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Old 12-25-2011, 12:53 PM
 
37 posts, read 68,119 times
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Sorry guys, I realize that I've been all over the place with what I'm saying so it's hard to tell what I already know about Austin and what I have yet to learn. I do not have any expectation that I will live in the core. And when I say McMansions in the suburbs, I am thinking of other regions besides south Austin. It's just that if I were to broaden my search beyond east Austin and into the burbs, it would be in every direction, not just to south Austin. I know that wasn't the point of what the poster about south Austin was saying, but other people had mentioned being house poor in the city. I translate that as meaning that you can choose a tiny house in the core or or a McMansion in Pflugerville.

So yeah I've been all over the map in trying to respond to more than one commenter. If I get to the computer later today, I'll post a link to an article I read about Windsor Park that I'd like your opinions on.
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Old 12-25-2011, 12:56 PM
 
Location: Portland, OR
888 posts, read 1,676,981 times
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Default My $0.02

I lived 9 years in Austin and am just coming up on year 1 in Portland. My opinion:-


My reasons why Portland is more preferable TO ME:-

1. More relaxed pace of life, people are more friendly than Austin.

2. Cost of living is higher in Portland, but I think you get more for it such as a viable public transportation system, well maintained roads and good public service.

3. Public schools are better in Portland. One of my kids has special needs and the difference in the level of attention between Austin and Portland was very significant. Smaller class sizes in Portland

4. Traffic in Portland sucks, traffic in Austin sucks, traffic everywhere sucks. That's life. Austin population has grown a lot faster than the investment in road infrastructural. New roads are privately funded and tolled. Sprawl in TX is terrible, at least Portland has set urban growth boundaries which encouraged denser housing and better use of land.

5. Never-ending summers in Austin sucked. When it is 100+ outside, I really didn't go out. Everything was a chore, yardwork was brutal, working in the garage on the car was a nightmare, even the pool was no relief when it was like getting into a warm bath. When you are down to a tee shirt, shorts and flip-flops and are still sweating like a pig there is not a lot else you can do. When it is cold and rainy at least you can dress appropriately. Weather in Portland is generally pretty tame. Weather in TX can be very violent - thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, rapid changes of weather due to fronts that sweep down or up the length of the country and and active hurricane season.

6. 4 seasons - winters are cold, spring is pleasant and mild, summers are perfect and we have a fall. Also even in the depths of winter the weather can change quickly from cloudy to scatter sunshine and showers. I am lucky in that I really don't like or need heat and sun, my preference is for a more temperate climate.

7. Portland - Mountains, volcanoes, hills, majestic huge trees, ocean, rivers, lakes, green.
Austin - Small hillocks, flat, stunted live oaks and cedars, Galveston, 1/2 full lake Travis, brown, gray.

8. Weirdos, crackheads, druggies and panhandlers, yep they're everywhere.

9. Portland is more liberal and religion is less obvious.

10. Portland - more Asian influence and a more balanced population. Less Hispanic influence.

11. I think there are more things to do in Portland, especially if you have younger kids, also two other great cities (Seattle and San Francisco) are accessible.

For me the choice was easy. Also my allergies in Austin were really debilitating and were 24/7. I loved my job in Austin and had been with the company for over 21 years, but I conducted my job hunt based not only on my skills and a targeted set of companies but also on where I wanted to live. Portland was #1, Seattle #2 and Boston #3. East coast also held attractions for me but I also realized their winters were pretty brutal.
I am really lucky to live in Portland and I enjoy every day here.....

- Tim
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Old 12-25-2011, 02:42 PM
 
37 posts, read 68,119 times
Reputation: 33
A lot of your reasons (timfountain) for preferring Portland really resonate with me, but then, I'm partial to where I currently live. Other things, I think I'll be happier with Austin on. Like your description of spring being pleasant and summer being perfect don't match my opinion. To me, I call spring "second winter" and summer is "spring." There is no summer here. And since I love summer, I think I'll really love Austin's extra long summer. The one day I spent in Austin (six years ago) was in the middle of July. The temp was beautiful and in the afternoon there was a huge, refreshing, soaking thunderstorm. I think if Austin has nice big rains like that in the summers, I'll love it and so will my garden. But I'm not thrilled about this drought business. The other thing you mentioned was about religion. I'm hoping I'll have an easier time finding a nice church there. But you know, different strokes for different folks.

And your point about traffic: I really feel like Portland's traffic situation is far and away better than it is anywhere else I've lived. You just have to avoid living or working in the suburbs (who needs 'em anyway?). If you work in the city and live in the city, it's no problem. I live in St. Johns and rarely find myself in a traffic jam. And this is why I don't want to live in the suburbs in Austin. I hate traffic. It seems like a no-brainer. If you don't like traffic, then you should live near where you work. So I'm pretty dedicated to the idea of living in Windsor Park or University Hills. Maybe I'd consider Southeast Austin (north of the river), but it looks like crime there might be too bad.

What do you guys think about this article about Windsor Park? Does it ring true?

Austin TX entertainment, events, food, movies, music | Austin360.com

If Austin does vote in the light rail next year, I think I'll be happy I chose the Mueller area. It might improve the neighborhood right after I buy, not to mention improving my quality of life. I'll be sure to register to vote once I get there, adding one more vote for light rail.
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Old 12-25-2011, 03:03 PM
 
2,623 posts, read 5,449,608 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Girlkat187 View Post

What do you guys think about this article about Windsor Park? Does it ring true?

Austin TX entertainment, events, food, movies, music | Austin360.com
You mentioned that you have a son. Were you planning on sending him to public schools or private schools? I wouldn't send my kids to the public schools there. Definitely investigate the schools.

That article definitely has some truth to it, but it also only boasts the positives of an area that has its fair share of crime. You'll just be living amongst all types of people including some very poor families. That article makes it look a lot more pristine than it is. I do think it's probably a pretty good area where your home values could go up in the future as gentrification continues through that area, but you still have to deal with more crime than most other areas of Austin and poor schools until that happens. And by crime, I really mean the potential for crime as well. I can leave my front door unlocked while I'm at work and not be worried in my Suburb neighborhood. It doesn't sound like that's what you're looking for, so you might be fine there.

Last edited by mark311; 12-25-2011 at 03:11 PM..
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Old 12-25-2011, 03:11 PM
 
37 posts, read 68,119 times
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I do have a son, but we were planning to home school. I hear a whole lot of contradictory things about Austin's school system vs. Portland's. My feelings on schooling issues are mixed, and probably too complex to go into on this thread. I don't want to hijack a thread about Austin vs. Portland and make it a discussion about education. So I'll just say that I'm not concerned about schools, except as the quality of a school relates to the quality of a neighborhood.

As far as crime goes, there's a certain level of crime I'm willing to accept as being the price you pay to live close-in. I can't shelter my son completely from the nastier aspects of living in civilization, nor do I really feel like it's beneficial to him to do so. That doesn't mean I want him getting mugged and bullied all the time.

Not that I'm the hugest fan of gentrification and its effects on marginalized people, but to be honest, if I were to enter a neighborhood just before gentrification takes a crappy place and turns it awesome (like the Alberta Arts area in Portland), I'd consider that a win.

The neighborhood I currently live in Portland has its share of property crime. The main street is full of shady characters. I walk past them defiantly and fearlessly on my way to the cool stores, restaurants, and movie theaters. My car windows got busted twice, but nobody will break into a house with two snarling dogs in the window. Other neighbors who don't have dogs have had lots of things stolen out of yards and garages. When I tell suburbanites who grew up in this metro where I live, they shudder in fear. Let me say this emphatically: I am not a suburbanite. And so if Windsor Park is like St. Johns (Portland), then that's a level of crime I would find acceptable. If it's better, then score. If it's worse, I'm going to have to reconsider.
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Old 12-25-2011, 05:21 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX!!!!
3,764 posts, read 7,697,814 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Girlkat187 View Post
I do have a son, but we were planning to home school. I hear a whole lot of contradictory things about Austin's school system vs. Portland's. My feelings on schooling issues are mixed, and probably too complex to go into on this thread. I don't want to hijack a thread about Austin vs. Portland and make it a discussion about education. So I'll just say that I'm not concerned about schools, except as the quality of a school relates to the quality of a neighborhood.

As far as crime goes, there's a certain level of crime I'm willing to accept as being the price you pay to live close-in. I can't shelter my son completely from the nastier aspects of living in civilization, nor do I really feel like it's beneficial to him to do so. That doesn't mean I want him getting mugged and bullied all the time.

Not that I'm the hugest fan of gentrification and its effects on marginalized people, but to be honest, if I were to enter a neighborhood just before gentrification takes a crappy place and turns it awesome (like the Alberta Arts area in Portland), I'd consider that a win.

The neighborhood I currently live in Portland has its share of property crime. The main street is full of shady characters. I walk past them defiantly and fearlessly on my way to the cool stores, restaurants, and movie theaters. My car windows got busted twice, but nobody will break into a house with two snarling dogs in the window. Other neighbors who don't have dogs have had lots of things stolen out of yards and garages. When I tell suburbanites who grew up in this metro where I live, they shudder in fear. Let me say this emphatically: I am not a suburbanite. And so if Windsor Park is like St. Johns (Portland), then that's a level of crime I would find acceptable. If it's better, then score. If it's worse, I'm going to have to reconsider.
If you are planning on homeschooling then you will really like that aspect of living here. The state allows you to homeschool in any way you see fit and there are so many homeschoolers that there are plenty of socializing opportunities for you and your kids. Check out the Austin Area Homeschoolers listserv on Yahoo.
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Old 12-25-2011, 06:29 PM
 
1,307 posts, read 2,065,227 times
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I like Windsor Park, University Hills. I used to live a few miles south of there in Wilshire Woods, but University Hills and Windsor Park ARE suburban neighborhoods, just slightly older ones, i.e single family houses, mostly 1960s and 1970s ranch houses on fairly large for Austin lots - 0.2 acres and bigger, and unless you are on the southern and western edges, i.e. close to Cameron Road or Mueller, they are not remotely walkable neighborhoods (And with the exception of Nomad, Carousel, I would not bother. As of now, Mueller is a hideous slice of the exurbs in Central Austin: treeless cookie-cutter housing and big box retail.) You will be driving to everything: groceries, retail, entertainment, nightlife - granted traffic on the East Side is nowhere near as bad as it is on the west side of Austin and you can get downtown in under 15 minutes anytime of the day without having to get on I35, but while HOA free, these are SUBURBAN neighborhoods. Central East Austin (north of the river, east of 35, south of Manor, west of Airport) is much more urban: the lots are generally smaller and the houses older 1880s-1940s. There are 4 main restaurant and entertainment strips, not much retail but that is changing: Caesar Chavez, 6th/7th Street, 11th Street and Austin's restaurant row on Manor Road. It is in the throes of difficult gentrification, but it is a more racially and class diverse neighborhood - a few million dollar new houses and old Victorians amongst a sea of shacks and new loft developments, the best farmers' market in Austin, and entirely bikeable (walkable from west of Chicon) to downtown, with the greatest concentration of bars, clubs, restaurants, live music, theater and art galleries outside of downtown itself. It is currently a mix of African American and Chican@ working class families and white hipsters with a trustafarian edge. Maybe we just have a different definition of suburban, but if you say you hate the suburbs, I worry that Windsor Park and University Hills might not be the best choice for you??

P.S. I know at least a dozen households all over Central Austin who keep chickens - and ducks!

Last edited by homeinatx; 12-25-2011 at 06:47 PM..
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Old 12-25-2011, 08:23 PM
 
845 posts, read 1,646,991 times
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Did I miss the where you said where your husband would be working?
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Old 12-25-2011, 09:07 PM
 
37 posts, read 68,119 times
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Ok, that is some seriously useful information about Windsor Park! It seems like it's just a few short miles away from downtown and I'm not used to "the suburbs," or "the exurbs" being so close.

I'd rather not say where he'll be working...just an irrational desire not to jinx things. But we want to be near that area of town.

I had considered central east Austin but I was concerned about crime and a lot of he listings in my range look just awful. But maybe I'll have to take another look. Walkscore.com did clue me in to the fact that Windsor Park wasn't walkable, but I guess I didn't want to hear it.

What about Highland Park? I belies that is the name of the neighborhood where one of my friends lives, and while it's probably mostly unaffordable for me, I might dig around to find something there.

A big question I have is, how easy it is to cross over the north-south interstate highways in Austin by foot or bike going east to west or the other way?
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Old 12-25-2011, 09:09 PM
 
Location: central Austin
7,022 posts, read 12,519,357 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Girlkat187 View Post
And since I love summer, I think I'll really love Austin's extra long summer. The one day I spent in Austin (six years ago) was in the middle of July. The temp was beautiful and in the afternoon there was a huge, refreshing, soaking thunderstorm. I think if Austin has nice big rains like that in the summers, I'll love it and so will my garden. But I'm not thrilled about this drought business.
Well the drought is ongoing and despite the current rain, shows little sign of ending soon. Most predictions have it continuing into 2012. Some scientists say that based on tree-ring data we may be entering a 30 year dry period after the past 30 years of relative wetness.

Your single July day is in no way typical of Austin summers. It rarely rains in July unless there is a tropical system. High of 97 low of 77 clear is the typical July forecast, day after day. Summer easily runs from May to October here and notice that the summer lows are above the 70 degrees that your husband find intolerably hot! It can be over 90 at 10 pm here, that 77 low might be at 4 am!

Gardening here is NOTHING like gardening in the PNW! We do have two growing seasons but your summer crops will be fall/wiinter crops here. Julys with lows of 77 are too hot to tomatoes to set! Okra, basil, eggplant, and melon can take the heat but most people wrap up their gardens in August and plant again in Sept/Oct.

I don't see any compelling reasons here for you to move to Austin and I see plenty of reasons why you will hate it here, the weather is at the top of the list!
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