Brooklyn to . . . Austin?
April 29, 2010 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Thinking about moving from Brooklyn to Austin . . . good idea?

I'm finishing up a PhD in history, and am currently teaching courses as an adjunct in NYC; Agent86 is a web content editor (but not a programmer) recently laid off from a staff job and freelancing here and there. We have a 7-month old baby, a great rent-stabilized apartment in Brooklyn, but we are barely scraping by, with little possibility of finding full-time employment in NYC in either of the fields we've been working in anytime soon.

We'd like to live in a place where: we have some possibility of getting jobs (even if we have to switch fields or re-train somewhat), we could live in a small house with a yard, we could have a garden, the cost of living is low, the politics lean to the left, we have access to parks and outdoorsy activities, and there is a reasonably active cultural life (arthouse movies, music, interesting food . . . that kind of stuff).

Given those conditions and preferences, is Austin a good place for us to go, or would somewhere else be better?

What is the job market like in Austin right now? We have no real job contacts there. Where are good places to look for job postings? What about listings for rental housing, or even housing for sale?

Ideas, feedback, encouragement, warnings, from Austinites or Brooklynites or anyone in between much appreciated!
posted by agent99 to Grab Bag (41 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Austin is awesome, fits your criteria, and has what, 5 or 6 universities nearby? I'd say it's worth a shot.

The job market is not awesome, but I understand that it's not nearly as bad as some places.

If you can afford a trip down here, it'd be worth it to get a sense of the place. And we could have a meetup!
posted by restless_nomad at 2:38 PM on April 29, 2010

I'm not too sure about the housing market in Austin at the moment, but having lived in both Brooklyn and Austin, I'd pick Austin if I were raising a kid. The possibility of a lawn alone seems great. Austin's definitely got the cultural draw of Brooklyn, with maybe the exception of the theatre scene. The music scene's better, though.
posted by Blau at 2:38 PM on April 29, 2010

how do you feel about heat? and i don't mean "my, it's warm today" but "you can literally cook an egg on the sidewalk" (did it in kindergarten).

austin city politics lean towards the left, but, as i'm sure you know, texan politics are anything but.

lots of people garden in austin, but again, with the heat, there are some challenges.

food, arthouse, hipster culture are all in abundance.
posted by nadawi at 2:39 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

we could live in a small house with a yard, we could have a garden, the cost of living is low, the politics lean to the left, we have access to parks and outdoorsy activities, and there is a reasonably active cultural life

Yes, Austin meets these criteria. Compared to prices in Boston, you'll feel like you're living for close-to-free. And I guess you need to decide what you mean by a "garden," because the climate will limit what plants and vegetation will thrive. And you should be certain that you are ready for the heat.
posted by puritycontrol at 2:40 PM on April 29, 2010

I think Austin provides everything in your "We'd like to live...." list. The summers are, however, pretty brutal so that's something to think about. In terms of web content editing type stuff, Demand Media has offices here that are usually hiring for that type of stuff. Bazaarvoice might be another good place to look. There are several Austin Community College campuses - I'm not sure what their need is right now but I'm pretty sure you could pick up a few classes there.
Craigslist is still pretty good for housing and job listings, but I used a realtor the last time I rented a house to make things easier.
posted by sanko at 2:44 PM on April 29, 2010

It's hot (but you do get used to it, really)

Personally, I'd rather live in Manhattan or DC (because they know what mass transit is, mainly) or on a hill top somewhere (depends on the day), but I'm aging and have strong tendency towards hermit-ness.

But Austin does have a little bit of everything, most (not all) of the people are tolerant and reasonable (didn't see anyone walking around with a .45 for instance, which I've seen in N. Virginia)

Also, it's a lot cheaper in Austin. Try to live in the center of the city or westlake hills area. Suburbs (with out great hills) are depressing.
posted by Some1 at 2:45 PM on April 29, 2010

As an active Austin gardener, I'll attest that you can have a hell of a garden for 10 months of the year: Just think of the really hot summer months as our winter, when little can grow.
posted by seventyfour at 2:45 PM on April 29, 2010

I heart Austin!
posted by jchaw at 2:47 PM on April 29, 2010

Thanks for the ideas so far; re: weather, yes, summers in Austin are brutal indeed, but our other option is Chicago (more affordable than NYC though less affordable than Austin, plus we have family there) which has the problem of brutal and endless winters. I think we'd rather take extreme heat over extreme cold, given a choice.

But I guess the most important question about Austin is about the job market there--is it as moribund as NY? How difficult is it, these days, to find a job?
posted by agent99 at 2:53 PM on April 29, 2010

When you say a small house, do you mean you are willing to drop $300,00+ on a two bedroom bungalow? If not, you are talking more about the suburbs. Less liberal, more car based. Do NOT suggest.

Austin might be liberal, but it is an island in a sea of stupid. Stupid tries every chance it gets to gerrymander Austin's politics out of existence. If you are a pinko and you move here, become politically active. The influx of tech folks has made the city more conservative in the last few decades.

Having a garden is really hit or miss.
I grow organic and have lost 90% of a 25+ tomato plant crop for the last two years because winters haven't been cold enough to kill off the pests. I have high hopes for this year. When the temps get over 100 for 10+ days in a row, many plants have a hard time with the stress. Gardening takes a lot more effort than it does in many other parts of the country. Long growing seasons, though.

Ditto on heat tolerance.
But remember, Austin (and Texas) is an air conditioning culture. Most people feel the air only when walking from house to car and car to office, then in reverse later that day. If you do anything outside besides jog or bike for exercise, you are in the minority.

Along with heat comes drought. We went two years with an empty swimming hole on the greenbelt. Full now. Draining fast. Not just hot, but dry. There are places to swim, but you better like people a lot, 'cause they're all there doing it too.

You like outdoorsy activities? What do you mean? Walks in parks or backpacking. If you like backpacking, move to west Texas or avoid the state completely. Texas has a minuscule amount of public land. State parks withing a 3 hour drive can all be traversed on foot within an hour or so. Larger chunks of public land to the east are almost unusable. The mountains to the west are a 9 hour drive minimum. There is urban mountain biking, put it's pretty . . . flat. Lots or road riding around here.

Employment? Keep in mind that Austin pumps out people with degrees at an alarming rate and 80% of them do not want to go back to other cities in Texas. Some of them have to. It may not be as bad as it was in the '90s, (I don't know most of my friends in the service industry moved on up or moved on out) but we do have a highly educated service class in this city. You can usually get a job waiting or bar-tending if you have some experience. If you want to teach at the college level, you probably need to be at the top of your field. If not, you might be able to find work teaching for Austin Community College. Can't speak to the Web Content dev stuff.

My advice, stay the hell away from this state.
Really, run.
I hate Austin. With the burning fire of galaxy of suns.
So it is probably best to ignore this comment completely.

But, if you decide to move here:
Head South or East. It's still a little cheaper.
If you need daycare once the child hits 18 months, Habibi's Hutch and Starbright (both south) are pretty cool.
Learn to enjoy beef barbecue and Mexican food. In fact, become discriminating about the two cuisines because there is a lot of hog slop in both those categories, but some gems too.
If you decide to move here, I can tell you about a lot of other cool stuff too, but I definitely do not suggest that you do.
posted by Seamus at 3:03 PM on April 29, 2010

I did the opposite, and miss it, but they're very similar in vibe and culture and feel. Austin is cheaper, slower, more relaxed and you have more space. You need a car?
posted by CharlesV42 at 3:08 PM on April 29, 2010

Oooh, mass transit.
What passes for mass transit in this city is a joke.
Do not plan on using it unless you plan your housing and work situations around it.
For me, the twenty minute drive to work is a 4 hour bus ride.
This is a car city. (and a surprisingly ride-able bike city if you are into that.)
We installed a rail system (on pre-existing rails, no less) that ran on a schedule that would have made the Big Dig's contractors blush. It runs on a path that very people will use, mainly because that's where the railroad tracks (formerly used for freight) run.
I have a feeling that the whole purpose of the rail line is to permanently shut down the possibility of Austin ever getting a light rail system.

If you move here, that's another political cause for which you can help the rest of us fight.
posted by Seamus at 3:09 PM on April 29, 2010

do you mean you are willing to drop $300,000+ on a two bedroom bungalow

Well, where we're coming from, a tiny two-bedroom house around the corner costs $2 million, and a one-bedroom coop runs about $700,000. You can't even buy a studio for $300,000. The transit is good though, and I've never owned a car in my 15 years here.
posted by agent99 at 3:18 PM on April 29, 2010

Oh, and thanks for the daycare suggestions!
posted by agent99 at 3:20 PM on April 29, 2010

Austin is fucking awesome. Austin is also fucking hot. I've lived in Brooklyn in the past and am from Austin and if I ever figure out how to deal with the summers, I'd move back in an instant. Buying a house in the center of town can by expensive (by Texas standards, not NYC standards), but just a little outward, (I'd recommend just south of Ben White or East of 35), there are great deals to be had. The job market isn't as good as some places, but it's not Oregon-level bad.

Basically, go check it out in July. If you can hack the heat, move on down!
posted by youcancallmeal at 3:25 PM on April 29, 2010

The heat is brutal in August with the heat index easily topping 100+ degrees fahrenheit.

Austin also has some of the best movie theaters in the country.

Austin Alamo Drafthouse
posted by jchaw at 3:46 PM on April 29, 2010

Or by the way...

Moving to Austin will give you opportunities to attend two world class music festivals each year!


Their public radio stations, KUT and KMFA rocks!
posted by jchaw at 3:48 PM on April 29, 2010

I'm of greatly mixed mind on this, so bear with me. Of course I think Austin is pretty rad and want to endorse it to anybody. On the flipside of that, the entire reason that our real estate prices are so goddamned out of whack with the rest of the state is that people from other, more expensive regions find Austin to be dirt cheap and tolerable enough.

This sounds snooty, but it really is a bad problem down here -- most of the people *from* here can no longer afford to *buy* here because of the massive influx of folks from...oh...let's say San Diego...for whom $400k on a 1930's pier-and-beam seems like a steal. Real estate here is easily double what it is anywhere else in the state now.

I will say this: Of my friends from the big, dense, Eastern cities...most of them don't like Texas at all. Even Austin. This has less to do with music, weather, or what have you than it does with the lifestyle they are used to. They find it too spread out... not walkable enough...the mass transit lacking...etcetera. I imagine you might find a better match somewhere East.

Have you looked at Philadelphia?
posted by kaseijin at 4:34 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I moved from Austin to Queens, but I still go back frequently.

The job market hasn't really been hit as badly in Austin as elsewhere in the country. You'll probably be able to find a job doing something, even if it's not in your field.

I actually prefer the summers in Austin to NYC -- I find the summers here to be humid and muggy and just plain gross. It's hot in TX, but it's (cliche, I know) a dry heat.

You need to drive here. They've been working on some kinda high speed rail for a while, now, but it doesn't look to be coming along very well. The buses are always late. Car insurance isn't too expensive, though, and you could probably pick up a used car for a decent price.

Groceries are inexpensive (love HEB!) and there's no state income tax. You can still pick up some great deals housing-wise. However, keep in mind that you'll be living in a liberal city encased in a very conservative state. It's not as liberal or open as it appears on first visit.

There are some great things about Austin. It's my original home, and it will always hold a place in my heart. Personally, I would never move back, but I think it's a decent enough place to raise a family. If you have more family in Chicago, then I would explore that option as well.

I always check out this website when I'm coming into town, because it has info on all the shows and stuff coming up, but it also links to Austin American Statesman for job/home listings, ect. Good luck on whatever you chose!
posted by jnaps at 4:41 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I could probably address a lot of this, but I'm just going to focus on the web editing part. I'm a web editor and writer in Austin who's making the transition to content strategy and IA work. I can pretty confidently say that while there's not too much web editing work, there aren't a lot of web editors either. So, you're not dealing with tons of competition for the jobs that are out there. There are enough boutique agencies, governmental entities, and large corporations employing web editors that your spouse would probably find work. Keep in mind, though, that the city's still pretty small, so you don't have a lot of options for growth or mobility (which is why I'm branching out). People who'd stick around in an agency for a year in any other city tend to hold on to their jobs for 5+ years. I'll MeFi mail you some resources if you like.
posted by lunalaguna at 4:45 PM on April 29, 2010

Also, the job market here is pretty solid compared to the rest of the country, and it's getting better. That said, wages are kind of mediocre in comparison to the cost of living. But the cost of living in relation to the quality of life is still pretty great.
posted by lunalaguna at 4:48 PM on April 29, 2010

1) It's so fucking hot. For reals x 10000. I'm from here, but by the end of the summer, I become obsessed with moving away.
When you say a small house, do you mean you are willing to drop $300,00+ on a two bedroom bungalow? If not, you are talking more about the suburbs. Less liberal, more car based. Do NOT suggest.
Not true unless you want to live in like Hyde Park or Clarksville or something. You can get something pretty decent in the 200s just 15 minutes from downtown in some pretty hip, cool areas (like 3 miles north of the UT campus or so is cool, south of town, or east of the highway if you're into gentrification).
3) Austin is liberal, but there are also plenty of Ron Paul libertarian hippie 9/11 conspiracy nuts here too (ugh) and also regular run-of-the-mill republicans. It's liberal... for Texas.
4) Job market is so-so. Austin universities are constantly churning out a crapload of degreed people, including advanced degrees, so it can be competitive. I also have a feeling the pay is not on par with NYC area for the same jobs, but cost of living is lower.
5) If you have kids, you want to have a car. Unless you really like waiting with your little ones for buses in 105 degree heat in the sun for half an hour or more at times. The MetroRail is open, but basically useless for anyone who doesn't commute to/from the waaaay-far out suburbs. Buses are the best/only option and are decent depending on time of day and location, but I've never had to rely on them exclusively, and not with kids.
6) Don't know if this applies to you at all, but we don't really have unions in any significant way like up north. A few industries are unionized, but not many. Texas is an at-will employment state, so you can be fired for any reason. It's also an extremely business-friendly state.

I have a love/hate relationship with Austin and Texas, and have lived here forever and seen it change. If you have any more questions, please feel free to memail me.
posted by ishotjr at 4:56 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, where we're coming from, a tiny two-bedroom house around the corner costs $2 million, and a one-bedroom coop runs about $700,000. You can't even buy a studio for $300,000.

I live in Brooklyn. I am not sure what area of Brooklyn you live in that a one BR co-op costs $700k. That is the cost of a very nice 2BR co-op in a gentrified area of Brooklyn. Yes, you cannot get a house for less than 1.5 million, pretty much, but your real estate costs for apartments seems very off to me. All the 2BRs I've seen recently -- and not in marginal neighborhoods, either -- have had asking prices within the range of $600-700k. If the #s you mention are what you're working with and basing big decisions about moving to Texas on, you might want to rethink those assumptions.
posted by tigerbelly at 5:12 PM on April 29, 2010

Hmmm, you're right tigerbelly, looking over craigslist just now, turns out we could get a 2BR apartment in our neighborhood for $600-700K, but honestly, that is still so far beyond what we could afford that it doesn't make the slightest difference.
posted by agent99 at 5:23 PM on April 29, 2010

Think about Dallas instead.

Better job opportunities.

Cheaper housing.

Weather neutral (maybe better?)

More diversity -- even if less I-am-lefty-hear-me-roar.
posted by MattD at 6:41 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Jobs: Austin does sound like a good fit with the high-tech companies and colleges for higher education. Austin job scene has been better than most, but like lunalaguna said above, your spouse might be able to find a job relatively quickly. For teaching jobs, try looking at ACC and St.Edwards. UT is of course the elephant in the room, but also really difficult to get into.

Housing: Real estate and job growth go hand in hand. And Austin real estate has fared pretty well during the downturn compared to the national average. When looking at real estate, please ignore March/April sales data as those are seriously inflated due to the tax credit. I feel prices will drop a bit after May. See Feb 2010 data here. Median prices below $200k, and average around $240k. You can definitely find nice houses in great neighborhoods for $200k-$250k. They are trying to make a mixed-use downtown, but the condo prices are quite high. I wouldn't think you'd want to move from Brooklyn to Austin to live in a condo. You can find home listings here.

City: Just as many said above, the city is quite liberal, but it is also the capital of Texas with a lot of conservative lawmakers around. Lots of music, movies and fun stuff. You'll most likely need a car because buses and the new metro-rail are quite inadequate and will waste a lot of your time. But it is not impossible to live without a car, especially if you were to live in Central Austin. Also, the new car2go car sharing is pretty cool so that might work out for you. I'd say Tripadvisor accurately describes Austin as "laid-back and friendly".

Weather/Outdoors: Summers are of course brutal (many 100+ days), but the remaining nine months are really good. Gardening is definitely possible in those months. Winters are quite tame, with no snow (it does get down to freezing temps). Austin has a lot of parks and greenbelts for hiking/biking. And beautiful wildflowers in Spring. It is also a really fit city.

I've lived here for around 10 years, and really love it for many reasons. I'd recommend moving here given the conditions you listed, as long as you guys are able to find a job in a reasonable time. Good Luck!

P.S. I am not in any way recommending the realtor I linked to above -- just used those links because they seem to have the most informative website I've seen among the Austin real estate sites I've looked during my recent home purchase research. I don't know them personally, so can't recommend them. If you decide to move here, MeFi mail me and I can suggest my realtor.
posted by thewildgreen at 6:52 PM on April 29, 2010

Oh, lord. Do NOT move to Dallas. The landscape is boring, it's ugly and sprawly (way more than Austin), the number of good local shops / bars / etc. is SO much less. You could not pay me to move back there. (Lived there for three years in various areas of DFW. I know of which I speak.)
posted by youcancallmeal at 7:51 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

oh fuck no to dallas!

if anything at all, maybe, MAYBE denton (aka austin-lite). but since they knocked down fry street, well...not what you want.

NOT dallas.

things you won't find:
the politics lean to the left
a reasonably active cultural life
posted by nadawi at 8:05 PM on April 29, 2010

What about the Research Triangle, in North Carolina? Or Massachusett's Pioneer Valley? Or Northeastern Ohio?
posted by billtron at 8:12 PM on April 29, 2010

"NOT dallas.

things you won't find:
the politics lean to the left"

Dallas County did go for Obama, but has almost all Republicans in the legeslature, and in the US House. Can anyone say "gerrymandering", but I wouldn't recommended it over Austin or Houston or many other places.

You do know that google maps will show all available real estate with prices, street view, (or at least all that will pay for it, which is a lot.) (I like Travis Heights unless you can afford West Lake or near a Barton Creek access.)
posted by Some1 at 8:27 PM on April 29, 2010

I kind of think you should think about Madison, which is kind of Austin with winter and a worse PR department. It's a third as big, but the 2/3 that's missing is the sprawl; we have a downtown core rich in the kind of cultural life you're probably looking for. We had to choose whether to move to Austin or Madison, and we've never regretted our choice. Lots of former NYC residents, including my wife, who are very happy to be here and not there. Kids are welcome everywhere here, from fancy restaurants to bars to rock shows. As your baby gets older, or if you add another, being a short drive from your family in Chicago will start to be a big, big deal.

Jobs: well, the unemployment rate for the Madison metro area is 7.0% as of March 2010, well below the national average (and essentially tied with Austin at 7.1%, both beating NYC at 9.3%.)

Small house with a yard: plenty of these in the $200Ks within biking distance of campus/downtown.

Garden: everybody here gardens. And everybody goes to the farmer's market for stuff that's too hard to garden. Lots of CSAs.

Leans left: it's a bit more than a lean. And we're in a purple state, not a red one, so the state government doesn't see the city as the enemy.

Parks and outdoorsy activities: aplenty, plus lakes.

Reasonably active cultural life: Probably behind Austin here, but there is no shortage of rep movies at the Cinemateque, we have our own film festival, a couple of rock festivals, a million lecturers coming through UW, about half the bands that play Chicago/Milwaukee play here too (often free campus shows), street fairs all summer, restaurants representing the whole world (but often just one per country.)

Is it too cold for you? I've lived in Boston and New York and Madison's only a little worse. It's like Chicago. It doesn't snow much. Three or four really brutally cold days per winter, just enough to make you feel tough.

By the way, for questions of this kind I think is really good:

posted by escabeche at 8:36 PM on April 29, 2010

If they're concerned about Chicago winter they are not going to want Madison winter. Seriously. And I found Wisconsin winter SO much worse than East Coast winter, it's like a whole different season. I admit to being a California wimp when it comes to winter, but still.
posted by grapesaresour at 8:57 PM on April 29, 2010

I love Austin, but I would also recommend checking out Fort Worth. There's lots of stupidity up here, sure, but there's also some great neighborhoods with lots of culture all around. Great museums, world class zoo, great food. There's a commuter train to Dallas and there's preliminary plans for a modern streetcar system. I work in Dallas but I take the train every day so I barely drive at all, and if I started biking I could eliminate even that. My councilman is openly gay and the city has plans for making biking and walking accessibility a priority.

My neighborhood is right next to rapidly developing Magnolia and not far from downtown and the Cultural District and is full of affordable houses. My fully renovated 3BR Craftsman bungalow was 170ish, and honestly we probably overpaid.

Things aren't perfect around here by any means, but it can only get better if more liberal-minded folk move in.
posted by kmz at 9:20 PM on April 29, 2010

BTW, I lived in Chicago for a few years before Fort Worth and I loved it there too. The winters are indeed brutal though.
posted by kmz at 9:22 PM on April 29, 2010

History Ph.D's are a dime a dozen in Austin, and most of them have developed personal connections via grad school at UT in all of the schools in the region. Finding even adjunct work will be tough. Consider Houston.
posted by pickypicky at 10:09 PM on April 29, 2010

Seamus is 100% correct about the suburbs. If you go the Austin route, you'd want to live in Austin. And the city isn't exactly Eugene, Oregon... the unusual and diverse are still subject to hick harassment.

I will say this for it. If you're seriously going to be active on the cultural/urban scene, Austin is the only viable place in Texas. But as far as "access to parks and outdoorsy activities" ...well, it's so hot that it's probably not viable for that.

Sounds like you should consider Seattle/Tacoma.
posted by AugieAugustus at 5:49 AM on April 30, 2010

My whole family is from Brooklyn originally. I've now lived in Houston since 1992, which means I visit Austin often. The primary reason Austin has the reputation it does for being such a cool place is because it's in Texas. Compared to anything else in Texas, Austin is nirvana. However, compared to New York, Austin So just be aware that all the glowing reports you hear about Austin need to be put into perspective.

You might also consider Manchester, New Hampshire and the surrounding towns. I'm not sure what the job market is currently like there, but real estate is cheap in that area, and it's just over the border from Boston. It's a wonderful place to raise a child, too. I would move back in a heartbeat if I didn't have such a great job in Houston.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:30 AM on April 30, 2010

kmz is right, Fort Worth does rock. The summers are crazy hot and rednecks abound, but liberals are to be found and we have an appreciation for history that Dallas lacks completely. We haven't lost our small-town charm. The Seventh St neighborhood, near the museum district is full of lofts, condos, shopping, restaurants and is within a couple of miles of the downtown business district.
posted by toastedbeagle at 6:43 AM on April 30, 2010

That's funny, I live in Austin for two years now and I am trying to move to Brooklyn. The music scene here is definitely not as good as people tell you; in fact there is not that much going on culturally. But on the flip-side things are very cheap, and except for May-September the weather is amazing. I had no idea what a positive effect on morale having so much sunlight in the winter months could have.

One of my major gripes with Austin is that people don't walk. There are essentially no shopping streets, things are very far apart and there is nothing between them. Walking alone on a long sidewalk alongside hundred of cars in the middle of downtown was something I had to get used to.
posted by pewpew at 6:45 AM on April 30, 2010

I moved from NYC to Austin five years ago and I love it. The real estate is a huge factor. The housing *is* cheaper here. It's hot, but we go swimming all the time. We love tex-mex & barbecue and (as opposed to NYC or Chicago) you don't need a heavy coat in April. Hell, I hardly ever wear a heavy coat in Austin. Town Lake and the trails are awesome. I'm not really a music person so I can't speak to that. The job market here is not great, but it's not the worst I've ever seen and there are a lot of freelance opportunities. I agree that you should visit. As you can see in this thread, it's not for everyone. I have a 3 year old & one on the way so I can also give you my opinions on preschools (Memail me).
posted by mattbucher at 7:52 AM on April 30, 2010

My experience is similar to Mattbucher. Moved here from Brooklyn five years ago and love it. I live in Austin. In the northern, unhip part of Austin. I work downtown and the bus is cheap, and a breeze.

It's true that if you evaluate Austin on NYC's criteria it will fail. How couldn't it? If you evaluate ANY city on NYC's criteria it'll fail. But Austin is a hugely, hugely livable city. You can buy a 3/2 house in my (admittedly not SUPER nice) neighborhood for less than $150,000. In Austin, on bus routes, with walk to supermarkets, tacos and BBQ (but not to good coffee).

You'll need a car, and you'll use it, but you can arrange your life so you aren't a slave to it. If you live in any but a handful of big cities in America, this is true. If you live outside the urban core in many of those cities, this is true. It is true of Austin. You can only get by without a car if you work at it and/or live in a fairly small, expensive core neighborhood. That said, you can do pretty well with public transportation. I've ridden the bus to work daily here for years. Cheaper, nicer, quicker than driving.

There's even a new commuter train that might be appealing, depending on where you live/work. Austin is actively trying (with a lot of blowback) to reduce its carcentricity. It's a big battle, and it will never be won completely, but at least we are trying.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:56 AM on May 3, 2010

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