed, hippie, yuppie, preppy, we all live here in harmony somehow. It took me a while to get used to the standard greeting, the big hug. I wouldn't start with it, but you will find that is becomes pretty typical.

Most older people avoid the ever popular sixth street, (nothing but bars for blocks) because it favors the undergrad crowd, although there are plenty of low key pub-like atmospheres where you can sit on a patio, and have intelligent conversation.

Oh, and the people are above average intelligent, I have had the most interesting conversions with complete strangers.

There is music everywhere, the biggest challenge is narrowing down which place to go to for which kind of music... and the Chronicle is no help. Just ask around. Continental club is home to rockabilly, and most bars on Red River are just rock, and there is a lot indie music everywhere.

Campus is beautiful, and covered with sprawling live oak trees, a very inspirational place.

Student jobs are relatively easy to come by... I have made very good money as a waitress my entire time here. Just be prepared to work nights, as you can tell I do based on my post time (also kind of an insomniac so it works.)

The Campus bus system is fantastic, and the city system is reasonable, my only complaint being the lack of late night common routes.

There is the negative element. Cars without alarms are frequently broken into for stereos, and bike theft is common. If you are wise about these things you will be ok, get an aftermarket car alarm and and insured bike lock... or drive stuff no one else would want, it has worked for me.

I live in the Oltorf neighborhood, aforementioned as "rough." These areas are where the minorities, (and their hard working families) live. I have never had any problems. I have no fear walking to the store late at night, even as a woman, nor have had any theft issues commonly encountered on campus, take that as you will. I made an effort to get to know my neighbors and I think that is helpful.

If there is anything else you would like to know I would be happy to help. I too am moving to a new place for grad school, (where yet I have no idea.) So I realize the intimidation that comes along with moving to a totally new city. I can help, I have lived in almost every part of town!

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Thanks for that, sunshine. I am now certain that UT is my top choice. Which means it will hurt that much more if (when) they reject me :(

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The other people who have posted positive comments about Austin here are not wrong, but I personally just found the city alienating, corny, and a pain in the ass most of the time. Weather, an overabundance of hippies, freegans, and others who imagine themselves to be totally "radical" (and hey, im about as far left as possible without being Abbie Hoffman), weirdo post-industrial urban planning, general desolation and ugliness (outside of UT)-- all the usual suspects. And fine, it really is probably better than living in Wasilla, AK (no disrespect to those folks, though). And and and, I'll probably be begging Austin to take me back when I'm still teaching 6 courses a semester at Hamburger Community College when I'm 35. Still, don't let the dreamers fool you: I predict civil war in Austin in the next 15 years. Just kidding.

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I agree completely with the poster above. I did my undergrad there, and while I love UT, Austin was not my style. It's a hipster's paradise...and the area around campus I would not consider to be the safest (but not outright dangerous). There is also a pretty annoying bum problem in west campus and the drag. Plus, housing in west campus is becoming more and more expensive with all those new luxury apartments replacing older, more affordable complexes..so if you want to live within walking distance of campus, be prepared to spend a lot more than what you'd expect for Texas....and you do not want to live in graduate housing, it's far away and is total crap. That being said, if you enjoy wild parties and drinking, live music, and very trendy things, Austin is the place to be.

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Man, some of these posts make me really regret not applying to UT :(

I went there for a year after undergrad and lived first on Camino La Costa in one of the apartments on a shuttle route. It was a great place: relatively clean, not too noisy, quick ride to campus, some decent restaurants in walking distance and convenient shopping a short drive away.

I later lived about a 20 min. drive south of UT in a rental house. Very quiet area and what was great is the traffic into town wasn't bad at all!

There are plenty of places convenient and affordable for someone who doesn't want to be right next to campus. Enjoy your time there!

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Hey everyone,

I was wondering like for undergrad in general, people recommend living in the student housing the first year at least ... is this also true for grad school, in specific UT Austin grad school?

Do you think it would be more difficult to make friends outside of your lab/research area if you did not live in the grad housing?

Also, what has your experience been with Brackenridge/Gateway/Colorado apartments? Are they bug-free (lol) ?

Thanks! =)

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Hey, got an admit with guaranteed TA for 3 years--but I'm afraid $1785 p.m would not be enough, even with full tuition and fees paid. And this would be for 9 months a year. Even though Austin is pocket-friendly( I guess),how should one manage so as not to go broke?

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Hey, got an admit with guaranteed TA for 3 years--but I'm afraid $1785 p.m would not be enough, even with full tuition and fees paid. And this would be for 9 months a year. Even though Austin is pocket-friendly( I guess),how should one manage so as not to go broke?

$1785/month? Are you single? That's plenty in Austin. Get a roommate and you will be fine.

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Also, what has your experience been with Brackenridge/Gateway/Colorado apartments? Are they bug-free (lol) ?

They are a long way from campus, and are very old. I'd recommend living on north campus as a graduate student. North campus has mostly more serious students due to its proximity to the engineering buildings and the law school. When I was in school a couple of years ago, you could get a 1 bedroom on north campus in the $700-$750 range, though prices have probably gone up somewhat.

I'd avoid living in the Riverside area with the rent-a-room college complexes. The bus ride isn't too bad but these are really awfully maintained and full of very loud parties.

Far West is another option, if you don't mind a 30 minute bus ride every day. This is a really nice neighborhood and rent is pretty low.

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I will actually be moving from NY,NY to Austin,TX. I've lived in NYC my whole life and I do love it. I think moving will be hard even if I love driving.

Anyone else move from a big metro city to Austin?

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I grew up in New York, went to college in the area, and went to grad school briefly in Austin. Austin will seem STRANGE if you're used to the pedestrian traffic and the bustle of New York-- it's really more like living in a suburb once you're outside of the 6 block downtown area (k fine, it has three Main Streets instead of one). That said, it can be really nice for the same reasons: proximity to at least a modicum of culture and a teeny tiny feeling of relevance without having to climb over 600 snotty transplants at the neighborhood Oren's every morning (yes, I'm a square upper west sider, for the record). But-- I don't know what kind of neighborhood you're looking for. I guess I'd recommend parts of East Austin if you're looking for something closer to the cool (read: gentrifying) neighborhoods of NYC. Basically, Austin is worlds away from NYC in terms of feel/atmosphere, but I'd say that it has most of the same "stuff" that you'd probably want. Plus, you will never pay 7 dollars for a beer or 10 for a shitty sandwich. Actually you know what, that's not entirely correct-- Austin can be weirdly, randomly overpriced. Bars close at 2, which is annoying when you've just biked 6 miles to be able to meet your friends and get a little sloppy without worrying about killing yourself driving home. And thats...about it.

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That said, it can be really nice for the same reasons: proximity to at least a modicum of culture and a teeny tiny feeling of relevance without having to climb over 600 snotty transplants at the neighborhood Oren's every morning (yes, I'm a square upper west sider, for the record). ...... Basically, Austin is worlds away from NYC in terms of feel/atmosphere, but I'd say that it has most of the same "stuff" that you'd probably want.

Haha, I totally know what you mean by Oren's (although the coffee there is worlds better than the overly hyped Starbucks).

I guess I'll miss NYC no matter what. But, if I'm not a clubber or partier, I don't think I'll miss much other than the usual random artsy stuff that it has to offer, as well as my childhood home since my parents are eventually moving to Austin.

When I visited a while back, I did find that Austin people are so much nicer. And people just end up falling in love with the place. I think it can be a pretty nice place if you're pretty laid back and generally lost within the hustle and bustle of nyc life.

I could be wrong though ... I'll find out soon enough! =)

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So, my dad currently lives in Austin and I'm sort of debating as to whether I should stay at home and commute (about 30mins drive) or just get grad housing the first year ...

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

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So, my dad currently lives in Austin and I'm sort of debating as to whether I should stay at home and commute (about 30mins drive) or just get grad housing the first year ...

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

There are a few things to consider:

The parking situation. Parking is really difficult to find on campus. You may or may not qualify for an "A" permit (~$150), and then nearby the ECE building you will have a hard time finding parking even with an "A" permit. If you don't qualify for "A" parking you will either have to get lucky and get an "S" permit (very unlikely your first semester, also costs around $600/year) to park in a garage, or you will have to settle for a "C" permit (~$100), which requires you to park about a mile walk from the ECE building, if you get to campus before 9:00a.m. Otherwise, think more like 1.5 miles. There is a shuttle, but I always preferred to walk. Your fourth option is to pay the $8 daily rate for a parking garage, which actually comes in right near 2x the cost of an "S" permit, and you are likely to be late for class some days when there is no parking available.

The grad housing is decrepit and a long bus ride from campus. It is cheap, and its a pretty good part of town, both socially and safety wise. I haven't lived there but I have been there a time or two. I'll leave any further comment to someone who has lived there.

Where in Austin does your dad live? Some drives aren't bad at all, others are awful. Also, if your dad lives somewhere that there is an easy bus solution, that may be another option. All city buses are free to UT students. I would avoid making multiple bus changes, because our system isn't very good and you are likely to make that 30 minute drive into a 2 hour ride. If you PM the neighborhood your dad lives in, I can give you an idea whether this is an option.

I went to UT for my undergrad as an ECE student, and I think the best choice overall, especially for engineers, is living on north campus. That said, there are certainly cheaper ways to go.

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Something that many people did, myself included, was to drive and park near campus where there's a UT shuttle stop. For example, I think in north campus there's a stop around 33rd/34th and Speedway. So many people drive in and park their cars along the side streets and hop on the shuttle when it comes by. You could also just walk to campus from that location too since it's not too far from the ECE building.

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Whats the "life" like in Austin outside of UT? I know the campus is very central for activities but are there places to go outside of that vicinity?

By that I mean like cool restaurants to explore, fairs, shopping areas, things to do on weekends, etc.

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Something that many people did, myself included, was to drive and park near campus where there's a UT shuttle stop. For example, I think in north campus there's a stop around 33rd/34th and Speedway. So many people drive in and park their cars along the side streets and hop on the shuttle when it comes by. You could also just walk to campus from that location too since it's not too far from the ECE building.

The intramural field parking lot is a nice spot too, especially since the shuttle takes you directly to the engineering buildings.

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There's so much great info on this board- I love it! I, too, have some questions about housing in Austin. I'll be starting grad school there in the fall and will move down with my partner. He's not a student, so I'm hoping we can live in an area where I can still be close to UT without him feeling like he's drowning in student life. That means coffee shops, restaurants, and general "stuff" in the vicinity (I hope!). We've been in Chicago for years and are all about urban biking - how feasible is this in Austin? What neighborhoods would be better for it than others? We have a car, but mainly use it for groceries, road trips, and when we're feeling lazy, and are hoping to maintain that approach, if possible. Any suggestions for areas to check out would be great!

Thanks guys :D

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First of all, I assume you are not talking about motorcycles!

Urban biking is feasible, if imperfect. I am not a biker myself, but the people I work with do it daily. There are bike lane maps located online, although they won't be much good to you until you figure out where you want to live, work, etc. The city as a whole has been making an effort to make biking safer and more standard, but I know plenty who have had run ins with drivers. Among bikers is the "hey, we are part of the traffic system too, watch out for us!" And from the drivers' perspective, "well then follow traffic laws!" There is a is no small amount of people (because they are so "badass yo") who refuse to play by the rules, just as there are conscientious bikers and drivers. But you will find that a large portion of the cycling population are commuter-bikers. These are the folks you find at the safety meetings trying to help the city protect its cycling community.

All that being said, some streets are just simply not bike friendly. It takes some time, and advice from the cycling community. Not knowing where else to start, I would suggest looking up the "Yellow Bike Project" for links/info.

If you are going to bike to school, and want to avoid the annoyances of frat houses/not choke your BF with university, the Cherrywood neighborhood is for you. This is across I-35 from campus(east) extending north from Manor rd.(manor rd = east 24th+ east Dean Keeton, weird but true) to beyond 38 1/2st st. (Don't however, venture south of Manor on the east side, it is pretty sketchy. Seriously it's only one road cross from each other, but these neighborhoods somehow don't mesh.)

Here is a sort of map: http://www.cherrywood.org/map/CNAbndry.pdf

I really miss this area, and it sound just right for your situation Lizzle, lots of homegrown restaurants, and next to a grocery store + campus.

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