Austin of Southlake? (Houston, Dallas, Plano: houses, neighborhoods, theater)
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Hi Everyone! I started a thread on this topic in the Texas forum last month, but I decided that I would continue it in the Austin forum as well since so many of you give such helpful advice. I'm afraid I don't know how to move an entire thread from one forum to another, so if you want to read my original post you will have to go to the Texas forum and search there.
I haven't kept this thread alive lately because I've needed to take a step back and reevaluate. For quite some time my thoughts were saturated with all things Austin and then recently, I've switched gears and have been consumed with researching Southlake. It is overwhelming and a bit confusing.
My family did spend 6 days in Austin in mid-August. We had a fantastic time. I found Austin to be full of personality and character, and I really found West Lake Hills to be beautiful. At every turn there were more mature trees and rolling hills and something different to see. I loved how it didn't all seem the same. Topographically, the area reminded me of Portola Valley/Woodside, CA, except the houses in West Lake Hills are more prominent (meaning they are huge and don't blend in with the nature, but very impressive nonetheless).
I was also surprised at how the heat didn't overwhelm us. We spent quite a bit of time outdoors and we didn't find ourselves running for the AC. That was a pleasant surprise. Down town Austin is so accessible, and I really liked that aspect. What really struck us was the absence of people - we saw plenty of cars driving around, but no one on the street (in the neighborhoods). I know, it was hot but coming from a place where we always see people walking dogs, biking, pushing strollers, etc...there was a conspicuous lack of outdoor activity. Maybe that changes in the fall/spring?
In any case, we really liked Austin and I think we could be happy there. My husband and I both admitted that a part of us is concerned we would miss some of the big city amenities (symphony, theater, museums, etc...). Not having a major airport with direct flights just about anywhere is a big concern for him (and a bit for me too).
Then on the flip side, my husband recently spent time in Southlake (unfortunately I wasn't able to accompany him). He found it to be clean and nice, but plain and lacking in mature tree growth and where he did find it, the homes were much older. He said the neighborhoods there are characterized by one house after the other, unlike in West Lake Hills where there is more nature/green areas in between neighborhoods. He was very impressed with the sporting facilities there (soccer, baseball fields, etc...) and felt like the town/culture was very kid-focused (a positive in his book). Having DFW airport nearby was a plus for him. He didn't get to see Lake Grapevine, so maybe that would have made a difference. Overall, he liked it but said it didn't have the personality/character of Austin.
Anyhow, we simply need to spend more time in each place. I think the way I feel today, Austin wins, but I can't discount the lower cost of living we'd have in Southlake and the greater accessibility to direct flights (my husband travels a fair amount). When it comes down to it, I don't want to move to a place where trees/green space are lacking. I also don't want to put my kids into a socially stressful arena, where "keeping up with the joneses" is a big priority (and from what I've gathered there is a lot of that in Southlake).
Okay, that's enough from me. Thanks for hanging in there and reading this far - I appreciate any insight you may have and/or any advice you can give.
I also don't want to put my kids into a socially stressful arena, where "keeping up with the joneses" is a big priority (and from what I've gathered there is a lot of that in Southlake).
Southlake is all about "keeping up w/the Joneses" as are many areas in the DFW area, e.g., Plano & Frisco. I think the further West you go, the pretentiousness lessens - Ft. Worth, for example.
Southlake is very nice and the schools are good, but there's a big emphasis on sports - the football team has been state champs several times.
If you can deal with the "Joneses" as neighbors, it's a nice place to live, and as you mentioned, very close to the airport, shopping & not too far away from museums & fine arts in Dallas & Ft. Worth.
Good luck w/your decision!
I got the same feeling about Southlake also as the other poster. Got a good friend from hs that lives there cause he works around there. Before you get your heart set on either area is your pocketbook in agreement? That's the first hurdle. With Southake you are going to have the DFW area and all it contains within an easy drive, pro teams for sports, big city stuff. Not so much in Austin. Sometimes not a deal breaker but sometimes is. Southlake has a more tame look in the landscape where as Austin, for good or bad cause of the fires not so much. Good luck I am glad I am not making that choice.
If "keeping up with the Joneses" is something that bothers you, I don't know that either of the areas would be the place I would choose to avoid that. Of course you will find families that aren't like that too, but that influence is definitely there. If you're looking for something kid-oriented, there are areas in Eanes ISD that offer that, but the actual city of West Lake Hills is not the place I would choose. Because of the lack of sidewalks, community areas to draw kids together like pools or a park and the winding and hilly roads, it's not a place where kids can easily play with neighbors in the same way you can in the flatter areas of Eanes (Lost Creek, Barton Creek West, Rollingwood.) It's not as appealing in many areas to push your baby in a stroller because again, there are no sidewalks in most places and no one wants to get hit by a car speeding around those blind turns. So what you saw that day really wasn't a fluke.
That said, there are numerous neighborhoods in the greater Austin area where you can get that kid-oriented feel--just not West Lake Hills itself. Pick any of the flatter areas in the Eanes attendance zone. There are also numerous kid-friendly neighborhoods all around town and in the suburbs that don't attend Eanes, but do come with good schools.
Not having a major airport with direct flights just about anywhere is a big concern for him (and a bit for me too).
This exact reason is why my family doesn't live in Austin. Before moving there, be sure to map out how long it would take to fly to wherever your husband normally has to go for business trips. When we did that, the extra travel time was not worth living in Austin vs. Houston. Air service from Austin is not great.
My husband is a road warrior too and the airport is his second home as he is gone more than he is home. When we decided to move to Austin last year we also tossed around moving to Dallas because of his extensive air travel and since he generally only flies American, DFW was even more appealing. However he decided when he is home he would rather spend that time in Austin than Dallas. Most of his flights do connect through DFW, but Austin's airport is very easy to use and the flight to DFW is just about a 1/2 hour. We love living in Austin and while yes Dallas would be more convenient we still know a year and half later we made the right choice.
I could go on with the links but you get the point.
You should visit Southlake and see what you think. It might just be the perfect compromise since your husband needs to travel a lot. You shouldn't worry about subjecting your kids to the "Keeping up with the Joneses" attitude. Parents are the ones perpetuating that crap and you're the parent so you can teach your kids otherwise.
The "keeping up with the Joneses" comment is one that seems to spark the most replies. I definitely want to clarify that this concern is not the main qualifier of our decision, just a concern. And I agree with those of you who pointed out that it is up to my husband and I to steer our family away from that kind of distraction. And I realize the phenomenon of keeping up with the Joneses is everywhere, but it does seem like a more relevant point to certain areas like Highland Park and perhaps Southlake, for instance. If you move into an area like Highland Park, you can only ignore the social pressures for so long until they catch up to you in some form or another -- and even if you have endless resources to pull from! There is a lot of that in the area where we are living now, but thankfully there is a big enough segment of the community that doesn't care for it, so it is fairly easy to avoid/ignore. I just want to be sure we place ourselves in an environment where there are more easy-going, relaxed-sort-of-people than not!
h886, thanks for the clarification on flat vs. hilly areas. We would definitely choose something flatter, but as far as the lack of outdoor activity we noticed that in Tarrytown, in Davenport Ranch, and River Place, as well! I'm sure it was the heat?!
Austin Traveler, thanks for highlighting Austin's cultural events. I keep telling my husband we can find plenty to do there, but your reminder is helpful.
It's nice to have options on where to move - I know plenty have the decision made for them. We could of course elect to stay here and avoid a move altogether. But the reality is the financial situation for the company my husband works for, as well as for us personally, would be significantly improved by moving to Texas. Not to mention the benefits we'd enjoy from great public schools, good family values, fun-loving people, etc... But I am definitely feeling the pressure since I have so many little ones counting on us to make the best decision. Thank you for your perspectives!
I am sure that it was either the heat or time of day or possibly the individual streets that led you to see little outdoor activity in Tarrytown. I have to drive through that area each morning and the streets around Casis Elementary are swarmed with kids walking, kids on bikes, and then parents, parents with strollers, and dogs and once the kids are in school folks stand in the street chatting . . . it is lovely but as a driver (who is always a bit late) it drives me a bit crazy! Clogged with yoga-gear clad moms pushing strollers, and hold dog leashes! WAYA is just down the road in T-town and filled with things for kids to do.
But for sure, the Jones and their neighbors live in Westlake, Eanes, and Tarrytown too. T-town is probably slightly more laid back, more along the lines of Lost Creek which is sorta the "south Austin" of Eanes/Westlake Hills.
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