I have lived in the Austin area for over 30 years. I have seen it morph into what used to be a great place to live, into a huge traffic-infested nightmare, extreme crime, horrible regulations for businesses, long wait times for getting into restaurants, football games or even city parks. Things that used to be free now require big admission prices & parking fees. Forget about affordable housing cause you Won't find it here, plus utilities, especially water, is Totally out of control! It's a nice place to visit, provided you got Big-Bucks, but I would Not advise living here.
Bums everywhere begging, dirty streets. Parks like Hamilton Pools are reservation only 6 plus months in advance. Roads have not kept up with the population, signage is lacking. I do not know how the Mayor sleeps at night. Austin Texas is Disgusting!
A lot of what has been written here already describes what Austin has declined to become: a less-than, if not downright undesirable, place to live. Therefore I'll not reiterate what has already been stated. Rather, it might be useful to some to understand that a lot of the critical comments written here are not simply rants from malcontents. If you understand what Austin used to be and what it has become you will also understand that the negative things written here are more likely statements of frustration and a warning: don't believe the hype or let yourself be fooled by visiting for a weekend. Austin has a negative frustrating gritty side. Present day Austin is rather like a peanut-centered M&M. To the casual observer the candy coating is shiny and tastes good. Underneath is the chocolate and that's pretty good too. But if you dig deeper you'll come to the nut. If you like nuts, and Austin is full of them - especially on the city council - you might be content there. However, even if you're ok with Austin at first, there's a good possibility that eventually you'll find it to be cloying.Austin was a different world in the 1970s and 1980s. It was Camelot. I'll not go into the details but know that it was much smaller and dramatically less crowded. It still had a soul. The beginning of the end happened in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the California developers discovered it. Some blame the sudden rise in popularity of country music and the popularity of hits like "Luckenback, Texas" as well as songs that mentioned Austin by name. Who knows if that's true but one thing is certain, the developers came, liked what they found, and never left. At first the growth seemed like a nice thing. For some Austin had been a bit too provincial for too long. There weren't many good restaurants and there were no great ones. There was only one shopping mall. If you wanted more than that you had to drive to San Antonio or Dallas. With the developers came new swanky, (by the standards of the day), apartments in what was then heavily wooded northwest Austin and young adults, myself among them, clamored to move to that new untouched part of town accessible via the largely unknown MoPac expressway. Two big new shopping malls were built. New upscale neighborhoods sprang up in the hills along RR 2222. New restaurants popped up. It wasn't bad at first. But the boom-town atmosphere had an edge to it. Those of us who had been here for a long time had a gut feeling that Austin as we knew it was disappearing bit-by-bit, day-by-day. We were right. Growth continued unchecked and now it is out of control. I'll not get into a criticism of my own here other than to point out two things now one else seems to have touch on. First and most importantly, Austin is running out of water. Despite the short-term respite that last season's rain brought by filling Lake Travis, the supply won't last in the long run. That of course can potentially impact property value. No one wants to buy property if there's a question about access to a quality water supply. The other issue is the quality of city governance. A room full of drunk monkeys would be more fiscally responsible than the Austin City Council. Historically there have always been one or two contrarian council members with good heads on their shoulders but their voices are always drowned out by the majority who are complete nit wits when it comes to common sense. Know that the city is, and for decades has been, controlled by residents of the 78704 zip code. The reasons for that are too complex to go into here. However, that said, it's an indisputable fact that whatever 78704 wants they generally get. That's more than unfortunate because what's good for the people in the urban core of 78704 may not be good for the residents in the suburbs. The fact that the council has gone to a single member district system has had no effect on control. If you enjoy seeing your tax money wasted on foolish things you'll be ok with the city council. If that bothers you you'll find it frustrating beyond words. All of the foregoing having been said I'll close by saying that it you're reading this because you're considering moving to Austin think carefully before you decide. To be sure there are a few ok things about living there, particularly if you are young, single, have few responsibilities, and don't need to commute during rush hour. Otherwise there are much better places in the state to live. I lived in Austin for more than 40 years. Now I live somewhere else. Had I known then what I know now I wouldn't have waited for a family situation to force my hand. I'd have moved long before I did.
I'd like to start out that I grew up in Texas and lived mostly in the greater Houston area besides living in San Antonio and Liberty .. I'm writing this as a non fiction biast review. I went to Austin several years ago with a bf who took me for my bday to see Autopsy.(june-ish ..Summer of 2011 I think).a metal band , at Emu's ...we did tend to drink a lot so I blame partial experience on my mistake of drinking in an unknown town, which I am no longer a drinker and find alcohol disgusting and distasteful , we got there to park down the road from the venue and 6th street, a parking lot where homeless people immediately were bugging us. I didn't mind so much and for this kind of concert there were what the metal heads I used to hang out with called 'crustys' everywhere..punk people that don't bathe like it's a thing..I didn't mind that so much because I was really into metal and who cares right? so we arrive at said venue I give my shit to bartender immediately start drinking...night started off good ..we had fun, the bands were great, it started getting later into the evening and I had went to go talk to a friend who lived in Austin that I hadn't seen in a while it was like 9 pm ..him and I were both drunk and I only liked my boyfriend as a friend because he was somewhat rude at times and not my type, so I made out with my friend that I hadn't seen in a while lmfao and went back to go find said boyfriend at venue Emu's as I was walking back my night started to worsen..a tall (about 6'3) thin and decent looking person wearing jeans and a plain blue and white preppy plaid button up shirt with blonde hair and maybe blueish Greg eyes came up to me and asked me if I wanted to party ...I (being short 5'2'' 120lbs with long hair and very good looking) must've looked like an easy target and idiot and ofc I was drunk so stupidly said "sure!" realizing immediately I made a wrong decision the guy starts trying to get me to walk to his hotel he was at with and I snapped out of my drunken stooper into survival mode and said something like "I need to find my bf so he can go or knows where I am" or some shit. so said guy who was probably a killer or wanted to harvest my organs or rape me and leave me in an ally decides to follow me and when I get back to venue after letting him know I changed my mind I try to get in to look for my bf and the idiot bouncer who was being coddled by a gaggle of whores said I was too drunk for some reason?? then I said "I don't know this guy who's next to me ,he followed me here, I need to get in to find my bf " (weather I liked him more as a friend wasn't the point he was still someone I knew and would get me out of this situation) Bouncer proceeded to be an asshole while his gaggle of h.I.v. infested whores egged him on and said again I was "too drunk" and not allowed in the venue as the guy who followed me, the killer, also tried to state that he knew me and I was joking and we were friends and that yes I was way too drunk. so I looked at him unbelievingly and now my alert meter was even higher as I noticed innocent looking man acting innocent had bad intentions ...so I started walking off as he followed me some more ...went to head toward parking lot where me and bf parked and looked for him as my Droid was dead I asked a group of young guys if they had a charger...maybe they didn't like metal heads ...but that guy was hanging around like a fly and talking to them as well as I tried to tell him to shut up and tell the group of guys I had no idea who this dude was (I'd like to point out he didn't look much older than I and I was 23, he maybe was 30 max) , the group of guys didn't look much older or about the same age as well , proceeded to not believe me as he told them I was drunk and didn't know what I was saying. word the wise , if your a guy and a girl says she doesn't know someone weather she does or not and in my case I didn't ...don't believe the guy who says she's drunk and lieing...I know I'm pretty I get that a lot...so maybe I wasn't cute enough like preppy and defenseless looking seeing as I had metal shirt and torn jeans on ? but who doesn't like a pretty girl in a metal shirt? the killer obviously did and I say killer because by now if the guy is acting like this with everyone he obviously wants to cut me up or hurt me in some way and I'm not going to let him get away with it because a bunch of partying assholes in a town everyone adores doesn't believe me. his eyes straight up said ted Bundy , no joke. and I read about killers they always seemed to look decent and not unnatractice and are cunning and witty and will say things like "she knows me she's just drunk" so the group of guys called me a drunk bitch and left me to defend my self. I wish I'll upon everyone who didn't believe me that night by the way if anyone happens to ever read this. so I went to the other side of the parking lot and saw bfs car ...told said killer "I think I'll wait here" ..guy was obviously frustrated I wasn't falling for his dumb tricks when I really wish I could get in a time machine and kick him in his dick and stick my thumbs in his eye sockets. all the sudden bf starts walking to the car from a distance and saw him and yelled and said there he is !! I ran off to him and started babbling about this psycho stalker when I turned around to point at him and bf says "who? no ones there.." .all I have is my story and hopefully some of you men out there learn from this and believe a girl when she says she doesn't know someone. it could have been worse...I could've stupidly gone with this guy and never returned to Houston .. maybe gotten raped and stabbed or woke up in a bath tub with a missing kidney or put in a sex ring. where they sell women for sex. it actually is a problem in the U.S. esp near mexico border ..or maybe I would've battled for my life ...that shit actually happened s and I hope any women reading this also learn to not drink in a different town even if it is in your state and reputable for being an amazing party town where every one has "loads of fun" . and if you do drink, don't talk to starngera no matter how innocent they look. I've told this story to a few people since and I think too many people take it lightly , like " oh what a funny story or ha , how strange, of well, good thing nothing happened" . trust me , you'll know who a person is by watching there actions and looking in there eyes. I have even looked up deaths in Austin around 6th street area and there have been quite a few brutal tales and murders given the capacity of people that visit and live there. and don't think I don't remember the guys face or body type, if I ever go back there again and just so happen to run into him or someone else like him I know I won't be such a fold over next time. You better believe it....I'd like to end this review in saying this town sucks and isn't all its cracked up to be. Thank you for reading my review and I hope you avoid this town like the plague.
As a native who grew up here, I have seen this city go from a charming middle size town with lots of advantages to an overcrowded, rude, and repulsive place. The traffic is insane, now ranking 4th worst in the nation. That's what happens when you have a city council in the pocket of the greedy real estate developers. We are well on the way to be Houston II. Also, being a sanctuary city is code for " losers come here and get free handouts!" I am for charity for sure. The people here are mostly generous. But we are overstretched, overcrowded, and have had at least 40 per cent increase in population with NO planning. It is not the city I grew up in where I could go to Barton Springs for 50 cents and see the bottom of the spring because there was no pollution. All the cool hippies have left because they can't afford it....hey middle class people can't really afford it either! In case you haven't guessed, when I retire, I will move immediately!! It could work for you if you are a yuppie living downtown who can walk to work, but for others, forget it. There is a traffic death almost every day now.....
Austin is one of the most disgusting places one could ever live. Downtown smells like a urinal. This city is full of bums. Homeless street bums and young 20 something hipster bums.
If you like poor quality Mexican food and lousy washed up musicians hacking out played out cover tunes, this place might be for you. Especially if you have a beard and a Hitler youth haircut. Full of dirty, boring bars with the ugliest women in America. People here also don't know how to drive. At all.
the only plus side to this is that more of them might get into accidents rendering themselves either dead or too crippled to leave their run down ranch homes to clog up the I35.
The simple fact of the matter is that Austin offers nothing in way of quality. Sure it maybe the live music capital of the world, but it is not offering acts that have anything more then free time on their hands. The hippies contributing to Austin's scene do more to take away from it then they do to add. The rudeness of the people is only outweighed by the dirtiness and never ending turns and bridges found throughout the town. Driving is difficult and time consuming. If there is a good thing to this it is the never ending homeless people littered throughout the town. New York had pigeons, DC has politicians, and Austin has bums. As far Austin's great music scene: skip it. You will find my passion and talent at your local high school marching band. If Austin has a let down beyond the music it is its restaurants. Nothing but trendy places trying to sell an ideologue and no thought about ever serving a meal. Farm to table, even if there's no farm available.
You have hipsters. You have college kids. You have California transplants, and you have tourists.
Everybody has pretty much nailed this stuff down, ad nauseum.
Austin is a great place if you are a Texan but do not identify with the larger metroplexes or the rural Easts and Wests. You have museums (though the Museum of Natural Science and History could use more funding), theaters, art galleries, and everything a contemporary big city needs. You have several colleges and uni's to pursue your life of paying back loans. There are literally tons of outdoor things to do involving your feet, a paddle, a boat, or a tent within a 45 minute drive in any direction. The music scene is overkill and it is something you grow to deal with. I am a musical hobbyist. I won't call myself a musician, because everyone here wants to be called that. The real musicians work their asses off. I've met a few, which is why I won't sully their profession. But there is literally music everywhere you go and this is something I still love to death.
Austin is a paradox. There is an insatiable desire to cram more and more festivals into the calendar, yet the out-of-towners are shutting all the bars down due to noise complaints - bars that have been here forever. Austin wants to attract more people, yet the people are causing property values and taxes to go up, so iconic businesses are being priced out of their locations. Homeowners, too. Finding a place to live at a reasonable price is getting harder and the city thinks the best thing to do is build more skyscrapers, not cheap apartments or houses. Austin is getting a slick sheen to it but it still wants to be the gritty and weird live music capital of the world. I feel that the population growth and influx of 'normal' people is going to gentrify the whole city. I mean, how weird is a smattering of multi-use retail living facilities? That's not weird, that's awful.
Cyclists want to share the road but they refuse to obey the rules of the road. It makes driving nerve-wracking and that doesn't even touch how dense traffic is becoming. I35 traffic is bad. Not as bad as Houston or LA, but it is bad for a smaller city. People have become more aggressive on the road and it gets really bad when it rains, which is once every 6 months. And the road infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. Construction and capacity are constantly behind demand.
If you love festivals, you will most likely hate festivals here - but the same way you come to hate pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. SXSW takes up almost a whole month, there is the R.O.T. Rally, F1, now the X-Games, Marathons, Bike Races, Austin Fan Fest, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Psych Fest, Eeyore's Birthday, the Kite Festival, ACL, blah blah blah. And if you like food, you don't even have to go to a restaurant. There are food trucks everywhere serving everything under the Sun.
Speaking of, the weather is hot. We've been in a drought for years. Lake Travis has been 30 feet below normal levels for years, too. Stage 2 water restrictions mean watering your grass becomes a hard choice. One summer we had 4300 days in a row over 1100 degrees. People just started melting right on the sidewalk. It's a great time to buy (formerly) waterfront property, if you can afford it.
I love Austin. I'm glad that I've moved here but it is becoming both a shadow and a caricature of itself. I respect and appreciate Austin Police and city services. I love that APD is so interactive with the community. But despite their work, Austin can sometimes feel full of careless drunks and punks. 6th Street smells like bodily fluids and it seems like more and more people are dying there.
If you want to move to Central Texas, move to a town on the outskirts like Dripping Springs, Wimberley, Del Valle, Pflugerville, etc...You might have to pay a lot and drive a bit, but you're going to be doing that if you tried living in Austin, anyway. Might as well live in a place where your community feels more tightly knit.
Austin is full of vicious, smelly hippies, 20 somethings trying to make it in life. The only thing to do in Austin is going to bars that are catered toward 20-something hippies. Urbanites. Aspiring musicians and people thinking they're going to make it big. And thats all you need to know. There is nowhere to go in Austin that doesnt smell like a toilet. Unles you are a 20-something that hasnt grown up yet, you probably will not enjoy living here. Note how the previous reviewer called the people that lived her "beautiful". ..Ugh. I dont know how its got an A+ in prices either, if i recall correctly it is expensive to live there.
I've lived in Austin for the last five years. Austin is the perfect amalgam of eclectic and struggling artists, exciting nightlife, urban appeal, abundant nature, and high powered executives. Austin is a city where the man stepping out of the Maserati in the Armani suit most likely has a full-sleeve tattoo under his dress shirt. Almost everyone has a dog that seems more human than canine. In the same city block, you can find people kayaking in Ladybird Lake, fixed gear enthusiasts biking in the middle of the street, and college students stumbling home from the night before. Austin is packed to the brim with restaurants and food trailers, each hipper, smaller, and more crowded than the one before it. There are multiple greenbelts for fans of the outdoors and the downtown area caters to people who love to drink.
Austin is a party town filled with tons of young, ambitious, driven, and beautiful people. It is a city where on any given Saturday, the sun is shining and everyone is hungover, yet they all seem to be starting pickup soccer games, hiking trails, and jogging in the bike lanes. Yes, Austin is a city of fit, healthy, and intelligent individuals. Although, what else would you expect in a city with a combined student population well over 60,000?
Austin's only downfall concerns the oppressive heat that blankets the city from May to September every year. Each summer is hotter than the last, and hundred degree days are the norm. In fact, Austin is so hot that we often end up with sweat-inducing weather sprinkled into October, November, December, and January. The summer of 2011 was the hottest on record and felt unbearable, and I've lived in Texas all my life.
I've been to Austin countless times over the years and am absolutely in love with it. The city motto is "Keep Austin Weird". It's like a small San Francisco. The mix of bohemian, tattooed kids with Masters degrees, fitness/health freaks, business people and politicians is amazing, and yes...weird. This being Texas, everyone is pretty friendly and you can find someone to hang out with whatever your hobbies are.
Independently owned shops, restaurants, and music venues are tucked away everywhere in this eclectic city. Every time you explore you can find something new even though the city itself is rather small. Austin and it's inhabitants are big on green, healthy living. On any given day you'll see a huge amount of people riding their bikes or walking. There are some great parks and trails to walk/ride/run through. The city is also host to several big events like SXSW and the ACL Music Festival. There's always something going on: bar hopping on 6th street, small live music events at Stubb's BBQ/Mohawk's/etc, or hitting up the kooky Toy Joy for random, fun gifts.
As with everything, there are some downsides. The traffic in Austin is horrendous. To navigate you've quickly got to become good at traveling through side streets as you want to avoid 35 and MOPAC at all costs. Housing is also fairly expensive. You wouldn't expect it from such a small city, but small houses will easily cost you upwards of $300,000. Rent is also a bit pricey, though there are quite a few excellent properties to choose from.
All in all, Austin is an amazing city. You've got all the fun and excitement of a larger city, but with a friendly, small-town feel. It's definitely worth visiting and if you can find a way to move there it's a great city to live in.
I live just down the road on I-35 from Austin in San Antonio, but frequently visit Austin and love that city for a variety of reasons:
1. Austin is often compared to Silicon Valley (San Francisco) because of the abundant tech companies, startups and venture capital and angel investors in the area. Austin has a thriving startup community and is a great place to start and build a company. There is more access to technical people and web developers compared to other areas.
2. Green living. If you are all bout green living and eco-friendliness, then Austin is the place for you. Lots of people walk or ride bikes to work, and Whole Foods has their corporate headquarters there. Everyone there just seems to be green-minded and less wasteful. In San Antonio, everyone get's in their Suburban to go down the road to get milk.
3. Health and fitness. Austin has some great parks and recreations centers like Zelker Park, which has a large walking/bike trail, a river for kyaking or boating, playing fields and so much more. Everyone in Austin seems interested in their health and fitness. Most parks in San Antonio are empty :(
However, Austin does have a couple of drawbacks as well. After all, you can't have everything :)
1. Traffic is horrible. Austin has some of the worst traffic in Texas, and trying to get through downtown and get to the north side of Austin is a nightmare. Even the MoPac highway is congested.
2. Real estate is quite pricey. A lot of the properties here are very expensive, and could cost upwards of $300-400K for something like a bungalow. For the size of Austin, you just wouldn't expect real estate prices that high, but they are! I'm sure you can find deals out there, but Texas hasn't had the same real estate downfall as other states, and so a lot of Texas cities are "holding their own" as a result.
I have traveled to Austin, Texas, many times and always enjoyed myself. The biggest issue in the city is the traffic situation as it can quickly come to a stand still.
If you enjoy the outdoors, the hiking trails and flying bats are wonderful experiences that you should not pass up. Additionally, there is plenty of shopping destinations to choose from with a wide variety of designers represented. There is also a wide range of specialty restaurants in Austin. I have never had a problem finding some new and interesting food to try while I'm there.
The nightlife in Austin can be crazy, especially on 6th Street. However, there is always a cultural event taking place as well. For example, Austin City Live is a long-running music show out of Austin. Additionally, the city hosts its own film festival each year. As you can see, there is a wide variety of events happening around Austin at any one moment and the local people who call Austin home are always willing to be friendly and helpful to visitors.