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Old 12-04-2012, 11:23 AM
 
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I may have a job opportunity in Waco, and I am wondering about living in the area. I'm a single female in my late 20's, and I like outdoor activities and going out from time to time (think pubs/microbreweries rather than clubs). I would prefer living in a larger city, but it seems like it is in fairly close proximity to Austin and Dallas. Any insight or advice would help greatly!
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:57 PM
 
Location: WA
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I've lived in Waco for the past 10 years after my wife's career brought us to Texas. I previously lived in the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Seattle, Juneau) and also Washington DC so I have some perspective beyond Texas.

Waco is a fairly conservative city of about 225,000 (metro area) that is heavily Baptist and very family-oriented. The suburbs are jammed with young families who buy up homes in the new subdivisions and pack the new suburban schools. The central area is increasingly black and Hispanic and elderly as younger middle class families have moved to the burbs to be in better school districts. Pretty much the same story as everywhere I guess. The economy is pretty vibrant and the unemployment rate is pretty low so things are happening. It is definitely the kind of place that a lot of young families are looking for.

For someone your age who is single there is going to be less to offer although that is changing slowly. Waco is definitely a different city than it was 10 years ago when I got here, pretty much all for the better in terms of lifestyle. For example, when I moved here there was only one bike shop and no real outdoor store of any kind. Since then two new outdoor equipment stores have opened up that sell the full range of backpacking/kayaking type of equipment as well as bikes so we actually have 3 bike shops. Various coffee shops and pubs have opened. You'll have more choices than just Starbucks to chill out on a Saturday morning with your paper or laptop. The restaurant scene is more vibrant. There are new apartments and remodeled lofts going up around downtown so it is getting more interesting and vibrant. And there just seems to be a lot more people outdoors doing things (hiking, kayaking, biking, running) and participation in things like local triathlons and bike races just keeps going up. The young professional social life for people like you is pretty much going to revolve around Baylor to some extent. Most of the younger trendier places are going to be near Baylor or frequented by Baylor students and Baylor grads so prepare to get your green and gold on.

Other new things happening are a cool farmers market that has really taken off and is thriving on Saturdays downtown along the river. Usually there is live music and you can get good breakfast and coffee at the food stands. Cameron Park is one of the largest and nicest urban parks in the state. Some of the best mountain biking in the country is found in Cameron Park and riders come from all over the state on weekends to ride there. If you like boating Lake Waco is nice. There is a small sailing community that races on the lake. And one of the new mountain shops also rents canoes and kayaks downtown so I see more people out paddling.

As for getting out to town. Fort Worth and Austin are both about 1.5 hours drive. Both are very cool cities with lots happening. Fort Worth is one of the most underrated cities in Texas I think. Very nice downtown area and lots of interesting things to do (some of the best museums in Texas for example). Dallas is about 2 hours away. Well, perhaps a bit closer than that but most of the destinations we drive to seem to be on the northern side of Dallas so it ends up being 2 hours. Dallas is just a lot bigger and more difficult to navigate and doesn't have much that the other two cities don't have so we rarely go there. After that you have both Houston and San Antonio at about 3 hours drive from Waco. Both interesting excursions. Even with 3 kids my wife and I tend to make an out of town excursion about twice a month.

Bottom line? For a young single woman with no particular connections to this community (i.e. Baylor, family, or being Baptist) Waco probably isn't going to be on the top of your list of great places to live. It's not Austin or Boulder or Madison or any of the other young single type meccas. But it does have more to offer than many might think at first glace. If the job is right and the opportunity is good then Waco is probably worth a shot. I teach at a local HS and it used to seem like most of the young single teachers would either get married to each other and settle down or else eventually flee to the Dallas suburbs for more exciting social options (when those areas were hiring teachers by the hundreds a few years back). Now I see more and more young single teachers just settling in and getting involved in the community and outdoor lifestyles. I see more bike racks and canoe racks on the cars in the parking lot for example, than I ever used to. So the vibe is changing.
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