Moving to Austin
Austin, Texas is my hometown. (I'm a 4th generation Texan). I love Austin--but not Texas politics! We're moving to Davis because of the expense-- we've paid cash for a mobile home, 4 bedrooms/2 baths double wide in Rancho Yolo. You have to be 55 or partnered with someone who's 55, then you can be 45 yrs. old. Our yearly taxes will be $347. Yes, that's not a typo. The HOA fees will be $700. they increase $25 each year. Davis reminds me of Austin. -- BUT this isn't what you asked about. Austin RARELY has snow. RARELY. You'll get plenty of hot weather --- with high humidity (Davis is drier) Anyway, no worries about driving in snow. Texans ARE friendly, yeah! Because of Univ. of Texas, Austin is enough diverse, enough liberal, educated. Second choice would be San Antonio because of the Hispanic population. If you can put up with the weather, the blockheads who legislate, then you'll encounter delicious Tex-Mex food, awesome barbecue (something that no one in this state can do--Gawd!) Also, wonderful music, films. It is a very lively place. You could start off by volunteering, joining a liberal church, there's a couple of buddhist groups. Best of luck.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Suburbs of Austin
We are considering a move to the Austin area in the near future, and I was wondering if others had experience with Austin (specifically suburbs of Austin) and could recommend an area that would be a good match for a young, liberal family? We would need good schools and other like minded people in our community. We are hoping to find an area that is significantly less expensive than the East Bay. anon
I lived in Austin suburb, on other side of Lake Austin, for 3 decades (3rd generation Texan)--now here in east bay for nearly 5 years. For me, some of your requirements cancel out possibilities. I'll do my best to help however. Remember it's only one person's point of view!
Okay: Housing will be cheaper than here (just about anywhere in the US is) but in last 3 years Austin housing costs have risen significantly). Personally I like south, west & central Austin. Perhaps contacting some of the neighborhood associations would help regarding suburbs as well as Austin ''pockets''( http://ancweb.org/neighborhood-groups/ ) We lived west of Westlake, in a rural suburb, on other side of Lake Austin. Main road, River Hills, was beautiful. Our road was dead end, of which there are several off of River Hills Rd. It was/is a wonderful, friendly setting, had a vibrant neighborhood assoc, but definitely can't walk to a coffee shop, cinema etc as in Berkeley. BTW: Mass transit is archaic, a sad joke--all over Austin & the state, reflecting the tight fist of mostly conservative voters.
Best schools? Of all schools in Travis county (where Austin is located)it's the Eanes Independent Schools that wins a lot of awards. My son however attended St Stephens Episcopal school--on full scholarship. If you can afford that school; it's liberal, low-keyed about religion, and has great, innovative teachers & is one of the best private schools in southwest. Perhaps you can google Austin schools, award winning, etc. ...maybe find links to parent blogs, etc. I recommend also that you subscribe to ''Austin Chronicle'' to get a feel for the liberal view (and location) of open-hearted/open-minded people/things in Austin.
Really, there are 2 problems with Austin #1: it's surrounded by Texas (to wit: State-wide voters approved the carrying of personal guns on Univ. of Texas campus, beginning this coming August. Yes, students will be packin'pistols!) and #2: it's HOT in the summer,typically for 2 long months, mostly 100 degree temps--last ! year being the exception. But there's Zilker park with its awesome, spring-fed 'pool', lots of water events.
You'll find that Austin has one of the highest reading per capita population in nation, ditto for film goers, plus there's the music scene (OMG, I loved that) and writers & workshops galore. If you move there please consider being a member of Wheatsville Co-op, rather than Whole Foods (which was birthed in Austin).
NOTE: If you can move out further from Austin, you might consider Wimberley--south west of city. It has a good school system, and retains small-town feeling. We lived there for a few years too. Beware of living where Blanco and/or Guadalupe Rivers FLOOD however. Now, while calif/NYers are arriving in droves, real Austinites, real Texans in general, still outnumber them & this means you'll find that even total 'strangers' are polite and friendly-- something I still miss here in the bay. I visit every year, for a couple of weeks, taking in family, friends, environment, indescribable Tex-Mex food, etc. so probably my info is current enough. May all go well with whatever you decide. kz
Austin equivalent of BPN?
Hi BPNers. I just moved to Austin, Texas and the one thing I am definitely missing (other than the cooler weather) is the wonderful network of parents I found in the bay area. We do not have family or friends here, so it's been difficult to find a trusted resource. Does anyone know if there is an equivalent of BPN here in Austin? I know there are several families that have moved to Austin from the Bay Area and the information i found here on BPN and Austin seems not up to date. Thanks for any insight. anon.
We lived in Austin and did not find anything like BPN but because we were homeschooling (secular) we hooked up with a great group, http://www.main.org/aah/4-aah.htm#directory , who offered lots of good advice. Or you could join classes/activities at Barton Springs, e.g. the nature center, http://www.austintexas.gov/department/austin-nature-science-center and that might be a good way of finding community. Good Luck. Esther
Thinking about a move to Austin
I am looking to make a life change and I am thinking about moving to Austin Texas. I have visted the city for a short weekend and rally liked it, but did not see as much of it as I would have liked. I am single and have no kids, so moving would not be a problem in those areas, but am findng it hard to decide if I should take the plunge and move so far away, although I have lived in other states before (Oregon, Idaho). I am thinking of possibly eventually going to gradschool at UT but right now am just thinking about moving to a new city. I am looking to hear from people who have lived in Austin before and would like to share their experiences, good and bad. What did you like the most? What was the hardest adjustment for you? Any neighborhoods you would suggest? How were the people? All experiences and advice is welcome! Ready for a change
Austin is a great place and if you move there, you will be following many Californians who are also seeking a wonderful place to live that's not in CA. I just spoke with a real estate agent who said that he had been hearing from a lot of people moving there from the west coast. I lived there from 2004 until recently and it is a great city. It's the only place in Texas that you, as a Californian, will feel pretty much at home. It's energetic, fun, green, open minded (their bumper stickers say 'keep Austin weird'), health conscious, friendly people, and you don't pay income tax! Sales tax and property tax are not much different than the Bay Area, so enjoy a little more bang from your hard earned dollars. Everything west of I35, housing wise is safer, downtown is great but a little pricey, and Central Austin is a good place to look for a nice residential area that's easily accesable to all of Austin. Sadly they have no Trader Joes, but have Central Market which is similar, and Whole Foods headquarters is there. The only thing that got me down, having been born and raised in the Bay Area, was the heat and humidity. I could never get used to it. Hope that helps. Ex-Tex
I'm sorry I didn't see your original post, so I'm not sure if you were asking about specific things, but I wanted to chime in that Austin is a wonderful, cool, interesting friendly, relaxed town that most Bay Area folks would be comfortable in. It is not SF: not as urban, but also not as smug. The biggest thing that helped me adapt when I lived there after living in the Bay Area was to get over the fact that is not California, and enjoy the Texas-ness of it. No good bread, but kick-ass southern and TexMex food. Learn to love the heat and humidity by going to outdoor restaurants and music venues after dark, and swimming in the many beautiful, spring fed, municipal swimming pools. Love the local music scene and make sure you don't neglect the country music scene (believe me, even if you don't think you like country music, there is some homegrown, amazing music that you will find yourself loving, especially if you learn to two-step). Miss the bay, but enjoy the beautiful Texas Hill Country. And I really miss the slower pace and really nice people and comparative lack of smugness. another Texas ex
Moving to Austin
We're considering moving to Austin TX for a job opportunity. We're looking for information about raising a family, adjusting after living in the Bay Area, schools and neighborhoods, etc. I've looked at previous posts and they've hinted at some issues about diversity, which is a concern because we are Asian. I hope we can get some replies with some more recent information about personal experiences. We've heard it is a great place, but we are nervous about going to Texas and leaving the Bay Area. West Coasters
If you are moving to Texas, Austin is the place to be. Good music, good food, relatively relaxed atmosphere. I do think the asian population is pretty minimal there though. I would say it is about 30-40% latino. Maybe 10% black. A noticable pacific islander community. But other than that, its just a sprinkle here and there of other cultures. Except white of course. I have spent time there with my family. Never came across racist people, but of course i am white, so I might not know. soni
I grew up in Texas, went to university in Austin, am also Asian, and considering moving back to Austin to be near family. Yes, it is NOT as diverse as the Bay Area, however, Austin has many positive attributes- housing is affordable, no state taxes, public schools are good (Round Rock ISD, Pflugerville ISD getting more diverse due to increase population brought in by tech companies; Bee Caves, Westlake Hills and Lake Travis have great schools, wealthier neighborhoods, but tend to not be as diverse). You will find the people in Austin to be quite nice, friendly, and good people. Things we take for granted in the Bay Area like great produce, tons of ethnic eateries and small cars can be found in Austin, but are a lot fewer. My family tells me there's a new Asian shopping plaza opening up this year- they seem to be pretty excited about it. I just giggle. I've been looking at the schools and surrounding areas in Austin as well and I feel your dilemma. glangchaik
Possible Move to Austin
My husband is expecting a job offer from a really great company in Austin, TX. Recently, we and our 3 kids took a couple of trips there to visit, look at homes, schools, etc ... We all really liked the city, although I was struck by the OPEN SPACE outside of Austin -- WOW! The problem is, I am a 4th generation Californian and, while I have lived many other places since college outside of CA., I am having trouble getting over the hump of, ''Yeah, great place, Austin'' to ''Yeah, let's get out and move on to a quieter, slower pace of life, try something new ...''. I am not a diehard ''CA. is the BEST place in the world'' kinda gal anymore -- lots of traffic, lots of congestion, very little yard. I am looking for advice from those who have spent extended periods in Austin and what areas you might recommend.We are intrigued by the opportunity in that it would allow us to buy a home outright with a good sized yard and a slower, friendly pace of life. We liked the Hill COuntry a lot, but it too is getting expensive. I want to hear some scoop on the place!! I realize tht Austin is very liberal (yea!), but am honestly concerned about whether raising girls in that particular city would be a whole lot different than the other side of the tunnel (we are in Pleasant Hill) -- sounds silly to many, but is HUGE for us. Thanks -- NEED SOME ELBOW ROOM!
Two of my sisters also moved to Austin, TX. They were able to sell their homes during the run-up and buy MUCH larger homes in communities near Austin: Ridge Rock and Pflugerville, and have money to spare. That was a year ago and since then, one has already returned, despite knowing that she would probably NEVER be able to buy a home again in California. Although part of the reason was related to personal problems, I can tell you some of the negatives she experienced:
1. Austin is the allergy capital of the U.S. Especially Cedar Fever. It doesn't affect everyone, but when it does, it's very unpleasant and can take many years for someone to get used to, even with medication. I don't know when you visited, maybe you were able to avoid the pollen season, but it would be something to consider. For example, the other sister who stayed (no choice, a job transfer) has 3 children (2 are twins) and SHE is the one who is suffering from Cedar Fever.
2. Austin has extremes of weather and very strong thunderstorms and lighting storms. My sister's dog was very traumatized by the thunder. During the summer, the children stayed inside when they weren't at the community pool (because those large houses are in community/tract type areas).
3. Money. Although they were able to purchase a huge house, it also cost a LOT more to cool as apparently, one must have the a/c on 24/7 during most of the year. Their insurance was not as good as in CA; their deductible was large, they had to pay more for prescription medicine, etc. My bro-in-law complained that no one mows their own lawn, so he felt obliged to hire a gardener. I believe property taxes are higher, too.
4. The traffic is also getting bad due to the influx of CA who cashed out. I don't think that public transportation is too good in the suburbs.
5. Positives? Scenery is nice. Music scene is good, too. There are a lot of rivers and streams. The schools were good.
You'll probably hear from many people who are happy there. Every time we have a balmy day or it's 80 degrees in November, I am reminded why everyone wants to come here. I hope this helps you in making your decision. happy in CA
Moving to Austin
- Does anyone know if there is a good parents' network there? (I know I won't find anything like BPN anywhere in the world, but... one can only hope).
We're desperate and we don't know anybody there. Any comments would be appreciated! Berkelyan in Texas
Greetings- We have lived in Austin almost 14 years and have three children ages 5 to 9. Hopefully we can be of some help. Our beautiful new City Hall is smack in the middle of downtown and there are lots of wonderful neighborhoods within 20 minutes (or less) of downtown. Austinites will complain incessently about traffic (and housing prices) but if you are moving here from either coast you will find both the traffic and the housing much more reasonable than what you are used to.
Most of the neighborhoods between I-35 (to the east) and Mopac (a highway named after the railroad it parallels) (to the west) and Ben White (southern border) and Anderson Lane or 183 (northern boundary) are attractive and desirable. Houses are more expensive closer to downtown, with older, more established neighborhoods. Most of the public schools in this area are good. We love the public school that two of our daughters attend. We live in the Allandale neighborhood, approx 5 miles north of downtown and 3 or 4 miles north of the University. I can get to City Hall in an easy 15 minutes in the morning, coming home at 6:00 may be closer to 25 minutes. Most, not all, neighborhoods further out are much newer and less distinctive. Of course, there are some beautiful neighborhoods on Lake Austin with prices to match. Our preference is the center city.
I can't offer much on day care. We are past that now. Just know that there are lots of parents demanding the same quality day care as you, so there is a market for it. If you want to write back, we can provide you with more specific information and hook you up with other resources. With UT and Austin being the state capital, there are plenty of resources and networks to get tied into. If you are actually working for the City of Austin, I believe that they should have information on daycare and related resources as well. I have several friends that work at City Hall so we can investigate that for you too. Larry
Moving to Austin or Charlotte
We are moving out of the bay for cost reasons. Deciding between Austin Texas or Raleigh/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. We would love to find some diversity like the bay,affordable rent and good public schools, one of our children has autism. The Kids are elementary age. Thanks so much Natalie
Two of my sisters moved to Austin last year for cost reasons. They sold their homes, and with the money bought mini mansions in Pflugerville and Ridge Rock (?)
The transition was not easy for either of them. One has already returned (at a huge loss). Problems ranged from allergy problems, low wages, no unions, very high property taxes and extreme weather. We're talking sun one minute, hail the next. Really loud thunderstorms (very hard on their dogs), hot summers (think 24/7 air conditioning)and very cold winters. Auston has a beautiful lake and a lot of museums, a vibrant night life, but in the summer, they were in the house until evening. Also, due to development, the traffic is getting as bad as it is here. However, they did say that a lot of Californians are moving out there - there is a huge cost differential in house prices, but check out all the other costs (utillities, property taxes, etc) to come up with a better cost/benefit analysis. Good luck whatever you decide.
They did not live there before moving. I don't know about NC, but I definitely recommend that you visit Austin before moving. Be aware that most of the message boards like on About.com, are populated with Austin realtors. anon
Living in Austin
Has anyone asked about information on Austin, Texas recently? I'm surprised that I didn't find anything in the archives. Seeking information on the usual topics- good family communities, state of schools, living in Austin in general. We have the option to relocate there and are LOVING looking at houses online compared to the houses around here. Think this is a real consideration and would love any thoughts. Lone Star State may be calling my name...
Hi. I'm a Texan but haven't been back to my home state since 1989. I've considered Austin. Most people I know in Texas consider Austin the nirvana of the state. However, Austin isn't doing as well in this economy than one would hope.
The economy is soft and finding work in high tech there is not that much better than here. The cost of living is less, but the housing market is higher than one would expect.
I suggest that you read this article from Inc. Magazine's online site: http://www.inc.com/bestcities/index.html
It talks about what they consider the most important elements for a city to thrive. They consider the diversity of the business' in the city, small business development, cost of living etc.
On their list of top large cities to do business, Austin ranked 19 out of 67. San Francisco rated 61, San Jose ranked 67, Oakland 31, San Antonio 4th, and Atlanta 1.
Of course you have to decide for yourself what will work best for you and your family beyond what the ''experts'' say.
As a Texan, I think you should know that ''culture'' is a state of mind in Texas. You can find funky, cool things in small towns in Texas you never knew existed. For the most part, the ''culture satellites'' in Texas are Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas/Ft. Worth.
If you have any other questions about Texas and Texas culture, feel free to contact me. beth
I grew up in the Barton Hills area, near Zilker park. It was a wonderful community (15 years ago, anyway). I've visited it since, and it seems just as nice now. Elementary schools were good in the old days, and I visited a school fair at Barton Hills Elementary in 2002 that looked just like I remembered it from my childhood (except it's all much smaller than I remember it!) Congratulations on moving to Austin. It's a wonderful, liberal, family-oriented community! kck
I lived in Austin as a grad student and really enjoyed my time there. Austin is pretty progressive, even though the rest of Texas is very conservative. There is much to do there. Lots of great music all the time and especially during the SXSW festival. There's great outdoor space (e.g., Barton Springs, if it's still open, is a jewel of a natural spring pool in the center of town.) It does get very hot in the summer. The rest of the year the weather is nice. I lived in Hyde Park, north of UT. It was a great neighborhood of mostly families and hippy former grad students. With UT and the state capitol there, Austin gets a lot of good shows (music and otherwise), speakers (Clinton came when I was there), etc. Have fun exploring a new town! Cindy
Hi - My sister, her husband and their two young daugthers live in Austin, TX, and here's what she has to say.
Family oriented community. Many of the neighborhoods are arranged by subdivisions/areas. These subdivisions/areas vary by demographics. Near downtown, many of the subdivisions/areas are non-kid focused, but for example, areas like Tarrytown, although close to downtown are dotted with kids here and there but elementary schools are not necessarily walking distance.
Other areas, such as Circle C (South Austin), Canyon Creek (Northwest Austin), Steiner Ranch (North Austin) are very kid- centric communities. They are self-contained subdivisions with their own Elementary schools, parks, pools, tennis courts, etc. Neighborhoods are very involved with events such as 4th of July, Holiday parties, etc. Close communities with family feel. Lots of cook-outs, BBQs family style with the neighbors. Only drawback of neighborhoods like this is that you only have 2 or 3 homebuilders to choose from, so the neighborhood has many homes that look similar versus a Tarrytown that has ecclectic mix of homes.
School systems are hit and miss. Texas is based on school rankings of test scores, quality, etc.: Blue Ribbon, Exemplary, Good, etc. Be sure to find out the elementary, jr. high and highschool and their rankings.
I personally favor the Round Rock Independent School System. They have been ranked Blue Ribbon for a number of years and are known throughout the State for their teaching awards and innovation. Round Rock is a city North of Austin (where Dell is headquartered), yet Round Rock ISD is located within some of the Austin City proper locations (ie, Canyon Creek)
I live in Canyon Creek and am a huge fan of my neighborhood. Being a native Californian, I feel right at home. I have 4 neighbors right around me that are from California. Austin is unique in that it is full of Texans with down-home friendly attitute, yet is has the high-tech influx which have many Californians flocking to Austin. Furthermore, the night-life, culture, education (Univ of Texas), and beautiful hillcountry with 3 lakes, makes Austin definitely a destination spot. Hope this helps. Good Luck!
I LOVE Austin. I lived there for 3 years, from 1988-1991, before I moved here. Austin is a delightful city. People like to say it's the ''Berkeley of Texas,'' but let me tell you, you will not find a city like Berkeley (or Oakland or San Francisco or Albany or . . .) in Texas. It is much better for liberal types than Houston or, God forbid, Dallas. I always tell this story: When I lived in Austin, people thought I was a Communist. When I moved to Berkeley, people thought I was a Republican. That about sums it up, politically speaking. It is a beautiful city, very affordable, clean, friendly, with lots of fun things to do. The music scene is famous. The food is amazing and cheap. The housing is laughably cheap. There is an incredible running community; lots of people working out. I miss it and always say if I weren't black, Jewish and a lesbian, I'd move back in a second. I don't know about the schools because I didn't have a child when I lived there. The weather is something you might want to think about seriously. It is unbelievably hot there in the summer. I grew up in West Africa, and I was never as hot in Africa as I was in Austin. In the summer, people just dash from one airconditioned place to another. It can really be oppressive. Last time I was there in July, I went running at 5:30 a.m. and it was already 90 degrees. Also, as an African-American, I found the city to be pretty segregated. White people and black people don't hang out together like they do here. The Jewish community was also pretty small. The other issue is that Austin is a political oasis (if you're liberal) in a conservative state. If, however, you drive 2 hours from Austin, you will find gas stations that do not allow people of color to use their bathrooms (or at least that was true back in the early 90s), which I found quite disheartening and scary. The Klan (that would be the Ku Klux Klan) marched at the capitol while I lived there and that was pretty alarming as well. Overall, it depends who you are and what you're looking for. It's a great little college-centered (University of Texas) city. It's an easy place to live. Every time I go back there for a visit, I feel so . . . relaxed! If you own a house here, you will be amazed at what you can buy there, although that's changed a little as the city has grown. Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions. Noel
We might be moving to Austin, TX for my husband's job within in the next year. Does anyone have any recommendations on areas to look for housing which would be a great place for a new family (1st baby due 8/03) and/or great places/centers to meet other young couples with kids? Any info at all on the Austin, TX area would be most helpful as a starting point. Thanks in advance for your help.. Suzanna
You should check out this month's Whole Foods free magazine ''delicious living'' , which is at the end of the checkstands. It has a short piece about Austin, TX included in its article ''Five cities that inspire''. Sounds like a nice place to live. Joan
Hi. I'm a ''naturalized'' Texan. I was raised in East Texas from the age of 3-18. My family lived in Bryan/College Station for the most part. We moved to Houston in when I was in High School. Sadly, my family left Texas in 1989 for good. However, I still know a bit about Texas and I hope I can help you. Austin still retains some of it's charm from when I was a kid. Keep in mind that it is a small town and prides itself on it's small, ecclectic, livable image. I don't know if you have any interest in Punk Rock, but the Butthole Surfers hail from Austin, Texas. Craig's list has a pretty active bulletin board in Austin. Keep in mind that there is NOWHERE like Northern California. I've lived in Oakland for 7 years after moving here from Chicago for 7 years as well. Oakland/Berkeley/San Francisco took a while to get used to for me. However, since our economy is SOOO bleak and I'm looking at the bigger picture too. I'm re-considering my home state. Also, think about Houston, and San Antonio. Dallas is (and always will be) BORING, REDNECK, AND ULTRA CONSERVATIVE. email me if you have more questions! Beth