When I sat down and thought about all of the U.S. cities I could live in, I prioritized Austin. All I really knew was that I wanted to escape Chicago winter and had heard Austin winters are mild, the live music scene is off the hook, the food is delicious, and it’s a liberal town. I had also read that according to CNN Money, in 2014, over 25,000 people moved to Austin and there would be continued growth. All of this had to count for something! I didn’t do much research before moving; I mainly heard positive things and booked a one way ticket. So, I made my way down on NYE (12/31/14) to start the year off as a Texan and see what life is like in the south. Austin was also high on my list because my close friend lives in Houston, a short drive (shout out to Iris)!
After living in Austin for 6 months, I made a number of observations regarding what it was like living there. Every city has its pros and cons. When I mentioned this to one of my friends from Austin, she replied: “But a con list for Austin? Nonsense!” 🙂 As a fan of organized lists, I’m sharing a condensed version of my thoughts in today’s post: Life in Austin: Top 5 Pros & Cons. This list is based on my own perspective and experience while living there. This goes out to any of you that may be curious or considering a move to the Texas capital.
- Food: The food scene is unparalleled to many cities in the states. Highlights are BBQ and TexMex and they do ‘em right. Out of this world delicious, best I’ve ever had, you get the idea. *Note: I will highlight my favorites around the area in other posts (see: “Let’s get cheesy”).
- Affordable: No state income tax in Texas and housing is affordable. You can actually live alone and in a nice area! This will change but for now it’s fairly cheap, one of the many reasons young professionals move here.
- Outdoor Activities: Many various hiking trails and water activities on the lakes include wake boarding, paddle boarding, kayaking, etc. Tons of outdoor musical festivals (SXSW, ACL, Fun Fun Fun) & Zilker Park draws large crowds in summer for weekly blues festivals.
- Friendly People: The people are a large part of what make a city’s culture and everyone is SO nice! I moved not knowing a soul and made friends easily. Very friendly vibes.
- Road Trips: San Antonio (1 hr), Dallas (2.5 hrs), Houston (3 hrs), and fun small towns surrounding Austin are easily accessible. OK, I admit, there’s a plus to owning a car!
- Food: The biggest pro & biggest con. The food is so good, you eat it ALL and the best of the best spots do not offer the healthiest of options. I gained 15 lbs.
- Bugs: Not super unique to Austin, they do exist. But, cockroaches and other seriously large insects roam about. They can be found almost everywhere. I lived in 3 different areas and they crawled each home. I have a serious bug phobia so seeing these really freaked me out.
- Allergies: I moved never having experienced allergies like this. I quickly purchased Zyrtec and popped it daily. Thankfully, a quick fix!
- Weather: Generally, it wasn’t so bad. But, I’m picky. In winter, it fell below freezing, my car iced over & hail dropped. Raised in WI, I imagined TX had mild winters, I didn’t expect this! In June, it was over 100 F & humid. Thunderstorms would scare the shit out of me and there was major flooding that made national news.
- Lack of public transit: I was told I would need a car when I got to town. I hate driving and was bummed I wouldn’t be able to walk around like I did in SF & Chicago. Given the growth, there is construction everywhere and a lot of traffic!
Overall, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to live in Austin to explore and see what it is like. There are many more pros and probably some other cons but these stood out to me the most when I think back on my time there. I can’t wait to visit Austin down the road to see how it develops. I missed out on a few things while living there, so when I go back, my priorities will be: go wake boarding on Lake Austin, tailgate and attend a UT Football game, visit Wimberley (Jacobs Well), and of course continue devouring all of the food. Because, YUM.