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ATX 101: our guide to becoming an Austin resident

Becoming a new resident is easy with our Austinite 101 guide.

The Austin skyline, as seen at nighttime

The Austin skyline has seen some changes in 2022 — and even more are yet to come.

Table of Contents

Picture this: You just moved to Austin and you need some help with the practicalities of life (we can’t just sit back and float Lady Bird Lake all day, unfortunately). That’s where we come in. Keep reading for Austinite 101, our guide to all the things you need to know as a new ATX resident.

Kayaks on the lake, as seen from above

Millions of locals + tourists visit Austin’s Lady Bird Lake each year. | Photo by @sheislisamarie

The essentials

Voter registration
Make sure you’re eligible and registered to vote, find your polling location, and preview upcoming elections and sample ballots here.

Driver’s licenses and vehicle registration
New residents in need of a Texas driver’s license will need to provide proof of US citizenship and Texas residency, Texas vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, proof of your identity (in the form of a driver’s license, passport, or ID card), and Social Security documentation.

To register your car in the state of Texas, you’ll need to bring proof of car insurance, proof of your identity, and a Vehicle Identification Number and registration receipt from the previous year to any Travis County office (such as the Texas Department of Public Safety). You can also renew registration online.

Initial registrations may be subject to a base registration fee of $50.75.

You can make an appointment at any county offices to obtain a Texas driver’s license or register your vehicle.

Healthcare
Establishing yourself with a primary care provider is one of those things you’ll be glad you did when you need one. Reach out to the professionals at Baylor Scott & White, Austin Regional Clinic, or UT Health Austin, to name a few. Pro tip: Websites like DocSpot filter physicians by location, patient reviews, insurance, language, and more.

Three dogs looking at the camera at Auditorium shores, with the skyline behind them.

Take in the skyline while your pups enjoy a day at Auditorium Shores.

Educational needs

School registration
Prepare your student for the school year by registering them with one of Travis County’s many Independent School Districts, like Austin ISD. Here, you’ll find your school zone (based on your home address), a list of registration and immunization requirements, and the student entry form. With your required documents in hand, you’ll then make an appointment at your student’s zoned school to complete the registration process.

For information on Austin’s private schools, check out Austin Relocation Guide’s list.

Library card registration
If you think libraries are only for renting the occasional book, think again. Register for a library card at your nearest Austin Public Library branch, to take advantage of:

  • Language learning services
  • Events
  • eBooks, music, and movies
  • Online databases
  • Private meeting spaces for groups
  • The seed library
  • Home tools
  • And more library perks

To get your card, you’ll need proof of identity and proof of address. Austinites of any age can apply for a free card to be used at any APL branch.

The Austin Central Library

The Austin Public Library offers resources to learn 100+ languages.

Photo by ATXtoday

Home necessities

Recycling
Thanks for thinking green. For everything you need to know about recycling in Austin, from where to place your bin to pickup times and accepted materials, check out our guide.

Utilities
Moving is exciting, but no one wants to unpack by candlelight. Establish your services with Austin Energy by creating an account or updating your address in your existing account. Pro tip: you can save money with certain Austin Energy usage rebates.

Internet providers
No connectivity issues here. Check out some of the internet providers in the 512:

A circular, fish-eye-looking mural with common ATX buildings and characters.

Can you see any landmarks?

Photo by Wally Gobetz

The ultimate Austin initiation

Having a Texas driver’s license and a 512 (or 737) area code may qualify you on paper, but you’re not officially an Austinite until you’ve taken part in some local fun that is only found in the Capital City.

Live Music
It’s time to get to know Austin’s many resident musicians, like Jackie Venson, Shakey Graves, Gary Clark Jr., Black Pumas, Spoon, and Asleep at the Wheel.

While you’re at it, explore some of Austin’s historic music venues like Antone’s Nightclub, The Continental Club, The Saxon Pub, Historic Scoot Inn, Historic Victory Grill, and Stubb’s Bar-B-Q.

Get outdoors
Soak up some Central Texas sunshine with the Austin area’s many natural wonders. Consider a trip to Barton Springs Pool (pro tip: go on a weekday to skip the crowds), visit the Congress Avenue Bridge from March-November to see the city’s bat population at dusk, hike up Mount Bonnell for a breathtaking view of the Hill Country, or drive to Hamilton Pool to take a relaxing dip.

Get a pet
Around 80% of Austinites own a pet, so if you want to fit in, consider adopting a pet from local organizations like Austin Pets Alive!, the Austin Animal Center, or Austin Humane Society.

Is there something you’re still left wondering about to get you properly established in Bat City? Ask us your question and we’ll do our best to answer it for you, like a good neighbor.

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