The puzzle that makes up Austin real estate is a constantly changing tableau, with new pieces popping up to introduce once-overlooked neighborhoods, fluctuating prices and pockets of new construction.

Every few months, lists are published about “up-and-coming neighborhoods” that offer a variety of amenities and affordable housing, only for those neighborhoods to be gobbled up by hungry real estate investors within a few months’ time. And the puzzle changes once again.

Here’s a list of what has been the most desirable neighborhoods in the past few years, followed by suggestions for where you might look to find similar amenities in less expensive areas.

If you want: Mueller

Mueller is a highly desirable neighborhood located just north of the downtown Austin and east of I-35, a master planned, “mixed-use urban village” built on the grounds of the old Austin municipal airport. Residents here love the high degree of walkability, proximity to stores, restaurants, and Austin’s children’s museum, the Thinkery. The median home price here is $560,000.

Try instead: Easton Park

Realtor Robin Rhoades describes Easton Park as “Mueller on steroids.” Located southeast of Austin, this development is in its early stages, with plenty of land still to be developed on its 1,500 acres. Planners envision a walkable community with plenty of hike and bike trails, access to parks and plentiful amenities. And it’s more than half the price of Mueller, with median active listings currently priced at $275,000.

If you want: Tarrytown

This historic neighborhood is characterized by charming 1920s cottages and mansions nestled among Old Austin’s tree-lined quiet streets, just three miles west of downtown. Lake Austin is nearby, as well as numerous local parks. Median home sales price was $887,000.

Try instead: Anderson Mill

If you can’t afford Tarrytown, consider traveling a bit further north to Anderson Mill, the community located at the corner of U.S. 183 and Ranch Road 620. This is an established neighborhood, with several 1970s and ’80s era homes on larger lots, with the bonus of having some of the best schools in the state. Median home sales price: $257,000.

If you want: Zilker Park

Zilker Park is one of Austin’s crown jewels, a sprawling 350-acre green carpet rolled out for Austin residents just south of the downtown business district. Residents here enjoy a bounty of outdoor opportunities and prime access to the most coveted events downtown. The median sales price is $565,000 with several listings hovering around the $800,000 range, and high property taxes to match.

Try instead: Springfield at Thaxton Road

One of the most affordable communities listed in the 20 Best Neighborhoods in Austin Monthly (July 2017), Springfield at Thaxton Road is a master-planned community that is located in close proximity to Onion Creek Metro Park and McKinney Falls State Park. The median home sales price is a low $235,000 in this community, located 10 miles southeast of downtown Austin, where homes are being snapped up quickly.

If you want: Crestview

Eclectic mid-century homes with large backyards, diverse neighbors and quirky businesses along Burnet Road and Anderson Lane have increasingly attracted young couples and families to Crestview, which also includes a stop along Austin’s commuter train, the MetroRail. Some of those young families seeking starter homes are starting to get priced out, with the median sales price here topping $440,000.

Try instead: Wooten Village

Expand your search just a bit northeast to Wooten Village to find lower priced homes with similar amenities — good walkability and proximity to shops and restaurants. Homes here, many of which are 1960s and ’70s ranch homes with lots of up to one-quarter acre, average $240,000.

If you want: West Lake Hills

West Lake Hills comprises the area west of downtown Austin, east of Capitol of Texas Highway 360. Occupants of the mansions here enjoy seclusion overlooking those signature Hill Country vistas, the highest rated school district in the area (Eanes Independent School District). You’ll pay handsomely for all of that—the median sales price here is $920,000, with active listings at $1.35 million.

Try instead: Lakeway

If you still want to be in the Hill Country area, venture a bit further west to Lakeway. Here you’ll enjoy proximity to the lakes, along with top rated Lake Travis Independent School District. Median home price stands at $451,000.

Keep looking and pounding the pavement — you might be surprised at the next “hot neighborhood,” that hidden gem of a place where you find your next Austin home.

– By Cynthia Drake

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