SOU THERN COMFORT:
(Left) Interior of Hotel
San Jose, shot as an
editorial assignment on
the best hotels in Austin
for Austin Monthly.
Two downtown Austin neighborhoods are
likely to be popular with photographers.
South Congress is the most central, just
south of downtown, “and is a very desirable zip code,” says Huston Dorris, a real
estate agent with Keller Williams Realty.
Here a one-bedroom, one-bathroom con-do rents for $1,000 to $1,200, “but the
rental market right now is very, very tight,”
Dorris points out. A studio of 600 to
800 square feet costs less: likely around
$850. At a mile or two from downtown,
the East Side is generally slightly less expensive. A one-bedroom, one-bathroom
apartment here costs between $900 and
$1,000. Renting a single-family home in
either neighborhood starts at $3,000, or
$1,100 to $1,250 for a three-bedroom,
two-bathroom home that’s five or six
miles from downtown.
The market for buyers in Austin is
extremely limited, but “this is an excellent time to buy; rates are in the low 3
percent range for a 30-year fixed,” Dorris
says. A three-bedroom, two-bathroom
house costs $250,000 or more in South
Congress, but as little as $110,000 a little
further out of town—on the far East Side.
A one-bedroom apartment in downtown
Austin starts at $150,000.
hours) and Dallas
Ryann Ford has a
Jetta Diesel car, but
prices have gone
through the roof, so
she spends around
$40 a week on gas.
Soule spends $40
to fill her tank every
two to three weeks,
and fine art photographer Kenny Trice
estimates he spends $125 to $150 per
month to fill up his Toyota 4Runner. “It’s
averagely efficient,” he says. “It’s not a gas
guzzler but it’s not a Prius either.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Gas: $130 per month.
If you want to eat it, Austin probably has
it—from cheap truck food to lavish restaurants—although most photographers veer
to the cheaper end of the spectrum.
A typical restaurant entrée costs $10 to
$15, says Ryann Ford, who probably eats
out three or four nights a week. The rest
of the time, she eats at home, spending
around $100 a month on groceries, including lots of healthy food and organics.
Commercial, advertising and editorial
photographer Craig Washburn spends
about $400 on groceries, mostly whole,
healthy, foods. According to Washburn,
the average cost at a sit-down restaurant is about $18 to $25 per person,
including an entrée and a drink. “I eat
at standard restaurants that aren’t too
cheap or too fancy,” he says.
“I’m a health nut, so I often eat at
Whole Foods fish bar and get a super-
fresh, gourmet fish meal [cooked to
order] for $10 to $12,” says lifestyle
photographer Woody Welch. He also
often lunches at Mr. Natural, where he’ll
buy a burrito for around $7. His dinners
out run slightly more, at around $15.
THE BOTTOM LINE
GROCERIES: $500 per month.
EATING OUT: $280 per month.
THE BOTTOM LINE
TO BUY: $110,000 and up.
TO RENT: $900 and up.
According to the photographers we
spoke with, Austin’s bus system, Capital Metro, isn’t great, so they typically
drive everywhere. The bad news is
that, as the city’s population increases,
Austin traffic is becoming worse, says
editorial fashion photographer Shannon Soule, who is also a student.
Most Austin photographers also shoot
pretty regularly in other Texan cities like
San Antonio (one hour away), Houston (two
As with any hot and humid city, air
conditioning costs are another element that makes summers uncomfortable. Ford’s summertime water/trash/
electricity costs almost double to
$175 (from $100 in winter). The good
news is that her summertime gas bill
is only $15 ($30 in winter).
Washburn pays $80 in winter for gas
heat and $20 in summer, while his average water/trash/electricity bill comes
to $110 monthly.
Ford’s combined phone, TV and
Internet costs are $100 a month;
Washburn pays $130 monthly for
phone and Internet services.
THE BOTTOM LINE: $118 per month.