Austin: The Greatest City Not to Move To

Oh, it’s happened again. Austin, Texas has been lauded in another prominent publication; this time it’s National Geographic Traveler with a six-page spread all about how Austin is the cat’s meow.

Well, shit.

Have you heard of Austin? No? Well apparently, if you visit you will be transfixed by its weird greatness, drink the kool-aid, and never, ever, ever be happy living anywhere else. In fact, its greatness has been SO touted in the last several years in publications from Forbes and CNN to the New York Times, Travel + Leisure and even Smithsonian Magazine, that more than 100 people a day have been moving here and the city is creaking from all that extra weight. You hardly meet anyone from Austin these days.

While there aren’t many native Austinites left, there are plenty of people like me, who have lived here for 10 or more years (often 20 or 30+). It’s really easy to tell who has lived here for more than a decade and who just moved here. Just listen to about 3 minutes of conversation. If the person bitches about something totally awesome that used to be here and was an Austin institution, and has now been demolished to make room for a high-rise condo or something equally lame, they are an old-timer Austinite.

But, yes, our city is awesome. Here are some of the most awesome things about Austin and why every other person on the planet who has not already moved here, should drop everything they are doing this very minute and relocate.

It’s A Foodie Darling

Of course it is. You can spend every weekend checking out one of the 14 new restaurants that opened, on average. You can now pay $8 for a taco instead of $2, or try some elephant-dung-foam oh-so-artfully placed atop your farm-to-table, nose-to-tail dinner and pay $30 extra for that.

OK, OK, I exaggerate. We aren’t in Kansas anymore when it comes to the dining scene here, and that’s just fine with those of us who love to eat. So yes, by all means do the whole gastronomic tour scene…just be sure to allow about 5 hours to get across town with our newly Houstonized traffic, and for God’s sake, whatever you do, wherever you are going — AVOID I-35 LIKE IT WAS THE BUBONIC PLAGUE ARRIVED ANEW! Seriously, I’m not even fucking kidding. You’ll thank me later.

It’s a Hipster Haven

Hey, I like hipsters. There’s no hating going on here from me. For the most part they are creative and fun-loving and they find irony ironic; though they do tend to take themselves and their incredibly existential, deeply meaningful conversations about absolutely any subject (“So, why do you think beards aren’t in anymore?”) way too seriously.

But they provide seriously amusing, free entertainment. Try it. Just go to any bar whatsoever on the East Side of Austin, no matter how divey it might look (the more of a weeds growing through the sidewalk, derelict hanging by the front door, pee-soaked bathroom floor a place is, the more we’re willing to pay for Lone Star and hand-crafted cocktails) — plant yourself somewhere, and just revel in the conversation around you. You might want to have twitter or snapchat open on your phone.

As Austin resident Luke Winkie wrote last year in possibly the best-ever story about Austin’s hipness for Vice, “People are very excited to see horribly self-involved white people tell puns at a bar. That’s something you do in Austin; it’s part of the scene.”

Indeed.

Oh, and did I mention that you should AVOID FUCKING I-35 BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE while getting to said East Austin bars? OK then.

Has Anyone Ever Mentioned it’s the Live Music Capital of the World?

Did you know there’s live music here? Seriously. I’ve lived here for 13 years and am a native Texan and I just discovered this last month.

I’m kidding, of course. There have been people with guitars warbling their songs at my local grocery store, hair salon, auto parts store (I’m not kidding), YMCA, in the bathroom stall next to me (on more than one occasion) and in 99.93759% of every bar and restaurant in town. Oh, and there’s a drunk neighborhood dude in my gentrified-but-still-sorta-slummy hood that only millionaires could afford to buy into these days, who sings to me from the sidewalk below about every third week at 3 in the morning. Well, I imagine he’s singing to me. Who else?

Author’s note: I want to disclose that even though I live in a gentrified neighborhood, I myself am not a gentrifier. For real. I took an online assessment and it told me I was too poor to be a gentrifier.

Yep, we have a lot of music here. But who came up with that moniker, Live Music Capital of the World? I’m pretty sure we did ourselves. Cause we’re weird and ironic and self-effacingly audacious that way. Just be sure to AVOID DRIVING ON I-35 LIKE IT’S THE FUCKING PLAGUE if you attempt to attend any music show that you can’t walk, bus, Uber, pedicab or ride your fixie bike to.

Even horses can be part of a band in Austin. And they’re allowed indoors everywhere. Really. Try it. (P.S. Many of you have commented that this is a mule, not a horse. How the hell should I know? We’ve already established I am not a “good Texan.” But, according to the 6th Street Cowboy, whom this photo is of, it IS a horse. http://6stcowboy.com/)

Welcome to Austin!

I mean it, sincerely. I’m not the only one who moved to Austin, and I did so because I fell in love with it. Why shouldn’t everyone else? Well, maybe not 37% of the rest of the U.S. population.

So welcome to your new home. But just keep in mind that unless you are:

  1. Independently wealthy
  2. About to inherit a fortune
  3. A drug dealer
  4. An underground dealer of skinny jeans and vintage cowboy boots (you’ll make a mint, just be sure to open an Etsy store); or
  5. Donald Trump (God, please don’t let him move here. I mean, sweet Jesus, we already have Perry and Cruz and Abbott, haven’t you punished us enough?)

You won’t be able to afford a house. Or an apartment, or a condo, renting or owning. That is, not anywhere within an approximate 122 mile radius of the actual city of Austin. I’m just warning you, so if you end up in a sleeping bag next to some dumpster you will be prepared. I’m pretty sure that a shed in someone’s backyard with a tree for a toilet rents for around $1,800 per month these days.

Craigslist ad courtesy of Pat Snow

But the good thing is that, in Austin, it’s really really hard to tell the homeless people from the gainfully-employed hipsters. Some of the guys holding signs on the street corners dress better than my neighbors who drive $40,000 cars.

In closing, DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT TO DRIVE ON I-35 UNLESS YOUR LIFE FUCKING DEPENDS ON IT! And maybe, not even then.

Here are some tips for moving to Austin in a great little Youtube ditty called “Welcome to Austin, now go the fuck home.

You’re welcome, y’all.

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