- Brett Alder moved to Austin, Texas, for work and regrets the selection, calling it an costly mistake.
- He calls out 10 drawbacks, like dear utilities, oppressive warmth, and a scarcity of public house.
- That is an opinion column. The ideas expressed are these of the creator.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Lots of people, together with myself, transfer from California to Austin due to the hype and the notion that California and Austin are fairly comparable in life-style. My household and I discovered that to be removed from the case.
This is what we discovered, or 10 causes that Austin just isn’t the “California of Texas.” However first, what does Austin have in widespread with California?
Austin, like California, just isn’t inexpensive.
The factor that California and Austin undoubtedly have in widespread is that they are each very costly. Austin just isn’t cheap. Let the phrases sink in. Austin just isn’t cheap; it is truly fairly costly.
We moved from San Diego in 2015 (proudly owning a 2,000-square-foot home on a one-third acre) on the lookout for a lift in life-style. For those who’re on the lookout for nice faculties, the southwest and northwest sectors of Austin are the principle choices. The one caveat is that NW Austin (Travis County) is a number of the most costly actual property in Texas.
So we purchased a four,000-square-foot home in Bee Cave (an prosperous suburb of Austin) with “nice faculties.” We heard Austin was extraordinarily scorching so we received a spot with a pool. Once you take a look at a 3D affordability map, these are the components we found persons are not making an allowance for:
- Taxes: Everyone knows property taxes are excessive in Texas. They really weren’t that dangerous for us and ranged from 2% to three% relying on the neighborhood. We purchased a house at 2.1% and, with the homestead exception, have been paying at 1.79% (vs. 1.25% in California). Do not buy at Three%; you will not have the ability to promote and your home will not recognize.
- Energy: Vitality is extremely costly. You desire a massive home, and so they’re so cheap, however then it prices a fortune to warmth and funky. We have been paying $400 per thirty days in the course of the summer time and winter and we have been uncomfortable (our thermostat was set to 79 levels F in the summertime, and 65 levels F within the winter). To be snug would have value us $700 to $1,000 per thirty days.
- Water: Water can be shockingly costly. In NW Austin they pump water from Lake Travis, which is only some miles away, however that does not cease grasping water collectives from shaking you down. We paid $89 per thirty days only for the privilege of being related to metropolis water (utilizing zero gallons). And so they simply jacked that base rate to $97. We had a effectively for panorama watering, however in any other case our water invoice for a younger household, watering about 10,000 sq. toes of grass would have simply been $300 to $400 per thirty days. New sod? Attempt $1,200 per thirty days, for water. Our water in San Diego (and now San Jose) was cheaper, throughout a drought, and we received it from like two states away.
- Providers: We thought dwelling in Texas, stuff could be cheap, however with so many individuals shifting to Austin, the service trade is in crimson scorching demand. Costly pool upkeep, costly landscaping providers, costly house repairs, costly eating and films.
- Journey: For causes described beneath, most anybody who can leaves Austin for a month or two in the course of the summer time to flee the warmth. That is costly since to get anyplace fascinating entails flying and resort stays. Finances one other a number of thousand per yr.
- Climate: Texas climate is difficult on homes. Hail storms will destroy your roof, torrential rain and scorpions will get inside. We spent tens of hundreds on sudden house repairs and remediation, and speaking to different folks, it wasn’t unusual.
- Lastly — key level — life-style: Though we doubled the dimensions of our home (and kitchen and yard), we felt extra cramped and cooped up in Austin than San Diego or San Jose because of the dangerous climate and lack of public areas. A 2,000-square-foot home with a yard in Austin is cheap in comparison with the identical home in San Diego, however affords nowhere near the identical life-style as a result of your yard in San Diego resides house and in Austin it isn’t.
1. The climate
Positive, you have heard it is scorching and humid, however how dangerous might it’s? It is simply climate, proper?
Unsuitable. Initially, Austin is moist, getting almost 90% as a lot rain as Portland, Oregon. That sounds nice, and the greenery appears to be like nice, however it comes at a price. Count on all the issues that include a moist local weather: mildew, allergic reactions, mosquitoes, and water penetration. And the rain is available in a handful of days, typically pouring inches in a single evening. Extra on that later.
Humidity is nice on your pores and skin, however causes meals to spoil quick, towels to get mildewy and drastically limits the temperature vary the place you are feeling snug. For me, 32 levels in excessive deserts like Nevada or Utah just isn’t that dangerous, simply chipper. 50 levels in Austin is butt chilly, not cozy, snuggle up chilly, however annoyingly chilly.
And Austin is scorching. It isn’t California scorching; it is Texas scorching. California warmth is weak by comparability. In a lot of California the temperature cools down at evening. You’ll be able to open home windows, breathe contemporary air, and drastically restrict your utility invoice. In Austin, it will solely get right down to a smothering 80 levels at evening in the course of the summer time. This implies your AC can be working all day and all evening. Night walks are lower than refreshing when it is 11 p.m. and also you’re sweating. It is laborious to explain how oppressive it’s.
Though we had an enormous yard and our personal half basketball courtroom, we actually solely felt like going exterior about Three to four months of the yr. The remainder of the time it was too windy, too scorching/chilly, too mosquito/horse fly/hearth ant ridden or pouring. Usually the youngsters would go exterior anyway and are available again with warmth rashes and bug bites.
Evaluate this to San Jose or San Diego the place you possibly can take pleasure in being exterior just about every single day (no less than throughout some a part of the day).
2. No public land
Take into consideration public land a lot? Yeah, me neither. On the West Coast, we take public land without any consideration. Hovering Sierra Nevadas, sandy seashores, public house canyons, and even trails alongside creeks are normal fare within the West — to not point out Yosemite. Not so in Texas.
Due to Texas’ historical past and lack of pure obstacles (mountains, oceans) to settlement, most all the land round is non-public and flat or rolling hills. Sure, there’s a variety of land in Texas, however it all has barbed wire fences and no trespassing indicators on it. Even creeks are parceled up as non-public property.
So regardless that Austin is meant to be outdoorsy, there are only a few locations to go, and since there’s a very restricted variety of public areas serving such a big inhabitants, good luck getting in.
One instance, we drove 90 minutes to go to Enchanted Rock, a granite rock outcropping that will largely go unnoticed on the West Coast. We visited on a Saturday and met a Three-mile-long line of vehicles ready to get in. Operating out of gasoline, we grabbed lunch at a close-by city and tried once more later. No cube, the car parking zone was full and closed.
We have now christened the positioning Disenchanted Rock: Three hours of driving and no mountaineering. What’s much more annoying is when you think about how a lot land is in Texas and the state did not construct a sufficiently big car parking zone. We confirmed it was quite common not to have the ability to get into different public sights on weekends and holidays.
Even our neighborhood creek was divvied up as non-public property. A lot for the youngsters exploring and catching crayfish.
Three. Nowhere to go
Except for the truth that the whole lot is non-public, the place are you going to go, anyway? There aren’t any snowy mountains, no raging rivers, and no hovering arches. For those who dwell in Austin, issues do not change a lot in an enormous 7-hour-drive radius. Since we love the outside — exploring, climbing, rafting — Austin was not our cup of tea.
Take into consideration integrity a lot? I did not. I’ve labored with a whole lot of firms and hundreds of individuals in California. Positive, there are dangerous apples, however by and huge integrity is a default method to deal with folks right here. It isn’t even one thing we discuss. Not so in Austin.
First it was the folks we purchased the house from. They lied about the reason for a leak, did not disclose effectively water high quality points that made us sick, lied about how a lot stuff value to restore, and so forth. However it did not cease there.
We employed a man with a 5-star score on Yelp to tug up flooded carpet who utterly and really clearly busted our closet doorways whereas eradicating them and by no means stated a phrase in regards to the harm. Or whose carpet cleaner made a foot lengthy burn mark upstairs and left with no phrase. Or the mover (additionally 5 stars on Yelp) we employed who provided to assist promote our leather-based sectional and $600 ping pong table and cut up the proceeds with us.
We by no means heard again from him. We’re not holding our breath.
Speaking round we realized that our expertise wasn’t distinctive. Individuals are used to it there and know to do additional due diligence — extra inspections, extra testing, extra mistrust. However for us coming from California, it was a giant shock and disappointment, to not point out monetary setback.
Sure, there’s good meals in Austin, however you possibly can’t belief Yelp to search out it as a result of it would not work in Austin.
We drove 40 minutes for good Southern Indian meals at a four.5-star rated institution. It was one of many worst service experiences of my life. Discover the tear drop stains on this put up? Normally you could not belief Yelp as a lot, which was so disconcerting, particularly for a brand new particular person.
I will most likely take essentially the most warmth for this one, however Austinites are impolite. We met some superb folks in Austin (like my work colleagues and church congregation) and even ran into Matthew McConaughey at our child’s flag soccer sport. There are some very fantastic, pleasant folks, however we additionally met greater than our share of the others.
Exhibit A was the dad (additionally at a children flag soccer league) carrying the “Do not transfer to Austin” T-shirt, a play on “Do not mess with Texas.” Let me get this straight: I uprooted my household, moved throughout 4 states, and that is the welcome I get? And the worst a part of all of it is that it isn’t even humorous. There is a bumper sticker within the West: “Montana sucks. Inform your folks!” Similar message, however with some humor.
After which there are the native Texans, often older, who stick fairly carefully to the stereotypes. I’ve by no means been informed so typically what to do and what to not do, and the supply is in a “that is simply the way in which it is accomplished” tone that’s utterly oblivious to another viewpoints on the matter.
Our buddies from Tennessee additionally confirmed that Austin doesn’t conform to the notion of Southern hospitality, however I’ll say that the majority youthful Texans have been actually cool.
Austin drivers are additionally horrible, I imply, reptilian mind horrible. They do not yield to pedestrians on crosswalks except compelled, will inexplicably tailgate and illegally cross you on a double yellow simply to drive 30 toes in entrance of you for the following 10 minutes on open roads, and so they could also be conservative, however not with their horns. I drive everywhere in the nation and arms down Austin has the worst and most inexplicable driving I’ve skilled.
The service can be usually terrible. Would not matter if it is a rental automotive firm, a restaurant, you identify it. We discovered a number of distinctive waiters and hosts, however Austin is mostly the worst service I’ve skilled nationwide. I imply, you are on the Austin airport with two items of bags and also you simply ordered 6 objects. They do not even ask in order for you a bag, you must provoke the request, and even then they simply hand you the bag.
7. A conservative dystopia
For those who ask folks from different elements of Texas, they will say that Austin just isn’t consultant (despite that most people moving to Austin are from Texas) of all of Texas. That’s most likely true, however listed here are quite a lot of tousled issues about Travis County/NW Austin:
- A variety of the newer developments are constructed on transformed ranch land, which can be distant from different developments. Even supposing Texas leads the nation in natural gas production, they do not mandate that fashionable utilities be run to those new developments. In a single prosperous neighborhood, Belterra, the residents are suing the developer for signing a 30 year, auto-renewing contract for captured propane that leaves residents with $600 per thirty days heating payments within the winter. Is that this a sick joke? Greed run amok.
- There’s additionally little public faculty alternative. In California there are constitution faculties, two day faculties, public faculties, money/combo constitution faculty/house education, you identify it. In west Austin, simply public faculties. Do not know why, however I heard that the highschool soccer industrial complicated opposed constitution faculties.
- After which there’s water, once more. Austin will actually have water restrictions in place whereas it is flooding. “Cannot you simply take a number of the water from right here and … by no means thoughts.” And your Texan neighbors will name you out for having a inexperienced garden, even if you happen to water from a effectively, which is a chance they cannot fairly appear to think about.
I really like attending to know folks from different cultures. In California we have had Vietnamese neighbors, Iranian neighbors, Filipinos, Palestinians, you identify it. We like it.
In elements of Texas it isn’t only a monoculture, however a monoculture that does not appear to concentrate on its personal blandness. Give it some thought, are you able to have your son judged primarily based on his suitability for a future profession in soccer? Are you able to community by attending the native highschool soccer sport with the fellows? As a result of that is a factor in Texas.
And it isn’t simply that. The shortage of openness to numerous concepts leaves you with the sensation that you just traveled 15 years again in time technologically shifting there. They voted out Uber and Lyft and suppose that is not a giant deal as a result of — anticipate it — they’ve a ride-sharing Facebook group. Yeah, that must be nice for out of city guests.
In addition they do not have a variety of the choices we loved in San Diego like “game-only soccer leagues” for youths. The automotive washes have been lame. You simply could not belief issues to be as effectively thought out and executed as in California.
9. Punitive, militaristic faculties and sports activities
We had three children within the native elementary faculty, rated 9 out of 10. For positive a number of the academics have been wonderful and really caring, however the faculty was run like a micromanaged army academy.
Our youngsters complained most in regards to the PE and music academics. (Aren’t they alleged to be the enjoyable ones?) We heard tales about children working laps or lacking recess simply because they did not sit “criss-cross applesauce.” Who considered taking away recess? And it appeared the extra ignorant the coach or trainer, the extra he insisted on being addressed as “Y’Sir” — which continues to be the norm, even in Austin.
There was an enormous emphasis on conformity that was good for academics, dangerous for youths. I went to learn to my kindergartner’s class and felt like I would landed in a dictatorship. That they had aides ensuring all the kindergartners confronted ahead whereas marching in line to the cafeteria. Kindergartners.
We withdrew our youngsters. Our college could have been notably dangerous, however it’s one thing to look out for.
10. Cedar allergic reactions
There is a good likelihood you may be sick the entire first yr in Austin being uncovered to a brand new set of pathogens. We have been, and it isn’t unusual.
Then we heard that after a number of years it is usually widespread to develop cedar allergic reactions, if you happen to do not have already got them.
They’re so dangerous that we knew no less than two professionals going via subcutaneous immunotherapy (photographs over a interval of years) as a result of their allergic reactions have been ruining their lives. Allergy therapy facilities are quite common. There are actually solely two sorts of bushes in Austin, cedar (actually juniper) and oak, so no getting away from the cedar.
11. (I could not cease at 10) Large luxurious house obsession
I am guessing due to the shortage of public land, horrible climate, and so forth., that Austinites get actually into their homes. We noticed some unbelievably ornate houses — castle-esque.
And there is strain to maintain your home immaculate. You should buy a house that’s very nice by California requirements (up to date kitchen, crown moldings) solely to search out that everybody else’s home is far nicer than yours, which we did not care about till we discovered that nobody needed to purchase our less-than-luxurious house.
Ethical of the story
It will take some huge cash to purchase a “California-like” life-style in Austin. For those who’re shifting to Austin, ensure that it is due to the issues that it affords (downtown life-style, BBQ, soccer, dwell music, good homes, skilled alternative) and that you just will not miss the belongings you’re abandoning (good climate, public areas, and so forth.).
It was an costly mistake, however my household and I now see California in a very new gentle. We really feel very lucky to be dwelling within the Bay Space.
You are welcome.
Brett Alder is a gross sales government working within the semiconductor trade primarily based out of San Jose, CA.