Six Stupid Reasons to Move to Austin, a Mediocre Town

Categories: Texas, Whatever

"This is probably the one people think of as being Austin's big draw -- SXSW, Austin City Limits, film festivals, etc. It's the cultural center of Texas, that's for sure. No one's going to Houston for much of anything. (Houston sucks. Sorry Houston, real talk.)"

Okay, punk, you want some real talk? We'll give you some real talk.

Yes, this so-called cultural center has no major art museums to equal any of Houston's top three, nor a grand opera, nor a top-tier symphony. Austin has no equivalent to the Alley Theatre, nor a ballet to equal ours. There are no pro sports in Austin, nor a zoo. There's no Hong Kong City Mall in Austin, and Houston's ethnic restaurants (beyond those purveying breakfast tacos) put theirs to shame. Austin has no equivalent to I-Fest or the Art Car Parade, though they are trying to steal that last as their own, in time-honored Austin fashion.

If no one is coming to Houston for much of anything, why is it growing faster than almost everywhere else? Tell that to the thousands of immigrants coming here from all over the world and the migrants coming here from all over America.

Lastly, Reed praises Austin for being "livable." Oddly, he doesn't mention Austin's natural semi-bounty -- all those lakes and hills that give it the most pleasant setting in Texas. (Not so oddly, since he's trying to make a case for Austin, he doesn't even mention the city's traffic, which is even worse than Houston's, despite what virtually every Austinite claims.)

Reed can imagine putting down roots there. He's not planning his next move for the first time in his life.

I could live here forever, I think, and that's goddamn terrifying, but it's also really lovely and comfortable. It's not a place where you're going to get famous, probably, but who cares? When has fame ever made anyone any happier?

Austin's the sort of place you can settle into, the kind of place where you stop worrying so much about that kind of thing and revise your concept of success a little bit. In 30 years or so, I'll be an old guy on a bike, a true Austin trademark.

Yep, Reed has actually consciously decided and publicly announced himself to be just another denizen of Michael Corcoran's Mediocre, Texas, living a mediocre life in a mediocre city.

Good for you, Ed Reed. And please don't move here.

H/t to Burton Anderson.


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129 comments
AtticusMonster
AtticusMonster

There are 2 things to do in the great state of TexAss, a state where everyone is proud (and after living there for a number of years, I never understood what everyone was so proud of) ... you'll either go the bar on Saturday and to the mall on Sunday.  Or, you'll go to the mall on Saturday and to the bar on Sunday.  Wash, rinse, repeat...

biron.clark
biron.clark

Very well written. I've never visited either town but I laughed at the 'breakfast tacos' reference. Good article overall. I'll come visit soon and decide for myslf!

outoftexas707
outoftexas707

I cannot judge a whole city, only my experiences in it. And, they have been quite shitty here in Austin. Not sure if I'm just going to all the wrong places or what but it certainly seems like there is a much higher ratio of assholes and young, smart ass kids thinking they invented the 'night life' before anyone else.

outoftexas707
outoftexas707

P.S. Houston is a shithole, all around, to me. So, it's not a case of liking one more than another. By the way, born and raised in San Antonio. Jesus Christ on a stick, never, ever thought I'd miss that place until I got here. Anyways, moving North soon. Somewhere quiet. I fucking hate 20 year old shitheads more than life itself. If I stay here much longer, you'll read about me in the papers.

atxshore
atxshore

"Austin ain't cheap."  For the love of all things good and right, will Texans PLEASE gain some slight inkling of perspective on cost of living in the U.S. (operative word here).  The Lone Star State doesn't even have one representative that cracks America's top 10 most expensive cities.  I understand if you've lived in Texas your whole life, you've seen prices go up dramatically, but in the scheme of things it's not bad at all.  Unfortunately that goes in one ear and right out the other for a good many in Texas.

ricardo.caiano
ricardo.caiano

Sorry but UT draws a bigger cult base than the Astros.

subwolley
subwolley

I grew up in Austin, lived there for 20 years. While the nightlife is fun, I couldn't wait to get out of that town. I think Austin is overrated. It's so hot. There's no seasons, and it is a pain in the ass to get anywhere, because it's all highway. My family still lives there, but I moved away 15 years ago, and I can't bring myself to move back there. Mainly because the weather sucks. 

dugg
dugg

Why didn't this writer jus' say:

"MY dad is bigger/stronger than YOUR dad" 

How sophomoric !

carmen.411
carmen.411

Austin is an amazing city. I love all the live music venues and music/film/art festivals. It really does have the friendliest and most easygoing people I've ever known (yes, even the hipsters), the food is good, and it's undeniably a beautiful city. However, the road system is horrendous, it is more difficult to find a stable and high-paying job, and the cost of living is higher. You have to be prepared to live there, especially financially. As for Houston, it's much more ethnically diverse, there's a bigger variety of restaurants, there are more museums, and more stores to shop at. The roads are set up better, but traffic is still pretty bad. The radio stations, well, suck. The people seem a bit more narcissistic, and there aren't very many live music venues, especially ones that feature smaller/obscure bands. Both cities have pros and cons. I happen to like them both!  

Skintaster
Skintaster

Well, I read the print version of this, and it came off as needlessly defensive and reeking of an inferiority complex.

Here's the thing: I love Texas in general. Maybe more time should be spent defending this state against some of the unfair criticism it gets from outside it's borders, than wasting time over stupid city rivalries.

I grew up in Houston, moved to Austin in the early 890's, fell in love with the town, and then moved back to Houston. I like both. I never really experienced much "Houston hate" from people in Austin. Liking where you live doesn't mean busting on some other place. But Austin IS special, and that's ok. Houston has it's charm too, but they're different kinds of cities, and have different kinds of appeal. 

I find it interesting that a lot of the Austin hate I personally hear from Houstonians comes from inner loop hipsters, that act as if the city ends outside of 610. And Houston has some issues that lessen it's appeal to many people. Lousy preservation of historic landmarks, a fairly fractured music scene with relatively few live music venues scattered all over the place... It's not shangri la for everyone.

Austin has it's issues too, but for certain kinds of people it's a great place to live. Both cities have a different culture, and depending on what a person likes/needs, either can be great places to live.

But seriously? Writing a childish piece on how Austin is "mediocre" in response to some blogger just makes this town look bad.

Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick

Having lived in two real cities (New York and DC) reading an article pitting Houston against Austin is akin to watching lepers arm-wrestle. Both cities suck. People in Texas act like Austin is so cool. They frequently compare it to the bohemian parts of NYC. Apparently, Texans have never been to NYC--Austin is lame by comparison. Houston is a muggy cesspool full of nouveau riche posers.

Mcw784
Mcw784

I've lived in both places and you know what the most annoying thing about each one is? This annoying and arrogant bullshit bickering back and forth. Love for Austin and Houston don't have to be mutually exclusive. Austin is a better town if you're a hippy or a liberal and enjoy the outdoors, Houston is better if you want more economic opportunity or are a redneck or enjoy going to 5-star restaurants and the ballet. Homelessness is Austin's worst quality and crime is Houston's. 

Both have sanctimonious douches writing blogs.

Drozy
Drozy

The last time I went to 6th street there were way too many frat boy types and hipsters. Where have all the hippies gone?

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

Those are things I do envy about Austin. Unfortunately the moron who wrote the article I critiqued mentioned nothing about Austin's pleasant natural surroundings.

MEG
MEG

I honestly think his logic is based around the fact that Austin is smog-less, and the diversity in ATX is just unlimited...but isn' that what attracts everyone to a "hipster" town? I'm pretty sure I could say the same for Denver or Portland. Cheap? Depends on your lifestyle, which if you're like most of the kids that move from down south to central Texas, you're going to end up without a job for 3 months, finally landing one at Starbucks or on 6th as a barback, and being absolutely and utterly unprepared for the dough its takes to hit every bar, every night of the week. Now I'm not saying thats everyone, don't get me wrong; some of you hit the jackpot and actually PREPARE to move to Austin, instead of migrating on a whim. The traffic is terrible, but thats the price you pay for living in a big city, and he should be used to that coming from a city with the worst commute to and from any street corner. Also you have to realize that NYC is home to some of the most obnoxious, stilleto-powered, Benz-headed people in America; Southern hospitality is a breath of fresh air to this guy. Regardless of how it looks to us, he is a Yankee, so he is a different breed. This is a culture shock at its finest.

texashipster
texashipster

I can't believe that guy Ed said that about Houston, what a douche. If Austin is so awesome as he proclaims, shouldn't it speak for itself? He just demonstrated how incredibly overrated it is by having to change the topic to slam other cities that are out of its league. I'm sure Austin is thrilled to get another member of of "Keep Austin Insular"!

beav
beav

I've lived in Houston, Dallas, and Austin and I can say that Houston by far has the biggest inferiority complex I've ever encountered (and perfectly embodied in this article).  So much time and effort spent defending itself and claiming to be better than other towns when the other towns for the most part don't care at all. 

Mojoboogie2
Mojoboogie2

 We try to keep Fertitty out of Downtown.

elchucoguy
elchucoguy

Jalisco's...You call those flautas? Por favor Flautas are made with carne desebrada and are thin not thick like a burrito! Glad to be be back to Houston's Mex food!

David Houston
David Houston

Not sure that's true, nothing is cheap in Walgreens...  But on the subject of cheap beer.  I like Old Milwaukee from the major stores, it's one of the cheaper beers if not the cheapest, but a reasonable tasting beer.  IMHO it's better than many others costing much more.

David Houston
David Houston

All I'll say is I love Austin, it's a great place.  However if you go there for the entertainment on 6th Street do watch out for the guys on the doors touting you to go into particular places.  Last time I was there one guy was very hands-on and even intimidating, just keep your cool and think twice about going in any place where they have to 'persuade' you to enter.

Meh
Meh

Wow, you can almost smell the smug right through the screen.  Fantastic.

regent032
regent032

Houston is a much more diverse city than Austin.  24% of Houston's population is African American compared to 6% for Austin.  Our Asian community is one of the largest in the United States, Austin can't even compare.  Houston is one of the top 10 LGBT population centers in the United states.  We have one of the largest gay pride parades in the U.S. and we even elected Texas' first openly gay mayor  (Austin's patronizing treatment of the homeless transvestite they used to brag about looks weak in comparison). Austin's percentage of Hispanics is close to Houston's, but Houston has over 1 million Hispanics versus a quarter of a million in Austin.  Besides, Austin's idea of good tacos is Torchy's,  Houston has better tacos than Torchy's on nearly any corner in the city. Houston has significant populations of Ethiopians, Nigerians, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Mexicans and countless others. Austin is basically a city dominated by white, college educated, straight liberals that have very little tolerance for those who don't drive a Prius and shop at Whole Foods. 

Rob C
Rob C

Houston's sub-culture of awesome food and cool places to visit isn't bad at all, I will admit. I was born and raised there but never truly experienced all the little neat things til after I left the military (2008). I worked and studied for a couple years, but all that grew old on me. Houston's cool offerings are fabricated: man-made, usually profit-oriented and that's about it.  All the events, shops, restaurants, etc. $. Little natural beauty.  I moved somewhere gorgeous.  I suppose that spoke to My soul more than low cost of living, pollution, ever-increasing crime, a growing ghetto mindset in the youth that doesn't reside in the inner loop and a strongly consumer-minded populace.  To each their own.  I will always miss the food and familia.  I loved eating at Niko Niko's, having a beer at Poison Girl, a late bite at House of Pies, so much to list. I live in a place with perhaps one murder a month, hardly any car theft, virtually no home burglaries and your worst nightmare is a crackhead at the beach trying to steal your bike.  There are lots of ladies, beautiful beaches, waterfalls, hiking trails and clear skies.  Sure, it's expensive, but that's a relatively irrelevant concern if you're gainfully employed and willing to suck it up for all the aforementioned benefits.

scotter
scotter

It was a close call until we got Tiff's Treats.  Now I gotta say...  advantage Houston.

Indigena
Indigena

Austin has one serious and irredeemable problem.  It is surrounded by hundreds of miles ofTexas in every direction.  Living hereis Alamoesque; heavily outnumbered and surrounded by hostile forces.  I recommend that guests fly in.    A Native.

Lagros
Lagros

As a person who has lived in and enjoys both cities, I gotta say, this is a very petty and pointless article.  Hope you're glad that you're able to show everyone you can be just as childish as a "neo-Austinite".

H_e_x
H_e_x

Is this comment irony or post-irony? I can never keep up with the hip kids these days.

H_e_x
H_e_x

I agree. Houston doesn't need any more trustafarians clogging up our space. I feel bad that Austin has to absorb so many people who want to make Austin like the cities they just left from, but if it means Houston is spared, then so be it.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Hit the nail on the head.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Oh god no. The last thing Austin needs is more people from NYC and California. All they do is work to make Austin exactly like NYC and California. Why move somewhere if you want to make it exactly like the place you came from? This translates into higher prices for everything, from apartments and houses, to food trucks and bars.

Craig Kinsey
Craig Kinsey

Catalina- purple prose, kind of a bland of brand purple... Great article John.

candice
candice

How about both of you are right, for your own reasons... and both Austin and Houston are great and bad for their own reasons. I know for a fact that even in 95 degree weather... I would rather drive 10 minutes to a cold river than sit in the warm salty bathwater that is your beach. 

Princesskaren
Princesskaren

Ah, yes. The Peoples Republic of Boulder. Where every gas guzzling SUV is required to have a "Save the Planet" bumper sticker.

Rich HB
Rich HB

I lived in Austin from 1981-86.  My apartment was cheap and centrally located.  The so called "rush hour" lasted all of 20 minutes.  However, the population was about half a million.  It is triple that now.  The traffic SUX.  And by SUX I mean worse than Loop 610 West at the Westheimer exit the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Liberty Lunch and Emo's are dead, and dozens of other places are long gone....the very ones that ispired "The Live Music Capital of the World" slogan.  The idiots even changed the theme music to Austin City Limits.  Hey, and all this keep Austin weird crap....They were tearing down the Armadillo World Headquarters back in '81.  You can't beat a college town, but that flavor is fading as the University stays the same in population and the City continues to grow. 

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

Marfa = Nepal. Strange mountainous place where people go to find enlightenment.

Tolkii
Tolkii

The good things about Houston are not obvious during a quick trip.  I lived in Houston for a good number of years and eventually I found many great things about the city, and great things to do.  It does get better and better every year, and many neighborhoods are starting to have some personality and charm.  The bottom line, though, is that all the silver linings and hidden gems are not enough to make Houston that special of a city when it fails on so many important levels.  You can spend all day convincing yourself that something "Isn't so bad" but deep down you always know. 

Matteo Brown
Matteo Brown

Yep, I used to think that Austin was cooler than Houston, but Austin is just hyped up. Austin has live music. But Houston has live music, and museums, and the symphony and the orchestra. Austin has breakfast tacos and Uchi. Houston has a lot more ethnic dining. And we have an Uchi now. And we have a lot of other damned good sushi and sashimi restaurants. Austin gets pretty damned hot. Austin does have a bit less ugly development than Houston has. Its freeways aren't quite as ugly as the I-45 corridor, for the most part. Austin has some change in elevation, i.e., hills. Houston has Montrose and Midtown and The Heights. Austin is cool, but so is Houston.

Anse
Anse

Back in the 90's, every Austin Chronicle interview with a touring musician included this question: "So...how do you like Austin?" They spent years whining that nobody gave them any respect. So now they have it, and you know what? That's fine. I lived there for a while, it was a great time; I moved to Houston when I finally tired of being unemployed and my roommate started giving me scowling looks after three months of not paying any rent. I've grown to love Houston; I met my wife here, bought my first house, and put down roots. I'm not going to play this silly game. Let Austin have its time in the sun. They find it hard to define themselves without mentioning how shitty Houston supposedly is; that's amusing. I'd rather let the hipsters go their own way, and let Houston quietly be its own self. I love to visit our capitol city and yes, I do get a little defensive about Houston when I hear it trashed, but really, why bother? They've got their thing, we've got our thing, and if Californians prefer Austin, then count us lucky.

Philip
Philip

Austin is becoming the new LA......Lame!

Courtney
Courtney

I grew up in Houston and live here now but went to UT in the mid to late 90s and visit Austin several times a year.  In a nutshell, Houston has everything that Austin doesn't - an abundance of high culture, ethnic neighborhoods and restaurants, a real zoo, more high-end shopping and cuisine (though Austin is catching up in that department) - while Austin has everything Houston doesn't - natural beauty, lots of outdoor activities, proximity to awesome barbecue, lots of good live music.  It's nice that both cities are reasonably close to one another so one can enjoy all of these things relatively regularly.  However, I could definitely do without the unnecessary slams against Houston, particularly by someone who probably hasn't spent much time here.  Yeah, our pollution is gross, it's pretty ugly in a lot of places, and our climate sucks (though Austin's isn't much better), but Houston still has a lot of great things to offer.  Plus, most people can live in or near central Houston without spending half their paycheck on housing.  That is becoming less and less so in Austin.  Most of my friends in Austin live nowhere near any of the great stuff Austin has to offer because there is no way they could afford to. 

Teddy_Ruxpin
Teddy_Ruxpin

Haha, butt hurt Houston.  Every city has its pros and cons (except Dallas, which only has cons).  But I would wager that 99% of my Houston friends would move to Austin in a heart beat, if they could find comparable employment.

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