Moving to Austin

Archived Responses: 

related page: Visiting Austin
June 2004

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:

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
March 2003

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