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Better to Rent or Own? It’s a question a get a lot. Again the answer isn’t a ‘one-size-fit-all’ type thing because it depends where you live and how expensive it is to purchase vs. rent. However, Trulia has a great...

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Selling in 2011? 5 things you MUST know. If you are considering selling your house in 2011 here are my top 5 things you need to know as a seller. This is one of my few longer posts, just so you’re prepared! Of course my standard disclaimer...

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Pflugerville home – 2000sqft+ for under $150K View Full Album Yes, the Austin market is still strong. For those who are relocating to Austin, TX, Pflugerville is just minutes away from Austin, and about 20 minutes to all the downtown fun! This...

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The New Mueller HEB!

Posted on : 02-08-2013 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Austin Life

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I have been an EastSide resident on and off for several years now, and have been waiting a LONG time for a decent grocery store. Finally! That day has come!

 

Went on a Friday morning at 11am. Was a medium to light crowd. Live music outside, lots of mamas with babies enjoying and dancing (or bouncing, as it were!).

Love the Café area, the selection of bulk food and bulk spices were nice, but limited. It is more of a mix between Central Market and HEB. Works fine for me and my needs! Large floral area, seemed like better quality baked goods as well.

The biggest issue is going to be parking. At an off-peak time, the parking lot was FULL. Like 0 spots. Not even far away. I gave up looking for a closer spot, and parked over in a different section by the coming-soon Verts. However, once that retail section opens up, what will become of the parking situation then? I don’t know if they underestimated the number of people who would be attending this HEB, or what… but it’s going to be a problem.

As far as me… I always tend to shop at off-peak times as much as possible, AND, I don’t mind walking, so hopefully this should save me!

How Bad Will Austin Traffic Get?

Posted on : 12-06-2013 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Austin Life

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Having been in Austin 13 years, I’ve noticed an increase in traffic in the time I have lived here for sure, but it seems the past 2 years have been way worse than years past. This makes sense considering that the Austin City Demographer estimates that 85+ people are moving to the Austin area a DAY. Yes every single day. And our city’s current transportation methods are definitely not set up to accommodate for the growing population.

I notice more people complaining about traffic, and in my very informal survey’s with friends they all concur. I find myself looking to avoid traffic times as much as possible.. which can be tricky with my line of work, especially with a downtown office. This feeling was further validated by the following articles in the past few years.

The city is working on solutions, and one of the most interesting propositions I’ve seen is called the ‘cut-and-cap’ idea. It certainly looks interesting, and their rendering of what downtown could look like is definitely intriguing and appealing. The good news is that this project organizer is looking for feedback from the community and has the backing of several downtown groups.

Several other cities have also done similar things, including Dallas (although their park is built on top of part of the highway), and I figure, if Dallas can back a project like this… Austin certainly can. Check out the Klyde Warren Park

Read the full article by following this link: Community Impact – Central Austin, cut-and-cap

cut and cap

So, in answer the question that started this post, traffic is definitely going get bad in the mean time, my estimation is at least another year. Whatever plan is adopted, will need to go through several levels of approval process’ so…. as much as I hate to say it… I don’t see traffic getting any better any time soon.

Oh, and before I forget, once the city approves a plan… well, then, we deal with the actual construction process itself, which is no doubt, going to be quite the adventure. I say ‘bring it on!’.

ACL 2012–A 30-Something Guide

Posted on : 21-10-2012 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Austin Life

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After having been in Austin for 12+ years, I thought it was finally time that I get around to IMG_3647one of Austin’s biggest musical events of the year. Austin City Limits!

Being in my 30’s, I thought I’d post a bit about my experience and what I learned and how my overall experience went. Especially when I looked at the 20-something year olds (or younger) and found myself thinking, “So glad I am not tempted to do THAT!” One example; Wearing any shoe with a heel. Crazy people!!

IMG_3706Hopefully, if it’s your first time going, you may be able to grab a few tips to improve your experience and have a better time than if you hadn’t read this post!

Here is my Picasa Album from the event

 

 

 

 

 

Onto the fun stuff…. ACL Tips!

  • Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Not being a big weather IMG_3669checker, I did make a point to check the weather daily before I headed out. For this weekend, we had sun, rain, high humidity, and of course some pretty gorgeous weather thrown in. We had a 20 minute downpour on Saturday. Enough to make EVERYTHING muddy, slippery, sticky and overall disgusting.
  • If rain… then pack a poncho, and several plastic bags to throw damp clothes into. Also recommended are a few Ziploc bags for cell phones, digital camera or to keep any other electronics safe and dry. image
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I had something like these. Not sexy, but definitely allowed me to walk through all kinds of gunk for hours, and trek back and forth between the 46 acres that is ACL.
  • How to best find your group. Look out for people with a flag or other ‘marker’ to locate your group. This is the best way to find people and be found. IMG_3624
  • Be prepared for little or no cell reception. Be prepared that you’ll have either no, or very limited cell reception. I had mostly ‘no-service’ for about 80% of the weekend, but even when I had 3 bars of signal, it was very difficult for text messages to get through. I had a few pre-determined spots to meet people, and that worked out better than trying to send text messages which didn’t get there in time. Granted, I have AT&T, and people with other providers didn’t seem to be struggling as much as I was.
  • Be aware of your alcohol consumption: One other perk about being in your 30’s is that most of us have learned how to pace our alcohol consumption by now. Especially at a weekend-long, outdoor event. But, just to reiterate, alcohol is dehydrating, drink carefully and hydrate more than you think you should. Which leads me to my next tip….
  • Anticipate dehydration. If you are not from Austin or Texas, the heat can be deceptive. The humidity makes it feel like you are really not losing too much sweat, but you are. By the time you start feeling lightheaded, or get a headache etc, it’s already too late. Start pounding the water and electrolytes.
  • General supplies that were helpful:
    • Sunscreen – lotion not aerosol cans
    • Hat – keeping the sun off your face and head helps you not feel as hot throughout the day
    • Camelback or similar water delivery device. There are filling stations throughout the park. Keep hydrated!!!
    • Emergen-C or other electrolyte product. I liked Emergen-C because the packets are dry, lightweight, and I can literally mix them in my mouth if I don’t have a spare water bottle. This came in handy when we were standing for hours in order to catch a band we liked and someone started feeling lightheaded.
    • Take breaks. If you are going to go for all 3 days, save up your energy for the bands you are most excited to see. Perhaps sit under a tree and people watch for an hour to recoup in the middle of the day. On Saturday I headed out to the park at 2pm knowing I would be there all day.

    Bands I saw

    • Delta Spirit – just caught a bit of the end of their show was a GREAT start to the festivities.
    • Ben Howard – I didn’t know anything about Ben Howard, and was pleasantly surprised. I am definitely a new fan!
    • Tegan and Sara – having been fans of their for YEARS, I was excited to see them, and was not disappointed!
    • Florence + The Machine – This was definitely the band I was most excited about seeing! It was a great show, I was up close, and her performance was beautiful.
    • The Black Keys – I was in the very front for this show, and started feeling too claustrophobic and somewhat dehydrated (see ‘Tips’ above), so I watched a part of it from afar. GREAT show, high energy and fun, fun, fun!
    • AVICII – having never heard of AVICII before ACL, I wandered over here and was blown away by a GREAT light show and some high energy dancing. Also a big fan. Techno/electronic fans would have been pleased!
    • Metric – this was the second band I was most interested in seeing. Having been a fan of theirs for a while, I was thrilled to see their name in the lineup. Did not disappoint, AND they jammed out through the rain! (Which is why I have almost no photos of this show.)
    • La Vida Boheme – randomly saw this band while heading to the bathroom area. Great sound and a very happy surprise
    • The Roots – was WAY back for this show, but honestly, I didn’t think it was the best performance I saw
    • Bassnectar – also an enjoyable show, but not as good as AVICII.
    • The Devil Makes Three
    • Bad Books
    • NEEDTOBREATHE
    • The Lumineers – GREAT show, but WAYYYY too crowded. They were on too small a stage and it was not possible to see anything.
    • Iggy & The Stooges
    • Childish Gambino – another unexpected find that was fun, and a GREAT way to end my first ACL!

Better to Rent or Own?

Posted on : 25-01-2011 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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It’s a question a get a lot. Again the answer isn’t a ‘one-size-fit-all’ type thing because it depends where you live and how expensive it is to purchase vs. rent.

However, Trulia has a great infographic which helps visualize the issue. Looks like Austin pans out pretty well, and leans toward the ‘renting is less expensive, but it might be better to buy’ category.

image

More interesting is New York, where the average price to buy is between $1.3M to $1.4M, and to rent is between $3000-$4000.

Overall though, Texas is definitely in the ‘better to buy’ category as a whole. Play around with it, there’s some great visuals when you change up the the ‘rent price’ and ‘list price’ options as well.

Top 5 Remodels

Posted on : 14-01-2011 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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What are the top 5 remodels that get you the best return? According to a recent study by Realtor.org here they are. Although the study supposedly does account for regions and areas, number 3 on the list is Basement Remodels… In Austin? …go figure.

Top 5 Remodels

  1. Replacing your entry door with a steel door will yield you 116% remodel
  2. Garage Door replacement
  3. Basement remodel – which I don’t exactly get, since Austin isn’t known for having basements considering that in most parts of the city, digging 4 inches down, you hit limestone.
  4. Attic Bedroom will get you 78% of your investment recouped
  5. Window replacements will get you 76% back. So use those Austin Energy rebates, and

What are the top 5 WORST ways to spend your hard earned dough?

Top 5 WORST remodels

  1. Sunroom Addition – with being able to recoup just barely 50% of your money back
  2. Home Office Remodel – anticipates converting a 12×12 room with built in bookshelves, cabinets, laminate desktop, computer workstation. Also, a rewire for electrical equipment, drywall, paint, trim and carpet.
  3. Backup Power Generator
  4. Bathroom Addition
  5. Roofing Replacement

So of course the question is, when would I tell my clients to do some of the least cost effective remodels? If it’s going to impact the quality of your life. If having a second bathroom will improve your day-to-day life and prevent you from screaming at the kids every morning, then for your sanity and privacy, get a second bathroom installed. Just know that you aren’t going to be getting back what you put into installing it.

Austin Best City for Telecommuters

Posted on : 06-01-2011 | By : Sumina | In : Austin

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AOL Daily Finance reported earlier this month that Austin ranks as one of the best cities for telecommuters. How so you ask?

The factors were a a mid sized city (1 million or so in population), average living costs, good education, good health ranking. Of course local technology and high-speed internet are a must as well.

It’s hard to be working from home and paying $5,000 a month toward a 2 bedroom apartment in an expensive city, when you could be in say Austin (#1 on the list), or Raleigh (#5). Of course, I’m pretty biased toward Austin with our amazing live music scene and focus on local business.

The top ten best cities for telecommuting are:

  1. Austin
  2. Cincinnati, Ohio
  3. Atlanta
  4. St. Louis
  5. Raleigh, N.C.
  6. Cleveland
  7. Pittsburgh
  8. Charlotte, N.C.
  9. Kansas City, Missouri
  10. Nashville, Tennessee

What problems do I foresee? Well I’ve mentioned it in other posts before, but traffic is trafficgoing to continue to be an issue. Hopefully more people telecommuting, the increase in flex-time work hours, and the the eventual increase in people willing to take the MetroRail… will alleviate some of those issues. But I really think its going to get worse, much worse, before it gets better.

 

Read more: Austin best city for telecommuters, report says | Austin Business Journal

How to stop receiving the big yellow book

Posted on : 23-12-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Productivity

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Drop the weight!

For most of use who are on the internet 24/7, when we come home one day and find that stack of yellow and white pages left on our doorstep, are left wonder who really uses these anymore (Other than maybe a door stop)? And maybe you think to yourself, ‘I wish I could just not get these anymore’. Well you can unsubscribe!

Here’s how to do it in Austin:

  • You can call this number to opt out of the ATT book: 1-866-329-7118. Some people have reported that it only took 5 minutes, while someone else said it took them 15 minutes. 
  • Call 1-800-929-3556 to opt out of the Yellow Book.
  • You can now recycle the books in the big blue single-stream recycling bins as well

Another handy resource is Earth911.com which can provide info on where to recycle lots of things. Yay!

Go forth, recycle, and be good to the earth. :)

Austin Ranked Best in the US for Economic Recovery – In the World

Posted on : 08-12-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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The World. Yes, you heard right. An article in the Austin Business Journal today shows Austin as the leader, in the US, in 27th place, in a ranking for the highest-rated recovery.

Again, it looks like GREAT news for the Austin market, and I’m happy to be imagein an area which has worked hard for the past several decades creating policies and economies for a  stable market which we are now getting the opportunity to experience. It’s a rare thing folks. Enjoy it while you can.

What city way number 1 on the list, Istanbul, Turkey, but alas, I’m not selling real estate there.

For more detailed info about Austin in particular, just click the image above or this link.

What’s Austin REALLY like?

Posted on : 02-12-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin

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As much as I love this city, and can go on endlessly about my love of Austin, it’s always great to get outside reassurance that I’m not in my own little world about what makes Austin great. So I thought I’d give you a taste from a ‘newbie’ to Austin.

 image

One of my friends, Jon Levine, wrote this post about his first three years in Austin, and was nice enough to let me feature it on my blog! Thanks Jon!

First Three Years in Austin

As you can see from the post, they’ve definitely been making the most of their time in Austin.

If you’ve been considering a move to Austin, and want more info about what life here is ‘really’ like, I plan on featuring other posts from (not me) about life here.

And, if you’re lucky enough to live here already, let me know what your favorite places and things to do in Austin are… who knows, maybe you’ll be a guest contributor soon!

Top 5 local business’ – Holiday Edition!

Posted on : 20-11-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin

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If you are a subscriber to my blog, or know me at all, you know I love local. Local produce, local business, local people, local crafts, local, local, local. And it’s not just Austin, but I love the uniqueness that local vendors bring to a community.

The holiday’s pose an interesting dilemma; do you go to one place (mall, big-box store) to get all your shopping done, or head to the local vendors? What are the local shops that are sure to have cool, unique gifts? Well, I thought putting together an informal non-big-box list of places that I like would help out my new-to-town, or big-box-dependent readers.

Of course, being Ms. Organization, I always try to push the clutter-free gift ideas, and focus more on experience related gifts rather than more ‘stuff’. But that’s for another post.

Enjoy, and if I’ve missed your favorite local shop, feel free to add it to the comments!

 

  • Emeralds is definitely one of my favorite boutique shops in Central Austin. It’s not ridiculously overpriced for being a boutique, and their sales are AWESOME. Perfect for the stylish fashionista on your gift list.
  • Blue Genie Art Bazaar is also a great venue to see tons of local vendors displaying their wares. The Bazaar runs for a few weeks and there is typically no entry fee and drinks are available for purchase. What more could you ask for?
  • Austin Gift Company – a great place when you have to send some Austin ‘stuff’ to people who came here for ACL, SXSW (fill in your favorite music festival here) and miss Austin. They have some cool non-cheesy tourist stuff and your basic Austin tees’.
  • imageAustin Homebrew Supply – Although I am not a beer drinker (yet), I have many friend who are and love this place. If you have a boss that loves beer, a gift from this place is sure to win you some brownie points.
  • Cherrywood Art Fair – this Fair only runs for two days (Dec 11, 12 this year) and is not to be missed. Free entry, totally local stuff, and of course it’s in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Austin… Cherrywood!

So there you go. Now you got my top 5 places for the holidays. So be cool and buy local!