Despite being one of the more affordable tech hubs in the United States, Austin’s rapid growth surge is changing that, with more to come. What’s a penny-pincher to do? Let’s take a look at a couple of ways to squeeze more value out of our city.
Looking for cheap goods and abundant bargains? Look no further than the Austin County Flea Market, voted #8 by the Travel Channel on the top 10 best flea markets in the world. With over three hundred vendor spaces open year-round on the weekends, you can find anything from musical instruments to antiques to inexpensively furnish your frugal lifestyle. Better yet, why not rent a space and start raking in the moolah?
6.) Instead of spending money, just go outside
Staying entertained can be expensive, but did you know the outdoors is free? It’s true! While this may seem obvious, Austin’s numerous outdoor adventures offer priceless experiences. Hiking St. Edwards Park, the refreshing waters of Barton Springs (where certain clothing is optional), and Bouldin Creek’s “Cathedral of Junk” are all great places to start. Here are a bunch more.
5.) Eat at food carts
It may be trendy, but it’s also cheap to choose food carts instead of sit-down restaurants. Food carts often compete for your dollar, so their prices tend to be more reasonable than restaurant fare. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about excessive gratuity—food truck operations tend cost way less than brick-and-mortar operations. Oh, and did we mention that Austin has the best street food in the country? Yeah. That helps too.
4.) Use the tax laws to your advantage
Photo: Flickr user Tax Credits, creative commons licensed.
Taxes can be your ways to savings! If your home is your main residence, you can apply for homestead exemption, capping your property value from rising above 10 percent per year. Don’t forget to save your receipts for deductions. And lastly, despite not having income taxes, Texas has one of the nation’s highest property taxes—why not forgo that needless expense by renting instead of owning?
3.) Don’t live downtown, or even close
Photo: Flickr user Davidlohr Bueso, creative commons licensed.
To take advantage of that famously low Texan cost of living, consider living in the suburbs. If you don’t try to live downtown – which is incredibly expensive — check out one of Austin’s many suburbs, like Pflugerville or Round Rock. For a quick rundown, plan on spending around $400 per square foot for central Austin. Moving west of downtown, to areas like Westlake and Barton Creek, the prices average out to $350 per square foot. But if you head far north or far south, or east of I-35 ,you can often find homes for sale around $200 per square foot.
2.) Spend money in your neighborhood
Just like rent and housing costs, try to stay away from anything close to downtown are in Austin. While you may be saving your commute time, the price of goods tends to be higher in central Austin. Small purchases add up.
Time is money, so consider all the time you spend in traffic during peak times—are there ways for you to offset your schedule so that you save more time? Consider taking public transportation on Capital Metro buses so that you can start unwinding early. It’s not a sacrifice, it’s a time and money saver! Once you switch, you may even find yourself enjoying it.