- Mark Sorvillo and his family moved from Connecticut to an Austin suburb in 2019 and rented a house.
- But as prices soared over 58% in the pandemic, they moved to New Braunfels, Texas, to buy a home.
- Thirty miles outside San Antonio, New Braunfels has a welcoming and small-town feel, Sorvillo said.
When Mark Sorvillo, 44, moved from Connecticut to a suburb of Austin, Texas, with his family in 2019 to escape New England’s cold winters and its high cost of living, he expected to be a homeowner within two years.
In the meantime, Sorvillo, who works in video production, rented a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house with an office for $1,900 per month in Cedar Park, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Austin.
“Then, the pandemic happened,” and it put kibosh on his plan, he said.
Competition turned fierce as workers traded in their big-city offices in places such as San Francisco for “Keep Austin Weird” T-shirts, rich out-of-staters sought second homes, and deep-pocketed investors turned even more aggressive. As a result, house prices there soared 58% between the beginning of 2020 and mid-2022. Homes that Sorvillo considered, which were selling for about $325,000 when he arrived in the area, were now selling for over $650,000.
“It got out of control,” he said. “So when it came time to move, we said we couldn’t stay there. We couldn’t pay that price.”
So Sorvillo, like other Austinites looking for homeownership, packed up and moved again. He purchased a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in New Braunfels, a city in the San Antonio area, about an hour southwest of Austin.
New Braunfels: A city with a small-town feel
After the monthly cost of his rental property went up more than 26% to $2,400, Sorvillo decided it was time to purchase.
“I didn’t want to be beholden to a landlord,” he said.
At $375,000, he could swing the cost of the New Braunfels home. He took out a 15-year mortgage that costs him about as much per month as he’d have had to pay for his Cedar Park rental.
“We were incredibly fortunate. It was a very hot market, and it still is a pretty hot market here,” Sorvillo said.
He doesn’t feel like he had to settle. He and his family love New Braunfels. It’s a city of almost 100,000, only a half-hour drive from San Antonio, that spans just over 45 square miles near Canyon Lake and Guadalupe River.
It feels more like a small town than a big city, Sorvillo said.
“What we love the most here is the community,” he said. “It’s very quiet here, and everyone looks out for each other.”
The desire to live in a small town is popular with pandemic movers — it was the type of place that saw the most growth over the past two years, Pew Research Center said.
‘Move quickly’: The San Antonio area may not be this cheap forever
While home prices in the exurbs of San Antonio and other hot spots have lagged increases in the most popular places, they are catching up.
As of June, home prices in San Antonio had grown over 14.9% year over year, compared to the 5.9% rate in Austin.
“If people are planning on making the move, move quickly,” Sorvillo advised prospective movers.