Austin City Guide

by Jose Marc Castro on August 18, 2008

movingtousaIMAGE200Austin is the one city in Texas that stands out in sharp relief against its more conservative neighbor cities. While the rest of the state has been happy to retain much of the local traditions that have distinguished them for so many years, Austin is clearly a city that has set its sights on the future.

This is not to say that there is none of the old world Austin left: there is in fact plenty to see and do that harkens back to a time in the city’s past before modernization and urban development took its toll. What Austin has managed to do however, is combine the very best of the old and the new to produce a truly distinctive and exciting city.

An expat shared this sentiment in a post in the America Expat Forum last February 19, 2009:

Austin, TX is actually a really good city with a great college, jobs, and well priced apartment rentals.

Residential Places in Austin

One of the most important things to realize about Austin is that for all its urban development and modernization, it really is a suburban town at its core. This means that if you are looking for a small town environment where you can easily walk to the grocery store from your home, you will probably have a hard time finding such an area here. Strict zoning laws have ensured that residential areas and business centers are kept at a comfortable distance away from each other, so you will really need to have a car to get around easily. On the plus side, this also means that any house you buy will most likely be located in a quite, residential neighborhood, free from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Of course with the present climate of continued development and expansion in the city, it is only a matter of time before more residential properties are built downtown where most of the businesses are. Of course prices there will obviously be a bit higher than in the outlying neighborhoods.

Prices of houses in Austin can vary widely depending on several factors: the location, the condition of the house, and the prevailing real estate market trends. A single-family home with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and a lot area of 1,152 square feet was recently listed at $30,000. Another house located at Swift Current Road, with 3 bedrooms and 2 ½ bathrooms was listed at $839,000.

Hospitals and Universities of Austin

Most of the larger hospitals in Austin operate under the auspices of St. David’s Healthcare Partnership and the SETON Healthcare Network. These establishments aim to provide a wide variety of medical care and emergency services to the city’s residents. There are also a number of specialist medical establishments in Austin that focus on the care and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, substance dependencies, mental heath, and rehabilitation treatments for brain, stroke, and spinal cord injuries. The city is also home to a number of organizations that provide medical service to Austin residents who do not have any medical insurance.

Some of the better hospitals in the city are Austin State Hospital, Bailey Square Surgery Center, Brackenridge Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Austin, and the Heart Hospital of Austin.

Austin is home to some of the best known and most respected educational institutions in the country as well as in the whole world. You can hardly expect any less from a city that is considered to be the number one college town in the United States.

Foremost in the city’s list of universities is the University of Texas at Austin, which is one of the largest higher education establishments in the country.

Some of the other colleges and universities that uphold the Austin tradition of educational excellence are Concordia University, Austin Community College, St. Edward’s University, Huston-Tillotson University, the Acton School of Business, and the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest.

Commercial Places in Austin

In addition to Austin’s long list of natural and man made attractions, the city is also known for its wealth of culinary offerings. The many cultures and nationalities that have made the city their home have served to inspire a wide range of different cuisines that reflect this diverse blend. Among the restaurants and dining establishments that you absolutely have to experience in Austin are Kenny’s Coffee Co, Maru, Stortini, and HaiKu Japanese Restaurant.

Downtown growth has been aided by the presence of a popular live music and nightlife scene, Whole Foods Market flagship store and headquarters, museums, restaurants, and Lady Bird Lake, considered one of the city’s best recreational spots. The 2nd Street District consists of several new residential projects, restaurants, coffee shops, record stores, upscale boutiques and museums, and the Austin City Hall. Under construction across 2nd Street from Austin City Hall is the new Austin City Limits location that will be housed beneath a new 478 feet (146 m) W Hotel and residential tower. Each year SXSW, the largest music conference in the world, is hosted in downtown Austin.

Service Establishments of Austin

The Austin Energy Company handles most of the electricity supply needs of Austin. Although the company has held the monopoly on electricity supply services in the city for a number of years now, deregulation efforts are underway so that you will soon be able to choose from other providers if you wish. For now, you can contact Austin Energy for electric services and rates at 721 Barton Springs Rd, 78704, and you can call them at 512-322-6300.

For your water supply and wastewater management needs, you can contact the department of Water and Wastewater Utility of the City of Austin at P.O. Box 1088. You can also call them at 78767-8859 and at 512-322-0101.

For garbage collection services, you can contact the Solid Waste Services division of the Transportation and Public Services Department of the City of Austin. They can be reached at P.O. Box 1088, and you can call them at 78767-8844 and at 512-472-0500.

For gas supply services, the company to contact is Texas Gas Service at P.O. Box 1268, Austin, TX 78785. You can also call them at 512-477-5852 or 800-700-2443.

Some of the major telephone service providers in the city are Grande Communications, AT&T and Time Warner, although there are several other smaller companies that you can find in the local telephone directory.

How technologically advanced the city is has been illustrated in a post in the America Expat Forum last December 18, 2008:

Austin is a bit different from the rest of Texas, I think. It’s the high-tech/internet hub and a cultural center. The University of Texas is located there. The countryside around there is hilly, and it’s wildflower country. In the spring, there are bluebell fields everywhere, thanks to Ladybird Johnson (she hired students to ride around in the back of pickup trucks tossing wildflower seeds onto the roadside).

Embassies in Austin

Consular assistance in Austin can be obtained from the British Consulate-General in Houston. You can reach them at Wells Fargo Plaza, 1000 Louisiana Suite 1900, Houston, Texas 77002. You can also them at (1) (713) 659 6270 and at (1) (713) 659 6275. Their fax number is (1) (713) 659 7094.

Alternately, you can contact the British Embassy in Washington D.C. at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008. Their telephone numbers are (1)(202) 588 6500, (1)(202) 588 7800, and (1)(202) 588 7830.

Useful Websites

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