There’s been plenty of buzz about Austin, Texas lately, from its blossoming tech-mecca status to the hype that emanates from South By Southwest every spring. But it’s got a handful of neighbors to the north with identities all their own, regardless of how close they might be to the weird, wild capital of the Lone Star State. Among them is Round Rock, a suburban utopia known as much for its sweet treats as for its resident tech giant. Here’s Estately’s list of 20 things to consider before moving to Round Rock, Texas…
1. Yes, it’s close to Austin.
Just a quick skip up the highway, Round Rock is indeed thought of as one of Austin’s suburbs, even though it’s officially its own city. But yes, you can hit cruise control (on off-peak hours, that is) and find yourself amid the lovable weirdness of the nation’s new favorite city within 20 minutes if you’re lucky.
2. No, it’s not actually Austin.
So, the thing about Austin is its weirdness, its left-of-center creative vibe and its abundance of locally-owned everything. Round Rock, on the other hand, is the quintessential American suburb, with manicured lawns, homeowner’s associations and more chain restaurants than you can even try to name. Austin is pedicabs, electric cars and cyclists: Round Rock is SUVs and family sedans. They’re geographically close, yes, but for the most part, their vibes couldn’t be more different.
3. It’s growing at a rapid pace.
In 2012, Round Rock earned the title of America’s second-fastest growing city, just after New Orleans, as its population grew by a staggering 70 percent in just three short years. Today, it’s still on a steady incline, with new residential and commercial construction abounding and plenty of new residents calling it home each day. Maybe its cost of living has something to do with that; in 2015, it was named America’s third most affordable city to live in.
4. You’re gonna be using the interstate.
Thanks to its convenient location, IH-35 is as much a local road used to get from point A to point B as it is an interstate. It’s a gnarly, snarly mess around rush hour on weekdays, but the rest of the time, it’s a convenient way to shave a few minutes off the drive from here to there, wherever “there” might be. Texas State Highway 45 is another high-speed shortcut frequented by as many locals as trucks and buses trying to move through the area as quickly as possible, so use those blinkers and keep your eyes on the road.
5. Looking for a tech job? No problem.
Not only is Round Rock where Dell is famously headquartered, far from the buzz of Silicon Valley; it’s also where tech giants like IBM and Samsung have offices of their own. It seems as if every third or fourth person you meet in Round Rock is an engineer of some sort, and there’s really no mystery why.
6. Round Rock has its own super-secret superhighway.
Not only is everything bigger in Texas; in some parts, it’s faster, too. For some reason, no one seems to have figured out that instead of taking IH-35 to get to the airport (or anywhere south of Austin), hopping onto Highway 130 can cut the drive time in half. It’s partially because the road seems to be some kind of best-kept secret that rarely sees heavy traffic, and partially because its speed limit reaches 80 mph along that stretch. Down south toward the town of Seguin, it goes up to 85 mph—quite literally the highest posted speed limit in the US.
7. It’s also got a secret underground cavern.
Well, it might not be entirely a secret, but Inner Space Cavern is one of those gems that only the locals seem to know about. Hidden for more than 10,000 years underground, the subterranean caves were found in the 1960s by a drilling team from the Texas Highway Department. Today, visitors can tour the cool, damp enclaves for a small fee. Just up the highway from Round Rock in the neighboring town of Georgetown, it’s a great way to beat the heat on a blazing summer afternoon.
8. And secret culture!
Sure, there are plenty of strip malls, subdivisions and fern bars with two-for-one specials, but Round Rock has some local flavor, too; it just takes a little digging to find it. The town actually has a small, quaint downtown area with mom-&-pop places like Round Rock Cafe, which serves made-to-order breakfast all day and has a cozy, down-home atmosphere with Texas hospitality to boot.
9. The neighbors are green tech pioneers.
Round Rock’s neighbor, Georgetown, has a whole lot more going for it than a cool underground cave: in 2015, it made a pledge to go green—as in, all the way green, adopting solar and wind power beginning in 2016 and kissing fossil fuels goodbye. It’s probably only a matter of time until its fellow Austin suburbs follow suit, Round Rock included.
10. For date night, El Monumento can’t be beat.
While Round Rock residents can’t take advantage of Georgetown’s progressive energy practices just yet, one thing they can get in on is one of its best restaurants, El Monumento, which is hands-down the perfect date spot in the area. Complete with great food, ambient lighting, bountiful patio seating and hand-shaved margaritas, it’s the place to be on date night, no question. Its neighbor, The Monument Cafe, is another beloved local restaurant with its own miniature farmer’s market onsite.
11. It has its own Tech Shop.
For enterprising folks with crafty ideas that need more than a garage and a couple of power tools to come to life, Round Rock is one of only eight Tech Shop locations around the US. That means people who like working on projects involving 3D printers and woodworking/welding/prototyping/fabrication tools can access a 24/7 workshop with all the toys they could ever imagine. With so many engineers living in Round Rock, this place is basically the hottest club in town.
12. And a water park!
Another neighboring suburb with lots of similar features, Pflugerville boasts its own brand new water park, opened in 2014. With a lazy river and 11 slides and rides to choose from, it’s a family’s best friend in the hottest months of the year, keeping kids cool and entertained in the dog days of summer. For most, it’s well worth the price of admission… and the ten-minute drive from Round Rock.
13. It’s well-known for its donuts…
A city with as many old-school tech boardrooms as streetlights (not a real stat) is bound to know a thing or two about donuts, so it’s no surprise that Round Rock Donuts are very much a thing in the land of subdivisions and office parks. The brand’s gotten accolades from the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food crew and been counted among the Food Network’s “top five donut dreams” as well. Consider your waistline warned (and your taste buds deeeeelighted).
14. And for its honey, too.
Honey is such a big deal in Round Rock, it doesn’t just have its own honey brand; it has its own beekeeping school, too. That’s a good thing, since healthy bees are crucial to the overall food chain we rely on to survive. So cheers to you, Round Rock Honey. Keep the good stuff flowing.
15. There’s even a minor league baseball team.
For locals who just want to be taken out to the ball game, there’s the Round Rock Express, a minor league baseball team that plays regularly at Dell Diamond, one of several large-scale, long-term investments the tech company has made in the Austin-Round Rock community. They’re actually a pretty respectable team, and about a dozen alumni have gone on to major league careers. Batter up!
16. There’s a world-class children’s hospital up the road.
Another way Round Rock’s most famous citizen has given back to the community is through the establishment of Dell Children’s Medical Center just up the road in the Mueller development of north central Austin. Its world-class facilities are well-respected in the local community, and for families who live in the area, it’s awfully nice to know it’s there.
17. Parts of Miss Congeniality were filmed in Round Rock.
Remember that Sandra Bullock pageant movie where she plays an undercover FBI agent? While the movie is set in New York and San Antonio, much of the film was shot in the Austin area, including an old Samsung office at the Round Rock/Austin border that stood in as FBI headquarters.
18. There are locally-sourced fireworks, races and other fun stuff.
Just because Round Rock is essentially a suburb doesn’t mean residents have to go all the way into the city for holiday celebrations, 5Ks and other community fun. Much of the Round Rock crowd heads to the Pflugerville celebration every 4th of July to enjoy fireworks over the lake, and other family-friendly events like races and festivals take place in the ‘burbs year-round, too.
19. It’s got one thing Austin doesn’t have…
While plenty of suburban dwellers tend to head into Austin for live music and nice dinners, there’s one thing that brings Austinites up to Round Rock in droves: IKEA. Situated just off IH-35, the cheap Swedish wonderland known for its seemingly-simple DIY furniture assembly is particularly packed on the weekends, and no sane person dares set foot there the weekend before UT Austin starts up in the fall. The same goes for the Round Rock Outlet Mall on tax-free weekend every summer. Be warned!
20. House Hunting in Round Rock
Ready to move to Round Rock? If you’re looking for a home to buy in Round Rock you’ll find Estately.com and the Estately iPhone App are the best tools for the job. You can search for homes by school district, drive times, Walk Score, and more. It’s simple, easy to use, and it updates every 15 minutes with any new homes put on the market. Download it today!