Renting an Apartment in Austin
Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the county seat of Travis County. Situated in the region of Central Texas, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 16th-largest in the United States. As of the 2005 U.S. Census estimate, Austin had a population of 690,252. The city is the core cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan area with a population of 1.4 million.
The first documented settlement of current-day Austin occurred in 1835, and the site was named Waterloo in 1837. In 1839, Mirabeau B. Lamar renamed the city in honor of Stephen F. Austin. Its original name is honored by local businesses such as Waterloo Ice House and Waterloo Records. Austin is situated on the Colorado River and on the Balcones Fault, which in much of Austin runs roughly the same route as the MoPac expressway.
Residents of Austin are known as Austinites and include a mix of university professors, students, politicians, lobbyists, musicians, state employees and high-tech workers. The city is home to enough large sites of major technology corporations to have earned the nickname “Silicon Hills”. Austin’s official slogan is The Live Music Capital of the World, and many try to follow one of its unofficial mottoes of “Keep Austin Weird”. ATX is a popular abbreviation for the city of Austin.
Before the arrival of settlers from the United States, the area that later became Austin was inhabited by a variety of nomadic Native American tribes, including the Tonkawa tribe, the Comanches, and the Lipan Apaches. The first permanent settlement of the area occurred in 1835, with the founding of the village of Waterloo in 1837, and the renaming of the town to “Austin” in 1839. In the late 19th century, the establishment of several universities in the city made Austin a center of education. In the 20th century, Austin also became known for its music (now known as “the Live Music Capital of the World”), as well as its technology industry. Austin’s history has also been largely tied to government and politics; at one time it was the capital of the Republic of Texas, and it is currently the capital of the state of Texas in the United States.
Austin is situated on the Colorado River, with three man-made (artificial) lakes wholly within the city limits: Town Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Walter E. Long. Additionally, the foot of Lake Travis, including Mansfield Dam, is located within the city’s limits. Town Lake, Lake Austin, and Lake Travis are all on the Colorado River. The city is also situated on the Balcones Fault, which, in much of Austin, runs roughly the same route as the MoPac Expressway. The eastern part of the city is relatively flat, whereas the western part and western suburbs consist of scenic rolling hills on the edge of the Texas Hill Country. Because the hills to the west are primarily limestone rock with a thin covering of topsoil, the city is subjected to frequent flash flooding from the excessive runoff caused by thunderstorms. To help control this runoff and to generate hydroelectric power, the Lower Colorado River Authority operates a series of dams that form the Texas Highland Lakes. The lakes also provide venues for boating, swimming, and other forms of recreation within several parks located on the lake shores.
A popular point of prominence in Austin is Mount Bonnell. The third-highest point in Austin proper at about 780 feet above sea level, it is a natural limestone formation overlooking Lake Austin on the Colorado River, approximately 200 feet below its summit. From the observation deck, many newly built homes are visible.
The soils of Austin range from shallow gravelly clay loams over limestone in the western outskirts to deep fine sandy loams, silty clay loams, silty clays or clays in the city’s eastern part. Some of the clays have pronounced shrink-swell properties and are difficult to work under most moisture conditions. Many of Austin’s soils, especially the clay-rich types, are slightly to moderately alkaline and have free calcium carbonate.
Austin has a humid subtropical climate, characterised by hot summers and mild winters. On average, Austin receives 33.6 inches (853.4 mm) of rain per year, with most of the precipitation coming in the spring, and a secondary maximum in the fall.
Summer in Austin is hot and typically humid, with average temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) from June until September. Temperatures above 100F (38C) are not uncommon, and the highest recorded temperature at Camp Mabry was 112F in 2000. For the entire year there is an average of 111 days above 90F (32C) and 198 days above 80F (27C).
Winter in Austin is mild and dry relative to the rest of the year. For the entire year, Austin averages 88 days where the temperature drops below 45F (7C) and only 24 days where the minimum temperature falls below freezing. Snowfall is rare in Austin, but once every year or two Austin is typically hit with an ice storm, freezing over roads and shutting down much of the city for typically about a day.
Averages are from the 30 year average from 1971–2000 at Camp Mabry, and records are from Camp Mabry and from previous climate sites, spanning from 1897 to present.
Thousands of graduates each year from the engineering and computer science programs at The University of Texas at Austin provide a steady source of young, talented, and driven employees that help to fuel Austin’s technology and defense industry sectors. The metro Austin area has much lower housing costs than Silicon Valley, but much higher housing costs than many parts of rural Texas. As a result of the relatively high concentration of high-tech companies in the region, Austin was strongly affected by the dot-com boom in the late 1990s and subsequent bust. The general consensus is that high-tech recovery is proceeding rapidly. Austin’s biggest employers include the State of Texas, The University of Texas, the SETON Healthcare Network, Dell, IBM and Freescale Semiconductor (spun off from Motorola in 2004). Other high-tech companies in Austin include Apple Computer, Vignette, AMD, Applied Materials, Intel, Motive Inc, Cirrus Logic, Samsung, National Instruments, Silicon Laboratories, United Devices, Sun Microsystems, and Motion Computing. The proliferation of technology companies has led to the region’s nickname, “the Silicon Hills,” (Austin was originally “Silicon Gulch”, but San Jose, California already had that distinction) and has spurred rapid development that has greatly expanded the city to the north, south, east, and west. Other notable companies, such as Hoover’s, Inc., a business research and publishing group which is a subsidiary of Dun & Bradstreet, are headquartered in the city. Ambion, Inc was started by Matt Winkler, a professor at the University of Texas, and began operations in July 1989 in Austin, Texas. The company’s primary focus has been the development of products for RNA-related research applications and employs approximately 300 Austinites. Ambion was acquired by Applied Biosystems (AB) on March 1, 2006. Many global corporations have an economic presence in the local economy.
In addition to global companies, Austin features a strong network of independent, locally-owned firms and organizations such as the Austin Independent Business Alliance. The success of these businesses reflects the high level of commitment by the citizens of Austin to preserving the unique spirit of the city, and has been tied to the “Keep Austin Weird” campaign. Small businesses in Austin enjoy a lively existence gained by direct competition with large national and global rivals.
As of the census of 2000, there were 656,562 people, 265,649 households, and 141,590 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,007.9/km (2,610.4/mi). There were 276,842 housing units at an average density of 425.0/km (1,100.7/mi). The racial makeup of the city was 65.36% White, 10.05% Black or African American, 0.59% Native American, 4.72% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 16.23% from other races, and 2.99% from two or more races. 30.55% of the population were Hispanic American or Latino of any race.
There were 265,649 households out of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.7% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 16.6% from 18 to 24, 37.1% from 25 to 44, 17.1% from 45 to 64, and 6.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 105.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $42,689, and the median income for a family was $54,091. Males had a median income of $35,545 vs. $30,046 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,163. About 9.1% of families and 14.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.5% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over. From the year 2000 to 2005, the median house price in Austin grew 34%.
Austin’s official slogan is The Live Music Capital of the World. Austin has a vibrant live music scene boasting more music venues per capita than any other U.S. city. Austin’s music revolves around the many nightclubs on 6th Street and an annual film/music/multimedia festival known as South by Southwest. The longest-running concert music program on American television, Austin City Limits, is videotaped on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Austin City Limits and Capital Sports & Entertainment run the Austin City Limits Music Festival, an annual music and art festival held at Zilker Park in Austin. Other annual events include Eeyore’s Birthday Party and the Austin Reggae Festival in April and Carnaval in February. Halloween, St Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, July 4th, and Juneteenth (Emancipation Day) are all celebrated with enthusiasm, as many Austinites seem to be eager for any excuse for a public party.
Austinites take great pride in being eccentric and celebrate the differences between themselves and other U.S. cities. “Keep Austin Weird” has become a local motto in recent years, featured on innumerable bumper stickers and t-shirts. This motto has not only been used in promoting Austin’s eccentricity and diversity, but is also meant to bolster support of local and independent businesses. This motto has been parodied on bumper stickers making fun of a conservative suburb, “Keep Round Rock mildly amusing.”
Austin is home to The University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest universities in the country. It is also the flagship institution of The University of Texas System — the largest state system of higher education in Texas. Other institutions of higher learning include Austin Community College, Concordia University, Huston-Tillotson University, St. Edward’s University, and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Most of the city is covered by the Austin Independent School District. Parts of Austin are served by other districts, including Round Rock Independent School District, Pflugerville Independent School District, Leander Independent School District, Manor Independent School District, Del Valle Independent School District, and Eanes Independent School District.