Home Sweet Austin

When you’re buying a home, you’re obviously thinking about the future. While Austin has a great history and is currently weathering the economic recession well, it’s latest “best of” ranking really says it all. For example, the June 2010 issue of¬†Kiplinger’s Personal Finance¬†magazine ranked Austin first in the Top 10 Best Cities for the Next Decade.

From its high tech industry to the thriving professional and community arts scenes, city-wide support of green spaces, renowned universities, diverse neighborhoods and a general appreciation for creativity and innovation, Austin has it all. The entrepreneurial spirit of collaboration supports start-ups that often become major companies (think Dell and Whole Foods: both companies were started in Austin and are headquartered here).

Before Austin was Austin, nomadic tribes of Tonkawas, Comanches and Lipan Apaches stopped to hunt by the area’s creeks including the now popular swimming hole, Barton Springs. During the late 1700s, the Spanish established temporary missions here. Anglo settler arrived in the 1830s and created the village named Waterloo –a name still honored by independent record shop Waterloo Records, the Austin chain of Waterloo Ice House restaurants and Waterloo Park located downtown. Waterloo became Austin (after Stephen F. Austin, the “father of Texas”) and was named the capital of the new Republic of Texas in 1939.

There’s a perfect Austin neighborhood for every lifestyle –in fact, it’s often hard to decide where to live with so many options. Downtown Austin is thriving with shops, restaurants and live music venues. The East side of Austin is rich in history and known for its cultural diversity. The famous 78704 zip code is Austin at its funkiest just south of Lady Bird Lake. And nearby towns like Dripping Springs, Westlake and Lakeaway offer both rural and suburban settings only a short drive from town.

Connecting many wonderful aspects of Austin is the Trail of Lady Bird Lake. The hike-and-bike trail wanders by the water, beside high rises and through neighborhoods. The city also surprises visitors and newcomers with its many parks and public swimming pools. The trail leads to the Congress Avenue bridge, where the world’s largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats resides from April until October. Crowds gather by the river and on the bridge at dusk to watch the spectacle of bats leaving en masse on their nightly search for insects.

The University of Texas at Austin is a major academic research facility and adds much to the city’s culture with its Texas Performing Arts Center. Of course, you many know UT for the great Longhorns sports teams whose rallying cry of “Hook ’em Horns” is heard city-wide. Other universities include the historically black Huston-Tillotson College, St. Edward’s University, Concordia University at Austin and Austin Community College.

And the soundtrack for all of life in Austin is live music. Known as the Live Music Capital of the World, the questions “Where are we going for dinner? ” or “Where are we going out tonight?” usually includes “Who’s playing?” With world-famous events like SXSW and Austin City Limits festival and public television show, Austinites’ toes are always tapping. And while there are plenty of classic Austin venues like Antone’s and Stubbs to catch a show, unexpected places like the grocery store Central Market and the convenience store Whip-In have stages, too.

Even longtime residents are still finding out new things about Austin. There’s more to explore than can be covered here; the city’s great food, visual arts, theater and eclectic locally-owned businesses all combine to create a unique place to visit or–if you’re lucky–to call home.