The best neighborhoods in Austin

Austin, Texas, from above

Where are the best places to live in Austin? Explore these 12 areas and you may have a tough time choosing where to plant your roots. 

By Liz Gallagher

Austin is a colorful city polka-dotted with lots of green space. Choosing where to live can be tricky because there are so many fantastic options. In some Austin neighborhoods, you can literally step from your front into an outdoor adventure. Nature not your thing? Austin has lots for you to explore, too, from historic honky tonks to funky boutiques to lively coffee shops and restaurants. 

We’re highlighting 12 Austin neighborhoods to help you choose the place you want to live. Taking time to get to know the different flavors will help you narrow down your search for a home you love. 

An August 2021 report from WalletHub named Austin the number one real estate market among large cities (and number two for cities of all sizes, behind Frisco, TX). The rankings come from comparing what WalletHub calls “18 key indicators of housing-market attractiveness and economic strength.” 

Check out these neighborhoods if you’re looking to buy in this winning market.

Allandale 

A home and street in Austin, TX
A home near Allandale. Photo by Julie Knutson.

Allandale is a must-consider homebase for small families and young professionals who want a suburban feel that’s only minutes from downtown. The public schools are excellent and residents get the best of city amenities in a small-town atmosphere.

A predominantly residential area, Allandale offers plenty of local shopping and restaurant options, including Yard Bar, a bar and dog park. Beverly S. Sheffield Northwest District Park features playgrounds, sports fields and courts, an outdoor swimming pool, a fishing pier, plenty of hiking, and lots of picnic spots. 

Many people consider Allandale part of a trio with Crestview and Brentwood. All three adjacent neighborhoods developed out of farmlands in the mid-1900s.  As you might expect, you’ll find an array of midcentury homes here. 

Pros: It combines the best of urban and suburban worlds, and offers fantastic schools. 

Cons: Allandale has a Walk Score of 53, making it “somewhat walkable,” and a transit score of 42, indicating “some transit.” 

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Cherrywood 

A fountain on the University of Texas Austin campus
University of Texas, near Cherrywood. Photo by Julie Knutson.

If you love the bustle of downtown but also love getting away from that bustle, Cherrywood might be just the right neighborhood for you. Located in East Central Austin, Cherrywood feels like the suburbs, but it’s close to downtown. 

Cherrywood used to be several distinct neighborhoods that were combined into one thriving community in the 1980s. Located near the University of Texas campus, this area is home to a mix of students and faculty alongside folks who are drawn to its charm and best-kept-secret vibe as an easygoing spot that’s still so convenient to the busier parts of East Austin. 

The homes in Cherrywood are a mix of bungalows, Craftsman-style  homes, duplexes, and new developments. Many of the homes in the area were built for soldiers and their families immediately after World War II. 

Pros: It’s an East Austin neighborhood with the best of city life and suburban peace. 

Cons: The housing market in Cherrywood is very competitive, so you may come up against other buyers who want the same home you want. 

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Downtown Austin 

Downtown Austin Second Street District
The Second Street District of Downton Austin. Photo by Julie Knutson.

Love the city life? Downtown Austin is for you. You’ll mainly find condos for sale and, true to Texas, many of them will be generously sized compared to what you may be used to in other metro areas. 

If you’re looking for walkability, you can’t do better than downtown. Living here comes with the expected convenience of strolling to restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and retail stores, plus museums, sports venues, cultural centers, and civic buildings including the Texas Capitol. 

You’ll discover old bungalows turned into bars along Rainey Street, nightclubs on Red River, and a diverse crowd at the venues, restaurants, and shops in the Warehouse District. 

Pros: All the convenience, entertainment, and lifestyle perks that come with living in the city. 

Cons: Like in most downtown areas, you’ll pay a premium in housing prices and property taxes. 

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East Austin

Options are the name of the game in East Austin, which is actually a collection of neighborhoods. You’ll find bungalows from the early 1900s and new-construction condos, smooth cocktail lounges and cozy restaurants, museums and music venues. The area is known as a destination for Mexican food, and making a decision on where to eat can be a challenge because it’s also home to Southern Style restaurants, BBQ joints, and more.

When they say “keep Austin weird,” it’s generally South Austin that locals think of. But Austin.com points out that East Austin offers plenty of quirkiness as well.  

East Austin is a very walkable area and exploring all it has to offer can easily be done on foot. More residents in East Austin rent than own homes, but you’ll find a mix of modern condos and townhomes, mid-century homes, and new construction single family homes for sale in the area. 

Pros: East Austin is known for being an eclectic area that’s true to Austin’s roots. There’s a lot to do (and eat!) and fantastic homes to be found. 

Cons: With median prices higher than in much of Austin, homes here also tend to sell over list price by about 5%, so be prepared to think of the list price as a starting point. 

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Hyde Park

Hyde Park is a tree-lined neighborhood with Victorian architecture alongside Craftsman style homes. While it’s north of downtown, you can easily take the bus or ride your bike downtown. This area maintains local history and its strict planning regulations mean it’s likely to stay that way. Some people even call it an urban forest because of its lush greenery. 

Don’t think that living in Hyde Park means living in a park, though. It’s a hot spot for culture as well. You’ll find plenty of coffee shops and restaurants to walk to as well as the Elisabet Ney Museum, a marvel dedicated to the German sculptor who moved to Austin in 1892 and became one of Hyde Park’s first residents. 

Hyde Park was established in 1891, which gives it the distinction of being Austin’s very first neighborhood. Many homes in the area have been updated in the past decade, but they still maintain the historic charm of their original styles.  

Pros: You saw where we said people call it an “urban forest,” right? It’s that, and with grocery stores in walking distance. 

Cons: With a median home price of about $825,000, homes are on the spendier side of what you’ll find in Austin.

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Meuller 

Meuller is a planned community on the site of the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. It has its own website that details how it came to be (a 16-member task force called for its creation in 1996), what’s going on in its retail and commercial districts, and more.

The community is dedicated to being a model for sustainable community design and features resource-efficient homes. The home types in Meuller fall into three categories: row houses inspired by the brownstones of the Northeast, detached single-family yard houses with front porches and two-car garages, and two- and three-story cottages called garden houses with private side yards and two-car garages. With this development in its final phase of buildout, you can still grab the opportunity to buy a never-lived-in home. 

Pros: It’s literally designed to be a great place to live. 

Cons: If you want the first adjective applied to your home to be “unique,” a planned community probably isn’t the best fit for you. 

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North Loop 

Close to Hyde Park with similar walkability and just as many trees lining the streets but a slightly more relaxed vibe and slightly lower-priced homes, North Loop offers buyers 1940s-built houses that may or may not already be remodeled. If you’re looking for a more modern look and feel to your home, you’ll find options on the busier streets. 

The scale of the homes and lots in North Loop are small by Texas standards, but the personality of the neighborhood is plenty big with a quirky mix of boutiques, vintage stores, record stores, and bookshops. You’ll have plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in walking distance. A favorite spot for frozen treats is Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs, a mainstay in Austin since 1996 that’s run by a member of the family that founded the original in Louisiana (which has been going strong since the 1960s). 

Pros:  It’s an energetic, walkable area with a lot of fun packed into its namesake street. Plus, home prices are more affordable than in some other popular parts of Austin. 

Cons: House lots in the area tend to be small to match the scale of the neighborhood.

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Old West Austin 

History buffs and nature lovers alike will love Old West Austin. Not only is the neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places, its proximity to Lake Austin as well as numerous parks and trails has made it a popular place to live. Situated north of Lady Bird Lake and west of downtown, Old West Austin is made up of Old Enfield, Pemberton Heights, and Bryker woods. 

Homes in the area span the years from the area’s mid-1800s development through mid-century gems from the 1950s with new construction mixed in. If the neighborhood shops and restaurants aren’t enough for you, you’ll have easy access to the myriad options in downtown and South Austin. 

Pros:  Easy access to nature combined with plenty of options for dining, shopping, and entertainment. 

Cons: The competition to buy homes here is slightly lower than in other areas, but that may be because the median list price is higher, coming in over $1,000,000. 

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South Congress 

South Congress Austin Texas
South Congress. Photo by Julie Knutson.

SoCo offers a similar bohemian vibe to nearby South Lamar, and both neighborhoods feature a similar mix of ranch-style homes and modern builds. 

The neighborhood is known as a hip area with bohemian roots. In addition to the restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, you’ll find a gorgeous view of the Texas State Capitol from SoCo. 

The Continental Club, affectionately calling itself the granddaddy of live music venues, is a mecca for roots, rockabilly, country, swing, rock, and blues music where you can step under a neon sign and into an adventure any day of the week. 

Pros: You’ll never run out of things to do and the neighborhood has a uniquely Autin feel.   

Cons: South Congress, and all of South Austin, is a popular area where competition for homes can be high. 

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South Lamar

When you picture an Austin neighborhood, you probably picture what you’ll find in South Lamar: rustic pubs, honky-tonks, Tex-Mex restaurants, and friendly people walking down the sidewalk. Living alongside the iconic Broken Spoke, you can step through a time warp into 1960s Austin. 

Part of the South Austin district, South Lamar blends ranch-style homes and new construction in a small area that’s close to the Barton Creek Greenbelt. The Greenbelt is an urban oasis with popular hiking and mountain biking trails, spots to swim, rock climbing, and bird watching. 

While many South Lamar residents live in rented apartments, you’ll find homes for sale at a range of sizes and price points. 

Pros: If you live in South Lamar, you can take a mini-vacation any day you feel like it.

Cons: Living in an area people love to visit can mean dealing with crowds. 

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South Manchaca

If other areas in Austin are out of your price range, consider exploring South Manchaca. Located between West Congress and Westgate, the area is quiet and charming with a relaxing vibe. It’s not the most walkable area on our list, but still offers everything you need nearby. 

Williamson Creek Greenbelt runs through the neighborhood to offer hiking and picnicking. The Greenbelt connects to the Emerald Wood Community Garden, home to two butterfly gardens and a large wildflower meadow. 

More than half of the residents in South Manchaca own their homes, a mix of mid-century houses, ranch-style homes, and new construction. 

Pros: It’s a beautiful and convenient place to live with homes at lower prices than much of Austin. 

Cons: You’ll need a car to live here as it’s not a very walkable area. 

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Windsor Park

Developed in the 1950s, Windsor Park mixes urban and suburban vibes to create a neighborhood where families and young professionals flock. You’ll find areas that feel removed from the city very near to bustling streets with plenty of amenities. 

Expect to find mid-century homes, many of them recently updated, in your Windsor Park home search. Houses here remain affordable compared to other areas in Austin. 

Bartholomew Park, situated on 57 acres in the southeast section of Windsor Park, offers a quirky mix of things to do with its disc golf course, roller derby track, sports complex, outdoor pool, playground, and more. 

Pros: Windsor Park is a reasonably priced neighborhood where parks and activities mix with calm. 

Cons: Some of the homes here haven’t been updated since the 1950s, which is charming but may present homeowner headaches. Prioritize a home inspection if you’re buying an older home in the area. 

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Takeaway

The Austin real estate market is popular for good reason. Searching in the Texas capital will turn up options to match your priorities, whether you value eclectic “keep Austin weird” vibes, easy access to nature, a walkable neighborhood with tree-lined streets, or new construction in a convenient community. 

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FAQ about Austin neighborhoods 

What salary do you need to live in Austin?

The median income in Austin is $63,717, but an August 2021 study from GOBankingRates says it takes $98,007 yearly to live there comfortably as a homeowner. This study used the popular 50/30/20 method of budgeting to determine what you need to live comfortably with half of your income going to essentials. 

Is Austin a good place to live?

Austin is considered a great place to live! WalletHub named it the number one real estate market in August 2021. US News & World Report named it the #5 best place to live in 2021-22 after ranking it first for three consecutive years, from 2017 to 2019. 

Warm weather, the vibrant cultural scene, and relatively affordable homes are reasons people often point to for what makes Austin a good place to live. 

Is Austin expensive to live in?

The site ValuePenguin by LendingTree ranks Austin a moderately expensive place to live. The median home price is almost 5 times the median yearly salary. The primary expenses of Austinites come from driving (car payments and maintenance, gas, insurance). 

Is it worth buying a house in Austin?

The Austin real estate market is growing. According to A Decade in Texas Real Estate Report from Texas REALTORS®, which includes data for 2011 through 2020, the median home price in Austin increased 82% in that decade, from $189,000 to $343,914. 

What is the most expensive city to live in Texas?

Dallas is the most expensive city in Texas to live in, according to this Patch article, which cites data that Dallas is 7.7 percent more expensive than the national average while Austin is 1.8 percent higher than average.


About the author: Liz Gallagher is the Editorial Director at Flyhomes, publishing articles to give people the education and insights they need to be confident decision makers as homebuyers, sellers, and owners. 

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