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Convince me to move to San Antonio
February 23, 2012 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Convince me to move to San Antonio

My husband and I are considering moving our family to San Antonio. We currently live in Omaha, NE. I've looked at city comparison web sites, and it appears the cost of living is about the same. (Not sure if that factors in the lack of state income tax in Texas or not.)

Note: We have two good friends that live in S.A., who are also in a position to give us a job, so that's not an issue. Our 3 kids are all preschool age, so switching schools is not an issue (though quality is still very important to us). I have no family in Omaha. My husband's parents live here, but that's it on his side. They are nearing retirement so we might be able to convince them to move down there, too.

So tell me why San Antonio kicks Omaha's ass.
posted by wwartorff to Society & Culture (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, its less of a nuclear target. No SAC. Plus they have the Riverwalk and a pro basketball team.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:21 AM on February 23, 2012


I've not been to Omaha. But it seems like San Antonio would be more diverse, and your kids would have a great opportunity to grow up learning Spanish.
posted by barnone at 9:28 AM on February 23, 2012


Warmer winters (but hotter summers). In the Texas Hill Country, and there are lots of canyons and mountains to explore within a day's drive west (compared to corn fields in NE). I daresay that San Antonio is more cosmopolitan than Omaha as well. I also find that the people tend to be more outgoing and curious, but that may just be the circles of people I knew in Omaha.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:29 AM on February 23, 2012


Awesome Mexican food. Sea World. Fiesta, Texas. Relatively close to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, good Texas barbecue in Luling, and Austin.

But mainly Mexican food.
posted by grouse at 9:35 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Other things I've thought of: you'll be a mere 2.5-hour drive from the ocean. If you stay, your kids will get access to Texas universities and medical schools.
posted by grouse at 9:38 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have lived in San Antonio for almost 6 years now and I really like it. I have never been to Omaha.

San Antonio is a big town, but with a small town feel. Some highlights:

- nice weather in the winter. It will be 85 here today and sunny!
- Schlitterbahn in the summer
- friendly, non-pretentious people. Complete opposite of my experience with Dallas in that respect.
- near to Austin which is even more cool.
- great museums
- numerous parks that are well maintained (including at least 3 dog parks in my immediate vicinity)
- good school districts (Alamo Heights ISD being the best, then NEISD then NISD)
- great local beer and wine
- Pearl Brewery local farmer's market and complex
- we get some good broadway shows and have a symphony
- excellent healthcare for both young and old. I have a 2yo son and my parents live here - both are able to get excellent healthcare for their respective needs

S.A. is so nice, in fact, that I was able to convince my blue-state parents to move here and they actually like it, even though it is Texas.

Feel free to memail me if you need further details or have other questions.
posted by Leezie at 9:40 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Schlitterbahn is reason enough. :D
posted by hotelechozulu at 9:51 AM on February 23, 2012


The people are great, there is tons to do (in and around SA), the food is amazing...

Anything specific you were looking to have addressed?
posted by doorsfan at 9:58 AM on February 23, 2012


If the culture doesn't do it for you (or for your kids when they get older) and you crave something different, Austin is only 80 miles away.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:01 AM on February 23, 2012


Can anyone with experience with a midwestern summer compare that for me? It's disgustingly humid here for a good portion of the season.
posted by wwartorff at 10:02 AM on February 23, 2012


San Antonio is like an oven in the summer time. Not so humid, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:05 AM on February 23, 2012


It's freaking hot in the summer. See the August 2011 weather. Max temperature 110 °F, average daily mean temperature 90 °F.
posted by grouse at 10:11 AM on February 23, 2012


Nit pick: tex-Mex is not Mexican food. As a so-cal native I wasn't impressed.
posted by just sayin at 10:17 AM on February 23, 2012


Don't let the heat scare you. Every place has AC and big multi-unit size of the roof ones.

I was born in Denver. Grew up in Texas. Live in OKC.

The summers in Denver are still damn hot, you are closer to the sun and the heat is dry and not every place has a good AC.
The summers in Texas as boiling, sometimes muggy, but there is always a snowcone stand, waterpark, swimming pool or mall somewhere close to go cool off.
The summers in OKC are the worst. It is hot and windy (7 days a week).
posted by LeanGreen at 10:18 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nit pick: so-call isn't Mexican either. Texas has more Mexicans, so I trust it more. ;)

"Rolled taco?!""
posted by LeanGreen at 10:19 AM on February 23, 2012


San Antonio is the only other town in Texas I'd consider living in. My laundry list"

The zoo (& Brackenridge park in general)
The Missions National Historic sites & the Mission road
Mexican food
Mexican food
The Majestic Theater
The Aztec Theater
Market Square
Spurs Basketball
Pearl Brewery
Great museums
Natural Bridge Caverns
Mexican food
Awesome old working-class neighborhoods full of awesome people
Govt. Canyon SNA (excellent mountain biking)
Riverwalk
Sea World
Mexican food

Nearby:
Comal Springs
Aquarena Springs
Medina River
Guadalupe River
Canyon Lake
Cave Without a Name
Nuevo Laredo
Corpus Christi
Padre Island
Fort Clark Springs
Frio River (excellent tubing, beautiful state park)
Shiner
Assorted Small Towns With Awesome Barbecue

Also, it rarely if ever freezes in the "winter."
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:29 AM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm an SA resident of a few years. I'd echo a lot of the sentiments here. There is a lot of stuff to do in SA, outdoors and indoors. It's easy to get around. Mild winters. Diverse. Lots of good food. Great healthcare.

There's so much do to, it shouldn't be difficult to get your husband's family (or anyone else, for that matter) to visit. Especially if they have kids, who would love many of the attractions already listed here.

Some SA folks say summers can be humid, but they're nowhere near the humidity I had growing up in Georgia.

The downtown and southside schools have a reputation for gang and drug problems. Some of that is overstated, but the schools in the northern districts are generally safer and better. Marijuana seems to be common in all the high schools around the city, if that's an issue for you.

When your children are ready for college, there are several in San Antonio. If they want to leave home, UT Austin and Texas A&M are close. Good schools in Houston, too, which isn't very far.

The only complaint I have with SA is that it's sometimes hard to keep our lawn alive. We've been under drought conditions since I moved here. I'm reading about native plants, though, and it seems the yard thing is solvable by using native grasses and flowers.

Feel free to memail me if you've got questions.
posted by Boxenmacher at 11:14 AM on February 23, 2012


Texas schools are bad and getting worse. Do not move here if you value education.
posted by narcoleptic at 11:17 AM on February 23, 2012


In all fairness, that 110 °F max is actually the highest observed in August 2011... the daily average for that month was 102°F and even that was above the multi-year August normal of 96°F. Still, it's pretty miserable and a car with air conditioning is pretty much a necessity if you have any kind of office job or commute.
posted by crapmatic at 11:18 AM on February 23, 2012


I've lived in a hot and humid climate, and after that a dry heat is nothing.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:18 AM on February 23, 2012


I agree with most everyone above. I went to college in San Antonio after growing up in New England, and I loved it. Wearing shorts in January was something I got very used to. The first few years in San Antonio I even drove a car without air conditioning. I wouldn't advise that with small children, but it's possible!

The best way I could describe it was that it was like living in a small town, but with all the amenities of a big city. People are, to me, very friendly.

I moved away for family reasons, but my wife and I consider moving back to San Antonio whenever we talk about the future. It's a fabulous city.
posted by China Grover at 12:25 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nit pick: so-call isn't Mexican either. Texas has more Mexicans, so I trust it more. ;)

"Rolled taco?!""


A rolled taco is also known as taquitos (not the Whataburger breakfast taco) or tacos dorados or the TexMex staple flautas. Taquitos were invented in SoCal but you see them in the Mexican border states and in Texas they show up on menus as flautas.

CalMex and TexMex aren't Mexican. SA has world class TexMex but there's also a lot of MexMex, too. Just like SoCal. Even MexMex food varies by where in Mexico you're from. A newcomer from Omaha will love the TexMex options in San Antonio.

Back to the question: If I didn't live in Austin, I would have lived in SA. I was dating someone in SA and was down there every week for a while.

The summers are hot but less humid than a lot of places. I came to Central Texas from Phoenix where 10% humidity was considered muggy so at first it seemed really muggy to me. But then you go to the coast or Houston and you get reminded that the humidity isn't so bad in SA. Between AC, pools, lakes and rivers it is easy to keep cool in the summer.

Central TX also has some great Texas BBQ. Like CalMex/TexMex/MexMex, there's a lot of different styles of BBQ.

(Texas has more Mexicans than California? Maybe per capita. 30.6% of Californians are of Mexican ancestry, 31.6% of Texans of Mexican ancestry...But California has 38M total people vs Texas' 26M so there's 3 million more people of Mexican descent in California than there are in Texas.
posted by birdherder at 2:16 PM on February 23, 2012


I lived in Monterey, Mexico for awhile in college, so I know authentic northern Mexican cuisine :) I'll eat anything that can be labeled delicious, which does not include Brussels sprouts, but that's about it. I've got an equal opportunity tummy!

Keep the advice coming!
posted by wwartorff at 2:32 PM on February 23, 2012


I grew up in SA long ago and didn't realize how awesome it was until I went to college. Since many people have given positives, I'll mention one negative: sprawl, meaning that you may end spending a lot of time in your car. If I were going to move back, I'd try to live within Loop 410.

BTW, with all the military bases, San Antonio probably *is* a nuclear target.
posted by lukemeister at 3:17 PM on February 23, 2012


I see your point LeanGreen I just didn't want anyone thinking tex-mex, cal-Mex, and mexmex are all the same.

Well said birdherder.

We can all agree that the BBQ is awesome though, right?
posted by just sayin at 3:33 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


My elevator speech about the area runs "The Austin-San Antonio corridor is the nice part of Texas."

Adding to stuff mentioned above, SAMA is a decent art (and antiquities) museum. And as a minor extra point, the Pearl Brewery area has this in it as well, last time I was there they were offering fancy pastries with Hispanic themed ingredients and flavors, very nice.

The King William district is there, too, in case you're too rushed to drive up to Austin for your hipster fix.
posted by gimonca at 5:07 PM on February 23, 2012


Do you like the heat, a lot? Does the idea of four months solid of 100+ degree temperatures sound like a good time to you? Then you might like the weather in central Texas. I live in Austin, and it feels like summer is about ten months long here. (I grew up in the Denver area, so I really miss the snow). San Antonio is further south so a bit hotter usually.

I made the mistake once of living on the top floor in an apartment. I guess our AC was not very efficient because the summer cooling bills nearly killed me. As it is now (bottom floor apartment), I pay about $200 plus a bit in the worst part of summer, but I like to keep it quite cool inside. In the dead of winter when we don't run a/c or heat at all, my electric bill is about $80.

I would pay close attention to the quality, efficiency, and cost-to-run of your A/C unit, as well as quality of insulation, etc in your dwelling. My friend who lives in a "green" energy-efficient new house pays upwards of $300 in summer. See if you can find out what a typical electric bill is for your house or apartment in the heat of summer. And it will be about that high for probably 8 months of the year. Just be prepared.
posted by marble at 5:15 PM on February 23, 2012


I'm from San Antonio, and lived there up until 3 years ago.

Culturally is pretty diverse, here's some stuff that wasn't linked above:

Blue Star Contemporary Art Center is part of a complex of galleries and theaters in the King William/Southtown area. Jump-Start Performance Co. is a theater in the complex that I used to work for. The Overtime Theater is also in the complex. Elsewhere in town there is AtticRep.

artpace is an art space/organization (started by Linda Pace, of Pace Picante Sauce), that keeps a few artists in residence and rotates them every 3 months.

There are also a couple of Alamo Drafhouse movie theaters in San Antonio now, which is pretty sweet.

The San Antonio Current website might be worth taking a look at, it's the local free weekly paper. There's also the San Antonio Express-News, whose website seems to be mysanantonio.com.

I can't really speak to the quality of the public schools in San Antonio, but if you want to hear about the Montessori schools there let me know. I went to one up until high school, and both of my parents were Montessori teachers.
posted by hapticactionnetwork at 8:02 PM on February 23, 2012


I was born and raised in San Antonio, so I lived there for 18 years. Then I went to the Bay Area for college, Chicago for grad school, and reluctantly returned to Texas (Houston) for a job. I've never been to Omaha (is Conor Oberst from there?). Here are my rambling thoughts.

I hate San Antonio (and Houston) but I have specific dislikes. I don't drive. You can't really live in San Antonio without driving. It's a terrible sprawling mess and its public transportation system is not only meager but is actually scorned by many San Antonians, who I find equate public transportation with abject poverty. Also, not all the buses have A/C (or didn't a few years ago when I had to take three buses everyday in the summer from the north side to a courthouse downtown). Which leads me to my next point:

It's terrifically fucking hot. Like, when the A/C broke at our house in the summer, my parents had to take me to work because it is so hot that people die in un-air conditioned houses. It's the fucking worst. Fuck. Also, all major businesses have the A/C cranked up beyond belief, probably because they have doors that open and close all the time. So, you basically want to wear booty shorts from your house to your car and for the 10 minutes it takes your car to cool from 110 degrees to 75 degrees (BEWARE LEATHER SEATS) and then for the 10 minutes it takes to walk from your parking spot to your grocery store (have I mentioned how everything is miles apart from everything else?) but you will want a full on coat for how cold the grocery store is. I always had to have a damn coat or thick cardigan in my damn purse because San Antonio is such a mess of temperatures. Every single time I would exit a place of business, my glasses would fog up immediately. The change in temperature is that extreme.

San Antonio has a small town feel even though it is theoretically a major city. It's probably a good place to raise a kid, but as that kid, I hated it there. I did not find a diversity of cultures there, or cultural pursuits to speak of. There are maybe two good museums, no theater scene, and a very lopsided music scene. As I was growing up (I'm 27 now) I found the alternative/hipster/anything other than country or metal scene to be nonexistent and this was high up on my shitlist for San Antonio. Coming back over breaks during college and law school, though, I find it's a lot better and broader. You don't have to go to Austin anymore. That's a plus. But bands I want to see always play in Austin, not San Antonio. They will continue to do that for a long time, because Austin's a much bigger hub for that sort of scene.

The Tex-Mex is fantastic (and really only available in San Antonio and Austin). The food is the only thing I miss. And I still miss the food, even from Houston.

I was a non-Hispanic minority kid of a minority faith and a huge commie and I kept expecting a terrible John Hughes tinged bully filled upbringing but it never happened. Even after 9/11, even though it's a big military town. That may be the best thing I have to say about San Antonio (although the place my parents sent me to study the Koran had a brick thrown through the window during the Gulf War, so there's that).

I went to a great public school in NEISD where I took like 15 AP classes. I had fantastic teachers, K-12. With my San Antonio public education, I got into the very best universities. I don't have a single negative thing to say about my education. Couldn't have asked for more. I think of the Alamo Heights school district mentioned above as filled only with very wealthy students. My mom worked part time as a research assistant and my dad is a professor. NEISD is a rich district when compared to the south side, but in the scheme of things I think it's average to nice. I would never send my kid to a private school in San Antonio. The only one I would dream of considering is Keystone but it's class is TINY (i think maybe 20?) and those 20 kids go to school with same 20 kids K-12. I would have hated that. (And they didn't have a debate team!)

Finally: San Antonio is dirt cheap. I have friends who pay a 1/4 of the rent I pay for my (admittedly overpriced) apartment in Houston. You can buy dirt ass cheap food that's amazingly delicious basically everywhere you turn. Please me-fi me if you have any questions!
posted by anthropomorphic at 8:08 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Conor Oberst is indeed from Omaha. As is Warren Buffett. I'll drive you by their houses if you ever visit :) Both a lot more modest than you'd think. (The houses, at least. Conor is a friend of a friend, who reports that he's kind of an asshat.)

I am not all that tolerant of heat. My friend was saying that it's not nearly as humid as Omaha, so it's more bearable than the same temps here. I lived in SC for a while, and hated it.

I'd like to hear more info on Montessori in SA. Our oldest daughter currently attends a Montessori preschool, and her teacher says she is doing well with that method. Are there public schools with Montessori programs there? They have one here, but it's in the neighboring district, so she won't get in. We can't afford the private one.

So far my main concern is the heat. I love to drive and am used to some sprawl.
posted by wwartorff at 2:20 PM on February 24, 2012


wwartorff,

I went to a private school, Keystone, from 5th grade through high school. It's excellent academically and I believe they still have good financial aid, so I suggest checking it out.
posted by lukemeister at 2:26 PM on February 24, 2012


wwartorff - Sorry, I didn't notice your oldest daughter is in preschool. How old is she?
posted by lukemeister at 12:21 PM on February 25, 2012


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