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This is for those who are thinking of relocating. Here was my experience. I came out with my wife and 5 month old daughter. My only expecations were from this site.
In the aiport, we were looking for the car rental area, and as we were talking, someone came by and pointed out where is was. Very nice I thought. The first thing I noticed was the heat. It wasn't a dry heat like Vegas, (unbearable) it was more humid heat. Although, it wasn't too bad. I knew that A/C was going to be a necessity, though. So much for gas prices being lower, I live in California, because it is offset by having to run the a/c in the car the entire time.
The next thing I noticed was the traffic...there was NONE. I was driving on 71, and it looked like I was driving in the middle of Kansas because no one else was on the road. Who put together the road system here, a 3rd grader? What is wrong with these people? You have to get off the freeway and drive a mile on the frontage road before you know you have to. Once you get off the freeway, you have to go another mile before you get to the road you want to exit. And, if you miss the exit, you have to go another exit and make a weird u-turn back onto the freeway and try again. And the traffic lights? Why are they 2 minutes long? Where I am from, you have a traffic light that allows both opposite lanes to go, not just one side, then another side, then another side and then the last side. No wonder you have to wait 2 mins. or longer at each light. Then, out of no where, there are traffic lights in the middle of the freeway. I am sorry, but I think my 5 month old could have done a better job. No wonder Austin has so much traffic problems. BTW-the traffic here isn't very bad. You have about 1 of traffic in the morning and in the evening, but then it is done, and no traffic during any other times that I could figure. And that traffic is only on 2 freeways, 35 and 1. And the morning traffic ends by 9:00 am. I made it from south austin to round rock in 22 mins. and I wasn't speeding.
You have a lot of cops on the road. One strectch of road, we saw 5 cop cars stopped giving traffic tickets. Cops were all over the place. I kind of wonder why there aren't more drunk driving accidents since it is a "bar town" but maybe it is because someone is always a designated driving with a group of people because there are so many cop cars out everywhere.
We also noticed that there aren't very many people out on the streets. We went to neighborhoods, and downtown on the weekend, and all over and there is no one out on the streets. Is it because it is so hot?
The first place we ate was Diner 24 or 24 Diner, (I don't know which one) and we had the fried chicken and waffles. It was very good and it turned out to be the best meal I had the entire time. We were told to eat at the Salt Lick, but I was kind of dissapointed in the food and the portion size. I thought everything was bigger in Texas, but I found myself asking if the meal was going to be big enough to fill me up everytime we went out to eat. I am not a big person, 5'8" 170 lbs. We were told to go to Round Rock donuts, and they were okay, but nothing better than Krispy Kream would be. We also headed over to Oasis, which was pretty cool. It had a line very long just to put your name in and then wait 20-30 min. but it was worth it. Oasis overlooks Lake Travis and we went for the sunset. It was a nice experience. Everyone clapped when the sun went down. I thought that was kind of funny. I had the diablo shrimp stuffed with jalopeno pepper and wrapped in bacon. It was just okay and I found myself hungry again, so I had to order dessert, which was really good. We also ate at Magnolias, another place to wait, but it was pretty good too. You might be wondering why I am telling you all the places we ate...well I think that is what people do alot here. They eat and socialize, then they exercise in the heat and melt it all off.
Downtown was full of bars and little restaurants, but we couldn't find a shopping area. There was shopping on 2nd street, but there weren't very many stores. I think it would be an awesome place to go to college. Because there are so many bars.
There are very nice people here. Probably the nicest people in any area I have been. And everyone said it is a great place to live. I think that you have to love to go out to eat and love the water and outdoors because that is all I could figure out to do. I may have missed some things, but that was my impression. I found myself struggling to find something to do, that has a lot to do with having a young child with me. We are not really into water, so that takes a lot of activities away.
On our way back to our car, we rode the express bus and were talking with another group of people looking to relocate and they said the same thing about the people. They asked where everyone was as well. Maybe I am just used to there being a bunch of people around, but I found it strange that the town felt abandoned.
There is no need to bash me or anything I have said. This is just my experience from someone who has never been. You are welcome to tell me things that I may have missed, but I wrote this for people who have never been and might be considering relocating. I hope it gives some perspective on the area.
I can't imagine where you were that seemed empty to you. Were you in neighborhoods on a weekday when everyone was at work? There are always a ton of people downtown, on Town Lake or on South Congress just about any day or time.
Were you here last week? UT is out and we are in the hot season so lots of people have left town for break and those of us that are here year 'round are inside enjoying air conditioning. My husband and I went for a walk around Town Lake on Saturday and it was really quiet, of course the heat index was 103 when we went so I am sure that had something to do with it. He went back himself the next day at 10 AM and said there were a lot more people there than the day we went. This time of year, you see people out in the AM but most are running for in-doors by noon.
We never did anything when our son was five months old either and we were in Seattle where there is absolutely a ton of things to do. That's life with a baby. What kind of things do you do in California with a child that age?
There are museums here, there's the wildflower center, there are many opportunities for daytrips, there are festivals, there is live music (every other Wednesday over the summer a local radio station sponsors a free concert at Zilker Park) once your little one is a bit older there are a great number of public pools and parks.
Did you go to the Salt Lick out in Driftwood or in Round Rock? I have never been able to eat an entire plate there because the portions are so huge, but I always go to the one in Driftwood. Sorry you didn't love it the way we do. We just went down there a couple of weeks back with some new residents (someone I actually met through City-data!) and she and her family loved it. But we went on the weekend when there was live music so it made the trip much more festive.
I think there are a lot of things to do here but they are not "in your face" so you have to discover them over time. At least that's been our experience.
I'd rep you but it says I have to spread it around first. I always appreciate trip reports, whether they are good or bad!
Based on yours, I'd say you were disappointed. And that's fine, I could definitely see that coming from someplace like the Bay Area or SoCal. The fact that you didn't see so many people outside is likely because of the heat this time of year. There are some brave souls, especially on the trails/greenbelts, but it's nothing like a place where the outdoor weather is about the same as the indoor weather.
Did you like any of the neighborhoods you saw? Did you make it out to the SoCo area?
Finally, I'm just curious -- when you said you had trouble finding something to do, what exactly were you looking for? I agree that a big part of life here is restaurants, bars, and music... and a lot of that isn't geared towards kids. There are some museums, IMAX, activity centers, etc. But no theme parks, water parks (well, just little Volente), aquarium, real zoo or planetarium -- which is a bit weird for a city of this size. However, much of that can be found in nearby cities like SA, Waco, New Braunfels, etc.
Anyway, thanks again for the trip report, and good luck wherever you decide to live.
Very interesting. So I take it that you won't be relocating here? I'm also from the Bay Area, and we just moved here a month ago. Of course not every city is for everyone, and I'm sure you have found out for yourself that Austin is not like the Bay Area even though some try and compare (which I never got why they even feel the need to compare). We happen to love Austin, and the funny thing is right now we are back in San Francisco for a couple of weeks due to a commitment we had here before we moved. I have to say that I am homesick for Austin, and this is from someone who is a San Francisco Bay Area Native.
I find the restuarants in Austin really good, LOVE the Salt Lick (thanks Jennibc), but it doesn't sound like you went to the one in Driftwood. The roads are a little strange, but I will trade them any day over 101 or 880. We were looking for something slower paced and at least for us Austin is perfect. I hope you and your family do find the place just for you.
Just curious which area of California are you from?
The heat seems like a real downside to Texas, I'm not sure I can deal with 90+ degrees with high humidity for 5~6 months of the year. How well does it cool down at night? I remember my first night in PA was during a heat wave (high humidity there too) and in typical California fashion opened all the windows.....of course it did nothing. No breeze, it remained hot and sticky. I paid my landlord for an AC the next day.
I almost laughed out loud about your comments about the road system. When we visited for my husband's interviews a couple of months ago, we thought the road system was very strange with how the frontage roads are set up. After a couple of days, we seemed to understand it a little more, but we were quite confused our first night there as we were trying to find the building that he was to interview at the next morning.
I'm not an Austinite yet (we'll be moving in the next couple of months), but my guess would be the same as everyone else as to why you didn't see people out and about...it's too hot! I'm a parent as well and have found a couple of websites with kid activity suggestions and reviews (I'll list them below). We aren't really into water activities either, but I have a huge list of activities planned for my kids once we move based on these sites. It seems to me that there is a ton to do with kids in Austin.
Who put together the road system here, a 3rd grader? What is wrong with these people? You have to get off the freeway and drive a mile on the frontage road before you know you have to. Once you get off the freeway, you have to go another mile before you get to the road you want to exit. And, if you miss the exit, you have to go another exit and make a weird u-turn back onto the freeway and try again. And the traffic lights? Why are they 2 minutes long? Where I am from, you have a traffic light that allows both opposite lanes to go, not just one side, then another side, then another side and then the last side. No wonder you have to wait 2 mins. or longer at each light. Then, out of no where, there are traffic lights in the middle of the freeway. I am sorry, but I think my 5 month old could have done a better job. No wonder Austin has so much traffic problems. BTW-the traffic here isn't very bad. You have about 1 of traffic in the morning and in the evening, but then it is done, and no traffic during any other times that I could figure. And that traffic is only on 2 freeways, 35 and 1. And the morning traffic ends by 9:00 am. I made it from south austin to round rock in 22 mins. and I wasn't speeding.
A perfect description of Austin traffic.
I would add, do NOT expect it to change. Unfinished ramps, roads and flyovers are and Austin tradition. And the one at a time street lights, so much gas idling away up to the atmosphere..
Last edited by Driftwood1; 06-22-2010 at 06:42 AM..
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