Living in Austin
|Austin is the state capital, and widely recognized as one of America?s most beautiful and livable cities. It is located in central Texas on the eastern Colorado River, and at the edge of the Edwards Plateau. To the west Austin is flanked by the Texas Hill Country, which is noted for rugged limestone hills, cliffs, caves, and springs. The land to the east is rolling prairie. The Colorado River has a series of easily accessible lakes that offer excellent opportunities for boating, swimming, and fishing. In addition, the Gulf of Mexico is located some 200 miles to the southeast. The climate of the central Texas is warm and relatively dry, and outdoor recreation is commonplace throughout the entire year.
Metropolitan Austin has a population of just over one million. The city is culturally and ethnically diverse, with a cosmopolitan air and international flavor. It is large enough to support diverse cultural opportunities and social life, but is without many of the urban problems found in larger cities. The economy is largely based on state government, education, and a number of high-tech industries primarily relating to computers.
Austin is a major cultural center with excellent professional symphony, ballet, and opera companies. Austin is also known as a leading center for live music, including the Austin City Limits and South by Southwest music festivals. There are 50 clubs and other venues that present live performances. Many performers with national reputations reside and frequently perform in the Austin area. The local theatre is also active, and has a number of companies. The UT Austin College of Fine Arts offers many recitals, concerts, and theatrical productions that are free or cost very little, and the Performing Arts Center brings Broadway companies and many internationally famous groups to town.
The cost of living in Austin is moderate, especially compared to other major metropolitan areas. Housing is readily available, and affordable for students. Most graduate students live in private housing. Limited university housing is also available, and priority is given to students with families. The public transportation system is very good, and UT Austin sponsors a shuttle bus system that extends to all parts of the city in which significant numbers of students are living. There is also a wide variety of excellent and reasonably priced restaurants representing a diversity of culinary origins.
Because of strict zoning regulations, Austin has been able to retain much of the charm and beauty of its original landscape. There are many parks and ‘greenbelts’, even in the center of the city. Miles of hike-and-bike paths, including some that run through the UT campus, make these outdoor recreation areas readily accessible to people who either work or live in the city.