So you want to move to Austin...

>> 8.17.2012

Maybe it was the fact that we found someone to rent out our tiny garage apartment in less than 48 hours... or maybe it's the fact that our area made up the #2* and #3 fastest growing cities last year, but I've been feeling the urge to share more about the city I live and grew up in.
 *Many, many people move to Round Rock and work in Austin.

I took this picture just a few years ago- there are several new high rises now!

If you're one of the 80+ people moving here each day, there are probably a few common reasons why you're interested in Austin:
  • Jobs- Yes, our (and Texas's) unemployment rates are below the national average. We definitely have job openings here, but make sure that there is a market for your profession before moving! You'll probably find a part time job at a retail store pretty easily, but I can't promise you'll be able to use your marketing degree to its fullest (and you better have a good degree or experience because you're competing with University of Texas students). 
  • Cool stuff- You're right about this as well. We get a lot of our cool points from our festivals like ACL and SXSW. We also keep it weird by encouraging local businesses. That said, if SXSW was your only experience with Austin, you should probably come back again to experience everyday living.
  • Cool people- Our median age is really low thanks to University of Texas students hanging around that "cool stuff" drawing more twenty-somethings in. With that population come more healthy and  I can definitely see how a fifty-something can feel left out around here because things seem to be marketed towards younger generations.
  • Liberal atmosphere- True, Texas is generally conservative while Austin is generally liberal. There are always exceptions to this rule and definitely conservative pockets scattered around the city.
  • Cost of living- It's not as cheap here as you might be expecting (especially near the "cool stuff"). Compared to NYC or LA, yes, but housing is definitely pricey thanks to the rapid growth. Remember, we're renting out a 300 sqft place for $650 (including bills). Also, if you're buying a house, don't forget about that 2.31% property tax!
  • Weather- If you're sick of winter weather, you're coming to the right place! At the same time, this is NOT  the place for people who hate sweating. We're in the "hot" range from around May- September each year. Like, 90+ as the high every day and 95+ July to September.
Thrifty Little Tip: Barton Springs is free during the off season, before 8 am, and after 9 pm.

So, there is a lot of truth to the common reasons that we're drawing people in, but there are also several common things that you might find disappointing or surprising when you get here:
  • Transportation- Traffic is hooorrible and our public transportation isn't the best either. We just weren't ready to accommodate the growth.
  • Attitudes- I'd say that we're generally nicer than average around here, but there's a weird phenomenon going on where people feel like they own Austin. Like it was always cooler back in their day (or when they moved here). Once people feel like they belong, they think the new people don't. Don't worry, these people get over it once they get to know you.
  • Travel options- You can drive to one of the other big Texas cities (Houston 2.5 hrs, San Antonio 1.5 hrs, Dallas 3 hrs) or you can drive 6+ hours to get out of the state. The Gulf of Mexico does not compare to beaches on the coasts and you don't want to drive across the boarder of Mexico at this point in time. By plane, you should expect to have connecting flights if you're not traveling to one of the major US cities. 
  • Big entertainment- This means things like: no professional sports teams, no main zoo, no aquarium, and the big concerts skip us most of the time. We used to be like this with retail stores as well, but we've slowly caught up with the other big cities in recent years. 
  • Diversity- Austin is just not as diverse city-wide as most would expect a bigger city to be. 

With all of that said, I'll leave you with my big three tips for making the most of living in Austin:
  1. Live close to your work. You don't want to cross the river or depend on I35/ Mopac for >10 miles, trust me. 
  2. Live close to the cool stuff (whatever you think it is).
  3. Avoid chain restaurants and stores! I promise that you won't need them- just use Yelp to weed out the so-so places.
Anyone else live in Austin? Do you agree with the points that I've listed?


Allison @ House of Hepworths August 17, 2012 at 10:58 AM  

I love this post! I'm in austin too. I'm actually a rare native Austinite. I was born at Seton Hospital. :) I'm actually very far NW austin in the suburbs. Because I grew up in the suburbs and I still live in the suburbs I feel like I still don't really know Austin and all the stuff to do here. I spend most weekends moping around saying how boring it is to live here. I obviously need to get out more! August 17, 2012 at 12:21 PM  

Spot on! While originally a west Texan I moved here in 99. I am guilty of having to fight the urge of thinking "please stop moving here and listing ATX on every Best of list" . Mostly due to the traffic and the increased cost of living but I have met some wonderful people from all over the world and California of course;)

sallie August 17, 2012 at 1:55 PM  

i've lived in austin for 6 years and agree with most of your points! ...except the part about live close to work and live close to the cool stuff. my office is in westlake and i don't make the $$ to afford living near there. i live southeast, though, and i don't have to get on 35 or mopac so my drive isn't too bad. and i'd love to live more central near the cool spots, but again, it's much more expensive to live close in. one day maybe!

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog August 17, 2012 at 4:27 PM  

@Allison~ You're like a rare endangered species!

@Jess~ It seriously happens all the time. I realized one day that the new people share my love for Austin or they wouldn't be here. I'm so excited to see things like improvements to the Town Lake trail and I know that it wouldn't be possible without the tax money and support of the new people.

@sallie~ Oh, I agree with you. I think we all need to do the best we can with what we can afford.

And I don't think all of the cool stuff is downtown! For example, a lot of people would think the art, food, and coffee scenes are the cool things and they'd probably do better east instead of west. For others, the beautiful hill country is the cool part so east wouldn't be the best fit.

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