How to navigate to UT campus?
April 21, 2006 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out where to live in Austin, Texas, while attending UT. Is it better to plan on walking or biking to campus, or is driving-and-parking viable? Or is there some kind of bus service that's the best bet? In any case, are there any neighborhoods where I can find a small house with a yard (I have a dog) for, say, $1200 a month or less? Thanks.
posted by lustra to Education (17 answers total)
Is it better to plan on walking or biking to campus

Yes. If you can afford to live somewhere within biking or walking distance I would definitely do it. Parking options for students are generally expensive or inconvenient.

Or is there some kind of bus service that's the best bet?

"The UT Shuttle System is the largest university shuttle system in the country, with 16 routes and over 7.5 million passengers annually." There are also regular Cap Metro buses which your student fees allow you to ride without additional charge. The #1 route is quite frequent so might be useful.

IMHO, the nicest place to live in Austin while attending UT is probably North Campus or Hyde Park, which are easy bike rides to campus, and there's a shuttle in case it is raining and you don't feel like biking. There are houses in Hyde Park but I don't know how much they cost, especially if you want to live there by yourself. If you are willing to have housemates you can definitely hit well below that price point.

What department will you be in?
posted by grouse at 10:15 AM on April 21, 2006

I am just finishing up as a PhD student at UT. I have lived in two places during my 5 years. I have lived in the graduate/married student housing and I have lived up in the Arboretum area (near the intersection of 183 and Mopac). There is parking but depending on where on campus you will be it may be a long walk (not so fun in the summertime). Also, if you plan to park you must get here early. I much prefer the bus system. There are both campus shuttles and regular city buses that do transport.

Personally, I really like where I live now. The city bus has an express system that goes from Arboretum area right down to campus with very few stops. Around here you could easily find a small house (or townhouse) with a yard for that price range. I live in a 3-bedroom apartment with my family and our complex allows pets and it is much less than $1200 a month. I am within walking distance of the bus stop and am very happy.

Graduate student housing was very cheap, but not very nice. There was a convenient shuttle. There are lots of married students that live there with kids. That can be good if you are in a similar situation or not so good if you are single.

There are also lots of students that live in the Far West neighborhood. They also take a campus shuttle. We looked there and decided against it b/c you get a lot less for your money there (compared with farther north), and the shuttle actually doesn't save you much time compared with the Express buses.

There are also neighborhoods directly north of campus, but I haven't lived in them so I don't know as much. My impression is that due to the nearness, you will have a more difficult time finding something in your price range.
posted by bove at 10:21 AM on April 21, 2006

Thanks, Grouse. I'll be working on my MFA at the Michener Center for Writers...
posted by lustra at 10:22 AM on April 21, 2006

Make a point of living near a UT Shuttle stop/route. It comes by like every five minutes when school is in.
posted by popechunk at 10:23 AM on April 21, 2006

The number 1 or the number 101 will get you from Travis Hights/SoCo area in under 20 minuets. These areas are walking distance (if you are a walker) from downtown. We looked at renting a 1 bedroom 1 bath with a HUGE yard in Travis Hights for $995 a month. I reccomend the lease search option on that is how we found the place we live now.
posted by kantgirl at 10:34 AM on April 21, 2006

This confusing map may help in figuring out which bus routes will be convenient. As you know the Michener center is at FDH, whch is on the north end of the map, and in the center on the east-west axis.
posted by grouse at 10:36 AM on April 21, 2006

MFA at the Michener Center? I'm applying to that this fall. Awesome.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 10:59 AM on April 21, 2006

Aw, you could have been my roomie, but it sounds you don't want to do the typical student housing thing, and I don't like doggies.

Everybody catches the bus to campus, and living near a UT shuttle stop is best, because the shuttles run more often then the regular city buses (though I've never ridden on the express routes, so I don't know if those are speedier). North campus, past 38th street or so, has decent small houses around 1000-1500.

The student ghetto places are ones closest to campus, so inner West Campus, inner North Campus, etc will probably not be your cup of tea. Hyde Park is pretty but expensive since it's close to UT and has the cool factor going for it. Good luck!
posted by lychee at 11:29 AM on April 21, 2006

I can't help you with prices, but I lived in an apartment on Hemphill Park while attending UT 1999-2000 and found it to be a very agreeable walk to UT (even though all of my classes were way on the other side of campus), to a sandwich shop whose name I forget (might just be Longhorn Subs) where they have these seriously kickass spinach pies, and to Hole in the Wall, where you can get drunk and see the Wannabes (assuming they still exist) and then crawl home. Anywhere between the north edge of campus and 38th-ish st should be okay.
posted by willpie at 11:29 AM on April 21, 2006

I forgot: Don't plan to drive to campus unless you really are able to get there by about 7AM every day.
posted by willpie at 11:32 AM on April 21, 2006

Hey Lustra, nice to run into you again--the internet's ridiculously small sometimes!

Driving to campus unless you take night classes exclusively will be utterly un-doable, and as far as I know, no one does it except the several people who commute from Dallas & San Antonio. Fortunately, for $1200/month you'll easily be able to find a small house in any number of neighborhoods in the city.

Hyde Park (where I live now) is a very nice "historic neighborhood" with well-mowed lawns and recent paintjobs--sometimes it feels a little falsely nice to me, but it's also quite near school and the central parts of the city while still maintaining a neighborhood feel, and the majority of Michener people live there. If you're moving with a partner & kids, it's definitely a family-friendly neighborhood, with a good mix of students/professors, but not the kind of drunken hellraising that happens in West Campus. I don't know anything about North Campus except that it's a very pleasant neighborhood to walk through with a park & dead end streets.

Right across I-35 from about 32nd-51st are the Cherrywood/French Place neighborhoods. They have a bit more charm (in my opinion--others will surely say the opposite!) than Hyde Park, and I think prices are similar. Just south of those neighborhoods is East Austin, a term which seems to include the entirity of predomenantly non-white Austin. Two of the Michener first years own houses here, and most people seem to feel quite comfortable here, though there's the perception of a higher crime rate. South of Caesar Chavez (1st St) is a large middle-class Mexican neighborhood with chickens & art in the yards of old hippies & artists who also live in the area, and in my opinion it's one of the most interesting neighborhoods I'd consider living in (consider--because of proximity to school, downtown, grocery shopping & restaurants, as well as charm & affordability). As a non-driver, in my opinion its greatest shortfalling is being too far from good grocery shopping, though that won't be so much of a problem for you. Finally, I haven't ventured too far south, but some people swear by 78704 (Is that it? More educated Austinites, school me on this!).
posted by soviet sleepover at 12:06 PM on April 21, 2006

I have a 3/2 duplex in northwest Austin with a large yard and garage and I pay $800/month. My partner, who just graduated, drove to school every day and parked in the commuter parking (you'll need a C permit - you can buy one online when you register).
posted by aebaxter at 1:08 PM on April 21, 2006

You'll find that just about everywhere that isn't walkable/bikeable has a shuttle or bus route to U.T. And driving to campus just really blows. Sounds like with your budget you won't be too restricted in the area you can choose.

Everyone is right on so far ... it's hard to beat Hyde Park when you're a UT student. Just thought I'd add some details about the areas I'm more familiar with:

As far as South Austin goes, 78745 is not as hip as 78704 but it's far cheaper than 78704 -- check out the neighborhood south of Ben White, off Redd St., with street names like Hank and Jinx. There are cute, little bitty houses there (600-900 sqft) that are often for rent.

Cherrywood (north of 38th, east of 1-35) has a little neighborhood full of quirky cinder block duplexes that (I think) used to be military family housing. Lots of grad students live up that way. One of those might be in your budget, especially if you're willing to have a housemate.

West campus is full of fraternities and sororities, but it's also full of co-ops and regular old apartment buildings and houses. I liked living there. It will probably be difficult to find something dog-friendly over there though.

Like soviet sleepover I love the eastside -- try Swedish Hill (east of I-35, south of MLK), the area just east of the French Legation, and the Cesar Chavez/Holly St. area.

If you can afford it and can find somewhere that takes dogs, you won't regret living anywhere near Barton Springs Pool.

Good luck! Let us know where you pick.
posted by kmel at 1:12 PM on April 21, 2006

You'll find that just about everywhere that isn't walkable/bikeable has a shuttle or bus route to U.T.

This is only true if you have a limited definition of "everywhere." Definitely check what the transit links (including hours, frequency, and transit time) are like before picking a place.
posted by grouse at 1:35 PM on April 21, 2006

As far as South Austin goes, 78745 is not as hip as 78704 but it's far cheaper than 78704 -- check out the neighborhood south of Ben White, off Redd St., with street names like Hank and Jinx. There are cute, little bitty houses there (600-900 sqft) that are often for rent.

i live in this area, and i confirm what kmel wrote. it really is a pleasant neighborhood. when my wife and i were driving through it on our house hunt, people actually smiled and waved at us; when we walk our dogs, they smile and speak to us. given the price you threw out, you'd most likely be able to afford a house with a very decent sized yard for your dog.

as far as driving goes, my wife has a c-parking permit, and she doesn't seem to have too much trouble finding parking -- she's usually out of the house by 8, and she takes south congress instead of 35.

you can also consider biking to a bus stop; the buses have attachments for holding your bike, though i think they can only hold 2 at a time.

good luck and welcome to austin!
posted by lord_wolf at 2:05 PM on April 21, 2006

Thanks, everyone, for the excellent help. Very, very useful. And nice to "see you" again, sovietsleepover. Shouldn't we both be writing something instead of hanging out on meta-filter? :)
posted by lustra at 11:35 AM on April 22, 2006

I was in the UT library school from 1996-98. The first year, I lived in a student co-op in West Campus. It was conveniently located, but living with mostly undergrads was noisier than I liked. The second year I lived in an apartment off Cameron Road, just east of I-35 (on a UT shuttle route). I was almost never able to park on campus (except for night classes), but I worked for the state government part-time, so I could park in my work garage and take the 'Dillo (a free trolley service) to campus.
posted by candyland at 10:12 PM on April 22, 2006

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