"High Property Taxes, Heat, and Tornadoes, TOO? Why would I want to move to Austin, Texas?"
As a real estate broker in Austin, I have found that there are a few questions that typically surface when I am speaking with someone who is looking to relocate to this area. I thought it might be a good idea to address some of these head-on, in an effort to educate. Also, I wanted to touch on some of the reasons that I call Austin home.
Property Tax: Yes, real estate property taxes are high here in Austin, but we have no state income tax in Texas. Property taxes are used to fund our school districts, city and county governments, water districts (sometimes), and more. The tax rates range from about 2.5% to just over 3%. Austin proper is currently taxed at 2.5254%.
Our clients who have moved from areas with a state income tax in place have said that their overall tax burden typically stays about the same or slightly decreases. Clearly, this would not be the case on an investment property, but there are still plenty of good properties that are cash flow positive with a normal down payment.
Additionally, the Texas legislature recently passed a bill to reduce property taxes by 50 cents per $100 valuation. This will be fully enacted next year (17 cents this year, 33 cents next year).
Heat: Is it hot in Austin? Well, sometimes it is. Texas summers are hot, no question about it. However, this year we only crossed the 100 degree mark a couple of times. I looked it up, and here is the temperature trend in Austin, Texas over the past 30 years:
As you can see, we have several very good weather months here in Austin, and only four months when the average high temperature is 90 or above.
Tornadoes: I am asked about tornadoes far more frequently than you would imagine. In 1997, there was a devastating F-5 tornado that hit Jarrell, Texas, which is about 45 miles north of Austin. Since then, this area has experienced a good number of small tornadoes, but zero deaths. I have lived in Texas my entire life and I have NEVER seen a tornado, nor do I know anyone who has been directly affected by one, not even with property damage.
NOW comes the more important question: Why in the heck WOULD you want to move to Austin, Texas? Well, there are so many reasons that it is hard to give an all-encompassing answer here, but I would like to give you some good reasons as a starting point -
MUSIC: How about the fact that Austin is the "Live Music Capital of the World"? This became Austin's official slogan in 1991 after extensive research showed that Austin boasts more live music venues per capita than Nashville, New York City, and other music hot spots. Since then, Austin has continued to develop and foster this image through its initiatives.
Austin is a music industry mecca. South by Southwest (abbreviated SXSW) is a large music and film festival that has put Austin on the entertainment map. Austin has a large and varied selection of artists performing all over town, and notably on 6th Street downtown, every night. Austin City Limits, which appears on public television, is filmed here, and has showcased many well-known talents through the years. We even have a statue of local legend Stevie Ray Vaughn (click to hear him jamming) gracing the shores of Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin (see photo on the right).
NATURAL BEAUTY: Austin also has an extensive park system, hill country topography to the west, a beautiful chain of lakes, a river running through downtown, and thousands of acres of protected preserve land. To see more like this, please check out my recent blog post with photos here: Texas Looks Like That? A Native Texan's Perspective
AFFORDABILITY: Austin remains one of the most affordable markets in the country, with a median sales price in the $180,000 range and an average sales price in the low $200's. In fact, if you are curious about what your money will buy, please check out some of the recent articles I have written on this very topic:
HIGH-TECH COMPANIES: A directory of "Silicon Hills" (Austin's own "Silicon Valley") lists over 100 technical companies in the Austin area. This makes Austin a fairly tech-savvy town. Many Austin organizations and businesses were some of the first to be noticed on the Internet because of the large number of "techie" folks here in Austin. Dell Computers is the area's largest employer, with over 17,000 employees.
UNIVERSITIES: Austin is home to the University of Texas, St. Edward's University, Concordia Lutheran University, Austin Community College, Huston-Tillotson College, and there are two other large universities in nearby towns, Southwestern University and Texas State University. That means Austin is also home to a lot of young people and students. Many, after graduation, decide to live in Austin or start families here, which means Austin has many young families as well.
CULTURAL HOLDOVERS FROM THE 60's: Austin has a history of, for lack of a better word, "hippie" culture. Whole Foods, a now well-known health food store, was started by two entrepreneurs from Austin. The company's largest store (80,000 square feet) is smack-dab in the middle of downtown Austin. Of all the counties in Texas, Austin's county of Travis one of the few "blue" counties, politically (though Austin is home to a wide variety of views). In Austin, it's easy to find resources for holistic health, alternative spirituality, and natural childbirth. Hippie Hollow, a popular sunbathing and swimming spot on Lake Travis, is a "clothing-optional" park. Environmental groups in Austin help to protect Austin's natural resources, such as the Greenbelt and Barton Springs.
CAPITAL CITY: Being the capital of the state of Texas, Austin is home to many leaders, such as the Governor and Legislature, and houses the state Capitol Building. This is an awesome place to take the family on a pretty day. You can feed the squirrels, pigeons, and enjoy the parklike grounds of the Capitol itself. The interior of the Capitol is open to the public, and makes for a fun outing for all ages.
CELEBRITIES (maybe you can be one, too): In my recent article, Do you wanna be in pictures? Maybe Austin, Texas is the place for you! , I detail the fact that Austin is one of the most desirable and most used locations for movies in the country. Also, there is a very large studio called Villa Muse under development (estimated $3 billion investment) which promises to change the face of Austin.
Like any larger city, Austin is a very diverse community with people from every walk of life. The above are just a few of the things that give Austin its flavor. What are you waiting for? Come join us in beautiful Austin, Texas!
If you are interested in moving to Austin to pursue your dreams, please feel free to call or email me anytime. I would love the opportunity to help you find the right home or investment property. I can be reached at 512-796-7653 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!