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Old 08-24-2011, 11:29 PM
Location: Madison, WI
10 posts, read 13,676 times
Reputation: 49


As April ran into May, and Winter still refused to break in Madison, my wife's seasonal affective disorder continued apace. Or maybe it was the pregnancy. Either way, we got to thinking that it might be nice to move someplace warm and sunny.

Austin appealed to us because of the well-known similarities between the two cities, along with it's larger size and a promising job opportunity.

I went down for a quick round of interviews and did my best to explore. On the night of my arrival, I took the bus to Old West Austin, walked up W. Lynn St., and had dinner at Zocalo. The next night, I took the bus down into Bouldin and walked through Zilker and Barton Hills (and then got on the wrong bus trying to head home and ended up in Rollingwood--could have been worse, I guess).

I really liked the architectural mix--Victorians, craftsman bungalows, ultra-modern, and, my favorite, Texas limestone with terra cotta roofs. I also really like the palms and succulents.

One thing that grabbed me, though, was the paucity of sidewalks, both in the quiet residential areas and, shockingly, even in some of the downtown areas. I also had a little trouble transitioning from one neighborhood to another. Seems that there was often a curvy, sidewalk-free connector leading to a busy arterial along which I had to walk a block or so to get to a controlled intersection. My wife and I had similar impressions during visit#2, a week-long trip during which we made a great effort to explore as many of the closer-in neighborhoods as we could.

Exhausted, we returned home to our comfortable, highly walkable, Willy St. neighborhood (and picture-perfect weather to boot, although we promised ourselves that we wouldn't let the 3 months of sublime weather here make us forget how brutal it can be). We're really torn. We need help! Here's a list of our considerations--we'd much appreciate input from the community:

Family: If we move to Austin, my in-laws would at least visit more often and may even move there. That would be a huge help for my wife, who's home with two little ones. Austin.

Climate: A big reason we're looking to move. At first blush, clearly favors Austin. I did hear something ominous on NPR the other day, though (no! NPR? ominous?): "If it continues long enough, it's not really a drought; it's desertification."

Geography: The hill country is pretty, and Barton Spring pool is like a crown jewel. On the other hand, Madison has its beautiful lakes (and we're fortunate to live a half block from Monona and a nice little lakefront park). Plus, it's a short drive to Milwaukee/lake Michigan and a longer drive to Door County, the north woods, etc. I favor Madison here, but that may just reflect my lack of familiarity with the rest of Texas. Would be interested to hear additional opinions.

People: We met really nice people down in Austin, and have a rich network here in Madison that we'd be sad to leave behind. Austin struck me a just a little more frenzied, but still, I had no doubt that we'd find our people down there. Push.

Flora: As above, I really like the southwestern flora; it reminds me that I'm someplace exotic. Purely subjective, but I favor Austin here. My wife disagrees--although I argue that you can't judge from a mid-August visit, she was turned off by the crispiness. How lush does it get down there in the cooler months?

Architecture: Austin, hands down.

Transportation: The lack of sidewalks was a real disappointment. I really enjoy walking just a few easy blocks to many of the businesses we patronize regularly. Madison has great commuter bike trails and lanes--I bike along the lake to get to work. The bus systems seemed comparable. Auto traffic is probably worse in Austin, being larger, but was nothing like I saw in southern CA. I think Madison wins this one, but would love to hear from people who have found a niche that combines some measure of peacefulness with easy access to services. Barton Hills? (My job would be on the northeast corner of the university, and sometimes I need to get there in a hurry, so we can't live too far out).

Job: Oh yeah, that. It's definitely a growth opportunity, with its attendant risks and rewards. My current job is very good, stable, comfortable. I wouldn't be looking to leave it but for the weather/family issues above. Push.

Thanks for reading my long (and very first) posting!
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Old 08-25-2011, 02:41 AM
Location: Seattle, Washington
292 posts, read 572,718 times
Reputation: 236
I would go with Austin because of the warmer weather. Madison is a great city though.
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Old 08-25-2011, 05:21 PM
Location: Not where you ever lived
11,544 posts, read 25,098,941 times
Reputation: 6188

"Texas is in a severe drought. In July 30 of 31 days the temperatures in Dallas exceeded 100 degrees"

This trend continues today. The forcast for today thru next Tuesday the temps are predicited to be 104 - 107 degrees with lows in the 80s. The current temperature at 6:20pm CST is 103 degrees. .
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:56 PM
Location: Cleveland bound with MPLS in the rear-view
5,530 posts, read 9,795,830 times
Reputation: 2365
My take on making big decisions is to not do it when you are in the middle of a bad moment -- like the long winter last year. I always think the same thing every winter, but once Spring/Summer comes along I find myself looking forward to the fall and winter as summer heats up and burns me out. So I say make that decision right around now, when it's beautiful outside and the weather isn't the primary reason you are moving. Maybe you are VERY different than me, but 100+ degrees for MONTHS is not "ideal" either....
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Old 08-26-2011, 07:55 AM
Bo Bo won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Tenth Edition (Apr-May 2014). 

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Location: Ohio
16,419 posts, read 32,234,767 times
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Since City vs. City is for competitive comparisons and General US is for relocation comparisons, I have moved this thread to General US.
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Old 08-26-2011, 08:42 AM
Location: Willowbend/Houston
13,403 posts, read 20,304,285 times
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Madison is a cool town, but I dont know how you deal with the cold.

Austin is basically like a larger Madison with a Southwestern feel. They are both college towns, very young cities, and both have lots of things to do outdoors.

The big question is do you prefer the heat or the cold?
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:43 AM
3 posts, read 4,973 times
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Summer in Austin is horrid. We just went through over 80 days of over-100 degree heat. No rain at all. I'm planning to get the hell out of there before next summer rolls around.
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Old 09-22-2011, 10:46 PM
Location: Beautiful Downtown Rancho Cordova, CA
491 posts, read 1,065,453 times
Reputation: 399
I'm from the Gulf Coast of Texas and after after monitoring the temps there this summer, we will not be returning. Texas weather has changed. When I was growing up in Houston, it was rare and unusual to see a 100 degree day. Now . . . my family in Texas tells me that the state darned near burned to the ground this summer.

The new trends in weather have developed over the last few years and do not appear to be abating.

If you choose Austin, you must find a way to deal with the weather, because there is no way it cannot be a factor in your decision.
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:44 AM
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Stay in Madison, for God's sake...you're not going to like endless summers with 100-degree temps, and no rain..
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Old 09-23-2011, 10:23 PM
14 posts, read 13,271 times
Reputation: 11
Hi Testudines,

I've lived in Austin for the last ten years so here are my thoughts.

Family: Please forgive me as I don't have children so I'm probably not the best resource, as far as schools. However I have heard that Eanes is one of the top ranked (and the neighborhoods are some of the most expensive). Leander and Round Rock also have good school districts, but will be much further out and cheaper. Leander is NW and Round Rock is directly N of downtown. Austin is not a big city in comparison to Dallas or Houston so RR is about 15 miles outside of downtown.

Climate: Yes it can get hot...it's Texas. I would say that although it's not abnormal to reach 100+ in the summer, it's not typical for it to be this hot or so dry for so long. Just a couple of years ago it was raining on a pretty regular basis so the weather here can be pretty irregular just like any other location. Winter averages are 60's and 40's. Sometimes we get the occasional ice or snow. A very light dusting, but it's enough to call off school and work. I'm originally from the Midwest and I still find it hilarious that if I were in IN, we could get eight inches of snow and would still have to go into work. However, we can get two inches here and its considered a snow day.

Geography: I also like the hill country a lot. It's one reason why I favor Austin over Dallas and Houston which are both relatively flat. I have never been to Madison, but Austin has Lake Travis which is a large lake just West of the city and of course Town Lake (now called Ladybird Lake) which runs directly through the city. Many take advantage of Town Lake and you'll always see canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, etc. There is also the Hike and Bike Trail which is a ten mile run/walk/bike path that runs around the lake and is a safe way for Austinites to get some exercise.

People: That's an interesting perspective that you had. I've never felt frenzied here. Usually people say that it's a very relaxing and laid back atmosphere and the people here are just the same. Of course we have all walks of life just like any other place, but that's what I enjoy about Austin. Anything and everything seems to go here.

Flora: I think that it pretty much stays the same year round, for the most part. We have a lot of cedar trees so unfortunately we don't really get the fall colors. Some trees drop their leaves, but of course the cedars don't. I don't have allergies, but it can be problematic for some (cedar, ragweed, and mold are the most common).

Architecture: I agree, I love all of the different architecture here and most importantly, the acceptance of it. I'm personally a huge fan of modern architecture and the 78704 Bouldin area that you were in has a lot of it there.

Transportation: Yes, the sidewalks probably aren't the best in some areas. It would depend on the neighborhoods/areas. And although the bus lines are just fine, the commuter rail definitely leaves something to be desired. The City of Austin certainly screwed up on that one and they have some major fixing up to do. The rail currently only runs from the NW area to DT and back. Austin is very supportive of bicyclists so they try to do what they can to keep bike lanes visible and add new ones whenever possible. And the buses have bike racks so that's an option. The traffic during rush hour is harsh. Take a college town and add in growth at an alarmingly rate where the roads really can't support the growth and we've got crappy traffic. Sometimes we can get around it by taking some back roads and such. You might be able to work close to the university, live decently close in any direction and not have to touch a highway at all. We used to have a free transportation system that ran downtown called the Dillo. They looked like trolley cars, but weren't connected to rails. However due to costs, they are now long gone. There have been rumors about the city considering another transportation system like that again (just updated), but who knows.

I know that it's a difficult decision. Best of luck to you and your family!
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