Should I move to Austin?
December 23, 2010 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Would I like living in Austin?

Talk me into or out of moving to Austin. I have a job where I can work from anywhere in the US and I travel at least half the year. A recent relationship change has made me think seriously about moving someplace I want to be for the long term. I'm tired of living in a place lacking unusual/quirky culture and great food and I'm looking to make a change. I used to live in New Orleans in the 90s for 7 years and have been to Austin on business 3 times but haven't really had a chance to explore the city. My plan would be to take a couple of weeks vacation and try to check out the Austin area more in depth. I figure I'll go in the middle of summer so I can gauge how I can tolerate the heat. I'm a 50 yr old straight male and the availability of artsy/cool/nerdy women in my age range is also an important factor. I like to drink, eat well, listen to live music, and have fun when I'm not on the road. I'm liberal on most issues and have worked/lived with folks of many different cultures. So tell me what's so great and what's not so great about living in Austin. Also looking for suggestions where I should live that is within walking/biking range of good places to eat/drink. My budget is $750-$1200 and shared housing is an option. New Orleans is my second choice but even though I've lived there and loved it I'm looking for a new experience. Thanks everyone in advance.
posted by white_devil to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I lived in Austin for 5 years. There is much to like about the city - the quirkiness, food, live music, arts, liberal attitude - all of that was good for me. Also, you can definitely find a nice place to live with the budget you list. I liked the Barton Hills area a lot.

Coming from the east coast, there were some major cons for me. The first one is the heat. It is insufferably hot from about April to October. There isn't a whole lot that you can do outside in that kind of heat. Lots of sitting inside in the air conditioner. It was also too far from the ocean, and there isn't much of a "downtown" area unless you count 6th Street, which is really not that cool for a 50 year old. I didn't like how spread out everything was. It was more like one giant suburb than a city.

So, there you have it.
posted by Sal and Richard at 6:46 PM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

I love Austin, TX! I will move back there in a heartbeat! Keep Austin Weird!
posted by jchaw at 7:12 PM on December 23, 2010

In my opinion, you will find more women you may like in Austin but that's about it. For arts, food, housing, and music, you will be missing what you would find in N.O.
posted by Kloryne at 7:13 PM on December 23, 2010

And yeah, Sal's got it right about the scene on 6th street. There's got to be something else, and hopefully someone will chime in with that. Otherwise, I've found it to be a great place to raise kids, but otherwise a loose college town for Texas. Nothing "weird" about it.
posted by Kloryne at 7:18 PM on December 23, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks Sal and Richard. I'm used to heat/humidity as I live Florida now. I've lived in Phoenix for a couple of years so I know how brutal summer heat can be. Kloryne - I do love NOLA and still have many friends there. And the food is amazing, but I've liked the times I've been to Austin but do realize visiting a place and living there are completely different propositions. Also I work in the tech industry and even though I have a great job now I think I would find better employment options in the future in Austin vs NOLA which has a dearth of tech companies.
posted by white_devil at 7:28 PM on December 23, 2010

Well, for the sake of disclosure - there's no better city in the U.S. than New Orleans to me so I "might" be sort of biased. The wealth of tech companies is a big advantage for Austin, I suppose. BUT if you wanna be poor and have fun - then NEW ORLEANS BABY!! And I do stand by my "claim" of a lack of single gals in N.O. My straight male friends bitch about this all the time.
posted by Kloryne at 7:40 PM on December 23, 2010

So I guess you should move to Austin, in other words. Thought I don't approve. I hope you can live with that knowledge.
posted by Kloryne at 7:43 PM on December 23, 2010

"Though" I don't approve...
posted by Kloryne at 7:43 PM on December 23, 2010

And yeah, Sal's got it right about the scene on 6th street. There's got to be something else, and hopefully someone will chime in with that.

This is starting to change; downtown is starting to get more developed around the convention center, and there's gentrification happening right on the other side of the river too, and both areas are much more congenial for older people (i.e., over 25) than 6th. The food scene in Austin has also changed dramatically over the past 5 years or so; there's been a profusion of food carts, and much more emphasis on local produce and farm-to-table restaurants than there used to be.
posted by asterix at 7:44 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hi, I am a (married) female nerd in Austin in my early 40s, so probably would be in your target demographic if I were single. I am at the upper end of my lady nerd friends' age group but there are a lot of female nerds here and I'm sure I don't know them all by a long shot.

You will find a lot of live music here, although it tends to be of a particular stripe: a lot of Americana and country/folk on the one hand and college hipster music on the other. We see a lot of shows, probably one or two a month, and would see more if we had energy/cash. If it's a stadium show for Gen Xers or boomers, we tend to have to travel to Dallas or Houston.

Having lived in Houston for many years, I think Austin is kind of meh as a food town. It has some nice restaurants, but I don't feel the variety of excellent inexpensive restaurants here is the same as it is in Houston. The major exception is the food cart culture, which is fantastic.

Advice on where to live would depend on where you'd be working, as traffic/commute makes a big difference in happiness. You'd need to triangulate between work and areas of interest. There are cool places in Austin that aren't Sixth Street, too. I prefer South Congress myself, although that's less of a nightclub zone.

Be sure to suggest a meetup when you come to check Austin out; we love meeting travelling MeFites. We also all have a lot of opinions about the city. I'm sure you'll get advice tailored to your needs.
posted by immlass at 7:48 PM on December 23, 2010

Best answer: You sound like the prototypical Austinite to me -- it'd probably a pretty good fit for you. However, it's no New Orleans. The difference I think is that Austin was a pretty small town until very recently, and there has been just massive growth since the 1970's. There's a little history in the central part of town, and in the surrounding small towns, but overall, Austin is pretty new. The "old" neighborhoods, with the exception of the very center of town where almost no one normal can afford to live, date from the 1920's or so, on up in concentric bands. I'm relatively close-in, and my neighborhood, while mature, well-kept, tree-lined, etc. dates to the '30s & 40s. New Orleans cleans our clock as far as history, food and local culture.

What Austin does have is plenty of liberal professional types, what with the university, state govt. and all. Austin is relatively well-educated, with lots of fitness & outdoorsy stuff to do. It's bike and jogger-friendly for the most part, we have a pretty good arts community, and of course 10,000 local bands. It's also pretty techy, with some older, entrenched tech companies like Dell, IBM, AMD, et al, & also newer web-tech companies moving in. I've been here since the 70's and really wouldn't seriously consider moving anywhere except maybe Portland, New Orleans, SF (who can afford that?) or if I wanted to stay in TX, maybe San Antonio (which is a nice town to have nearby, actually).
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:11 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, feel free to MeMail me with specific questions about neighborhoods, etc. if there's something specific I can answer once/if you start seriously looking. I've lived all over town and have been driving in Austin for many, many years and know the streets/neighborhoods very well. Helpful hint: Have nothing to do with I-35, ever. Ever.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:17 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

The heat is worse than described. We have like 80 degree temperatures in December. That's considered cool weather.
posted by marble at 10:41 PM on December 23, 2010

Best answer: Coming from the east coast, there were some major cons for me. The first one is the heat. It is insufferably hot from about April to October.

This is really personal. I grew up in Wisconsin and have spent most of my adult life in upstate New York. Bitterly cold climates. I also lived in Austin for exactly a year, including a full summer, a couple years ago. I never found it "insufferable." And I was living there without a car, so I was doing a lot of walking. Of course, it was very hot in the summer. But I remember thinking, "Is this all? This is the terrible heat everyone always talks about? I can live with this."

Beyond that, I pretty much agree with others that Austin would be a perfect fit. I've seen online lists of "the best dating cities in America" where Austin gets ranked #1 or #2. Austin culture has a laid-back vibe that's very conducive to fun, low-stress dating.

Post another AskMe question asking for advice on where to go once you take that two weeks vacation. I'm betting that after you get back from that vacation, you'll really know the answer to the question you've asked today.
posted by John Cohen at 6:53 AM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Please, it's 55 degrees in austin here today and it's been in the 30s off and on the last few weeks. Yes, austin gets hot in the summer, but don't exaggerate.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:11 AM on December 24, 2010

Seriously -- this year, the weather has been mostly fantastic since late September. The heat can get pretty bad, but it's not as humid as N.O. or Houston. March-May is usually pretty great too, and winters are mild with the occasional dip below freezing, for a day or two at most. The thing about the heat is when you get into those long, grinding stretches in July and August where individually the days aren't horrible, but they stack up, and you've got to just grind it out. I'm out in the heat the majority of my day, and it gets old after a while, but it's not toxic, like the -30 is in the northwest & midwest.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:59 AM on December 24, 2010

Response by poster: Devils Rancher - Much the same here in the Orlando area. October through May make up for the hell that is June through September. We usually just go out late or do something around the pool or at the beach. I personally don't think heat will be that big an issue for me. Looking at my travel schedule now to figure out when I can come have a look around. Very tempted to piggy back it on my trip to NOLA Jazzfest in May and just jump straight from NOLA to Austin to do a comparison while it's still fresh in my mind. Also looking at AirBNB and Couch surfing options to get a more local experience while there. Thanks everyone for your insight and help. I'll be proposing a meetup on IRL when the time gets closer.
posted by white_devil at 12:28 PM on December 24, 2010

« Older Blow thirty mill' like I'm Hammer   |   Openness of mind Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.