New international students are arriving on campus for the fall semester, so our International Voices columnists will be sharing their experiences as new UT students on the blog this month. Welcome to Austin, incoming students! We look forward to connecting with you in ISSS.
By Nabiul Afrooz
College can sometimes be stressful, so it’s important that you have a tranquil place to go home to. Austin is a lively city with many nice neighborhoods. However, as an international student coming to a new city, I found it really difficult to get a comfortable and safe location close to the UT campus within my price range. Here, I would like to pass on some of the insights I gathered throughout my apartment hunting experience.
If you are a first year undergraduate, you might want to live within walking distance of the campus as this will help you make friends, stay connected with the school community, and ensure that you make it to class! The North Campus or West Campus private dorms would be the best choice for you, especially if you are an engineering or science major. If you like partying, etc., and are looking for the “college experience,” you should consider living in West Campus.
If you are an incoming graduate student and are not into the party scene, you may want to avoid the West Campus areas because of the high density of undergraduates there. University housing is the most affordable place for graduate students; however, you need to apply early for an apartment to ensure a spot. Many graduate students live in the Hyde Park, Pleasant Valley, and Riverside areas. You may also consider the Far West/Northwest Hills area, which is 10-12 minutes from UT, with a very convenient commute to the school using the UT shuttle.
Austin offers various transportation options, including a safe and widespread metro system with buses that have a UT campus route and shuttles that are specifically for UT. If you aren’t too far, riding a bike is always a great option. Look at the transportation routes that are within the UT shuttle loop to make sure you will always have a way to travel between school and home.
Students on a tight budget should look to live with roommates in order to share the cost of rent and utilities. Single room apartments in Austin range from $750 to $1200 per month, depending on the square footage and location. The cheaper apartments are smaller and further away; while pricier places are usually larger and downtown. If you’re in a roommate situation, your monthly living expense may come down to $500.
While all the areas close to UT are generally safe, like with any city, there are areas that are not the best to live in. Try to consult the Austin crime zone map if you are concerned about safety. Try using a site like apartmentratings.com or roommatefinder.com; these sites will give you honest looks at complexes and hook you up with potential roommates.
No matter where you live, one thing is for sure: Austin is a great place to be. There are so many things to do from dining out, hitting up concerts, or chilling at lounges or coffee shops. You will never be bored!