The University of Texas is big… Really big. In total, over 51,100 students study there every semester, and the university employs over 3,000 teachers and faculty members. It is among the top 75 universities of the world, and as of the 2017-2018 school year, it is the 7th largest in the US.
The University of Texas at Austin has a massive campus. It covers 434 acres of urban space, yet only about 18% of enrolled students live on-campus. When you are a student and looking for place to live, it is important to stay as close to campus as possible for a variety of reasons, but dorms are expensive, and put limitations on the kind of lifestyle you can have as a student. Living in a dorm is a unique experience, but loses its charm after the first semester, or two. Trust the students have been here a while, to study freely, work in your spare time, and enjoy Austin, living off-campus is the best option.
1. Cheaper than a Dorm
The lowest price listed for a dorm is $1,250/mo. Don’t believe me? Look at UT’s price sheet for housing. Keeping in mind that this includes room and limited board, this still does not explain the exorbitant price on a shared studio dorm with a community bathroom. Compare this to a one-bedroom with The Westside Group apartments that you can have to yourself for under $1,000/mo, and it’s a no-brainer.
2. Experience the Wonders of the City
Living on campus can isolate students from the larger city, and who wants to do that in a city like Austin? West Campus has its own community and charm where you are sure to find something to do on any given night. As far as North Campus goes, what’s better than having the activity of a city and the scenery of a suburb? Not to mention, living in these areas will allow you to have that pet you can take on hikes (more on that later).
3. You Get Easy Access to All of the University’s Resources
Living in apartments close to campus means you have the opportunity to experience university life to the fullest, without being bound to a tiny cramped room of a dorm. The University of Texas’ library is the best in the area, with resources that are necessary to help you succeed. It has several fully functioning computer labs, a large library, and Wi-Fi access all across campus. Living near campus gives you the ability to access all these resources.
4. You Can Get Away With Not Having A Car
Austin is not known for great public transportation, and because the city is so large, taking one of the buses isn’t always a sensible option. Car2Go, Ride Austin, Uber, Lyft and a plethora of bike trails all around town fill this need for affordable transportation. For example, Car2Go is a service that allows you to rent/pick up a car from where it is parked, drive it to where you need to go, and then leave it parked somewhere else when you are finished.
Although, when living in West Campus, or North Campus, sometimes the quickest mode of transportation is walking! Nothing compares to going from A to B and not paying a cent, having to find parking, or sitting in traffic. This is the luxury of living close to campus as a student.
5. Dorms Don’t Love Man’s Best Friend
Austin has a multitude of dog parks, walking routes, vets and other amenities needed for pet health and happiness. Austin is also home to multiple pet-themed festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Golden Retriever Zilker Meet Up and Weiner Dog Races. In addition, you’ll find no end to the amount of walking trails surrounding your new off-campus apartment. Try out some of our famous dog-friendly restaurants. Don’t leave your pup behind or miss out on the opportunity to enjoy having your little companion in beautiful Austin.
6. Live In Your Home Year Round
Dorms generally close up during the summer semester, as well as during winter break. This leaves students who want to remain in the area for a job or to take summer classes without many options. Living in an apartment gives you the ability to study all year, and not have to move so often. There will be far fewer upheavals to interfere with your education.
Learning, working and living in your own apartment in Austin is an amazing opportunity for students. Not only is the University of Texas one of the top schools in the nation, but there is no end to the benefits of living near campus. The joys of Austin, Texas are boundless, as are the benefits of studying and living in this wonderfully diverse and thriving city.
We all want to live a bit greener, don’t we? You help the environment and you help your wallet. There aren’t many better causes out there! Here are a few steps you can take in your daily life to have a greener day. Some are obvious, but others not as much.
Don’t drive so fast
Although driving at a high speed isn’t bad in and of itself (in fact, most cars get better mpg going highway speeds than in stop-and-go in the city), accelerating too quickly, or not allowing gravity to do the work on hills can use gas unnecessarily. Say for example, if you’re approaching a slight downward hill towards a red light, release the gas pedal. Doing so will allow gravity to pull your car toward the light which saves your gas and saves your brakes.
Try public transportation, or biking
Taking the bus every day to work, or school, can be tough, but that’s not the only way to save some gas! Why not take your bike when you’re picking up your takeout? Why not ride your bike to the convenient store? Try biking around when you’re meeting up with friends (in fact, UT West Campus in Austin is a great place to start because of the neighborhood, non-major roads). Taking your bike on small trips may convince you to start taking your bike farther and farther which saves money, gas, and the environment. Then, on those rainy days, revert to the bus.
P.S. Living as close as you can to where you work or go to school makes doing these two much easier. Plus, if you need to drive, being closer means less gas.
This seems like a no-brainer: putting items in recycling saves them from the landfill and allows their materials to be reused and recycled in awesome new ways.
Turn up your A/C when you leave your home
This one requires some thoughtfulness, because our A/C is often the last thing on our mind when we’re leaving home in the morning, but it is very important. What do you normally set your home at? 76? 72? Try this: when you leave your home, set the temperature 7-10 degrees higher than what you normally set it to. You’re not there anyway. Why spend all that money and energy to cool an empty home? You can just as easily set it back to your preferred temperature when you get back and have a nice, freshly-cooled, and newly-circulated home.
P.S. Having some plants and a fan, or two, can aid in the feeling of coolness in the home. This allows you to leave your home at a higher temperature even when you are there and save more money.
Go outside for your fun
One of the best things you can do for the environment is be healthy and outside. When you’re outside you’re not spending energy running electronics, cooling your home, or wasting energy at all, really! Not to mention, the more you do it, the more fun it becomes. Find creative ways to be outdoors all while raising your awareness for environmental issues.
Try a vegan, or vegetarian meal
The United Nations has said that livestock and meat production now produce more greenhouse gases than transportation. That’s more than planes, trains, and automobiles combined. Imagine what an impact we can all have by adding a meatless day, or meal, to our week. If you like it, you can even try going vegan, or vegetarian, completely. Plus, with all the great veggie options in UT West Campus and Downtown, why not try a new restaurant?
Walk Around Town Lake
Town Lake is part of what makes Austin, Austin. 10 miles of hike-and-bike trail set between Downtown and South Austin that is dog-friendly, what more could you ask for? Inviting more than 2.6 million visitors per year, this trail is fun for anyone and totally free (not to mention, with restaurants, grocers, and the occasional farmers’ market along the way, you’re bound to not be going hungry).
Visit Barton Springs
According to the Austin History Center, “Uncle Billy” Barton bought the springs in 1837 (just before Austin was named the capital of The Republic of Texas), and was under private ownership until 1918 when Andrew Zilker donated the land which then became Zilker Park. The current entrance building was even built back in 1946 after a flood in 1935. All this is to say that Barton Springs is a part of Austin History. In fact, it is integral to Austin history and has been attracting swimmers from all over for a very long time. If you ask me: nothing beats jumping into that cold water on a 100+ degree day.
P.S. If you’re looking for something dog-friendly, there’s a free-of-charge side to Barton Springs that allows dogs (a lot of locals, call it “Barkin’ Springs”).
Go Kayaking/SUPing/Canoeing on Town Lake
One of the favorite pastimes in Austin, all three are great exercise, loads of fun for everyone of (almost) all ages, pet-friendly, and a great exposure to the beauty of Austin (both nature and the skyline). There are plenty of Kayak and Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) rentals along the Town Lake Trail and if you don’t see one, a quick Google search will definitely yield many results quickly.
Visit Zilker Park
What’s better than a picnic at a park? A picnic at a giant park in the heart of Austin, that’s what! Zilker Park (the home of Barton Springs) is another iconic location of the city. With concerts throughout the year, free (or donation-based) yoga sessions, places to swim, restaurants nearby, and beautiful shade trees, Zilker Park is a park-lover mecca. It’s totally free and normally has great parking. How better can you relax on a budget? Grab a picnic, grab some friends, grab you dog (or your friend’s dog), and have a great time.
Visit A Famous Overlook
This list could continue on for a long time with all the things to do in Austin, especially outdoors, but I end this list with those sometimes-overlooked gems: the overlooks. The two that I tend to visit and bring my guests to are the 360 Bridge Overlook and Mt. Bonnell, both amazing options with a short hike and an amazing view (if you know of more please leave a comment for others to see). Both of these places are outdoors, beautiful, fun, and have a great view of the city. Catch one of these at sunrise and you’re in for a real treat.
Photo courtesy: Culture Map Austin
We all love coffee. It’s the lifeblood of the nation and it’s easy to see why. The fresh brew in the morning before a long day of working, studying or even having the motivation to swing your legs out of bed. Most of us live, drink and breathe coffee. Forget that our bodies are 70% water, try 70% coffee. So it’s essential that you know the best places to go to get the best coffee. Here are the three best coffee shops in Austin to satisfy your caffeine kick.
La Tazza Fresca
Cozy and relaxing experience with great wi-fi speed for your study pleasure. Located on the 37th and Guadalupe Streets, a coffee shop to hang out while waiting for your laundry or getting your car oil changed nearby. What a multi-task to make use of student time! They have variety of hot and cold drinks, selection of bakery products. Their pie is a local favorite.
Located in two locations, one on E MLK and the other on South Congress. Covering the regions, this coffee shop has a rich tradition and an even finer tasting cup of Joe. Known for creating an environment that grabs you almost immediately, Bennu Coffee is frequented by Austinites from all parts of town.
Located a few bus stops away from West Campus and a stone’s throw from Downtown at South Congress, Bennu Coffee is the perfect place to stop off after a morning run. Known for creating coffee concoctions seasonally, Bennu is always something new just in time for the holidays. If you’re not in the mood for French Press especially on a hot Austin summer day, enjoy a cold beverage of equally-parallel quality. Best part is that you can get your fix at any time of the day with twenty-four-hour service.
Strutting off from Guadalupe, Lucky Lab is a quaint venue that has an efficient indoor and outdoor serving system. If you’re not looking to fight queues indoors, you can stand in line outside and receive a similarly-friendly experience.
Known for their fresh and crisp coffee selection, students especially rave about Lucky Lab. Reasonably priced and less busy than Starbucks across the street. It’s a win-win situation. Their logo is a dog which is a sticker attached to the side of every cup, anyone with that in their hand knows where good coffee is made.
A short drive from West Campus UT area is Lake Austin. A picturesque location where you can enjoy coffee by the lake. A great study spot for students or an awesome place to hang out with friends, Mozart’s has it all.
Christmas time is the best time to visit. They hold a lights show around the area and as you enjoy a late-night brew you can lose yourself in the artistic nature of the lights. The ambience and coffee combination make this a killer choice.
Wherever you enjoy your brew, you’ll need it to last you — Austin is a great place for brilliant coffee, don’t miss out!
City life gets more expensive by the month. Now it’s the New Year and you’re short for cash. You’ve paid your credit card and apartment bills and now you’re counting the pennies. Texas, especially Austin, is becoming a place for the rich and not the poor. Trying to figure out how to live the high life on a budget is an age-old question. Luckily, students are the masters of this art, they have to be. Here is how to live in Austin on a budget.
Learn the Secret Menu at Fast Food Chains
No-one really wants to have to eat fast food, unless you’re yearning comfort food. It’s convenient and comparably cheaper than a sit-down restaurant. However, the secret menu at these institutions could actually spare you some dimes too. Note: not all branches participate but there is no harm in trying.
Located not far from West Campus and Downtown, near the Perry-Castañeda Library on the UT Austin Campus, is Wendy’s. I know the secret menu works here for sure, and it is very convenient for students. The secret menu item is known as ‘4 for $4 or four for four’, it gives you chicken nuggets, a choice of a chicken sandwich or a burger, fries and a drink. It’s really good value as a filler meal. This has saved me those precious pennies so I recommend you do the same.
Subscribe to Store Loyalty Programs
This is an amazingly simple way to save some money. Oftentimes, for example in CVS, there is a different price for whether you have a card or not. Sometimes the discounts might not seem like a bargain, but it all adds up.
Additionally, as a side-note — most of these grocery stores have reduced zones where you can buy food near expiry. Mostly, these items aren’t perishable and can be eaten days after expiry. Try those stands to save on the biscuits or cleaning supplies that otherwise would be too expensive.
Avoid Eating Out
As tempting as Pluckers might be on West Campus, or any of the Downtown or Drag restaurants might be — they will undoubtedly shrink your bank balance. For the health of your pocket and your body, cook more. We all use the excuse that we haven’t got any time, the answer to that is simple — meal preparation.
On the weekend, cook all the meals for the week and freeze them so you can just reheat and consume.
That was my take on living in Austin on a budget, there are definitely more ways but these are the basics to get you started.
Everyone needs to de-stress and relax whether you’re a student or a busy city worker. Austin is the best of both worlds in the sense that it has the city lifestyle and ambience but it also has the rolling hills to the West with some of the best scenery Texas has to offer. The Colorado river is spectacle to be seen from vantage points overlooking Lake Austin and Lake Travis. Travis County, the home to Austin — is one of a kind. Here are the best chill spots near UT campus.
Located on Guadalupe Street opposite the University Union and between W 22nd and W 23rd street, Café Medici is the chill spot number one for most UT students. The coffee is good, the vibe is sound and the company is peaceful. If you like to catch up with friends away from your west campus apartment, then look no further than Café Medici.
Some of the best coffee can be found at Medici and it often is frequented by UT Austin students who need a quick but refreshing recharge before heading to class. Anyone is welcome and the opening hours suit any schedule. Monday to Friday and at the weekends. If you like to work in an environment that lends itself to being surrounded by intellectuals who love conversation, then Medici should be your first port of call.
This is the second coffee shop that I recommend, because let’s be honest you can never have enough coffee. Bennu is different and located in two places close to downtown and Hyde Park. The first near downtown area is located on South Congress while the other is located on E Martin Luther King Blvd over the I-35. Both these locations offer some of the finest and most ingenious coffee creations.
They have the most diverse range of cold and hot coffee as well as cold and hot tea. Food is available too. What is most amazing is the layout of the shop, there is power outlets hanging from the ceiling and the lighting is dim enough to create a chill ambience. A short bus or car journey from west campus and Hyde Park as well as downtown means that you’ll be able to escape and enjoy the company of local Austinites.
Austin Central Public Library
Finally, some words about the new downtown library with large book selections, computer access, and modern art. Located on W Cesar Chavez, the library overlooks the Colorado river and has some of the most modern and contemporary architecture Austin has to offer. Downtown have the best accessibility to UT north and west campus neighborhoods providing a short car journey.
Take some advice and chill because everything gets better with coffee.
Austin is the undisputed ‘live music capital of the world’ and its nightlife tends to completely represent this fact. The city of Austin has always attracted the most diverse crowd to celebrate the night in the heart of central Texas. There’s much more to do in Austin than party the night away, while that is the main attraction, there are 5 things you should try and do whilst in Austin at night.
If you’ve come to Austin for live music, and you’re not in town for ACL or SXSW then look no further than The Sidewinder. Class acts from all over the Southern states perform on a weekly basis. The best part and the reason it is number one on this list, is that it’s open to anyone older than 18.
The Sidewinder is located on 7th and Red River, not far from University of Texas and downtown Austin. It’s perfect for letting off some steam and listening to the best that Austin has to offer.
Under the Congress Avenue bridge, in the summer time bats emerge at night time to fulfill their nocturnal nature and they are quite the spectacle. They attract tourists and residents alike in swathes to witness the largest public display of these wonderful creatures. Located a short bus ride from UT student hub, west campus and minutes’ walk from the heart of downtown Austin — you will not want to miss this opportunity while the animals are still prominent.
This is the start of two vantage points of the city and I separate them for good reason. This first area is secluded and unlike the other one, has been least photographed. If you want to see the city lights from an elevated standpoint and be one of few to experience such beauty so close up; Lookout Point is the place for you. Located in the depths of Zilker Park, it is minutes from Mopac Freeway and on the southwest intersection between the west campus and downtown areas.
The unofficially named ‘360 point’ is located near the Pennybacker Bridge and the N Capitol of Texas Highway. It provides a scenic look over Austin Country Club and the Colorado River, a must see whilst in Austin, by day or by night.
Austin’s Poetry Slam
Located at the Spiderhouse which is north campus near Guadalupe St, the Austin Poetry Slam has a renowned history at enthralling Austin’s population. Perfect for the small outing to feel like you’re embracing the city in all its glory.
Go out and explore Austin, it’s waiting on you.
Austin may be known for its plethora of live music but students and downtown workers are always hungry. Sometimes we’re feeling oriental, brisket or even some good old fashioned southern chicken. Whatever you’re in the mood for, west campus and surrounding areas of the UT campus can offer some quick bites that you will be returning to for years to come. Without any further a due, here are the three best eats near campus.
Pluckers Wing Bar is located in west campus, six blocks from Texas Union and you’re in for a treat. A stone’s throw away from the desirable off campus apartments, Pluckers is a great place to catch up with friends, eat some great food and catch up with the sports of the week. This chicken heaven offers so much at such a small price. The portion sizes are large, but what isn’t in Texas; as they say — everything is bigger in Texas.
From chicken wings to chicken fingers bigger than a banana and some mac n’ cheese to die for, you’ll be leaving twice the size than when you entered. Valued on my review websites as 5 stars, this institution is a favourite of Austinites and was the first main restaurant I went to and have had happy returns to this amazing place.
Look Noodles & More
My first visit was recent but I can safely say that meal will be in my mind for some time to come. It was just authentic and very niche. The location is the Drag or in non-Austin language, along Guadalupe towards the downtown sector. Located on the border of downtown and west campus shows that it’s the prime place to grab a bite between your west campus or downtown apartment.
The Chinese inspired restaurant serves some favourites such as ramen, fried rice combinations and boasts all the choices in vegan options too. What I love about this place is that the service is very much like an old-school Chinese restaurant, order at the counter and the food is brought out to you. Inexpensive and brilliant.
This quaint coffee shop is located in the depths of west campus apartment central. There are signs all around but you want to head straight here, this is the holy grail. I visited there recently and it was perfect for a quick lunch and cup of tea. They have a range of warm paninis and salads as well as sandwiches.
In addition, there is free Wi-Fi and the staff were very attentive to my needs so I will be returning for another Carnivorous panini in the near future.
That’s it, I hope you enjoy munching and thoroughly live through these experiences given their proximity to west campus and downtown Austin apartment complexes.
Austin is increasingly becoming the heart of Texas culture, with Houston and Dallas over spilling by the year; Austin is fast developing into a creative and colorful environment in which to surround yourself. There are tons to do away from the basic tourist sites such as the Capitol or Graffiti Park, as exciting as they are, they aren’t sustainable sources of fun and entertainment. This post will explain some fun parts of Austin, that will keep you satisfied for all your time in the Texas state capital.
Zilker Metropolitan Park
Zilker Metropolitan Park is an integral part to Austin lifestyle, located on Southern tip of the city. There is multitude of things to do while you’re basking in the sun. This 350-acre plot is located a few bus stops downtown Austin so your apartment is never too far away. Barton Springs Pool is a must visit during the warm winter months, the open water environment is great for socialising whilst cooling off all-in-one. Feeling more adventurous? You can try some water sports on the Lady Bird Lake or go for a bike ride along one of the many trails around the large green space available.
Austin City Limits is a festival that takes place in early October at Zilker Park, it draws in artists such as Martin Garrix, Ice Cube and Jay Z. The Austin community love when it comes around and it’s one for the calendars for sure.
Students love to get into the football spirit even if they’re not the biggest sports fans. The UT Longhorns are a spectacle to see. The Darrel K Royal Stadium seats over 100,000 people, according to the Texas Sports website; which means you’ll be more than welcome amongst the crowds. Located on East Campus, the hub of off campus apartments is within walking distance as well as other apartments near UT Austin. The atmosphere is electric and you become enthused with the quality of football and the performance the UT Longhorns create for their loving fans.
School work taking a toll on your social life? Had enough of being stuck in the book, around the apartments that surround UT Austin? Look no further than 6th Street for the best time of your life. Scattered with bars and music clubs, you’ll be overwhelmed with the possibilities. Best part is that the bus network that connects campus to the rest of Austin takes you to 6th Street and back.
There you have it, a list of how to entertain yourself when you get bored of the apartment lifestyle.
Although it’s fun, sometimes we all need to escape and explore our surroundings; now you have no excuse.