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My favorite place in Texas is the Austin area. We lived off South Congress Ave close to downtown for a few years and loved it! Austin is the 'Live Music Capital of the World' and with you being a musician I would think that would be appealing.
If I were to have to summarize my native state of Texas to a northeastener and/or give advise to one relocating, I would say the following:
1. Texas is a conservative, Bible Belt, essentially Southern state. And I mean that in the best of ways. I am proud of all that.
2. Cost of living is relatively cheap, and taxes are relatively low.
3. The MAIN thing to keep in mind is that we don't care how it was done up North or on the west coast. To make that comparrison while living amongst us is to invite a cold smile at best...
4. It is VERY important to get to know your neighbors. Share a dish with them. Have over the fence conversations. Texans love to visit and spend easy going time talking about everything and nothing.
5. DONT get offended if you are referred to as a "damn yankee." It is just part of our vocabulary and history...and is not necessarily intended to be a personal insult. So DONT take it that way. The very fact one is not a Southerner, makes one a "yankee"...just as someone with red hair makes them "red". Or as the case may be "blondie",,etc. If a northerner makes an honest attempt to try and fit in, then they will find no friendlier spot in the world than Texas. In fact, when your neighbors get so familiar with you that they say something like, "ahh, ya damn yankee...that is bull****" then you know you have arrived!
Point # 3) Alot of people don't understand how offensive it is to come to a new place and talk about how great it was back in California compared to here. When I moved down to Texas 4 yrs ago from NY I didn't think like that, I talked about how much I like the way things are done here (Texas).
the thing that you really need to know about Texas is that its HOT!! by Hot I mean 98 at midnight..in November your sitting inside the Central Air begging God to cool it down..you trick or treat in shorts...100 degrees is common by that I mean 30 days of 100 degrees than it cools to 98.. The people are friendly to your face but gossip is a state past time..Rick Perry loves toll roads and the derugulation of electricity did nothing but jack up the prices..we moved to Colorado and find it a lot cheaper..the only seasons are hot and cold...that said..the food is great ,winters are pleasant for the most part .. it has wonderful lakes and great fishing.. the job market is good ..and it has Blue bell ice cream!!!
At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I must ask... are the Texas rattlesnakes you mention the dangerous and venomous kind? (Up here, we don't have poisonous snakes. I know next to nothing about them, and I automatically equate "rattlesnake" with "can kill you".)
Less than 1% of rattlesnake bites are fatal. 99% of bites occur to drunk people who try and harass and/or handle the snake. Theyre nothing to worry about. Just keep your eyes peeled, and dont put your hands/feet where you cant see them.
Also, there is a sizeable population of rattlesnakes in PA (Crotalus horridus--timber rattlesnakes).
As a native Texan, I must be forthright here...Texas summers ARE NOT for the feint of heart (or those without an A/C)...
I can't speak for West Texas, but I can say definitively that North Texas summers are generally windy and SCORCHING! (you would think one would offset the other)...Southeast Texas (Huntsville to Houston) summers can be sweltering and horrifically humid, especially in Houston...and Northeast Texas summers can be any combination of the two aforementioned climates...regardless of which area you locate to its an adjustment if you're not from Texas...I actually didnt think I'd ever find a summer that would be more miserable than Northeast Texas summers but low and behold, when I got to Houston I was in for quite a surprise during the summer months...Perhaps I've just developed a low threshold for heat..But I just bite the bullet and enjoy spending time indoors during the summer, and cherish the Fall/Winter months.
Location: Where Texas touches the Great Southwest.
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I just wandered into these forums and saw your message and, as a native Texan, a political conservative and one who has lived in the mid-Atlantic region, the deep South, and in the Southwest, I thought I would reply. I write this from my second home on the High Plains of west Texas (Panhandle), just a few miles from New Mexico. My primary home is at Albuquerque although I spend most of my time here in west Texas.
In general, my first piece of advice before contemplating a move to Texas is to pay close attention to the property taxes in the various Texas counties, i.e., always ask a realtor for the annual taxes on any property you may be considering purchasing. Since the State has no income tax, Texas property taxes can "knock your socks off." Be aware that tax rates can vary dramatically between Texas counties as well vary within the tax precincts within a County. Also you should know that a hand-full of Texas counties assess annual property taxes on vehicles which can be very substantial. This is another question for your Texas realtor.
When it comes to music, you may know that Texas is hard to beat as to its musical gifts to the world. West Texas fairs pretty well in this arena. Lubbock, Texas is the birthplace of Buddy Holley and a few miles up the road is Littlefield, Texas, the birthplace of Waylon Jennings who originally played with Holley's "Crickets". Further up that same road is Clovis, New Mexico home to the historic Norman Petty Recording Studio one of the first independent producers of rock & roll and frequented in the past by such names as Buddy Knox, Roy Orbison, the Fireballs, the String-A-Longs, and countless others. Other well known west Texas musicians include Mac Davis, Tanya Tucker, Natalie Maines of the now-infamous Dixie Chicks, The Maines Brothers, and the man who made "twin-fiddles" sound like heavenly harps, Mr. Bob Wills of Turkey, Texas. Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention that South Plains College at Levelland, Texas offers unique studies in country, pop and bluegrass music. I was there and had the opportunity to meet Mr. Tom T. Hall when he opened the College's first sound stage several years ago. Regarding myself and music, I have more guitars, fiddles, banjos and mandolins than I have the talent to play so I am envious of your musical gifts.
Regarding Texas weather, I grew up in the "Pineywoods" of deep east Texas but left there 40 years ago as a young serviceman. Although I still have family in east Texas, I could never go back because of the high humidity in the summer months but primarily because of the much heavier population densities on that side of the State. Also in east Texas, sunsets are usually hidden by the trees but a sunset out here can stretch as far as the head can turn and can set the sky on fire with so many colors that only Carl Sagan would venture to describe it. A west Texas sunset can truly be breathtaking. And of course there is the fact that the eastern side of the State tends to be much more politically liberal than west Texas, a reason I care not to return.
However to give east Texas its fair shake, it does have milder winters than we have out here in the Texas Panhandle. They also have more rain and lush vegetation which is generally lacking here. Lawn-mowing here on the High Plains many times can be done with a small tractor and a shredder as little as twice a year especially if you have acreage. Most trees out here are planted for the purpose of wind-breaks and/or shade and, except for a few of the more hearty species like Chinese elm and the weed tree known as Tree of Heaven, they have to be cared for. The same wide open expanses of the Texas High Plains that provide for beautiful sunsets can also allow Russian thistle (tumbleweed) to roll for miles before it finds a fence to lodge against or the grill of a moving car to crash into. Occasional tornadoes are an expected part of each spring on the Texas High Plains although there seems to be less of them than when I first came to the area forty years ago. We have snow (6" would be a deep fall) while east Texas rarely gets enough to whiten the ground. We always have heavy spring and fall winds; east Texas has light winds unless a rare hurricane is coming on shore. East Texas does indeed have its pluses but for me who has spent more days than I wanted in urban America, west Texas has east Texas beat hands down.
As an aside, my wife and I are now looking at consolidating our Texas and New Mexico properties in our native State of Texas. Having once owned a home in Lubbock and loved that very conservative town, we are now looking at country homes around that area. Give Lubbock a good look if you have not. Former President George H. Bush once commented upon visiting Lubbock that he "loved Lubbock.", pronounced "Lub-bick" to the locals.
You had also mentioned poisonous snakes. Yes, Texas has 'em but every place does. Off the top of my head, the Pineywoods of east Texas has copperheads, the cottonmouth, the coral snake and the Timber and Pygmy rattlers. West Texas has the Desert massasauga, the Western diamondback and about five other species of rattlers. Although I've occasionally seen these reptilian devils when I've been outside, I've only personally experienced one snake bite incident when, many years ago, a fellow research student (I'm a retired wildlife biologist) tried to collect a small prairie rattler without the proper tools. In that case, he nearly lost the use of his hand.
Best of luck if you decide to make the move. A friend of mine from Chadd’s Ford, PA retired near Bandera, Texas and he loves it.
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