Where to Buy When Relocating

Imagine you are tired of living in a high-cost, high-tax, congested area. You are working hard but feeling like you are not saving enough or living the life of your dreams. You think about relocating. There are two schools of thought when it comes to deciding where to move to.

Two choices are:

  1. A fun, accessible destination where your kids and grandkids can and will want to come visit.
  2. Someplace where your kids can afford to buy a house near you.

What if you could have both, a fun destination city with nearby affordable housing?

Austin unquestionably satisfies Choice No. 1; a fun destination, the Live Music Capital of the world, a foodie paradise, and outdoor activities for all ages. There are many good reasons Austin keeps getting recognized as the number one city in America. Check out our February Market Update to learn more.

Regarding Choice No. 2 – a place your kids could afford to buy near you. Wouldn't it be great if you could see your each other - no airports? Imagine them being able to buy a new 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,667sf home for $265,260.*

We have clients who are leaving the Bay Area, West LA, Winnetka, Oak Brook, Scarsdale, Saddle River, etc., not because they cannot afford to live there. Rather because their kids cannot afford to live within 30-60 minutes of them. This article is for retirees or our clients’ kids, or any young families, trying to become home owners. Below we'll unpack how important it is for young families to buy instead of rent, sooner than later.

The point of this article is not to promote a floor plan, a home builder, or a city. The goal is to share an ‘Ah-ha’ experience we had last weekend when we walked through new, affordable, single-family detached homes, with yards, less than 45 minutes from Central Austin, Hyde Park, Westlake Hills, Tarrytown, and other wealthy zip code areas. In other words, it is true, there are affordable neighborhoods near Austin, Texas.

In this article, I will share an example of what we found. Think of it as proof of concept that ‘affordable’ is real. We all have young people we care about who could use some good news when it comes to being able to become homeowners. This post is evidence that they can be hopeful.

First, let’s compare the house we walked through, which was 1,667 square feet, with the average cost of a similar-size home in other areas:

  • Chicago region: 1,667sf x $501/sf = $835,000
  • Coastal California counties: 1,667sf x $817/sf = $1,361,000
  • New York City region: 1,667sf x $1,184/sf = $1,973,000

This is not to suggest that a starter home, in a small Austin suburb, is comparable to a similar-size $1.9 million house in NY. But the price per square foot comparison made us stop and ask, “What? Really?” We joked, “You could buy a different house for every day of the week at that price differential.”


We drove thirty miles south of Austin to a charming town called Lockhart. It has a quaint historic downtown district, like Georgetown or Granbury, TX. These historic town squares are all over Texas and they often serve as the focal point of the community. Many feature well-preserved historic buildings, shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. The boutiques, food, and wine bars are like what you would find at a ski resort town.

As we approached the city limits, our initial reaction was, “There’s nothing out here.” While that was not quite true, it was our initial feeling and that is kind of the point - the town’s proximity to Austin but its somewhat ‘undiscovered’ status. By the way, the speed limit on the highway to Lockhart is 85 miles per hour - I kid you not.

Why 'Affordable' Matters to Building Wealth

Shortly after I was born, our family moved into a house on the outskirts of Denver for what now seems like an unbelievably low price. As time went on, we were no longer out in the middle of nowhere. And the home’s value increased 10x what my parents paid for it. What did your parents pay for the home you grew up in?

Buying a first house is like saving for retirement. The earlier you start the more ‘time’ does its thing in terms of compounding wealth. Affordability matters because young people cannot buy a first house if it costs $1 million. Even if they can come up with a 10% or 20% down payment, they cannot qualify for the mortgage. So they’re priced out and they remain renters.

Starting early matters. Consider this example. To save $1 million by age 65 (at 8%), the monthly amount needed depends on starting age:

  • Age 23 = 192.78 per month
  • Age 29 = 382.49 per month

Isn’t that shocking? Starting just six years later (age 29 versus age 23) means one must save twice as much per month... for 36 years!

This is why Albert Einstein said compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. And this is why starting late is a wealth killer. Real estate appreciation is a form of compound interest. House prices don’t grow at 8% per year but don’t forget the leverage of controlling an asset with a down payment that is 20% or less of the cost of the home. If houses appreciate at 3-4% and you only put 20% down, your rate of return is four times that.

To further reinforce the point, a 2019 Federal Reserve study found homeowners have a net worth 40 times greater than renters. Back to our affordable example of new homes in an up-and-coming town.


Nestled just 30 miles south of Austin, Lockhart boasts a rich history dating back to its founding in 1837. Originally known as Plum Creek, Lockhart's journey traces back to the 19th century when the arrival of the railroad spurred economic growth, transforming the town into a regional shipping center for local cotton. Today, Lockhart is renowned as the "Barbecue Capital of Texas," home to four major barbecue restaurants and a vibrant culinary scene. Its historical significance is evident in its well-preserved buildings, many of which date back to the 19th century, offering visitors a glimpse into Texas's storied past.

For a great website that tells the Lockhart story and has beautiful pictures, click City of Lockhart Economic Development.

Where is Lockhart Texas?

Map of Austin and Lockhart

Afternoon driving times from Lockhart to:

  • Austin International Airport – 26 min
  • Tesla Factory – 28 min
  • San Marcos – 31 min
  • SoCo (South Congress), Austin – 37 min
  • Downtown Austin – 42 min

Those who live in high-cost urban areas probably consider those travel times to be quite reasonable.

For comparison, consider:

  • SFO to downtown San Francisco – 29 min
  • LaGuardia Airport to Lower Manhattan – 36 min
  • LAX to downtown Los Angeles – 39 min
  • O’Hare International to downtown Chicago – 41 min

Lockhart will not be a small town forever. According to the PBS video, San Antonio - Austin: The Emerging Mega-Metro, approximately 5 million people are projected to move into the areas between Austin, San Marcos, and San Antonio by 2040.

Lockhart is in this growth path and that fact is not lost on giant home builders like Lennar and DR Horton. Below, we profile an example house by Lennar, but Lennar is not the only reputable suburban builder.

If you are at all serious about considering moving near the Austin - San Antonio Corridor, do yourself a favor and watch the video - get some popcorn because it is an hour long but it is a great blend of history, future projections, area thought-leaders, important issues, and opportunities.

Summerside, by Lennar

The new housing project we visited is called Summerside. Here is the website, which is full of information and pictures. Here is a sample.

Nettleton - $265,260 - 4bd 2ba 1667sf - 27Feb24

Notice the price reduction (see below) on this Nettleton plan from $332,900 to $265,260. That is a 20% price drop.

Nettleton - $265,260 price cut - 27Feb24

My guess is the builder dropped prices because of today’s higher interest rates. If rates fall later this year, as many expect, builders may not need to make these types of concessions. And most builders are offering interest rate buydowns to further entice buyers.

Here is a monthly payment calculator example from the builder's website. See disclosures below.

Lennar payment estimate - Nettleton - 27Feb24

Lennar payment estimate disclosure - 27Feb24

*By the time you read this article, this home, these prices, and the interest rate shown will likely be different or unavailable. That is not the point. The point is to demonstrate that ‘affordableis real within a comfortable drive of downtown Austin.

Here are some photos I took with my cell phone, inside of the model home, which was one of the smallest floor plans offered at Summerside.

Model Home - Living Dining

Notice seating for 14 people in the living room and dining room, plus you know people like to congregate at the kitchen counter area. Great value for a house at this price, right?

Model Home - Kitchen

I'm picky but I could live in this house - no problem.

Model Home - Bedroom Bath

Summerside offered house lots of different sizes and shapes. Many of the back yards and side yards would be more than adequate for a patio, BBQ, garden, maybe a swing set and a large dog.

We know young people paying more than this for rent on a two-bedroom apartment, not a detached home.


You could easily spend 3x to 5x this price for a single-family detached home - with a driveway, garage, and backyard - in most high-cost cities or their suburbs.

For those who understand demographic growth trends and what inflation does to assets (hint: prices go up), this is exciting. And there are many areas, north, south, east, and west of Austin that are charming and affordable like this. The Greater Austin Metro Area is four times the size of Rhode Island. Travis County is where Austin is and the surrounding four counties are where the more affordable suburbs are located.

At Considering Austin, we help people relocate, buy houses, and finance them. If you would like more information, or if you are an investor and would like data on cap rates, rent as a % of income, shadow inventory percentages, year-over-year rent growth, etc., please reach out by email or phone: kent@consideringaustin.com, (512) 981-8279.


The beautiful downtown Lockhart image at the top of the post is courtesy of City of Lockhart Economic Development, click here for their website.







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