Thinking about moving to Austin? Smart choice. The economy is booming in the capital of the Lone Star State. The Greater Austin area added 17,000 mid-skill positions in 2013, leading the nation for that stat, according to Forbes.com. Austin made Nerdwallet.com’s top spot as America’s best city for job seekers, thanks to a burgeoning technology hub. And Kiplinger called Austin the country’s best place for small business and entrepreneurs in its “10 Best Cities for the Next Decade” list. Sweetening the pie, zero state personal income tax, a pro-business attitude, pretty good weather most of the time (more on that in a minute), low unemployment rates, excellent public schools and plenty of cultural and recreational amenities (this is the Live Music Capital of the World, y’all). Austin boasts a stable housing market and a relatively low cost of living index compared to comparably-sized cities, too. It’s also downright pretty here inTexas Hill Country. Ready to start learning the Texas two-step? Here are some insider tips and essential information about living, working and playing in Austin.
A Few Words About Austin Weather
Like we said, most of the time it’s wonderful. Summers can be hot and humid, but winters are relatively mild. However, Texas has more hail storms than any other state in the union and 40% of all homeowner insurance claims are due to hail damage. Big windstorms aren’t uncommon, either. It’s such a problem that Texas state law allows homeowners to make claims for hail and wind damage to roofs every six months, and makes it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against policyholders for weather-related claims! Flooding, particularly flash floods caused by heavy rainfall in a short amount of time, can also be a problem that affects both Austin homeowners and renters, one that isn’t covered in standard policies. Ask your agent to explain the risks and options. On the plus side, tornados are rare and Austin is too far inland to be affected by hurricanes.
Driving and Austin Car Insurance
You have 30 days from the time you move to Austin to register your vehicle. You do that through the Travis County Tax Office, rather than the DMV. You can find their contact information here. Before you do that, you will need proof of Texas liability insurance. The minimum coverage amounts are $30,000 per injured person, up to a total of $60,000 for everyone injured in a single accident, and $25,000 property damage. Collision and comprehensive aren’t mandatory, but keep in mind those hail stones that ruin roofs on homes are equally damaging to cars. In 2012, hail the size of golf balls damaged more than a thousand vehicles in Hill Country. Be advised that driving without insurance in Texas carries a fine of $350 plus court costs for a first offense. You can get quotes for Austin auto insurance.
Once you have your proof of insurance, you’ll need to have your vehicle inspected at a certified Texas Department of Public Safety inspection station. Many service stations, oil change shops and auto repair shops are certified. You’ll also be required to show your registration or title of ownership from your previous state of residence.
Wherever you live these days, you’re required by federal law to have a qualified health insurance plan that covers the essential benefits spelled out in the Affordable Care Act (also known as ObamaCare). The state of Texas has additional mandated benefits. You can learn what they are, find a list of Texas health care resources and get competitive quotes for Austin health insurance for individuals or small business here.
Should you need a doctor or medical care, Austin has an excellent selection of world-class medical facilities. These include: Austin State Hospital, Arise Austin Medical Center, University Medical Center Brackenridge, Children’s Hospital of Austin, Dell Children’s Medical Center, Heart Hospital of Austin, The Hospital at Westlake Medical Center, North Austin Medical Center, St. David’s Medical Center, Seton Hospital and South Austin Medical Center.
Austin is a big city – over 270 square miles encompassing over 50 zip codes – made up of dozens of urban neighborhoods, mega-master-planned communities and suburbs. Like everywhere else, some are better than others. NeighborhoodScout.com lists City Center, River Hills, Pleasant Hill, Oak Hill, Vinson, Wells Branch, Garfield, Mustang Ridge, Bluff Springs and Williamson as the most popular within metro Austin. Home prices range from the mid $150,000s to the multi-millions, but the current median price is $320,000, according to Zillow.com, which also puts Austin Metro median rents at $1,309.
Austin does have one of the highest crime rates in America, compared to cities of similar size. In fact, 95% of all other Texas communities have lower crime rates than Austin, according to NeighborhoodScout.com, which says your chances of being the victim of a crime are one in 17. Property crime is especially high. So whether you rent or buy, you’re going to need Austin homeowners insurance or Austin renters insurance. You can get free comparative quotes for both here.
There are two types of homeowners insurance policies sold in Austin and the rest of Texas: all-risk policies (also called comprehensive or open-perils coverage) and named perils policies. You’ll also have the option of choosing between replace cost and actual cash value, as well as selecting a deductible. Before you decide, you’ll want to know a bit about Austin weather conditions.
Regardless of where you live, you’re going to need property insurance. You can get free online quotes for Atlanta homeowners insurance and Atlanta renters insurance here. A renter’s policy will protect your personal belongings from loss or damage. A homeowner’s policy will protect your possessions and your structure. There are basically two types of homeowners insurance: all-risk (also called open perils coverage) and named perils. You’ll also have a choice of deductible and replacement cost or actual cash value. Before you decide, here are some weather-related risks that are common in Atlanta.
If you live in Austin, Texas, you’re in one of the country’s healthiest cities. TravelChannel.com ranked it eleventh healthiest in its America’s Top 20 Healthiest Cities list. Austin is also in one the healthiest of the 50 states. Anyone born in Texas today has an average life expectancy of 78.5 years according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. If you’re a 65-year-old Texan, the Centers for Disease Control gives you another 18.9 years on average. But before you start feeling too secure, WorldLifeExpectancy.com wants you to know that accidents are the fourth leading cause of death for all Texas residents. Given the ever-present possibility of an accidental death, you might want to put life insurance on your list of things to consider when you move to Austin. There are four good reasons why:
To pay for funeral and other final expenses.
To replace your income if you’re leaving behind a spouse.
To help cover your children’s needs.
To help your survivors pay off debts and estate taxes.
If you purchase whole life, your insurance can also be a means of setting aside money for retirement, college and other needs. You can learn more about the difference between term life insurance and whole life insurance, and shop for competitive life insurance quotes here.
As already mentioned, whether you’re looking for a job or looking to start your own company, Austin is a business boom town. Major industries include high tech, bio-tech, pharmaceuticals, construction, educational services, retail and entertainment.
Once you’ve got your business up and running, you’ll want to protect your investment. You can find quotes for a variety of Atlanta small business insurance policies here.
If you plan to start a business, you couldn’t find a better place. According to the editors of The Business Journals, nine years out of the past 10, their answer to the question, “where is the best place to start and grow a small business?” was Austin. They rank it #1 out of 101 U.S. markets, with 40,966 small businesses, or 23.01 per 1,000 residents!
You’ll find plenty of help and encouragement from the state government, too. And you probably won’t have to look too hard to find a venture capitalist, either. According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, “Austin supports small business and encourages both employers and employees to take root in the community… Austin consistently tops the chart for one of the best cities for business growth and an enjoyable quality of life.”
Once you’ve got your business plan in place, protect your investment and your future. You can find quotes for a variety of Austin small business insurance policies here.