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Affordability issues cause Central Texans to look outside of Austin for housing

Many people are looking to areas outside of Austin for housing as prices skyrocket. While it might be cheaper, areas like Bastrop are also jumping.

AUSTIN, Texas — Every morning, Danann Patrick gets ready for work in her new home.

"It's a new build. I'm the first owner," Patrick said. 

As a hairdresser, she works in Austin, but her new house isn't in the city.

"The reason I moved out here, for the price point I could definitely get more for my money out here," she explained. "I just like a smaller vibe, and Austin, even though I work there, still it's much busier than I'd prefer." 

This is why every morning, Patrick now gets ready for her 45-minute to hour-long commute into town from Bastrop. 

"Alright, here we go," she said as she got on the road. 

A drive down State Highway 71 into town has become second nature. 

"My schedule has been different than most people. I don't normally start work until 10, so there's that sweet spot where I miss a lot of traffic," she explained. 

Now, you may be asking, why would she spend the time driving in every day instead of working with new clients in Bastrop?

"I've thought about it because I have the house now, but there's no way I could sustain the house and starting over and trying to rebuild the clientele in a smaller town where the price point maybe won't be what it is in Austin," she said. 

But she's more worried about how the city she loves is changing.

"I don't think there's necessarily a breaking point to the commute; there's a breaking point with Austin being Austin," she said. "I mean, it's not just a problem that's exclusive to me, that's for sure."

Areas outside Austin are also booming

"Definitely, I don't see a slowdown any time soon," said Nik Shehu, a real estate agent in Bastrop.

He's lived in the city for more than 14 years but, for the past eight years, he's been in the real estate business, starting as an individual agent and then growing to have a team. 

"The past three years have been incredible growth, and it's not because it's Bastrop; it's because it's Austin. Being 20 to 30 minutes from Downtown Austin has made a world of difference for us," he said. "We're becoming a mini-hub, honestly, for a lot of cities around here." 

That mini-hub is causing the average home prices to more than triple over the past decade. Just from last year, March showed a more than 40% increase in average home prices. All of that means more people are moving there.

"You're looking somewhere between 40,000 to 60,000 people increasing the population the next two to five years. For a town like Bastrop, that is doubling or tripling your current population," Shehu said, citing a Bastrop Independent School District survey.

So for now, Patrick will continue to drive in and work. But even with her clients, the topic of affordability is on their minds. 

"You remember when we could get beers for $1.50?" Patrick joked with her client, who moved from Austin to San Marcos. 

"I think we bought the last house in the $200,000 range, and it's a big four-bedroom, brand new build," said Haley Behr. "We just got our tax appraisal. It's worth $560,000, and we bought it for $290,000."

Patrick spends every morning driving to work. She spends every day wondering what's next for this city.

"Austin, what's happening to you?" Patrick said to Behr. "Little L.A."

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