I have already written at length—albeit indirectly—about the Far West neighborhood (in Austin) in previous posts. I have lauded it as a “last bastion of affordable living” and I have lauded its 6-month lease options, its pet-friendly housing, and its accessibility to and from the University by shuttle.
I am a big fan of the Far West Neighborhood. I think anyone living in the Austin area, regardless of whether you are a student or not, should at least consider what Far West has to offer. I think you’ll be more than impressed with what you’ll find.
What is “Far West” and how where is it located, exactly?
Despite what the name might imply, Far West is actually not really that far—from the UT campus, at least—nor is it particularly West. (At least not when you consider Austin neighborhoods located to the West of Far West like Oak Hill or Westlake Hills.)
“Far West” is the most densely populated area of the Austin neighborhood known as Northwest Hills. It derives its name from the “Far West Boulevard” road which runs west from Mopac, serving as a main arterial road for the Northwest Hills neighborhood—gradually changing in landscape from office buildings to restaurants and shopping centers to expensive family homes. The area known colloquially as Far West is located south of 183 and north of 2222, bisected by Far West blvd, with Mopac to the East and Mesa to the West. It is exactly five miles from the front of the tower at UT to the Far West Blvd exit. The commute time varies on a number of factors, but distance-wise it is very manageable for students.
Who lives in Far West?
This is a question that often gets asked while on property tours in the Far West area. The most common answer you’ll hear is: “We can’t say. Because of Fair Housing Laws, we can’t discriminate on the basis of blah blah blah…and every applicant is weighed equally…blah blah blah.” That is what they—the property managers—are required to say to you in response to that kind of question. It is illegal to answer with anything other than “we don’t discriminate.”
But realistically, everybody wants to know what kind of neighborhood they are moving into prior to actually moving in. Nobody wants to move into a neighborhood blindly—going on the noble words of the property managers alone—and wind up living next to an axe-murderer one one side and a meth cook on the other. That would suck!
Well, based on my personal experience as a student and a real estate agent in Austin, I will say that Far West is a melting pot culture of people; more-so even than Hyde Park and West Campus in many ways.
First, let me begin by saying that a lot of the residents of Far West are students or faculty at UT or ACC. Many of these people are upperclassmen, graduate students, workers at the University, or even Professors. Because the cost of living has skyrocketed in the past few years, many students/faculty/staff who would have otherwise lived in West Campus or Hyde Park—even five years ago—have been pushed further north into Far West. So the percentage of students residing at these complexes is on the rise. (You can tell because there is a UT shuttle stop directly at Far West blvd.)
If I had to guesstimate, I would say that around 30-45% of the residents at a given Far West complex are college-age students. The rest of the residents come from all walks of life: recent graduates, working adults with families, etc. It really depends on the complex where you live.
Rest assured that this area is safe, however. I have spent significant amounts of time in Far West with friends and I have sent many clients up there. No axe-murderers yet!
Why should I live there?
Great question. There are several reasons why you might want to live in the Far West area: location, cost, and length of lease. All of them are valid reasons for wanting to live in the area, and I will address each one individually:
If you are a recent graduate who will be working at the North Austin Apple campus, or if you are an Army Officer stationed at Ft. Hood and you want to live in the city, or if you are an Austin resident who working in Wells Branch, Roundrock, or North Austin, you can’t beat the convenient location of the Far West neighborhood.
It is centrally located between the suburbs north of Austin and the downtown area and nightlife scene that makes the city so great. For working professionals looking to balance proximity to work and proximity to play, Far West is perfect for you.
Additionally, Far West has everything you need right in the surrounding area: dentists, lawyers, bankers, grocery stores, restaurants, shopping centers, etc.
For students looking to live within walking distance of an H-E-B, I have found your Mecca. There is one located literally 10 feet from The Ridge, one of my favorite Far West apartment complexes.
Far West is significantly more affordable than West Campus, North Campus, and Hyde Park. No doubt about it. If you are looking to live in a studio or a 1-bedroom apartment, it is a no-brainer—you should live in Far West to get the most bang for your buck.
To give you an idea, a typical 1-bedroom apartment in Far West goes for around $900/month. (This is a full 1-bedroom, not a studio.) These apartments are about 700 sq. feet and come with upgraded appliances, free parking, and often a washer/dryer in the unit.
A similarly sized 1-bedroom apartment in West Campus will cost you around $1200/month. Only this time, becuase West Campus, you will need to pay an additional $100/month for parking. For North Campus and Hyde Park, this 1-bedroom rate goes down to about $1000-1100. All of these rates are the base rent before including utilities, cable/internet, parking (except FW which is free), and other expenses like pets. (So for the $900/month apartment you will likely pay around $1000/month once utilities, gas, cable/internet are included.)
Often I will get a client who will want to live alone but will also have an absolute limit on what they can spend on housing. (No flexibility.) For clients like these, I always recommend Far West because of those reasons listed above. It is important to not be misled by the rent quoted to—this is never the full amount you will be paying monthly for living.
If cost is your biggest factor and you want to live well, go to Far West. It is nicer than Riverside and just as affordable a lot of the time.
Length of Lease
This is a big one. Because UT is such a huge university, and because it is often difficult to graduate in 4-years thanks to UT’s absurd degree plan requirements, (I need to take 15 hours of natural science to get a Liberal Arts degree. REALLY?!) we often get clients looking to sign 6-month leases.
As I have written before, six month leases in Austin are few and far between. And when they do exist, they are very expensive. (Like twice as much.)
Because real estate in Austin is so hot at the moment, many apartment complexes have no incentive to offer 6-month leases at an affordable rate. (It is easier to just wait and fill a 12-month lease in a week than to deal with your 6-month or 9-month lease that would require more work for no additional money.)
But despite the incredible demand for 12-month leases, there is still a huge demand for 6-month leases! People graduating in December, or studying abroad, or itching to divorce their awful roommate are EVERYWHERE. And sub-leasing is another tedious chore that people graduating/studying abroad/trying to move from an awful roommate seldom want to deal with.
So what does this have to do with Far West?…
Apartments like Acacia Cliffs and Woodhollow Apartments offer 6-month leases at either no additional monthly charge, or $10-15 extra per month. This is nothing compared to North Campus where you will pay an extra $200/month+ for that shorter lease.
If you know you will need a shorter lease and you want to avoid the nightmares of sub-leasing, I encourage you to sign at Far West. Just do it. I promise the peace of mind will be worth it in six months.
Any apartments I should look at?
I HIGHLY recommend calling us at (512) 900-7963 to schedule a property tour with one of our agents. They have an expert knowledge of the area and will be able to make this process quick and easy for you. Best of all, our services are ABSOLUTELY FREE OF CHARGE.
But if you are interested in getting started, I recommend looking at the following apartments. For the first two, I have even written blog posts highlighting everything you need to know:
Happy hunting, y’all!