Kentuckians relocating to San Antonio. All kinds of questions inside.
October 3, 2011 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Wife and I moving to SATX from west KY. Apprehensive about big city life. Looking for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Hi- my wife and I are moving to San Antonio very soon. We're from KY and the most I've seen of San Antonio was the hotel I stayed at for my job interview.

- What things surprised you about San Antonio? Cultural norms to be aware of? Sayings? Faux Pas to avoid? Funky pronunciations of streets/places? Crazy laws?

- Aside from bars/drinking, what do young people do for fun in the area? Preferably outdoors, but I realize it gets insanely hot - so what do you do for fun in the crazy weather too?

- The crime rate is much higher than where we are now. What should we avoid?

- Seriously, what should I learn to say in Spanish? My wife knows a lot of Spanish, but I don't. I'll be on my own for a month and a half or so...
posted by bofe to Travel & Transportation around San Antonio, TX (7 answers total)
WRT Spanish, are you expecting to interact with Spanish speakers frequently? IME, going to the store, dealing with people in service situations, etc., does not require Spanish.

If you want to learn it for your own personal enrichment, great, but it isn't something that you need to learn just to move.
posted by k8t at 7:04 AM on October 3, 2011

Best answer: I'm a Texan. RE: Culture, you aren't moving to the moon. People are very relaxed and friendly. The only Spanish you need to know is the various mexican food dishes. You should avoid living in a high crime neighborhood.

Schlitterbahn water park is always popular, with lots of things to do in the hill country. You aren't far from Austin, either. Congrats, you are moving to a great part of the country.
posted by blargerz at 8:19 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I live in Austin, and have visited SA a lot. You don't have to know Spanish (except for Mexican food, but there are only ten or so words there). Also, it's not a very big-feeling city. From pictures, the downtown area is only twice as big as Louisville, KY. And, like most Texas cities, it sprawls outward quite a bit. Here's a map of crime in SA.
posted by hanoixan at 8:24 AM on October 3, 2011

I feel like there's an understanding in Texas that with the exception of certain situations, you don't speak Spanish if you can't speak Spanish. I speak some very rote Spanish, but at the taco truck and carniceria I stick to nouns and pantomime and humility. But you have to seek out Spanish-speaking interactions. Most people in San Antonio, and pretty much 100% of the people you are likely to interact with on a daily basis, speak English.

However, even the most basic language tape/podcast/website will help you learn pronunciation, which will be very helpful in saying and understanding people/place names and food.

I know you don't mean to sound panicky, but you don't need to be afraid of Hispanic people or Texans or San Antonians. There are some problems down on the border - which is very far away because Texas is an enormous state - but pretty much as long as you don't start selling drugs or weapons you're unlikely to get involved in all that.

Like anywhere: don't make assumptions about people, don't make fun of people for being different, be friendly because Texans are. San Antonio is a massive convention town, you've got tourists everywhere jacking up your traffic and wandering into the downtown streets, but it also means you get all kinds of people and all kinds of entertainment options. It's a cool little (big-little) town and you're right there on the edge of Hill Country and Austin's just up the way. Enjoy it - you'll be fine.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:36 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I lived in the Shavano Park area of town for a few years and always felt completely safe. Compared to most big cities, San Antonio doesn't have any traffic to speak of other than in the downtown area. It's a beautiful city with a small town feel; you'll enjoy it!
posted by Allee Katze at 10:04 AM on October 3, 2011

Born and raised in San Antonio, though I live in Austin now. The odd thing about SA is that it's two cities in many regards; the blue-collar town where average Joe's enjoy their basketball games and their cheap barbecue or Mexican food, and the hoity-toity old-money town who endow art museums, restore old parks, and live in restored old homes (see: King William district). People are friendly and polite, though you will find they mostly don't put on airs. You'll find culture if you look for it, (the Witte, the McNay, the SAMA), and what I understand is a pretty good farmers' market (at the old Lone Star brewery). Generally speaking, you'll probably not stray far from your part of town - at least most people don't.
Though SA is probably 80% Hispanic, Spanish isn't really an issue. Except for the random septegenarian, English will do you just fine.
posted by Gilbert at 10:31 AM on October 3, 2011

Best answer: I live in S.A. and have been here since moving from Louisiana in 2005. I did no preparation for moving other than getting over the knee-jerk OMG-it's-Texas aspect of the whole thing.

Overall, we've been very happy here. Here are somethings that might take some getting used to, though:

- watering restrictions are pretty much guaranteed in the summer since we get water from an aquifer which gets its recharge from rainwater, of which there can sometimes be very little.

- driving on the highway service roads is very strange. Sometimes you have to yield to traffic coming off the highway and sometimes you can't cross the double white line. Some of the highway interchanges are downright bizarre (1-10 and 1604 I'm looking at you! My husband, a UTexas grad swears they are designed by A&M grads).

- lots of rivalry between University of Texas Longhorn fans and Texas A&M grads. It's kind of ridiculous.

- People are super friendly.

- No Spanish required. All signs in stores, etc. are either in English or in English/Spanish. It might be fun though to learn Spanish to be able to listen to more of the radio stations.

- Great city parks all over including at least 3 dog parks.

- the library system is very good. They have most of the titles I'm looking for and a surprisingly good CD collection.

- For such a large city, it really does have a small town feel, more so than Houston.

- outdoor fun: Schlitterbahn!

- most crime is really property-related. Lots of car burglary, etc. The obvious thing to do is use your garage, if you have one, and don't leave valuables in sight when you have the car outside.

Feel free to MeMail me if you have more specific questions.

posted by Leezie at 11:23 AM on October 3, 2011

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