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If you want to become a permanent resident of Austin, TX allow me to share with you some of the good and bad points of the city that may not be widely known to people from out of town, especially those coming here from another state.
I'm a native here, born and raised. I've lived here, worked here, raised a family here. I do not want to give anyone a predisposition by talking about my personal experiences however, so I'll just go over the facts.
First the bad;
1. Property is unbelievably high. Austin has one of the highest property tax rates in the world. I've seen property taxes in traditionally expensive places that are a fraction of what they are here. A piece of property that might cost you $300 a year in New York could be as much as $4,000/year here.
2. The job market is terrible. There is a reason for this. Austin has one of the highest student to permanent resident ratios in the nation. UT is one of, if not the biggest campus in the world, and that's without considering the multitude of other schools (Concordia, St. Edwards, ACC, Huston-Tillotson, the list goes on...). As a result, there is a gigantic labor pool that eliminates the need for competitive wages. Being that many college graduates don't leave, there are also few opportunities for gainful employment in specialized fields.
3. Traffic is some of the worst you will ever see. The reason for this is that there is only 1 interstate highway through the entire city. Coupled with the fact that Austin is a major transshipment point for goods going to and from Mexico and across the southern US, this results in a constant traffic jam where truckers, students, and people on their way to work or maybe just on a commute to pick up something for lunch all share the same roads. The traffic infrastructure is 30 years old here, literally, while the city has had exponential growth during this time. To make matters worse, there is a lot of tourism here and visitation, which stresses the highway system even more. Yes, at certain times of year it can take 2 hours to go 10 miles. That is not an exaggeration.
4. Crime is on the rise. While still not as bad as some major inner cities, Austin is a small city with big city crime. Lots of street crime along with organized crime, sexual assaults, hate crimes, and homicides.
5. Allergies. Yes, they're that bad. I'm not affected by them personally, but I've met people that have left only a month after moving here. For some people from out of state, especially from arid climates, it can be bad enough to encourage relocation, and in some instances emergency department visits. The only way to tell if you're to be affected is to plan a trip here and find out.
6. Lack of family friendly venues and activities. There is very little in Austin that's family friendly, and that which is, isn't all that worthwhile. The zoo is tiny and remote, almost entirely out of the city. The parks are mostly covered with graffitti and homeless people, along with thugs and hooligans in some places.
7. Not much in the way for entertainment in general. Sure there's the famous, "6th street" but once you tire of that there isn't much here in the way of entertainment. McKinney Falls State Park is close by if you like the outdoors, but chances are you'll be taking the 100 mile or so trip to San Antonio when trying to find something to do other than drink the night away on 6th.
8. Weather. There are not four seasons. As a matter of fact, there really aren't seasons at all. It might be 30 degrees on Christmas Eve and 95 degrees on Christmas Day. There is no consistency except for the humidity. Get used to taking a jacket out, and bringing it home on your shoulder. Using your heater and A/C in the same day is a regular affair as well. For some this isn't a big deal, but don't be surprised if you have to look at a calender to find out what month we're in.
Now understand, many of these points might not affect you if you are not a permanent resident here.
And for the good;
1. Texas has no state income tax, and Austin has no city income tax. This is a big bonus if you're moving from such areas that do.
2. Austin is a liberal pocket in a conservative state. The city is rather tolerant, so if you're into that sort of thing, this is a plus. The communities are quite diverse as well.
3. There are major events that happen here, such as SXSW. Yes, I know I said there isn't much to do in Austin, and I mean that in terms of a daily basis. But once a year SXSW comes around so if you like to go out and watch new and established bands, movie screenings, and the like you get a small window of time each year to enjoy this.
4. Austin, they say, is the live music capital. This is true. While there is a lot of live music, this goes hand in hand with the whole bar/6th/drinking thing. Furthermore, while there are many bands that play here, there aren't many established or famous bands that make this place a regular stop. Nevertheless, there is always live music going on somewhere.
5. People seem especially friendly here. Strike up a conversation with someone while waiting in line somewhere! Watch what can transpire. I have no scientific data to back up my claim, but I'm willing to bet that Austin provides for more random kindness than the average American small city.
6. Austin is rather pedestrian friendly. Elaborate efforts have resulted in a pedestrian friendly city center along with hike and bike trails (be wary after dark) and things like disk golf.
Of course, I'm sure that someone can come along and say something else good about the place, but when I'm pointing out "good" and "bad", I mean things that if not unique, are unusual when compared to other places. Every city has some kind of little league team. Every city has some kind of park.
Yes, I'm finally moving out. Opportunities have presented themselves elsewhere and it makes no sense for me to stay here. If you're young, just visiting, going to school, or just passing through (hopefully not by car), Austin might reveal its charm to you. If you're looking to be a permanent resident and things like high cost of living, poor transportation, crime, lack of social infrastructure, and a poor job market are causes for concern, it's time to consider alternatives.
Last edited by malignantpoodle; 03-24-2008 at 07:56 PM..
One could, of course, also live quite happily here for decades, as many have (going on 40 years in Austin and environs, myself, with the occasional foray elsewhere to show me that yes, this really is the best place for me).
As jimmyjack says, it's all in what you choose to find.
I think any place gets old eventually. That's why I moved away from my hometown. I couldn't imagine living in one place my whole life, no matter how good of a place it was. I am new to Austin and am living a few of the things you describe about Austin. Most of the problems like Allergies and traffic and taxes don't affect me yet. I've lived in some crappy towns that make Austin seem like heaven.
I think if I ever leave Austin I will miss most the people here... it's hard to beat the positive Attitudes here.
Certain people, when they decide to move, seem to feel like they need to convince others and possibly themselves that they are making the right decision to leave a place. In fact, I know someone personally who is moving from Austin simply because of a relationship he recently got out of and makes a point to mention how much he hates Austin and is loooking forward to leaving even though just a matter of weeks ago he brought friends out here and went on about how he loved it and would never leave. Of course, everyone has their own reasons for leaving a city, it's just that some people feel like they have to let everyone know how terrible it is before they leave. I think that's a big sign of doubting your decision. This post is a good example of that.
Car957 & behindthesun;
I tried to make my initial post as factual as possible. Of course, different people have different needs and desires. Obviously a snowboarder will not be happy here, but a college student that appreciates liberal community would fit right in.
In light of this, I tried to present only facts that transcend the majority of demographics. Just about everyone is affected by the job market, the infrastructure, or the weather. I don't find that many of the issues I bring up apply only to exclusive groups or individuals, generally speaking.
Having said that, I think I provided quite a bit of opinion when it came to the positive aspects. I for one think Austinites are friendly and tolerant. That's opinion. Sure, it's a popular one, but I can't refer someone to a link with numbers and double blind studies saying so. I can on the other hand, point to verifiable statistics that say that the cost of living is 70% higher than the Texas average, and that 18.1% of the population lives in poverty. As a matter of fact, most Austinites are so aware and often reminded of poverty enough that they voted for a homeless transvestite for mayor and he came in second place!
These facts exist whether I'm in love with the city, or hate it with a passion. Still, that I would bring them up brings about bitterness from those that love living here. I assume that on some level, it's taken personally. After all, some people have chosen to live here, and that there could be shortcomings pointed out in regards to the city may have this weird effect where people take personal offense in such matters. Or something...
behindthesun; you're absolutely right, and by no means is Austin the crappiest place there is, far from it! Believe me, it was never my intention to assert that Austin is the worst place to be. Heck, if I had to take a firm summary of a position, I'd have to say that it isn't even a bad place to be.
Where am I going? Somewhere that will have me missing out on the good and bad of Austin; Paris, France.
Car957; I sincerely appreciate the warm wishes. It really made my day after Jimmyjack's prophecy of "dark clouds" following me wherever I go. Thanks hun
Willy99: well, hehe thanks for the analysis I suppose. My decision is not an emotional one though, nor was I talking about how much I loved the place last week as in the example you provide. Some people leave for emotional reasons, some for financial. Others still might want adventure, or perhaps are running from a particular problem in their area. Some take a gamble and have to come back, while others plan for years and make very deliberate moves. Some need confirmation, some have doubts, some don't. So I think your example and explanation are not the only ones. That I would list the positive things about Austin, and say that some of the negative things may not apply, I don't really get where you think I'm trying to just tell everyone how horrible the place is. Perhaps I'm not the one doubting hmm?
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