Austin used to be known for having a hippie vibe, and you’ll see a greater concentration of old VW buses in this neighborhood than anywhere else in the city. The Old West Austin Neighborhood Association has banded together to make sure historic buildings aren’t torn down and to prevent development of the large tract homes sometimes called “McMansions.” Whereas downtown has a flashy, party atmosphere, West Austin is unpretentious, low-key, and a little bit retro. Even though most of the residents are renters, they take care of this community like it’s home.
This neighborhood has a unique character that is all its own, and the residents want to keep it that way. You’ll see murals on buildings and a wide variety of housing styles from well-maintained, stately Victorians to colorful bungalows. Apartments are more likely to be in converted houses than in large complexes. New development is limited, and there’s a strong preference for independent shops here.
As one of the oldest and most established neighborhoods in Austin, you’ll see a full canopy of trees lining all of the side streets. If you think of Texas as a dry desert, west Austin will prove you wrong. The Colorado River borders this neighborhood; if you love being outdoors, this is the place to be. The West Austin Park even has an off-leash dog park for your furry friend!
The Hope Outdoor Gallery is a “quintessentially Austin” kind of experience. Bring spray paint so that you can leave your art and words among the graffiti. You can climb to the top and get great views of the city, as well as all the graffiti left behind by previous visitors. Just be sure to wear closed-toe shoes for climbing!
In this neighborhood, you’re right around the corner from the famous 6th Street nightclub district, but you don’t even have to leave West Austin to find a fun place to hang out. If you’re not up for celebrating the fact that you live in the self-proclaimed “live music capitol of the world,” you’ll be right at home at BookPeople, a quirky store that is as much an experience as a shopping destination. Pizza lovers also won’t want to miss Rounders, whose décor is a kitschy combination of a pizza restaurant and a Vegas casino.
Parking in West Austin isn’t easy. People come from all over the city to hang out here, but the neighborhood really wasn’t designed to accommodate a lot of vehicle traffic. While you can drive here, be prepared to circle around for a while looking for a spot. Bringing your bike is a better bet.
Finding apartments for rent in West Austin can be challenging because so many people want to live in the calm atmosphere of this neighborhood. So much competition means that places go fast. Though West Austin is cheaper than downtown, it’s still not likely you’ll find bargains. Come to showings prepared to put in an application on the spot.
The wide variety of housing in West Austin means that you’ll have lots of choices, whether you’d rather rent a house, an older studio apartment, or one of the new condos being built. Despite the neighborhood’s general resistance to new construction, there are several new condo buildings and apartment complexes that were designed to match the unique look and feel of the neighborhood. Most apartments allow one or two pets, but expect to pay extra deposits and a nominal amount of additional rent.
West Austin has that classic, laid-back vibe that gives Austin its reputation as a great place to live. With a convenient location, access to the beautiful outdoors, and city nightlife just around the corner, everything you might want is in West Austin.