Austin, TX Neighborhood guides

Downtown Austin – High-end Living in the Heart of the Action

If you’re looking for a combination of high-tech industry, exciting dining and entertainment options, and a sprinkling of the great outdoors, you can’t do better than living downtown Austin. This vibrant city center has it all — shopping, live music, great food and plenty of outdoor space. And it all comes with 300 days of sun each year. 

Where is Downtown Austin? 

Located at the heart of a sprawling (and growing!) metropolitan area, downtown Austin has all the amenities of a large city in a tidy little package. 

This 1.8 square mile neighborhood is nestled between Lamar Blvd to the west and I-35 to the east — two major north/south arteries. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd to the north separates downtown from the UT campus. And Lady Bird Lake creates a natural tree-lined southern border. 


Although Austin has been Texas’ capital for over 180 years, it wasn’t always the buzzing city it is today. The first hundred years saw slow growth for the city, despite the booming university and local government.

Things changed in the 1950s when a group of locals sought to attract high-tech companies, citing the lower cost of living and quality of life in the area. Their campaign worked, luring companies like IBM, Motorola and Dell into the Lone Star State. And with those companies came bright young people and cultural diversity that still influence Austin to this day. 

Life in Downtown Austin 

The real reason to pay for downtown Austin rents is for the downtown Austin lifestyle. The city center is surrounded by entertainment districts, live music venues, restaurants and bars. 

On the west side of downtown, Whole Foods’ flagship store provides residents with all their grocery needs. Brunch goers can visit Irene’s for Instagram-worthy eats and gallons of frosé. Then take in a film at the Violet Crown, an indie arthouse movie theater. 


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Connect with “old Austin” by touring the state capitol located right at the city center. It was billed as the 7th largest building in the world when it was built in 1888. Or visit the Romanesque Driskill Hotel on East 6th St. This historic hotel has been the site of gubernatorial inaugural balls, and it’s where Lyndon B. Johnson had his first date with his future wife, Lady Bird.


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Just down the street from the capitol building, Fareground redefines the food hall concept. Satellites of some of Austin’s best restaurants like Dai Due, Ni-Kome, and Contigo are all available here in one luxe, modern space. Sit inside or on the patio, and get a glass of wine from the bar to accompany your meal. 

Walk off that lunch with a tour down the scenic hike-and-bike trail along Lady Bird Lake, downtown Austin’s southern border. This loop offers unparalleled views of the downtown stretch of the Colorado River and the city skyline. 

Austin’s stunning 6-story library is a recent addition to the downtown attractions. Located on the lake’s shores, the rooftop garden offers a peaceful place to read or sip a cup of coffee from the on-site café. This ultra-modern space is welcoming to children, students and adults who just want a little peace and quiet.


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But if it’s noise you want, look no further than the Red River Entertainment District. Dive bars and music venues line this street, welcoming both local and national acts to the Live Music Capital of the World. 

For a nightcap, head over to Midnight Cowboy on the infamous 6th Street. This reservation-only speakeasy makes cocktails table-side, on a rolling cart, for a delicious and visual experience. 

Moving to Downtown Austin

Real Estate Snapshot

The perks of living in this central, vibrant area come at a cost, as the average rent for apartments in downtown Austin ($2,668) is higher than the national average.

Also, if you want to rent a high-end unit in one of the district’s more upscale communities, you’re going to have to shell out a pretty penny since these apartments go for $2,736 on average. Almost half (45%) of the neighborhood’s residents are renters. 


Austin is a driving city, with north/south and east/west highways connecting the downtown area with the outer city. While downtown parking can be limited, most apartment buildings include parking garages for residents.


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For a night on the town, Uber, Lyft and local rideshare RideAustin are all available for travel. There’s also a commuter rail system that connects the downtown area to northern suburbs like Pflugerville and Cedar Park.

Schools & Employment

There are no public schools within the 1.8 square miles of downtown Austin, but residents don’t have to go far to find them. Mathews Elementary School to the west and Zavala Elementary to the east are each minutes away from the downtown neighborhood. 

For older students, Austin High School is just southwest of downtown, located on the banks of Lady Bird Lake. 

There are also private schools in the area, like Headwaters School that serves pre-k through high school students. 

As the local government’s seat, the city, county and state are all significant employers in this area. Other significant employers include software companies like Facebook, Google and Indeed. 

Looking for the perfect new place in this diverse and vibrant neighborhood? Browse through thousands of verified apartments in downtown Austin and find your ideal home in a snap.

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About the author

Irina Lupa

Irina Lupa is a creative writer for RENTCafé, where she covers market trends and topics relevant to today’s renters. Before developing a passion for real estate, she focused on fields ranging from automotive electronics to digital business development, digging into tech news from a critical perspective. Irina holds a B.S. in Journalism and Mass Communication. You can connect with Irina via email.

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