Austin is really a world apart from the rest of Texas with a different flavor entirely. Accordingly, it attracts the young, the hopeful and the adventurous: basically, students. With lots of good colleges, a robust job market and plenty of attention-grabbing entertainment, it’s a 20-something’s paradise. If you’re headed to Austin to pursue your studies, here’s how to navigate the city at home, at school and at play.
Since it’s a college town, Austin has lots of affordable housing available. Residents realize that college kids need a place to live and are pretty accommodating with prices; rent ranges anywhere from $335-$850 per month. You can find a decent private room and private bathroom in an apartment or home for about $500-$600. Apartments gain value the closer they are to campus. Hyde Park is the happening place to live thanks to its close proximity to the University of Texas campus. It’s also the historic district of the city.
On-campus dorms are also available, but tend to be pricier. The cheapest run just under $9,000 for a 9-month contract, with a private dorm costing between $11,000 and $15,000. Dorm life affords you lots of chances to socialize, get good food in the cafeteria and comes with $300 “Bevo Bucks” to spend around campus. The dorms aren’t that big though, so you may want to look into storage options while you’re at school.
Without a doubt, University of Texas is king in the educational realm of Austin, a popular education destination for both Texans and out-of-staters. With more than 900 student organizations and clubs, you’re virtually guaranteed to find something going on at any given time of day. The school is also very affordable for Texas residents (approximately $9,000 per year as of 2013) and 41 of the college’s programs ranked in the top 10 of their categories nationally. University of Texas is ranked as the 13th best public university, out of 115 in the nation.
Austin Community College is another popular school, with more than 43,000 students and more than 100 degree programs. It has a more low-key, relaxed feel than University of Texas, and targets non-traditional students more, such as adults returning for an education, full-time working students and single parents.
With an unofficial town slogan of “Keep Austin Weird,” Austin offers plenty of distractions from studies. For a young adult, Austin is a playground—regardless of what interests you have, you can find it here.
For music lovers, the Austin City Limits music festival is the concert series to go to, end of story. Held over two weekends in October, this is a great opportunity to see all the big-name bands and rising stars. Three day passes go for about $200 in 2013, and average attendance is 75,000. The 2013 line-up includes big names like Depeche Mode, the Cure, Muse, Lionel Richie, Kings of Leon and Vampire Weekend.
If a field full of 20-somethings unanimously shouting lyrics isn’t your thing, never fear. The Town Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail gets you closer to nature and gives you a fun workout, too. Pull your bike out of storage and head out into the sunshine. “It’s not a technically difficult trail, no real elevation change, but it is beautiful,” said one regular visitor.This outdoor area has also been hailed as the most dog-friendly spot in town, complete with a swimmable lake for your faithful friend.
With the Texas sun overhead, Austinites like to cool off at the nearby Lake Travis and Lake Austin. Boating, jet skis, canoeing and plain old swimming are all great ways to enjoy the remarkable Texas outdoors. For more fun, check out Schlitterbahn, a massive waterpark in nearby New Braunfels. Rated by the Travel Channel as “America’s No. 1 Waterpark,” Schlitterbahn encompasses 65 acres of wet fun.
There are also many theaters and clubs in Austin, such as the comedy club Esther’s Follies. Marketing itself as “part contemporary vaudeville, part topical satire, and all fast-paced fun,” Esther’s Follies has been a local hotspot for more than three decades. For more traditional entertainment, the ZACH Theatre has been serving up musical and theatrical delights like “Les Miserables” and “A Christmas Story” to the Austin area for 80 years and is still going strong.
There’s a lot going on in Austin, and always will be. You’ll graduate with a solid degree, a full of memories and a whole sackful of good experiences. Good luck on your studies, and hold on to your cowboy hat.
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