Family Friendly Austin
June 10, 2011 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Looking for family friendly neighborhoods in Austin. My wife and two small kids will be relocating to Austin. Our current neighborhood is filled with kids playing in the street and neighbors interacting with each other. We know and hang-out with a lot of our neighbors. We want a neighborhood / community like that in Austin. I know a lot of master planned communities bill themselves as family friendly but a lot of them always seem like ghost towns. Where are the true active / friendly communities in Austin?
posted by jasondigitized to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hyde Park
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:27 AM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

This list seems to have a pretty good mix of older, more established neighborhoods. Some upscale burbs listed as well but it's a place to start looking...
posted by jim in austin at 6:37 AM on June 10, 2011

Is it important to you to live centrally or are you OK with living in the burbs?

Like in most cities, the central core of Austin has fewer families with kids than its suburbs do. However, the suburbs are suburb-y -- spread out, often sidewalkless, filled with cookie-cutter subdivisions.

I would recommend Hyde Park, but it's expensive (for Austin).
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 6:50 AM on June 10, 2011

Check out Allandale. We've just bought a house there, and there are lots of young families with kids there, a good elementary school, a nice park w/ a swimming pool, and lots of kids playing in the street. Very good neighborhood association. Mostly 1950s-60s ranch houses.

For this type of question, check out the Austin forum on, there's many discussions re: these issues.
posted by seventyfour at 7:06 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, if you can afford it, look at Northwest Hills (very good schools) or Barton Hills.
posted by seventyfour at 7:07 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hyde Park, and a nice home will only cost around $350-$450k. North Loop drops that to $300k; taxes will be about 4% of that each year; but the neighborhoods are just fantastic!

Many homes have alleys that are narrow enough to preclude fast traffic, and the neighborhood is both flat; and close enough to banking, medical, and postal so that aside from commute to work little driving will need to be done.
posted by buzzman at 7:22 AM on June 10, 2011

The Zilker area also seems pretty kid-friendly - of course I live directly across from the elementary school so I sort of get the concentrated essence. Still, wonderful neighborhood regardless.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:35 AM on June 10, 2011

I get the impression that most of the residential neighborhoods in the core of Austin (which I would roughly define as being bounded by Springdale to the east, 183 to the north, Oltorf to the south, and Mopac to the west) have what you're looking for to some extent. But the strongest sense of neighborhood community I've ever experienced was when I lived on 37th St, the street of lights, back in the day. Gabfests among neighbors would start up at the drop of a hat, and we'd have parties that ping-ponged between three houses. Different people live there now, so it's probably not the same.

I live near the Mueller redevelopment, and go walking through there pretty regularly. Despite paying lip-service to New Urbanism with features that are supposed to get neighbors to interact with each other, I rarely see it happening, and most of the people taking advantage of the public spaces seem to come from outside the neighborhood. There are a couple of pedestrian-only blocks clearly intended for families with young kids—basically the whole street is a collective front yard, with low gates at each end (you can pick them out here). Perhaps there's interaction going on there at times that I don't see it.

The best way to get to know your neighbors is to get a dog.
posted by adamrice at 7:39 AM on June 10, 2011

I agree with adamrice about the Mueller development. OP, your instincts are right about subdivisions/"master planned communities." For whatever reason (and I have my theories) they do not actually attract people/families interested in interacting in an organic way.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 7:50 AM on June 10, 2011

Hyde Park is pretty expensive.

Second the notion of Allandale/Rosedale neighborhoods. Also - the neighborhoods west of Mopac off Exposition are pretty nice, quiet, tree-lined. Parts of Clarksdale would also fit the bill I think.

South Austin - any of the neighborhoods off Brodie or Westgate - are also family friendly and quite affordable. Only downside is weekend traffic in that area of town. Further out, Oak Hill might be appropriate.
posted by Thistledown at 8:12 AM on June 10, 2011

Barton Hills ain't bad.

I will have to say that I have been less than impressed with the number of kids I have seen playing outside anywhere in Texas. When I was a kid, we played in even higher heat and humidity. We never went inside.

In Barton Hills you never see kids except for the three days a year when it is over 70 but below 75. Adults wandering around, exercising, walking the dog, talking to neighbors, yes. Kids playing, no.

My neighbors are on average pretty old, but that is slowly changing as the next wave moves in with kids. There are, essentially, two cliques. For example, the gardening club, which has been in existence for 50+ years, hold meetings at 10 AM on Tuesdays, precluding involvement by people who have jobs. I imagine this is a holdover from the day of single income families, but come on!

Neighborhoods go through cycles. Barton Hills was a family neighborhood in the '70s and will be a strong one again for the next decade or two.
posted by Seamus at 8:23 AM on June 10, 2011

I rented in Hyde Park for a few years around 2004-2006, and it's a fantastic neighborhood. If you can cut the check for the house plus ongoing maintenance for an older home, then do it.

Also, what Seamus said, but about Shady Hollow, which is an 80's-era neighborhood in south Austin on Brodie just south of Slaughter Lane. It is definitely going through the old folks moving out / young families moving in thing right now. I dig that it's established (full grown trees), on quarter-acre lots, with decent sized houses (1700-2000 sqft). Plus, several streets (like Whiskey River Drive) back to a greenbelt that has hiking trails that people actually use.

If you really want to see tons of kids, check out the block that surrounds 6 Gun Trail on Google Maps, it's a big interior-block park with a paved trail running through it.
posted by alienzero at 9:24 AM on June 10, 2011

To provide more support for your master-planned theory: I'm in a planned development just south of Oltorf and east of 35. I talk to people briefly when I walk in our local park but otherwise don't know my neighbors very well. Our development is designed for small/urban living and isn't really kid friendly but I imagine everything in this area is the same. East of 35 is "gentrifying" and that's not conducive to the neighborhood feel you want for a bunch of different reasons.
posted by immlass at 11:05 AM on June 10, 2011

I used to live in the Cherrywood/French Place neighborhood and it seemed to be 1/3 grad students and other 20-somethings, 1/3 young families (often slightly hip), and 1/3 older people who had lived there for ages. I found it a very friendly neighborhood where the residents seemed to be outside a lot. The houses are smallish, on smallish lots, most were built around the 40's-50's I think, and some have been remodeled.

There are other neighborhoods like this in Central Austin. I think the first thing y'all should figure out is whether you want to live in Central Austin (within the I-35, 71/290, Mopac, 183/Anderson Lane "Box") or in the burbs.

I think Cherrywood might be a better value than Hyde Park, but I was never looking to buy, so I don't know for sure.
posted by dredge at 2:57 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Any neighborhood could be kid friendly or not, it occurs in a really small microcosm of the 8-10 houses immediately in front of to the right, and to the left of the house you live in. Here's what I do - when I like a house, I literally go DOOR TO DOOR before I buy the house, meeting people and asking about the neighborhood, how they like it, do they have kids, etc. It's obnoxious but I'd much rather figure out if I want to be neighbors with people *before* I move than after.
posted by pomegranate at 7:43 PM on June 10, 2011

I live in the west section of Hyde Park and see very few children. Only two on my block. Maybe in the area closer to Shipe Park, there may be more kids. There is a lot of traffic in Hyde Park and it's not safe to play in many of the streets.

Crestview and Allandale seem like more kid friendly places to me. Clarksville and Rosedale are nice but pretty pricy.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 7:57 PM on June 10, 2011

Agreed -- I really don't think of Hyde Park as having a lot of families with young kids. It's gotten too pricey to be the student rental neighborhood it was (in some part) in the past, but it still prices out a lot of young couples.
posted by seventyfour at 8:01 PM on June 10, 2011

Hey Jason :) Anywhere near a public pool or decent park will be good to meet people if you're social. We live near Little Stacy pool and there's usually a bunch of families there.
posted by ejoey at 12:41 PM on June 15, 2011

I'm late, but I visited my sister in Round Rock and it was pretty impressive. The schools were really good with a very wide variety of activities (that aren't available here in Florida) like symphony band as well as marching band. The neighborhood had a large park that was walking distance from their house and had a lot of organized activities-one night they hosted a casino night for adults, and they were gearing up for summer camp for kids. If you'd like the name and specific location of her subdivision (homes are large, about 10 years old with lots of kids), memail me and I can get you in touch with her to answer more questions about Austin.

Btw, my sister's kids are 18, 16, 14 and 6 if that helps.
posted by hollygoheavy at 12:52 PM on June 16, 2011

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