For the second year in a row, Austin is the number one place to live in the United States of America, and while everyone here is begging for the kudos to quit coming, there appears to be no end in sight.
So, why does everyone want to live here?
When it comes to answering that question, there certainly are well-studied reasons why people from every corner of the globe and every decade of a demographic want to live in the Capital City of Texas. However, with any accuracy whatsoever, I can only speak to my own.
It’s not the ease of public transportation.
Such a hot topic is this whole business of public transportation. Arguments abound, and theories persist, while the locals maintain one collective hypothesis: No one ever planned in advance for public transportation avenues for over two million people, because no one ever wanted over two million people to live here. However, it’s happened, and sadly for the locals, it’s happened way too fast.
It’s not the conservative climate.
Nope. Definitely not that. If you’re coming from a conservative background to this number one place to live, you need to go ahead and get yo’self ready for some – as my Grandmommy used to say – “Suss-prises.” Twice during my first week of working downtown, I saw a naked man riding a bicycle straight down Congress Avenue. Nobody said or did anything. In fact, it seemed I was the only one to notice. That’s because he was a “regular” in the world of Austin weirdness, and Austin has learned to do a lot of things with its weirdness, like love, protect and embrace it (not literally).
Texas Monthly may have something to do with it.
Since the first issue hit the presses in 1973, Texas Monthly has certainly made a definitive name for itself. From the recognizable font on the cover to Skip Hollandsworth’s exceptional articles embedded within, it’s easy to like this source of all things Texas-news, even if you don’t agree with every word. People have come to expect great things from the city of Austin, largely because of this magazine that headquarters here. That includes me. How many times did I stretch the family grocery budget to include the toss of a thick, slick Texas Monthly purchase onto the rubber conveyor belt? I couldn’t wait to get home, get the groceries put away and plop down for an insightful read. It was my reward for pushing a full cart up and down the aisles of Walmart.
The Capitol Building. Never get tired of looking at it!
Also, the weather is outstanding.
Statistically, Austin’s temperatures are rarely below 30 degrees or above 102. In my experience, that’s about right. Those are the extremes. The rest of the time, it’s somewhere in the pleasant middle. Even though I greatly miss short drives from Amarillo to the cool mountains of New Mexico, I really do love Texas hill country weather.
Photo from a fall day trip to Brenham. Read more here.
There really is SO much to do.
It has been incredibly fun and worthwhile to start my little ol’ blog called Austin Over Fifty, where I write about all of my intentional adventures in this amazing place. From trying new restaurants to tasting all.the.coffee to daytripping on the outskirts, from making new friends to finding a new church home, my adventurous little platform has spurred us to get out there and experience so much. Yet, we’ve barely scratched the surface. Just about the time we check something off the list, a new attraction pops up for us to explore.
One of my favorite new things in the city this year has been the absolutely amazing Austin Central Library. Check it out here. It’s smack-dab in the center of Austin’s incredible downtown, and since it’s located in a remarkably valuable location, there was a lot of discussion about whether it was worth it for the City of Austin to build there. That land could be sold for millions that could be used for other things, like public transportation. BUT, once the library opened its doors, people fell in love with the place and its collection of 300,000 volumes (growing daily!). Be sure and stop by when you’re sightseeing downtown. It’s quite the library! More info here.
Everybody needs to swim in the cold water at Barton Springs Pool!
And, seriously. The food.
You and I could have brunch, lunch and dinner together every single day and probably not get around to all the restaurants in Austin. If we did, we could then expand our perimeter and hit all the barbeque joints in the vicinity. Once we were done with that, we could branch out to the local hill country towns and eat German food for a while. (Eve’s Café in Lampasas – so good.) I mean, that’s the way it is here. If you’re a foodie, Austin is definitely for you. Everything is delicious.
Check out my list of Top Ten Desserts of Austin here.
Then there’s the people.
Sorry – that sounds like the food is more important than the people, which is definitely not true. It’s just that I got to know the food before I got to know the people. Moving to Austin has really stretched me, and I’m extremely grateful to be on this journey. I know the locals are plumb sick of people moving here, and now that we’re here (sorry!), I get it.
It’s fun to hear all the tales of Austin’s days gone by, when people worked on Congress Avenue till dark, met their friends at favorite hangouts, listened to live music, went home for a few hours and did it all again the next day. It’s also very easy to understand why they miss all of that. On the other hand, they sure are nice to us newcomers.
I’ve made the most remarkable friends here. They’re not all like me, and I’m definitely not like all of them. They speak with more eloquence. They are more savvy about politics. Lots have graduate degrees and live in the lap of luxury. But, they’re nice. From helping us find my way around town to inviting us out to eat at one of their favorite local hangouts, people have been genuinely nice to us. That’s probably not an easy culture to create, but they’ve done it very well here in the Capital City.
Some of the very nicest of Austin people – Pastor Brock and Stephanie who lead our fabulous downtown campus of LifeAustin Church
Are you feelin’ it?
There are lots of reasons why Austin is in its second year as the number one place to live. I could go on and on reciting my very own, but I think you get the idea. And we didn’t even get to talk about The Longhorns or the LBJ Library or the trails!
That’s okay. We’ll talk again soon.
Encouraging intentional adventure, no matter where you live,
PS – Be sure to enter your email address here to receive my weekly newsletter for a free printable: 50 Ways to Celebrate the Fabulous 50’s in Austin!