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Hello, I have lived in Orlando since 2001. My time here has been ok, but I have always known Orlando would not be my utopia. Prior to moving to Florida, I lived in Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Though Florida is by no means the "true south", I have spent enough time in many southeastern states to know that I love the people and lifestyle of much of the south. I also never want to return to the long, cold, cloudy winters of up north. Unfortunately, I have only been to Texas for such a short period of time a few years ago, that I cannot form any kind of informed decision about it. I have been narrowing down my decision in several southeastern states, but feel I cannot re-locate until I check out a few places in Texas. I would prefer a climate that is less humid than central Florida.
I am by no means a liberal, but I am not really conservative either. I probably lean a little more to the left than the right because I find that I am very tolerant of a great many things and I am willing to listen to all opinions. I am also particularly fond of natural & alternative health, taking care of the earth, health food stores, wellness, bookstores, metaphysical, pilates, etc.
I enjoy the beauty of the natural outdoors as much as I enjoy a good themepark/waterpark. The beach is not a big deal to me, but I do like to walk it if I'm there. I prefer my hills & mountains & lakes without alligators way more. I enjoy antiques and neat little towns (hidden gems). I like to explore the countryside and prefer to have a lot of country roads which to take off on--I hate to go the same way twice if I don't have too.
I like traditional, colonial, and victorian architecture much better than southwestern. Give me brick, stone, and siding any day over adobe.
I am in the spa (skin care & wellness) industry--so I need a population base that utilizes these services.
I would greatly appreciate any comments & feedback from anyone who has lived in both Orlando and Austin and can give me insight with regards to comparing the two cities. Attitudes, weather, crime, cost of living, what you like and dislike about each, traffic, employment, unemployment, friendly or not, and so on.
I hope to make a trip out to Texas in the next few weeks and I know Austin is probably at the top of my list as places to visit. What should I see, what should I do, what should I definitely NOT miss? All of this as a prospective resident--not a tourist.
Any suggestions as to other Texas locales that I should consider would also be greatly appreciated.
I live in Round Rock now, and lived in Ocoee several years ago. I can't say that much, though, being a relative newcomer to Austin, and having lived in Orlando just before the real estate boom made it a pricey city.
Affordability: definitely Austin. Central Austin and areas close to downtown are very expensive, but it's far more affordable in Austin's 'burbs than in suburban Orlando.
Austin is more conducive to leading a "Stuff White People Like" lifestyle than Orlando. It's definitely less rednecky, even at Wal-Mart.
Austin is one of the friendliest places I've been. Seriously.
Both Austin and Orlando have a large population that aren't natives, but those living in Austin seem to embrace the city and adopt it as their own more so than Orlando. People seem to want to make roots here, as opposed to Orlando.
Austin is really more of a "great place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there" kind of city, unless you're into live music. There's not the abundance of tourist attractions as in Orlando, so it's hard to make recommendations about what to see. The best thing to do, IMHO, is explore; drive around the city, check out its neighborhoods, spend time with a laptop at Quack's Bakery or Progress Coffee, go shopping at a Central Market, get a bite to eat at the Magnolia Cafe or Kerby Lane, listen to KGSR, and generally go native for a week.
For neat little towns and outdoor stuff, you might want to head over to Fredricksburg. Its a bit of a drive from Austin...maybe 1.5 hours without hitting traffic in Austin, but it is a pretty nice small town with the German Texan heritage. As far as lakes go we have Town Lake downtown where you can rent a canoe or kayak, you can head out to Lake Travis for a much larger lake. Pedernales Falls State Park is a very cool place you may want to visit, along with Hamilton Pool Natural Area. Both of those places are within an hour west of Austin. Enchanted Rock State Park is about 2 hours from Austin and is a very cool place that I suggest visiting...its like Stone Mountain in Georgia, but nowhere near as touristy, and is thankfully lacking the Confederates chiseled in to one side. There are also some greenbelts in the city of Austin which are pretty nice, like the one along Barton Creek.
I'm a country road addict myself, however Austin sprawls for many miles west of town (the scenic side in the hill country), so you have to drive quite a bit to find any interesting roads. It doesn't sprawl very much on the east side of town, and there may be some good country roads there, but I haven't really looked for any as it is much less scenic than the west side of town.
My general opinion on the outdoorsy side of Austin is that there are a few very cool places (the ones I mentioned and other parks farther west of San Antonio in the Hill Country), but they all tend to be somewhat small and crowded on the weekends. There aren't any large expanses of public land, such as a National Forest, like you tend to have in other areas of the country. I'd imagine that it is MUCH better here with respect to the outdoors than Florida though! I went to Lost Maples State Natural Area yesterday (which I've attached a pic of to give you an idea of what the Hill Country is like) and it was absolutely beautiful, and I had the place almost totally to myself as it was a Monday, but it was almost a 3 hour drive from Austin. If you are looking for something along the lines of wilderness solitude or real mountains you aren't going to find it in or within a 2-3 hours Austin, but you will find some pretty nice areas that tend to be crowded on the weekends.
Thank you for the insights in both of the above posts. This is exactly the kind of information I am looking for. All cities seem to have their "good" and "bad" parts of town...Sometimes it seems as if the "bad" parts or "less attractive" areas are the ones that are easiest to find when passing thru a city...soooooo when I arrive in Austin, where is this area at so I can temporarily bypass it? It's that first impression thing...I want to see the other areas first and then put the "bad" into proper perspective.
I've come arcross a lot of info regarding what seems to be north & NW of Austin--Round Rock, Cedar Park, etc. but I am lacking info on areas south and east...How are these areas? What is it like between Austin and San Antonio?
The real estate is more expensive West of 35 as opposed to East. I hear that there aren't ANY cookie cutter subdivisions West of 35, but everytime I'm over there, it seems that I do see some so I don't believe that anymore (I'm being a bit sarcastic). East of 35 directly across downtown is historically the "bad" part of town, but compared to other cities it isn't really THAT bad, at least not lately with gentrification. The geography of East vs. West is also a consideration for people. It is hillier West and not so much East, although it isn't board flat, it's just more rolling hills and not rocky. It's blackland prairie soil. Although, according to my Texas Travel Guide Hutto, Taylor, Georgetown, East Round Rock and Pflugerville are considered Hill Country territory at least by their map. I'm going out on a limb here, but am going to say that East of 35 anywhere (North and South) is more diverse skin color wise than West of 35. There are good school districts here, but more of the exemplaries are West. People are friendly East of 35 too and they do many of the same things as they do West like hang out in the front yard, drink beers with their neighbors, have neighborhood parties in neighborhoods with the same type of amenities, including golf courses and community centers, parks, pools and walking trails. There are even a few smaller lakes this direction as well although they have no waterfront homes, but waterfront here is on the rivers and creeks like the San Gabriel and cottonwood creek. The lakes are in Granger and Bastrop. Georgetown has a lake and so does Pflugerville. Hutto is about to dig one. Of course they don't really compare to Travis, Buchanan, Inks, LBJ or Canyon, but you can drive boats and jetski's on them and fish and camp. I'm listing things I see as positives because most will post negatives because they just have a differing opinion. I could probably list some negatives too, but nothing is so bad here it's made me want to leave.
This may seem like a silly question, but I really would like to know--are the creeks, streams, lakes, etc. clear with sandy or rock bottoms..or are they muddy bottoms? I grew up in central Illinois where all the rivers & streams are muddy. In PA where I lived for 10 years, most everything was stone & rocky bottom so water was clear---which, is my preference. It certainly won't determine where I will live. Here in FL, it's mostly sandy bottom, but there is no way I am stepping foot in bodies of water here. I never liked the occassional fish nibbling up north---no way I'm going to see what I think about a gator or snake sliding by
You don't have gators do you? I would imagine snakes are another story though? Rattlesnakes? Water Moccasins? Other?
Most of the streams/creeks here are rock bottom, but the ones that are dammed up (or feed into a lake that is dammed up) will be somewhat filled with silt, while the faster the water flows, the more likely it is to be rock. The western part of the county is more likely to be rock, as well. Truth be told, I guess the eaiest answer is that most creeks have both conditions, depending on where you are.
Moccasins are fairly abundant in any body of water around here, although the colder (again, usually faster flowing) streams have fewer snakes. I have seen several BIG moccasins (4+ feet) in the San Marcos river, probably about 10-15 miles down from the springs, but not many (if any) within the first couple of miles.
Gators are generally further toward the coast...the Guadalupe has a load of them downstream of Victoria. It is POSSIBLE that there will be some closer to Austin, but they will be small and no threat, unless you are a poodle or smaller.....
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