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How to Find an Apartment in Austin, TX 2021

By: Davina Ward
May 24, 2021

Looking for an apartment in Austin? Moving to Texas’s capital city means finding a neighborhood that meets your needs, fine-tuning your budget, and going through the rental application process.

We’ve got you covered with all the information you’ll need to successfully find an apartment in Austin.

How to Find the Best Austin Neighborhood

With nearly one million residents and a decent share of Texas land, Austin can be challenging to navigate for any prospective renter. There are tons of neighborhoods with unique demographics, culture, and offerings.

It’s crucial to choose the right neighborhood when apartment hunting in Austin. Of course, you’ll want to choose a neighborhood that you can be happy in, as well as one that best suits your lifestyle.

Because there are so many, it can be difficult to choose one of the best neighborhoods in Austin. That said, check out some of these Austin neighborhoods to get you started on your apartment search.

1. Downtown Austin

If you’re keen on living the high-flying city lifestyle, then there’s no better place in Austin for you than Downtown.

Downtown Austin has all the hallmarks of city living, including excellent walkability, serviceable public transportation options, a thriving nightlife, and proximity to pretty much everything you could possibly need.

Lady Bird Lake provides an excellent destination for outdoor fitness and recreation, with many joggers, bikers, and walkers making their way through the park’s trails daily.

Apartments in Downtown Austin are highly coveted, so you’ll face a lot of competition when trying to rent in the neighborhood. Moreover, prospective renters should be prepared for the high rent prices throughout Downtown.

2. Barton Hills

Moving to Barton Hills provides you with some of the greatest outdoor recreation opportunities in Texas.

The neighborhood is home to the Barton Hills Greenbelt, which offers 12 miles of trails and outdoor recreation options, ranging from sunbathing to rock-climbing. Better yet, you’ll be just a stone’s throw away from Barton Springs Pool within the 350-acre Zilker Park.

Barton Hills’ location really comes in handy every summer when Zilker Park plays host to the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

In short, renting in Barton Hills is perfect for someone who always loves having free entertainment and recreation at their disposal.

3. North Loop

North Loop is another neighborhood with an excellent location. Residents enjoy quick and convenient access to the I-35 for streamlined travel to other parts of the city.

As the neighborhood is close to both Downtown Texas and the University of Texas, North Loop attracts a younger crowd of students and professionals. That said, it’s a lovely neighborhood where families can thrive.

Better yet, the neighborhood’s selection of bookshops, retail stores, cafes, and restaurants is easily accessible.

Renters in North Loop can choose from a selection of bungalows, older homes, and apartment complexes.

4. Hyde Park

Living in a city as large as Austin can make it challenging to feel connected with your community, especially with so many people calling the city home.

However, Hyde Park has been able to forego the traditional city-living standard of only knowing your immediate neighbors.

Whether you choose to live in one of the neighborhood’s split-levels, apartment complexes, or rambling Victorian homes, you’ll be joining a close-knit community.

Luckily, Hyde Park is located very close to Downtown, so you’ll still reap all the benefits of living in a major US city.

Unfortunately, this includes a lack of public parking options. It’s possible to bring a car to Hyde Park, but definitely not recommended for those who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on parking.

5. North Austin

As a thriving business and tech hub, North Austin offers an interesting mix of historic buildings, sprawling restaurants, shopping, and a thriving nightlife scene.

North Austin attracts many young professionals, as well as families of all ages. They are drawn to the neighborhood’s many parks, the great school district, and the proximity to major employers.

It’s a great destination for renters who work at the nearby DELL headquarters or at any of the other nearby major corporations.

How Much Are Apartments in Austin?

When choosing your Austin apartment, it’s essential to consider the city’s rent costs. Not only will this help you build a better budget, but it can also prepare you for the shock of moving to a location with a significantly higher or lower cost of living.

Average Rent in Austin

The average rent in Austin varies by neighborhood, but 77% of Austin’s apartments fall within the price range of $1,000-$1,999 per month.

That’s a substantial range, but it’s a great starting point. To narrow down the range, you’ll need to consider the average rent for Austin apartments by number of bedrooms. Here’s a breakdown:

How to Find a Cheap Apartment in Austin

For starters, you’ll have to determine what “cheap” means to you and how that number plays out in the Austin rental market. At minimum, your apartment budget should include enough funds to cover the cost of an Austin apartment on the lower end of the price spectrum.

For example, if you are looking to pay no more than $900 a month on rent in Austin, you’ll likely have few to no options that fit those parameters. However, if you choose to rent with a roommate to reduce costs, your budget will cover the average rent price of a two-bedroom apartment unit.

Other discounts and freebies associated with cheap apartment rentals aren’t easily found in Austin’s scorching rental market. The closer you venture toward Downtown Austin, the less likely you’ll find any rent specials or deals.

You may be able to find less expensive accommodation in the city’s suburbs. That said, in Austin, it’s a case of tailoring your budget to the city rather than trying to get the city to fit your budget.

What’s the Best Time to Find an Apartment in Austin?

Sometimes finding a deal on an apartment in Austin can feel a lot like taking a shot in the dark, as rent prices can change daily, especially in a hot market.

However, you can game the system a bit by taking a closer look at the seasonal trends of renting.

Generally, apartment prices are highest from July through September. They’re the lowest from December through February.

  • In recent years, rents in Austin have risen an average of $60 each summer, a 5% price increase, which is an additional $720 in rent annually.
  • In recent years, rents in Austin have dropped an average of $26 each winter, a 2% price drop, which is $312 less in rent annually.

What drives this seasonality?1

More people move during the summer because:

  • Weather doesn’t get in the way
  • School is not in session, making it a convenient time for college grads and families with children to move

Fewer people move during the winter because:

  • Inclement weather can get in the way
  • Moving can be expensive and winter holidays already consume a lot of discretionary spending

To find the best deal in Austin, start your search around December when landlords and property managers aren’t experiencing much interest in their listings. You may have to make your move in the middle of winter, so be prepared to move in the cold!

How to Find an Apartment in Austin

Once you’ve chosen an Austin neighborhood that best fits your lifestyle and have settled on a surefire strategy to get the most bang for your buck in the rental market, you can begin your apartment search. The process starts with pinning down your budget.

Here’s everything you need to know about finding (and landing!) an apartment in Austin.

Determine Your Budget

Generally speaking, the 30% rule will help you start building your Austin apartment budget. This budgeting rule of thumb states that your rent expenses shouldn’t exceed more than 30% of your income.

While this isn’t a concrete rule, it is a great starting point. If you’re not interested in whipping out some high school algebra, head over to our rent calculator to help you determine how much you can afford to pay in rent.

Set Your Apartment Priorities

Setting priorities for your apartment where you get to be a little selfish. What do you want or need in your apartment? You’ll need to consider your current lifestyle and living situation alongside your future plans in this process.

For example, if you don’t have a furry four-legged friend now, but want one in the near future, be sure to put “pet-friendly” apartments at the top of your list.

After you’ve spent your compulsory half-hour browsing the adorable adoption pages on Petfinder, you can consider other things such as proximity to work, grocery stores, gyms, parking, and more.

It’s all about setting your apartment goals in the beginning to ensure that your search starts off on the right foot.

Consider Your Commute Time

Census data puts the average Austin resident’s commute time at a low 24.4 minutes each way. Obviously, it depends on where you work and your method of transportation.

Austin’s walk score, bike score, and transit score are all very low. Unless you live within a twenty-minute walk of your workplace, you’ll need to set aside around a half-hour for your commute.

The city’s population boom and less-than-stellar public transportation system means that roads are generally congested during rush hour and morning commutes. In short, finding an apartment near your workplace might save you major traffic headaches.

Prepare for Apartment Tours

Seeing an apartment in-person or via virtual tour is your chance to visualize yourself in the unit. However, before you get lost in decor daydreams, you should consider the state of the apartment.

Moreover, you’ll need to know which questions to ask your landlord to ensure that you know what to expect if you choose to move forward with the rental process.

If you want to come prepared for your Austin apartment tour, you’ll need a checklist. Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered.

In addition to the obvious, “How much is the rent?” — there are 17 other essential questions to ask when renting an apartment.

Applying for Your Austin Apartment

The rental application process can be broken down into three phases:

  • Filling Out the Application
  • The Tenant Screening Process
  • The Landlord-Prospect Interview

Here’s everything you need to know about each stage of the rental application process to help you land your dream Austin apartment.

Filling Out the Application

While many applications are free, you may need to pay a rental application fee. This fee varies by location, but the average rental application processing fee is $100. It’s essential that you are prepared for this cost, but more so that you keep track of application fees, as you may need to apply for multiple units in Austin’s hot market.

Your rental application will require information that provides identity verification and enables the processing agency to move forward with a background and credit check as a part of the tenant screening process.

Here’s what you’ll need to fill out your application:

  • Contact Information (email, phone, etc.)
  • Identification (social security number/card, driver’s license, or state ID)
  • Employment (current and history)
  • Rental History (address, landlord contact, etc.)
  • Proof of Income (pay stubs, tax returns, etc.)
  • References

The Tenant Screening Process

There isn’t much you can do during the tenant screening process. For the most part, you’ll just need to provide additional information.

Your landlord or property manager will use the information you provided in your rental application to perform a background and credit check on you.

The purpose of this part of the process is to confirm that you are a good tenant candidate.

The Landlord-Prospect Interview

If you move to this stage, you are being seriously considered as a tenant for the apartment you have applied for – congrats!

Your landlord or property manager will schedule a time to meet with you.

You can use this time to ask questions about the apartment unit, the lease agreement, or anything else on your mind. If all goes well, you’ll be asked to sign a lease agreement!

If you are approved, you’ll be expected to pay the security deposit (usually one month’s rent) and the first month’s rent upfront.

Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

Victims of rental scams can lose substantial amounts of money, with one in three people reporting losing over $1,000 to rental scams.

The victims of rental scams aren’t ignorant - scammers are quite clever! Rent scammers prey on individuals and usually have just enough information and evidence to put even the most suspicious prospects at ease.

That said, to avoid a rental scam in Austin, it’s important to heed the golden rule, “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

Your best strategy against rent scams is to learn more about them, so you can avoid falling prey to the common types of rental fraud.

Using Apartment List to Find Your Austin Apartment

Want to move to Austin? Apartment List is here to help you find your dream home.

Here’s how it works: First, we get to know you. You’ll answer a few simple questions and we’ll find the best matches – just for you. Then, we mix and match your personalized results, making it easy to discover places with the perfect combination of price, location and amenities.

You can also learn more about:

Texas:

Dallas:

Houston:

San Antonio:


  1. These estimates rely on data from January 2017 to February 2021. Starting March 2021, price changes break dramatically from seasonal norms as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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AUTHOR
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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