One of the most unique and fun cities in America, I was lucky enough to snag an 8-week contract in Austin, Texas as a travel nurse. Austin is an eclectic city and once you visit you’ll realize what it means when people say, “Keep Austin Weird”. The food is incredible, the day trips from the city are incredible, even the wine is something to write home about. If you’re looking to take an assignment in Texas – keep your eye out for a contract in Austin.
While eight weeks wasn’t nearly enough time, I picked up quite a few tips and tricks that I’m excited and willing to share with you. Including what things to prioritize in the city, what restaurants to visit, and more.
Everything You Need to Know About Austin for a Successful Travel Nurse Assignment
Best Time to Be a Travel Nurse in Austin
The heat in Austin is NO JOKE. And add in the humidity and you’re experiencing some seriously hot summers. I recommend taking a travel nurse assignment in Austin in the spring or fall when temperatures cool down but you still have long days and sunshine ahead of you.
My experience: I traveled to Austin from April-June. April and May were incredible, but the second June came around it was unbearably hot.
Where to Live in Austin
RESOURCES/WHERE TO LIVE
One of the most stressful things about being a travel nurse is figuring out where to live! Know that the price to live in Austin is getting more expensive because of the number of people moving to the city each day. The way that I rationalize high rent prices is by knowing that this is just a small blip in life, a time to experience different cities, meet new people, and just have fun. The areas in Austin that I enjoyed the most were downtown Austin and South Congress. If you can find housing anywhere near those two areas you’ll be set.
When searching for housing I usually search on Furnished Finder or Airbnb. But keep in mind that Airbnb prices tend to be outrageous due to all of the extra fees. Because you’re renting a place for 3+ months, or in my case 2 months, it doesn’t hurt to message the Airbnb host requesting a discount before booking. Half of the time I’ve been told yes, and half of the time I’ve been told no.
For a more comprehensive guide on how to find housing as a travel nurse, read Resources for Finding Housing As a Travel Nurse
COST OF LIVING
As I mentioned earlier, the cost of living in Austin is on the rise due to people moving in. And in my experience, I had trouble finding affordable housing. However, according to PayScale the cost of living is 3% lower than the national average.
Travel Nurse Guide to Transportation in Austin
I highly recommend bringing a car to Austin. The city is spread out and public transportation is not a popular way to get around or the most convenient.
The main airport that services Austin is Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The airport is located about 10-miles southeast of downtown Austin.
The MetroRail is a 32-mile train system that runs from Leander to North Austin (and vice versa). For more information about using the MetroRail, including how to pay, make sure to check out this website.
Rideshare is common and convenient in Austin. Make sure to download both Uber and Lyft on your phone to guarantee the cheapest ride.
Hospitals in Austin/Texas Licensing
There are many hospitals and hospital systems in Austin. The children’s hospital is Dell Children’s Hospital, the largest hospital is Seton Medical Center, and another hospital system is the St. David’s Healthcare System.
Getting licensed in Texas is pretty easy compared to other states (California, Massachusetts, etc). Plus Texas is a part of the NLC so if you already hold a compact license then you don’t need to get a new license.
Prioritizing Your 13-Week Stay – What Should You Do?
Whenever I arrive at a new destination, I sometimes feel completely overwhelmed at all there is to see and do. I think to myself, how in the world do I accomplish all that I want to accomplish without wasting any time in 13 VERY short weeks (or 8 weeks)? Where do I even start? Well, that’s what I’m here for! Austin is brimming with things to do. Here is a comprehensive list of what to do, restaurants to eat at, bars to visit, and more!
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Paddleboard/Kayak on Lady Bird Lake – Lady Bird Lake is the perfect outdoor activity. You’re in the water so you stay nice and cool while getting top-notch views of the amazing Austin skyline. To rent paddleboards/kayaks head to the Rowing Dock, which opens as early as 9 am.
Rainey Street – Rainey Street is a fun and unique street of houses that have been converted into bars. You can go during the day-to-day drink, but the real fun starts at night. Either way, come hungry! There are tons of food trucks around Rainey Street.
South Congress Street – South Congress Street is the street to go to if you’re looking to shop at fun boutique shops. Head to Alan’s Boots for a taste of Texas boots, Cove for clothes, and Maufrais for hats.
Tube Down San Marcos River – Grab some friends and tube down the San Marcos River! The river is only 30-45 minutes outside of Austin making it the perfect day activity. You can rent tubes from Texas State Tubes, and off you go!
DAY TRIPS FROM AUSTIN
Driftwood – Driftwood is located about 25-miles southwest of Austin. It’s part of what is referred to as “Texas Hill Country” and is a fun area to visit if you want to get out of the city and drink wine. When you visit make sure to head to Salt Lick for BBQ and Duchman Family Winery for wine.
Fredericksburg – Fredericksburg is located about 80-miles west of Austin and is the biggest wine-producing area outside of Austin. There are 50 wineries in Fredericksburg (100 in “Hill Country”) making Fredericksburg quite popular amongst locals and visitors. Plus Fredericksburg has a cute downtown area so if you want to stay longer (or if you accidentally drink too much) consider spending the night. Read more about Fredericksburg: 5 of the Best Wineries in Fredericksburg, Texas.
Waco – One of the main reasons to visit Waco is to visit Magnolia Market. And let me tell you, it does not disappoint. Located 100-miles north of Austin spend the day visiting Chip and Joanna Gaines store, eat at their bakery, and soak in all things, Magnolia. Read more about visiting Magnolia Market: Planning a Trip to Magnolia Market – Everything to Know When Visiting.
RESTAURANTS IN AUSTIN
ATX Cocina – By far one of the best restaurants in Austin, ATX Cocina is an upscale Mexican restaurant.
Biscuits and Groovy – Biscuits and Groovy is an incredible food truck that serves biscuits and gravy. There are a couple of locations around Austin, don’t miss your chance to try it out!
Contigo – Contigo is the perfect casual place if you want to go and hang out with friends. There’s a huge outdoor area with seats and picnic tables.
Eberly – A chic restaurant, Eberly is perfect for cocktails and appetizers before going out for the night.
Irene’s – Open all day, Irene’s is a fun place to go for brunch. Irene’s doesn’t take reservations but they have a fun patio to hang out on while you sip drinks and wait for a table.
Kemuri Tatsu-Ya – Kemuri Tatsu-Ya is Texan, Japanese fusion food. With quirky decor and an incredible saki menu, it’s the perfect place to eat out with friends or on a date!
Loro – Another Asian, Texan fusion restaurant, Loro is a casual and laidback restaurant. A place where you order at the front bar, and that doesn’t take reservations, but don’t let that deter you. Go early to put your name in for a table and get drinks from the outdoor bar while you wait around to eat. Loro is popular so expect there to be a wait!
Perla’s – Perla’s is an incredible seafood restaurant with an incredible atmosphere. Located on South Congress Street it’s the perfect place for drinks and oysters after you’ve had a long day shopping.
Uchi – A few years ago Uchi was named one of the top sushi restaurants in the United States. When you visit Austin I highly encourage you to try to get reservations here. Make sure to plan well in advance!
BARS IN AUSTIN
Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden – Located on Rainey Street, Banger’s is a good place to go for food and beer before going out on Rainey Street.
Lustre Pearl – Also on Rainey Street, Lustre Pearl usually has a great DJ on the weekends. Plus there’s an incredible food truck that sells wings right outside.
The Blind Pig – The Blind Pig is located on Dirty Sixth Street. Dirty Sixth is a fun place to go out although prepare yourself for some pretty wild shenanigans.
Have you been a travel nurse in Austin? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!
If you’re looking for other ideas of where to be a travel nurse, check out these posts: