Moving to Austin? Welcome to the club. The Texas capital has been one of the country’s fastest-growing cities for almost a decade—between 2018 and 2019, approximately 169 new people arrived per day. And if you’re new to the city, subletting is really your best option. If you’re only relocating temporarily for an internship, you can sign a sublease for just three or four months; or, if you’re planning to stay more permanently, you can test out a few different neighborhoods before settling down. We've pulled together a comprehensive guide to finding a sublet in Austin, from sublet-specific apps to the most popular local Facebook groups.
Search for listings on a sublet-specific platform
One of the trickiest things about subletting is that not everyone bothers with the rules. Some people don’t check with their landlords—and in Texas, that’s definitely not allowed. We’ve actually seen situations where people are physically stopped from entering the building because it turned out that the sublessor didn’t get approval.
That’s why a platform that deals specifically in sublets can be particularly important. At Caretaker, we give listers tons of guidance on how to sublet legally and with landlord approval. We also verify a lot of our rentals, meaning you can rest easy knowing you’re definitely not being scammed. There are a lot of other pros, including:
- Our automated system pushes the freshest listings to the top, so you don’t have to start by messaging “Is this still available?”
- Caretaker’s listings are much cheaper than short-term rental options designed for vacationers, like Airbnb or VRBO.
- You can see up front whether or not there’s an option to extend with the landlord once the sublet is over, if you decide you love the place and want to stay.
Another option for sublet-seekers in Austin is Homads, a local company that focuses specifically on sublets. They also offer a detailed quiz to help you choose the neighborhood that’s right for you, if you haven’t decided yet. If you’re okay with sharing a place, you could consider Roomi or Roomies (yes, they’re different apps). And if you’re willing to pay extra for a fully-furnished, Instagram-ready sublet, then Landing may be the option for you.
Check out other local online marketplaces
When it comes to sublets, you can’t forget the old standbys: Facebook and Craigslist. Austin has three main Facebook groups that cater to subletters, with a focus on the student population. Alpaca, a company that manages apartment rental Facebook groups across the country, has two separate pages for the city—one for students at the University of Texas specifically, and another for the Austin community at large. A separate, slightly larger Facebook group also helps UT students find sublets or roommates.
There are also a range of options on Craigslist for sublets in Austin—but, as always, watch out for scams. Be skeptical of crazy-good deals or impeccably-polished stock photos. The Texas Attorney General’s website also lists a few more red flags, like odd payment requests or an unwillingness to schedule a viewing. And keep in mind, you’re on your own—according to the Wall Street Journal, the Austin police department has said its officers “do not investigate rental scams that begin on free internet advertisement websites.”
Explore Airbnb and other vacation rental sites
Although people usually think of Airbnb as a place for vacation rentals, most of the properties can be rented for months at a time. (In fact, a lot of owners actually offer discounts for longer stays.) There’s a specific search page to hunt for longer-term rentals on Airbnb—in Austin, there are hundreds of available options. Since they’re designed for vacationers, they’ll be fully furnished, down to the sheets on the bed. This could be a big plus, if you’re only relocating temporarily.
The downside, of course, is that sublets on Airbnb tend to be more expensive than other options. The market is tailored for shorter-term stays, where people are willing to pay more per night. On the lowest end, you can find a handful of rooms across the city for around $800-900 per month. But if you want an apartment or condo to yourself, most options are clustered between $2,000 and $4,000 per month—and that’s right now, during the pandemic, when prices have been slashed significantly in an effort to boost demand. By comparison, the median rent for a one-bedroom in Austin in April 2020 was $1,150, according to Apartment List.
Also, don’t forget about other short-term vacation rental sites. Particularly if you’re looking for a very short-term sublet—two or three months, for instance—sites like VRBO can also be good options. As one reviewer wrote about a house in Rosedale: “I stayed at the cottage for two months, and it was great. I just graduated from college and had an internship in Austin. Easy to get to from the airport, and was 20 minutes (or often even less) from anything I wanted to do in the city.”
Use your personal network
Last but not least, milk your connections all they're worth! Get a friend who’s local to post on their social media, or do it yourself if you think you might have connections who live where you’re trying to sublet. And, we know this sounds laughably low-tech, but it never hurts to drive around any neighborhoods you know you’re interested in with an eye out for “For Rent” signs. Particularly around the University of Texas' campus (north or west), there’s a good chance you’ll see something.