How to Get the Most Out of Renting in Austin
If you’re looking for a great rental property in Austin, TX, now’s the time to do so. Austin has been ranked the best US city to live in, making it prime pickings for those looking to relocate to the area. But even though competition can be tough, there are still plenty of great rental properties available throughout Austin in all shapes and sizes.
When looking to move, there are multiple factors you want to consider; for instance, are you looking for a house? A condo? An apartment? Not sure about which Austin neighborhoods you want to live in or where to begin your search? If this is your very first time renting in Austin, you probably have a bunch of questions regarding what’s involved. Austin realty can be a bit complex after all. We’ve gone ahead and broken the process down for you, to give you an idea as to what types of homes are available for rent in Austin, and what you may need to complete the process.
Where in Austin Do You Want to Live?
Where you want to live is the first thing you’ll want to consider when renting. Renting does make it easier to move than if you were buying a home in Austin, but it’s still a stressful endeavor that most of us don’t want to repeat in a year, so when you’re looking to make your move, it’s better to target the Austin neighborhood that you want to live in right off the bat.
There are 5 main areas in Austin: Downtown Austin, South Austin, West Austin, East Austin and North Austin. If you’re not yet familiar with these neighborhoods, be sure to check out our Austin TX neighborhoods guide.
When choosing a neighborhood, take into account how long your work commute will be. Although Austin doesn’t have the traffic grind of NYC or LA, it is a growing city and has its fair share of traffic bottlenecks. If you work in North Austin and you live in South Austin, you could find yourself with a rush hour commute of 45 minutes or more each way. That’s a lot considering that in terms of miles, it’s less than a 10 mile span. So choose your neighborhood wisely.
The good news is all of Austin’s neighborhoods are pretty great and there are many unique ones to choose from.
What’s Your Rental Budget?
It’s often the first question you’re asked, and with good reason. Finances can be a make or break factor, so be sure to consider this up front. Some rents in Austin can be rather high, depending on the neighborhood. Most landlords and apartment managers will want you to have an income that’s 3.5 times the rent of the property, before they’ll even consider you as a prospective tenant.
To really make the most out of living in Austin though, you’ll want to consider your lifestyle. If you’re mostly a hermit, that 3.5 ratio’s going to be fine. But if you love being out & about every night, and if you eat out more than you eat in, consider what ratio you’ll really need to be able to maintain your present lifestyle & have a place to call home.
General Rental Requirements in Austin TX
Though expectations do vary by landlord, there are some overall general requirements across the board. Here’s a look at some of them, so you can be more prepared when renting a home or apartment in Austin.
• Two years of valid residence history from a third-party landlord
• Anyone living in the home who is over 18 years of age will need to complete a rental application
• Proof of a valid income that is no lower than three and a half times the rent of the property.
• A criminal background check
• Good credit history
• A security deposit (the cost of the deposit can vary)
• A rental application fee (these are non-refundable fees to help verify your past rental history).
• Pet deposits (if you have pets). This can be a doozy if you have pets. Though Austin is certainly a pet-friendly city, some pet deposits can go up as far as $600/pet and in general, you’ll be limited to a certain amount of pets per household. Be sure to check each landlords qualifications and the cost of the pet deposit. Some landlords have age, weight and breed restrictions, so also keep that in mind if you have furry friends.
What Type of Home are you Looking For?
The best way to find rental houses in Austin is by doing an Austin MLS search. But if you’re looking for an apartment in Austin, you’ll need to perform a different type of search, for apartments specifically, which you’ll find here.
Before you begin your search, make a list of your must haves vs. your would like to haves. Some things to consider include how much space you’ll actually need. Is one bedroom or two sufficient? Do you have a large family, or will you be going solo? How many bathrooms are a necessity?
If you wind up getting a large home and it’s just you, then you might have a lot of unused space and a large monthly rent to deal with. If you have a family with a few kids, then you might want a home with a decent sized yard for them to play in, or a swimming pool, for those extremely hot summer days.
Another thing to consider is whether as a tenant you want to do yard work. Many landlords who rent houses require tenants to take care of yard maintenance, such as mowing the lawn, etc. If this isn’t your cup of tea, you may want to look into an apartment, condo or townhome instead. And, while Austin is a very pet friendly city, you may come across some properties that may not allow for your furry friends.
Below are some of the different types of rental properties you can find in Austin:
• Duplexes: A duplex is a home that is split into two separate living spaces, with individual entrances, but is usually owned by one owner. These can be less costly than renting a full house, but still give you your own space & yard.
• Townhomes: These are somewhat similar to the style of a duplex. They’re not individual homes, but part of a larger complex where the living spaces are adjacent to one another. Townhomes usually have a 12 month lease; though you’ll likely have to cover utilities, in most cases yard work and trash will be taken care of.
• Condos: With condos, you’re allowed to buy them as well as rent them, and you have greater options to modify the space as you see fit. While most condos are connected to each other, as you find in most complexes, there are some that are standalone. Condos are extremely hot right now in Austin, so you have to dive in pretty quickly before they’re taken. Lease restrictions for condos are typically the same as townhomes.
• Apartments: Many Austin apartment complexes come with a variety of amenities, including on-site gyms, conference rooms, community pools, decks, etc. If you like all the amenities, then definitely take a look at some Austin apartments. An apartment will usually have a signed lease ranging from 6 to 12 months. You’ll still have to cover most of the utilities, such as gas and electric. Some leases include garbage removal and yard maintenance, while others may not. Be sure to get a comprehensive breakdown, so there are few surprises that you may not have budgeted for.
• Houses: Renting a house in Austin can range from affordable to high, depending on the size of the house and the neighborhood it’s located in. Most houses have a 12 month long lease, with the tenant responsible for all maintenance and utilities in most cases. If you need a larger home, but aren’t looking to spend a fortune, you may want to consider North Austin. Some of the city’s surrounding areas, such as Round Rock, Pflugerville and Cedar Park also offer larger homes at more affordable prices. If being in a cool, eclectic neighborhood is more your style, and price isn’t as much of a concern, consider South Austin. If you love the rustic feel, then West Austin may be the way for you to go.
Consider the Quality of the Property You’re Renting
After all the time you spent moving, the last thing you want is for your new home or apartment to be a nightmare of problems when you move in. Make sure that the quality of the space is in good shape. Older houses and apartments might need a bit of work, some utilities might need updating, etc., while more modern ones may or may not need repairs.
With any type of home that you’re looking at, make sure that the following are in good order:
• Air Conditioning
• Washer and Dryer Hookup
Celebrate Austin Realty can help you find the right home or apartment in Austin. We’ve got a 5 star team of real estate agents that specialize in rental properties throughout Austin and the surrounding areas…we’re here to address all of your concerns, and make your rental process as painless and efficient as possible.
Ready to check out some apartments and houses? Contact Us Today!