I’ve helped a bunch of University of Texas’ MBA students find places to live in Austin. I figured I should go ahead and make the ultimate guide on it! Everything on this guide is based on my work with MBA students, the feedback I’ve received, my experience as a local, and work as an apartment locator.
My goal is to give you as much useful information as possible to make your move to Austin as easy and stress free as possible. Hopefully you’ll be all like “Holy F*#&! This guide is awesome! I’m totally going to work with you guys and tell all my incoming classmates about this!”. So yeah, if you find this guide useful, please pass it along! Our service is 100% free for you.
This guide will review everything you would normally consider when moving to Austin for your MBA. I’ll analyze neighborhoods, lifestyle expectations, social life, rental prices, roommate considerations, commute logistics, and specific apartment buildings, and round out with my final conclusions.
By the end, you’ll be an F’N expert.
What to expect
Fortunately, Austin has a huge supply of modern apartment complexes. You will have a hard time choosing amongst the dozens of options out there (unless you work with us of course). Austin is dominated by apartment complexes. Single family housing options do exist of course, but a good deal can be very hard to find. The vast majority of MBA students I know live in apartments.
Summer Rental Market
Summer is the hottest (and therefore priciest) season for rentals in Austin. The earlier in summer you can secure a spot the better. The best time to lease is within 60 days of your target move in date. Since you’re probably starting your fall semester in late August, I would highly recommend doing the bulk of your search between mid June to early July. It won’t be catastrophic If you miss this window, but you will miss out on the best options available.
Deposits are mercifully low. You won’t need to fork over first month/last month/full month security. Instead, your deposit will be between $99 and $400.
Since 1 bedroom units are pretty pricey. I would highly recommend buddying up with one of your MBA friends. Almost all of the MBA’s I know live with roommates. Studios and 1 bedroom will run you around $1500-$1900 while a 2 bedroom at the same building will cost $2100-$2400. Plus, it makes meeting people much easier.
The application process is super easy. They are done online at the building’s website. They take 15-20 minutes to complete.
To be approved, you will need to proof of income or have enough money in the bank to handle the lease. You can use statements from incoming financial aid as proof of income. You can also show 36 times the monthly rent in the bank. For example, if rent is $1000, you will need to show $36,000 in the bank.
If you have a roommate, both of your incomes and bank accounts can be combined for this total. Another perk of getting roommates.
Lease Terms & Subletting
The typical lease is 12 months. Since you’re likely to have a super awesome internship in the summer, you’re probably wondering about saving money in the summer while you’re gone. While technically sub-letting isn’t allowed by apartment buildings, they do allow roommates to be added. This gives you the effective ability to sublet your room for a few months while you’re away for summer.
Neighborhoods In Austin
Downtown Austin is by far the most expensive part of Austin. However, unlike many downtowns, Austin’s is very residential. It doesn’t die after happy hour, it’s very safe, and there’s a ton of places to socialize.
Much of the MBA social scene – and really all college students – is around West 6th or Rainey Street. Both areas can get pretty rowdy. To oversimplify things, West 6th is the rowdy post-college scene with lot’s of fratty vibes (as a former citizen of Fratlandia, I’m qualified to make this statement). Rainey Street is a varied mix of houses-turned-into-bars, restaurants, live music, bachelor(ette) parties, and food trucks. There’s enough variety for anybody to have a good time.
As for my opinion, I think Downtown is a bit too expensive for what it costs. While the social scene is abundant, and transportation easy, I think you will get a better overall value in East Austin. (However, I am super biased. I absolutely love East Austin, that’s why I live there) If you don’t mind the expense, definitely make it one of your top options.
There’s a few bus stops around downtown that will take you straight to McCombs. Fairly straightforward. Otherwise, you will be in quick scooter/biking distance.
Downtown Austin Apartments
Downtown Austin has two main types of apartment buildings. Older/Renovated Mid-rise & Super Swanky High-rise. I’ll highlight a few in each category.
Cost of Living
Studios & 1 Bedrooms: $1600-$2000
2 Bedrooms: $2400-$2900
AMLI 300 is a great value to be in downtown. However, there is a very loud freight train that comes by a few times a day. It’s pool or gym aren’t anything to be excited about though. They do have free parking with is super rare for Downtown.
Gables West Ave
Gables West Ave’s strengths are its price and location. It’s located in the middle of the Seaholm district which has Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and a few other stores nearby. The building itself is much lower quality building than others in Downtown or at its price point. It’s also close enough to get a lot of noise for the freight train. I would consider this place only if you really really want to be downtown. Otherwise you can do better in other parts of town.
404 Rio Grande
404 is also great, but only for its location. It’s got a classy New York style brick exterior, however its interior is plain. The amenities are a joke. Worth considering only if they have great prices and you need to be Downtown.
You’re probably looking at the Beverly since it’s almost on-campus. Yes, it is very close. However, I would avoid the Beverly for a few reasons. It’s located right on Red River which is a loud weekend bar and music scene (especially Stubbs which is one of Austin’s biggest music venues). For its price range, you can get much better quality buildings in East Austin.
Super Swanky Highrise
Cost of Living
1 Bedrooms: $1900-$2500
2 Bedrooms: $2700-$4000
The Bowie is awesome. They have a rooftop pool, ridiculous style, and awesome floor to ceiling windows.
AMLI on Second
AMLI on Second has great views of South and Downtown Austin. It’s one of the nicest central Downtown buildings. The amenities are great, but the interiors are a bit dated (as most AMLI properties are)
Monarch by Windsor
Monarch has some of the biggest floor plans in Downtown. Their balconies are ridiculously big. They have great Downtown views. However compared to the Bowie next door, their amenities are so…..bottom floor.
Seven is ridiculously nice inside. Their and amenities pool are beautiful. However it’s located right above West 6th which is totally ratchet on the weekends. Right now one of Austin’s tallest high-rises is being built right beside it which will cause lots of noise.
I won’t lie. I’m super biased towards East Austin. I live here, and I absolutely adore it. It used to be the poor-bad part of town, but it’s totally changed since then. East Austin has Austin’s coolest blend of restaurants, food trucks, dive bars, and classic music venues. Aside from Downtown, it’s Austin’s only truly walkable neighborhood. Few neighborhoods are infused with more history and character than East Austin. You will find me walking around here all the time with a good audiobook.
Most of the MBA students I work with wind up (happily) living here. East Austin tends to be one of the more popular nightlife social areas for MBA’s. I’ve been known to tag along some nights to places like Latchkey and Hotel Vegas.
The main weakness with East Austin is its lack of bus routes. But McCombs and the rest of UT campus is still within 2-3 miles from anywhere in East Austin, so distance isn’t a huge deal.
Cost of Living
1 bedrooms: $1600-$2000
2 bedrooms: $2100-$2600
Eleven by Windsor
I’m very biased towards this building since I’ve lived here for two years. I absolutely love living here. It’s got great amenities, a decent gym, and it’s very close to McCombs. Eleven gives you the best of East Austin while being right across the street from Downtown. Many of my MBA clients have wound up here.
11th Street is an awesome mini-neighborhood within East Austin with an awesome vibe that’s bustling with a cool relaxed energy. It’s also home to the best bar in Austin, Nickel City. Find me there for 79 cent wings on Mondays.
Right next to Eleven is AMLI Eastside. Like Eleven, it’s location is fantastic. While it’s comparatively older than the other east side options, it’s a great place to live. The floor plans are huge. The prices are some of the best in town, and the pool area is pretty sick. This will be one of the best options overall.
Arnold & Eastside Station
These two buildings put you in the heart of East 6th, the main street of East Austin. Here you are flanked with an endless amount of food and drink options. The Arnold is well known for it’s socially active community and super cool pool area. Eastside station is a bit more relaxed. Both have solid floor plans. ESS usually has better prices.
Residences at Saltillo & Corazon
These two buildings place you in between Downtown and East Austin. It’s an awesome location to be close to both neighborhoods. Corazon is a great building, but is a bit dated compared to Saltillo which opened up in summer 2019. In 2020 a Whole Foods will be opening up here. Ever since Saltillo opened up, it’s been one of my most popular buildings.
Platform & Elan East
Platform & Elan East take you deeper into East Austin, which has a different vibe going on. While it’s not as walkable or active as East 6th/East 11th, there are a ton of really cool places to hang out here. You can get sneaky good prices at these two buildings too. And Bus lines are easy to catch from here.
South Austin is Austin’s most authentic neighborhood. When you think of Austin, most of what comes to mind is here. Zilker Park, The Greenbelt, Barton Springs etc. You can find a ton of cool places to hang out and eat.
I wouldn’t recommend living South Austin unless you have a car. Traffic to cross the river is a bitch and will annoy the hell out of you if you have to bus it everyday.
Cost of Living
1 bedrooms: $1600-$1900
2 bedrooms: $2000-$2600
Colwater is one of the best apartments in Austin. It’s walking distance to Zilker and Barton Springs. They have an amazing rooftop area where you can hang out during ACL. However, it’s priced like a Downtown property, and usually has very low availability.
Lamar Union is probably the coolest apartment complex in terms of design. It’s got a totally unique style unrivaled by any building in town. Downstairs is an Alamo Drafthouse and a small collection of bars and restaurants.
Water Marq is a beautifully swanky high-rise building right along the river. It’s a stunning building with amazing amenities, and direct access to the Hike and Bike trail. It’s pricey, but can be worth it for the right price.
Lola & The Muse
These are South Congress’ main apartment buildings. I’m not a huge fan of South Congress overall since it’s mostly for tourists. I don’t usually recommend either of these buildings due to their cost and building quality.
Southeast Austin has some beautiful and well priced modern apartments along the river,
but for the same crossing-the-river reasons as South Austin, I wouldn’t put it high on the list. Only consider it if you love the idea of getting outside and going for runs or bike rides along the river. There isn’t much of a social scene here, but you can get some great cheap Mexican food.
There are busses that go to campus, but will take 30-45 minutes. It won’t be a terrible commute if you have a car.
Cost of Living
1 bedrooms: $1400-$1700
2 bedrooms: $1900-$2400
SSD is my favorite choice in the region. Each of their buildings has a great variety of floor plans, and is right outside the river. Their pools and gyms are awesome.
This place is great unless you get a unit along the loud Riverside drive. Like the others, you can quickly walk to the river.
Mueller is where Austin’s old airport used to be. They went pretty hardcore on the master-planned-community vibe here. Everything is brand F’n new and growing rapidly. There really isn’t anything in terms of social life however. It’s quiet, residential, relaxed, and only has a few places to eat and hang out. Nobody will go out of their way to hang out here unless they’re going to Alamo Drafthouse for a movie. While there’s nothing wrong about the neighborhood, I wouldn’t put it high on the list.
It’s not too far from campus which is nice. There’s a bus in the center of Mueller that goes to McCombs.
Cost of Living
1 bedrooms: $1400-$1700
2 bedrooms: $1900-$2500
All of these Mueller apartments are virtually the same. They’re all modern buildings that offer the same amenities at around the same quality. They’re a tad cheaper than what you’ll find in East Austin, but not by much.
Hyde Park is a cute neighborhood just north of campus. It’s got a bunch of those “cute walkable neighborhood vibes” where a lot of classic Austin originated. However, apartment quality kind of sucks here. There are a ton of people who will gladly pay above market rent just to be close to campus. For that reason, most options here are old and low quality. Anything worthwhile is very expensive.
The Triangle is a little zone on the edge of Hyde Park. It’s a master planned area with modern apartments, restaurants, and retail stores. It’s basically a glorified shopping mall with apartments. In terms of social life, there’s nothing to be excited about. The Triangle’s only benefit is quick commutes to campus. Otherwise I wouldn’t put too much thought into it.
Getting to campus from here is super easy, especially from the Triangle. There are a ton of bus routes. Biking and scootering are easily viable options too.
Cost of Living
Studios & 1 bedrooms: $1400-$1600
2 bedrooms: $1800-$2300+
This is probably the most viable building in the area. There are a ton of units at relatively reasonable prices.
West Koenig Flats
WKF is a super nice building with great amenities, however it’s kind of on an island.
Marq Uptown & Sabine
These two buildings are about as close to campus as you can get. Both are very high quality at a reasonable prices. However they are removed from everything else in town. There’s basically nothing to do or walk around in the immediate area. I would only consider them purely for proximity to campus.
Burnet & North Loop
These are two neighborhoods north of campus. Both are spread out collections of busy streets with occasional pockets of life. Both have great spots to eat, drink, and socialize, but are removed from the core Austin scene. I don’t think the slightly lower prices make up for the drop in lifestyle quality. I wouldn’t make these areas high priority unless you can get a great price at a great building.
There are a few bus routes scattered around, but it will primarily depend on the specific building. It’s still fairly close to campus.
Cost of Living
1 bedrooms: $1300-$1600
2 bedrooms: $1900-$2400
Elan Parkside & Five Two
This is one of my favorite buildings in Austin. It’s designed by the same people who made Lamar Union. Both of these buildings are brand new with great overall amenities
Post West Austin
PWA is a nice community tucked along Mopac. It’s a nice quiet neighborhood that gives you a feel of classic Austin, but there’s virtually nothing in the immediate area.
Crestview Commons & Midtown Commons
Along North Lamar, Crestview has awesome amenities and floor plans. It’s easy to bus to campus from here. The neighboring Crescent shopping center is a secret haven of Austin’s best Asian food.
This place is right along Burnet Road which is a pretty busy street, but has a sneakily awesome collection of bars and restaurants like DipDipDip Tatsuya
Just No. West Campus is a black hole of fraternity and sorority houses. I will not dignify it with a write up. Avoid at all costs.
Whew! What a ride! We sure tackled a ton of shit here! To conclude, I believe the best strategy to get an apartment for the MBA program is to first find a roommate, and then find an awesome spot in Downtown or East Austin (but totally East Austin). This will give you the best way to socialize, live in an awesome neighborhood, and save a ton of money on rent.
The other conclusion is to totally hire us if you need help finding a place to live! We’re pretty hardcore about spreadsheets and research consolidation.