Hate Austin rent prices? Online list says Leander is cheaper

 

We all know it’s expensive to live in Austin. One recent study suggested that it takes a yearly salary of at least $52,578 to afford a home here, something that is becoming increasingly more difficult to afford if you’re a single man or woman.

A house on Garden Street is for sale on Thursday November 19, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

But take heart, those of you who rent homes or apartments in Austin: At least you weren’t paying the area’s highest rent prices this past month. That honor goes to Leander, our neighbor to the northwest. That’s right, it was cheaper to rent a domicile in Austin than it was in Leander, at least, according to rental site Zumper.

Zumper released a report this week detailing the drop in rent prices throughout the Austin area, a swath of land that includes all the way from Georgetown to San Marcos. The report found that for the month of March, Austin had a median one-bedroom rent of $1,080 a month, while renting the same domain in Leander would set you back $1,110. Both are still much higher than the $887 state median, however.

The cheapest rent in the Austin area for March belonged to San Marcos, at $860 a month for a one-bedroom.

Read the full report here.

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Watch Austin grow up in Google Earth’s mesmerizing time-lapse photos

People in Austin complain all the time about how fast the city has grown and how much their favorite neighborhoods have changed, but you can get a satellite’s-eye view of just how much by using Google Earth Engine. The site collects aerial photography from 1984 to 2016, a period in Austin that includes the real estate boom and bust of the 1980s, the late 1990s tech boom and bust in the early 2000s, as well as the 2008 recession and subsequent economic recovery.

The view of Austin from a macro view can be a bit muddled but you can see lots of activity on the outskirts of town, like the emergence of the Texas 130 toll road on the far right.

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The city of Austin

But take a look at the neighborhoods and zoom in on certain high-growth areas and the changes are more impressive. For instance, between 1984 and 2016, the old Robert Mueller Municipal Airport was closed. Its runways were razed and replaced with a planned community of retailers and single-family homes.

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Robert Mueller Airport, then Mueller development

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport was simply Bergstrom Air Force Base three decades ago. The military abandoned the base but the city turned it into an international flying hub. In the time-lapse below, you can see how the city added another runway to the existing airfield and rebuilt the terminal and parking for civilian use. When a large road suddenly cuts across the map on the right, that’s the construction of the Texas 130 toll road.

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Bergstrom Air Force Base, then Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Also in southwest Travis County, you find lots of farmland and rural areas that haven’t changed much at all in the past 30 years. But in the space of a few years, the Texas 130 toll road appears – seen below on the left – and then, blossoming from the green space, the Circuit of the Americas racetrack.

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Circuit of the Americas emerges in Elroy

Another transformation becomes evident on the other side of the county in Steiner Ranch. Here, you can see how development spilled along roadways and how houses sprouted on hilltops throughout the area.

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Steiner Ranch

Just a few miles north, on Lake Travis, the aerial photos show the effects of fluctuating drought conditions on the Highland Lakes. Over the past 30 years, the exposed shoreline of Lake Travis flashes like a neon sign as waters recede and return, depending on the season’s rainfall.

Lake Travis
Lake Travis

Try Google Earth Engine for yourself. I learned a lot just by looking up my own neighborhood in South Austin near the corner of West Slaughter and Brodie lanes:

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We bet you can guess Austin’s ‘most obnoxiously rich suburb’

You know what being a slacker doesn’t get you? An inground pool. Also, a secluded citadel from which to perch and survey the toiling rabble below you, because that real estate in the Westlake area ain’t cheap.

Before any of our western readers get too upset and choke on their Pappy Van Winkle, note that we’re only reporting that West Lake Hills was recently named the “most obnoxiously rich suburb” of Austin by the noted internet list-makers at Thrillist. Austin, for all of its gleaming skyscrapers, still trades heavily on the rough-around-the-edges, crusty charm mythologized by Richard Linklater’s 1991 film “Slacker.” But even weirdsville has a tony pocket.

Westlake Picayune file photo
Westlake Picayune file photo

Thrillist’s methodology in choosing the ritziest suburbs of cities across America came down to money, of course, but the site said that certain factors were navigated “by feel.” Feelings about West Lake Hills, according to the list, are that the enclave and its “frightfully steep driveways” are secluded from the rest of the town by its rolling terrain and the Colorado River, leading to elitism. Particular venom for the community was reserved by the article for residents’ “insanely privileged spawn who terrorize the area around Westlake High School in their Range Rovers.”

READ: Where’s the best place in Austin to avoid tourists?

For comparison, the Dallas ‘burb with pomposity to spare, according to Thrillist, is Frisco. For Houston, it’s The Woodlands.

RELATED: Which part of Austin made a ‘sexiest neighborhood’ list?

We love a little cross-town snark as much as anyone. But let’s remember that our lovely American-Statesman readers from West Lake Hills are among the kindest folks we know. Now, let us use your pools, because most of the public swimming spots in town are already closed for the season.