Austin, Texas: Not Weird, Just Mediocre

SN856703I have been in Austin for 10 months and I am unimpressed. Maybe my expectations were off, but I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. There is nothing weird about Austin, Texas. It looks and feels just like any other US city I have been to – save the BIG ones like New York or LA or SF. There isn’t anything you find in Austin that you can’t find anywhere else in the US. People here are the same. Food here is the same. Bars here are the same . It’s all pretty much the same.

There are however a few differences. Take public transportation, for instance. It sucks here. In order to get the times, or routes, or stops, or schedule you need to have a phone or computer. There are no signs at the actual bus stop that tells you what the next stop will be, and what time the next bus will come. There is only a phone number and website. I called the phone number when my bus was over 20 minutes late. I was on hold for fifteen minutes before someone got on the line to tell me they didn’t know where the bus was, but it was “out there”.  Gee thanks. Also, there are no transfers. That’s right – no transfers. If you ride occasionally and don’t need a pass you can pay $1 to ride the bus. And another when you have to transfer. Or you can pay $2 for a “day pass” – even if you only need to ride for 20 minutes. It is stupid. Adding to the confusion, they also have two busses with the same number that go opposite directions. Awesome. (The number 30 bus picks up outside my work. It picks up on the same side of the street for either direction. There is no sign telling you this.)

Another difference I have noticed is the fashion. I was told that the folks in Austin are fashion forward have great style. I was lied to. And from what I gather, pointing out fashion faux pas here makes you pretentious. That’s right, if you don’t embrace shorts and those hideous UT shirts, you are an asshole. Then I guess I’m an asshole because Austin is a city that has truly embraced the “casual” style. Or lack there of. Austin clothing culture can best be described as jeans & boots meets T-shirts & sweats. It’s a city that embraces its own mediocrity and celebrates it. Austin doesn’t try. If you walk around Austin (even downtown) you will see a majority of folks wearing a rust orange top with the long horns silhouette and a pair of jeans. (The school colors of UT. You cannot miss it here.) You might also see that same t-shirt with matching sweat pants. Or not matching. You might see a flock of college girls out for a night on the town in that same t-shirt, boots and jeans. Are you starting to see a theme here? In Austin Texas nobody cares about fashion. I seem “dressed up” if I put on make-up and a necklace. It’s sad, and even a little bit depressing. Caring about what you look like doesn’t make you pretentious. It is pretty normal. Or so I thought.

The cost of living here is also a lie. Sure, it’s cheaper than Portland, LA, SF, or NY. But those places have natural beauty and a barrage of cultural things to do. Austin has neither. Austin is not a beautiful city. It’s flat and brown. A river runs through it but so do a bunch of highways and freeways. Don’t ask me which is which because both highways and freeways here have stop lights. The drivers here are discourteous and stupid. And the traffic is as bad, if not worse than LA. Anyway, the scenery in Austin consists mostly of condo property and businesses. Some businesses are in office buildings, some are in remodeled houses. There are a couple of nice parks in Austin, (Zilker, Greenbelt, Barton Springs) but the rest are sad and barren. Austin is not a walkable city like SF, but as I already noted it isn’t a great city for driving or using public transit either. But I digress. The cost of living here isn’t worth what you get. Plain and simple. You’ll get more bang for your buck some place else. And don’t forget – they don’t want “YOU” here anyway.

The other thing you hear about Austin is of course, “the music scene here is amazing!” I beg to differ. Just because there are a shit ton of bands and musicians here doesn’t mean that it has a good music scene. In my opinion there are a handful of really good bands/musicians here in Austin. The rest are taking advantage of the fact that a lot of bars feature live music. If you are into that, then hey – maybe you’ll like it here. But I for one don’t like to pay a cover just to see a crappy band. People in Austin talk about the music here like it is special. It isn’t. It’s meh. Let me put it this way – Austin has a huge case of “Big Fish, Tiny Pond” syndrome. Just because you are “famous” in Austin doesn’t mean the rest of the world knows about you. You can dress the part, act the part, and even try to play the part but it won’t make up for a lack of talent. And SXSW? $300 bucks for a wristband? No thanks. (And no, I didn’t buy a wristband. I battled the 700 other people trying to see free shows in the park or bars.) SXSW really wasn’t that much different that any other music fest.

SN856685I think the thing I was most disappointed about was the food. People rave about the breakfast tacos here like they had invented them. Nope. Nothing special. I had cheaper (and tastier!) breakfast tacos in the East Bay. I had also been looking forward to  trying Tex-Mex – in Texas. I grew up in California so I know Mexican food. I lived in Mexico for a short time as well. I am a mexican food fanatic. Prague has a lot of great things, but mexican food isn’t one of them. The food here is no good. It’s blah. I found out that Tex-Mex means covered in cheese. If you order “Queso” at a restaurant in Texas you will get a bowl of hot Velveeta, sometimes mixed with chili. It is truly disgusting. There are a great deal of food trucks here but only a handful of them serve up worth while food. The trucks all have clever names and serve everything from tacos to Thai to donuts, but the food just doesn’t cut it. The prices are high but the food is mediocre at best. The food culture in Houston is one hundred times better than the one in Austin. Austin is full of fast food – be it truck or Whataburger. The mid level restaurants are plentiful but not worth the price, and the up scale dining (where I think Austin is actually alright) are so expensive that a girl like me can’t really afford to go there. The best parts of this city are reserved for the people with the most money.

Lastly, I was lied to about the weather. It might sound silly, but people told me the weather here was great. Really? Great? I was told “…the winter here is really nice…” The weather here is hot, hotter and OHMYGODITSSOHOTIMIGHTBURSTINTOFLAME. I knew it would be hot here, but 89 in winter is lame. It is pretty much summer year round with a side of intense (year round!) allergies. We didn’t really get a winter this year. I mean, we had two cold days where I had to put on a coat, but other than that, nada. And now it’s spring. But if I didn’t have a calendar telling me what month it was I wouldn’t know. What’s so great about this weather? At least in California you can get a nice range of climates. Here in Texas its just hot. Hot. Hot. Hot.

Austin is a city that is full of itself. It pats itself on the back for such things as SXSW and Willie Nelson (who was born in Abbot, Texas not Austin), and gives itself a high-five for The Alamo Drafthouse while driving a huge SVU to the river to “party”. It ignores problems like traffic and housing and blames anyone who had the nerve to be born someplace else. If you aren’t from here – get out. That’s Austin’s REAL motto. For a city that wants to be “weird” it really doesn’t embrace differences. It revels in its “glory days” without doing much to make the “now” better. Maybe Austin used to be super cool. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m here now, and it so isn’t.

Austin is pretty smug and self-righteous. It reminds me of the mom who thinks her child can do no wrong. This city has a lack of class, culture, respect, and style. It is long overdue a makeover. It’s a city that can’t decide what it is. Are you a Yuppie city or a bohemian city? You can’t have it both ways. You can’t drive that huge SUV and be “green” at the same time. Shopping at Whole Foods and riding your bike downtown on the weekends doesn’t make you “green”. The Austin vibe WANTS to be “Slacker Chic” but is actually “Lazy”. Most of the people I have talked to here have never lived outside of Texas. That could be part of the problem. There is a weird combination of lack of self-pride mixed with batshit crazy “Texas Pride”. Austin is under its own spell. It is a mass delusion. Let me put it this way: It’s a city that claims to be liberal and forward thinking yet won’t let you purchase alcohol on Sunday before noon. You know, because of god and stuff.

I won’t stay in Austin. It’s not for me. The bad far outweighs the good. For me, a good city is welcoming, walkable, full of free parks, culture, museums and good, easy to use public transit. Austin Texas just doesn’t cut the mustard.


91 thoughts on “Austin, Texas: Not Weird, Just Mediocre

  1. I’ve never been, but I’ve always wondered about the hype. Especially the music. I consistently hear they have an amazing music scene, yet the music that I hear coming out of Austin I never find myself listening to? Shouldn’t I have some artists that I regularly listen to from Austin if their music was great?

    As much as it’s been hyped up to be I don’t see myself finding a way to make it there. What are some cities that you’ve been to that you have enjoyed in regards to music, food and activities?

    • This is an opinion Bill. Chill out. It’s totally cool that you love Austin, be open to others having a differing opinion.

      For the music, all I’m saying is as much as I hear about the great music scene and venues, I don’t hear about “such and such” band. Whenever I do hear about the music there, it’s because of all the music festivals which draw artists from outside of Austin to play there. I read a local article during SXSW stating that very thing. People go to check out music from the artists attending SXSW not actually the local artists. (The blogger was an Austin native).

      Weather, to each his own. Leave it there. If she doesn’t like she doesn’t like it.

      Also, Texas was one of the top 10 fattest states in America last year. Not trying to bash, just listing a stat.

      Again, awesome that you love Austin. When I go there I may love it too. Nothing wrong with an opinion. Her last paragraph she says, “It’s not for me” and that’s what it comes down to. Her opinion did touch on some thoughts I had about Austin, but ultimately will not have a huge influence when it comes to me actually visiting.

  2. In my experience “walkable cities” and “cities inside the United States” are pretty close to mutually exclusive terms, with the exception of New York City, which is walkable, but unlivable.

    • Rebuttal: Boston. Also Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco (minus the hills), Baltimore, DC….

      Austin is clearly not one of the though.

  3. I didn’t enjoy this opinion piece you’ve written about Austin. As a fellow person, I don’t feel your opinions represents my own views in any form. In fact, they are so different from my personal opinions that you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes (or at least driven a few, considering pedestrians are clowns) don’t presume to tell me what you like and don’t like. Seems to me that miss Alicia needs to leave the united states.

  4. barglefargle and Bill,

    You both seems to be under the impression that you have the right NOT to be offended. It is not in the US Constitution and there are no court precedents saying you have to right to move through life without ever being offended.

    You both also seem to think that a different opinion = wrong. I love sushi. If you hate sushi can I say that you are wrong and a bad person for having that opinion? Substitute sushi for almost anything else and the argument is still illogical.

    Bill – You seem to really love your city and state, that is great! I would love to find somewhere to live that I felt so positively about. Alicia seems to not like your city and state. So what? You have different opinions and that is ok. Can you imagine if everyone shared your love for Austin? Imagine the traffic. So why don’t you stow away your personal character attacks and go outside in the sunshine and enjoy yourself?

    barglefargle – “Pedestrians are clowns”? Seriously? Also, when you talk about someone walking a mile in your shoes you probably want them to see life from your point of view. What you’ve written here about Alicia “driving” a mile in your shoes and expressing her point of view simply does not make sense.


  5. Long time reader, first time commenter. Just popping in to applaud your opinion, Alicia. I do not live in Austin, nor have I ever been, however, I recently lived in Austin’s best friend from the north, the supposedly other “weird” city, Portland, for about three years, and I’d say that you summed up my feelings on the place just swell. Well, except that Portland IS beautiful, but it’s quite hard to appreciate the beauty when you’re wet all the time.

  6. After living in Austin for three years, I can tell you a lot of what Alicia say is spot on. The city is growing, but not necessarily in good ways. The cost of living (not gad prices – gimmie a break with that!) continues to rise, but the quality of life and culture offered doesnt. Austin proper is really small, to live within walking distance of downtown will cost you an arm and a leg.

    The food is a mixed bag, there are probably 10 really great restaurants, but then the quality falls off like a cliff.

    The weather is overall really great, yes the summers are long, but its nice to have sun all around. For the record, San Fran is never freezing cold, it has the one of the most steady climates in the country.

    People: Complete mixed bag, the folks from Texas are really nice, but this town is filled with some many hipsters and transplants (myself included) that you bump into a ton of assholes.

    Fashion/Shopping is non existent, yes I am biased growing up outside NYC. Austin has a couple of decent stores, but overall its crap.

    Music: That may be the biggest farce. Yes there are cool concerts around the city, but the whole live music capital thing is a complete joke. I cant thnk of one go-to Austin band.

    Overall, there are some fun things to do as a resident; overall I am beginning to think Austin is way overrated.

  7. Dallas has “high” fashion, a light rail system that nobody rides and the George W Bush presidential museum. By all means, please go there instead.

      • YES! I’m so happy to read sensible observations from those who have move to Austin / Texas. I’m waiting on the backlash against Austin and everyone who moved here will move out so we can go back to a medium sized college town but I doubt that’ll happen.

  8. I’ve lived in LA, Chicago, DC, Philly, Istanbul… I love Austin. It’s a beautiful, clean city filled with good people. Maybe it’s not the city, but you. Home is where the heart is. Where do you really want to be?

  9. Then why don’t you leave already? You obviously haven’t met the right people or came here with some grandiose notion of what this city was. I am from the PNW and I love it there but I have a new home here and I love it. There are amazing people all over this city but you seem like you are too shallow to open up and meet them. I have been in Austin for five years and have experienced some of my fondest moments of my adult life in this city. It’s not some idyllic Eden. It’s a city, a vibrant one at that and if you are too clouded, cynical and judge mental and probably should just pack your bags and get out now. This city doesn’t need mouth breathing vampires like you taking up space. Go back to Williamsburg where you belong. Asshole.

    • Wow. You should write a blog of your own. Or… just read mine a little more carefully. I’ve never been to Williamsburg before. Did you like it there?

      If you read anything else on my blog you would see that I AM leaving asap. It’s hard to leave a city so full of nice, open people like yourself.

      • Keep diggin’ that hole girl. (& what I mean is, being a “smart ass” really doesn’t help your case. …just as much as if you were simply being a mean person).

        Truly, I have to agree with some of Daniel’s points (minus the angry outbursts). I have been all over the world like you, littleguurrl, and I can honestly say, Austin is not some astonishing utopia; especially when compared to so many places (Yellowstone, Cinque Terre, Rio Maggiore, Blue Lagoon, Maldives, St. Lucia, Neuschwanstein Castle (aka the Swan Castle), Giethoorn, Galapagos, the list goes on and on and on and on! ..& I have been to all of these places, plus more), but it does have many qualities that have kept me and many others here. The music scene, for one, IS amazing. You must not have known the write places/people/artists. Maybe you did, but knowing what music I have seen/heard here, as well as the musicians I have spent my time with, I almost have to believe you didn’t. If you were involved in the music scene, you would see that it is overly inclusive, as well as catering. Plus, the amount of musicians/artists that come to Austin on a daily basis, rivals any of the more frequented places in the world. I’ve seen every artist I have ever wanted to see here (minus a select few that really don’t come to America at all. …Those musicians, I see in Europe 🙂 ). Some venues, not all, SUUUUCK, but that’s a trend I see everywhere I go.
        The People… well that’s a mixed bag; though, for the MOST part, it is really hard not to find some truly good, genuine people here. At the same time, it is easy enough to find some fairly crummy people as well, but I’ve found that to be the case with almost every place I have visited or lived in. Truly, It was easy as hell for me to find amazing people in Austin, but I also got here almost 20 years ago, and it has grown immensely since (which I have mixed feeling about. Mainly because of how the city is reacting to it, and because of how the city was built.)
        Which brings me to traffic… The WORST EVER!!! That is the one thing I can wholeheartedly agree with. I hate Austin traffic. It has some of the most oblivious drivers too. -By far the most bothersome part about Austin.
        Now about the fashion. …No, this isn’t New York, London, Paris or Barcelona; not by a long run. But really? You’re going to base part of your decision on the people’s fashion, over their personalities? That sort of of tells me that you’re the kind of person who judges a book by it’s cover. Plus, if you’re into fashion, there’s an awesome goal here for you! Bring that shit here! Knowing the amount and type of people moving here at the moment, fashion would be well and heavily received. That’s an extremely huge business venture that could be made, and probably will be by someone with the smarts to do it.
        Lastly, there are some gorgeous areas in and around Austin, and I mean flipping gorgeous!!! If you just hung out downtown as well as surrounding areas, I could believe you didn’t think it was all that beautiful. & though downtown Austin is nicer/cleaner than most downtown areas, it’s not the best part of Austin (by far). Some of the places I’m talking about are kept sort of secret… for good reason too. With the popularity and growth of Austin soaring the way it is, most are afraid of these areas being ruined or harmed. But, meet the right people, and you could see a whole ‘nother side of this town. (There’s a reason so many movies/shows are filmed here…)
        So all in all, I am sorry you didn’t see what many genuine people see/experience almost everyday here in Austin, but to be kind of honest, I for one would love to see more people leave and go elsewhere, as we have an average of 170 to 250 people moving here a day. …and to a city that is already pretty cluttered, population wise. So please, free up these roads! I know a ton of people who would appreciate that. 😉

  10. THANK YOU. I lived in Austin fir three years waiting to find the magic and things just hgot worse. Then, once I moved, nobody could understand what was wrong with their beautiful, perfect city. Maybe next time I will just forward them this link and hope they can come to terms.
    Oh, and I am Texas born and raised. I should have known better.

    • WOW! Thanks you so much! You might be the first person from Texas (aside from my boyfriend) who agrees with me. It’s almost like Texans have blinders on when it come to Texas. Anyway, thank you! It’s nice to be agreed with every once in a while 😉

      • Yes. I’m from Houston, and I moved here for college. Austin got old pretty quickly. You are SO RIGHT about the food scene in Houston being better. There is more variety, and Houston is starting to get its own food trucks as well. The shopping is a mess; Barton Creek and The Domain will never compare to Katy Mills and the Galleria. It’s like nobody can drive here, and people are rude. There is nothing to do at night other than 6th street and go out to eat….SXSW and ACL NEVER have the bands that I like, and the “live music scene” is lame. But hey, what do I know?

  11. Alas, it was great in the early ’90s when I moved here from L.A. It has seen out of control growth since then. Almost completely unlivable but I’m stuck here now. Family, band and career keeps me locked. It’s still fun…just not as fun. BTW-This is repeated by every generation of Austinites since the ’70’s.

    • I really like your post Dave Cartoon. I moved here and in 2000 and I can only imagine the growth you’ve seen due to the growth I’ve seen.. I for one and not a fan of the way it has been growing but I consider this home now. And truth be told there is no utopia…not anymore. And yes it is still fun…just not as fun as when I moved here.

  12. Hey girl! I’m sorry to hear that Austin wasn’t everything you expected it to be. I’m a native Texan, but didn’t grow up in Austin. So the weather, compared to most of Texas, is perfect. I also work for a musical collective in Austin, so I see a lot of good music. Right now, I personally think, the city is transition. It has been growing so much and has a ton of transplants that it’s trying to rebuild a new identity. Just gotta give it a little time. There are some really amazing people if you just put yourself out there.That’s what I had to do and I’ve never found such outgoing and kind people. It’s a shame that you found people who are rude (aka most people who inhabit sixth street) but for the most part there are tons of good people and vibes. Also there are plenty of beautiful nature spots, like Zilker and the whole greenbelt. As for food, it’s a hit and miss, I agree. It took me a while to find the right places because there are so many locally owned food trucks and restaurants to go to! Maybe you should just try something you normally wouldn’t! I’m sad to hear that you didn’t enjoy Austin but best of luck to you!

    • Thank you. It’s nice to hear a kindness with a difference of opinion. 🙂 From what I understand, Austin is in flux and moving towards more gentrification. It is what it is. It’s just not my style. I get why folks dig it, and I gave it a shot. But I don’t stay where I ain’t happy. Enjoy Austin, and thanks for reading.

      • & speaking of “style,” I have to say, I LOVE the “fashionable” wife-beater you’re wearing in your photo! 🙂 …just messin’ …sorta’. 😉
        …But do you see how sarcasm can be counteractive when trying to make a strong point?

      • Also, on CapMetro, if you pay $2 you get a day pass and can ride all day. That’s what they do instead of transfers.

  13. Having lived in Austin for 10 years now I’ve got to say, today your review is pretty much correct… 10 years ago things were very different here (except the fashion thing whoever told you that anyone in Texas was fashion forward was just O_o ) The atmosphere has changed dramatically, especially with the influx of outsiders who aren’t at all what Austin is. There are still gems around town but you have to know where to go, most of the Austin charm has gone the way of the tech boom. As more companies and yuppies move to town the cost of living is skyrocketing the job market is plummeting and the atmosphere is dieing. We’re the “live music capital of the world” that just means that we have more bands play here live than anywhere else in the world, it doesn’t mean that we have more good music though (you might have misunderstood that point). Austin is severely lacking when it comes to Mexican food, coming from a rural town where everything is authentic Mexican food all the time (and dairy queen) I have always been disappointed with the Mex availability here, so much of what Austin food specializes in is vegetarian and vegan we really do have a fantastic market for that. Want some Austin original though, try out Trudy’s (the one on campus because it’s the original) grab an original mexican martini (yes they invented it) and a vegetarian stuffed avocado you might find that the food scene is a bit redeemed. Then hop over to spiderhouse for a coffee while they’re playing trivia. That’s about as Austin as it gets.

    • You are beyond right! I grew up in College Station and Austin was a utopia in our minds in the late 90s but now its becoming Dallas with a less scary downtown. Snobby, crowded, and devoid of the authenticity that made it some a rarity to all us native Texans that did fit in around our neo-conservative towns.

  14. I’m currently living in Austin and agree with EVERYTHING in this article. However, I complain so much about Austin, that I’ve had to take a vow to not talk badly about it for 3 months. I’ll be back in 3 months to detail why I agree with everything in this article. 😉

  15. you sure wrote a lot about a place you don’t like. doesn’t sound like it is for you and I’m so happy you wrote what you did. maybe we won’t have so many people here who really don’t get it.

  16. I had some of the most fun and magical experiences of my life in Austin. There are definitely plenty of original weirdos still hiding out on the East side! But I ultimately left because its so apeshit about itself that its totally losing sight of what actually makes it special. I didn’t move there because I read that it was cool in a magazine- I met a group of radical bohemian adventurers and misfits that I wanted to be around, and I got introduced to a side of the city that most newcomers don’t get to see. Then that group all but disbanded and I had to hack it in a city thats becoming ever more shallow and commercialized, and the sparkle faded. The “originals” are becoming more self-protective and insulated, while the city itself is flooded with cash and expectations coming from elsewhere. I guess my point is that I agree with a lot of this blog post, but I also feel that the author unfortunately missed out on the kind of experiences that make people so loyal and fond of Austin. I mean, shit, did you ever see the Minor Mishap Marching Band play to a crowd gathered under a bridge from a collection of boats on the river at sunset while aerial dancers danced suspended from said bridge? Did you ever volunteer for a day at the anarchist collective bike repair shop? Did you ever have any friends that lived in tipis? Did you ever talk to Leslie? (Do you even know who Leslie is?) Did you ride out to Luchenbach for the Sunday picking parlor? Or bike down to the full moon night swim at Barton Springs with a big group of pals? Didn’t think so. But you’re right about Chuy’s, fuck that place and Trudy’s too.

    • p.s. Leslie died around the time you moved there, but it might behoove you to learn about your city’s beloved icon.

  17. I have to say, and I hope I don’t offend anyone, (LOL) but reading some of these comments was comical. So you don’t like Austin AND you can clearly give examples of why you don’t. And you were called an “asshole?” So what? Some of these commenters act as if you raped a child and said it was ok. I am an advocate for the 1st amendment, but we’re talking about someone liking or not liking a city. Wow. I think you should start talking about stuff that DESERVES backlash. Everyone needs to CTFD. (Calm The F**** Down).

  18. Please write more bad things about Austin. Maybe you can help change people’s minds about moving here, and stop them! All the things you heard about this town before you moved here WERE true at one point. That was, until everyone heard about it and moved here. No, it’s not weird anymore. That’s because a bunch of un-weird yuppies moved here and started building condos.

    • I think you (and many others) have hit the nali on the head. Maybe Austin WAS awesome and amazing … but it isn’t anymore. I wasn’t here 10 years ago, so I can’t write about Austins apparent “glory days”. All I can do is write about the city as it is. NOW. For those of us who are here for the first time… this is what you get. Cheers.

  19. I lived in Austin in the mid 90s and I feel that the stories of how wonderful Austin is comes from a time over 20 years ago. Back then when I lived there is when the city started to boom with computer companies transplanting themselves into town. More and more people from out of state moved in and the town stayed to grow very rapidly.
    Austin has never been fashion forward in the sense of creating a runway style, it was always known as a hippie town. the fashion of the then 30-50 year old Austinite was hippie bohemian,slacker,college kid,or a variation.

    The issue is that this town was all that it was described to be at one point but it grew to fast. There are so many people that have moved to Austin and have changed its essence. The condos, the property taxes, the traffic, public transportation; I lived in Austin when sxsw was at its beginning stages and the bracelet didn’t come close to what is worth now, free jazz on wednesdays , 6th Street night life only really existed on the east side of Congress, katzs deli was still around,the north side of Zilker Park and Auditorium Shores still had grass (now dirt because of all the festivals). Travis Lake,Mount Bonell,Hamilton Pool, Twin Falls those are all areas that I enjoyed very much while living there.
    In summation, ill just say that the only way to get to when Austin lived up to its reputation is to travel back in time.

  20. Holy heck, I could have written this! You are not alone! Please check out my blog as I’d love to hear yr comments on my reaction as well. Ps. Are you still in Austin?
    Hang in there…

  21. Please go back to California, and tell everyone there how awful it is. The condos? I hate them, and they were built for the Californians coming to the city. Take it all back with you. kthxbye

      • Most Countries, States,and Towns have people who will react like this to someone bad mouthing the place they love (plus, you have periodically been fairly cold with some of your comments and responses). So again, sarcasm is really not a fitting color for your cause. And, in turn, creates reactions like damonconway’s, so don’t act surprised or shocked when someone says what damonconway has said.
        Anyhow, damonconway’s reply is a result of the city not being built for the current increase of population, as well as events like the infamous SXSW (which I personally flipping hate. SXSW is a festival for tourists. I don’t know anyone who lives in Austin and looks forward to SXSW. Especially since all of the artist, musicians and film makers come back for more exclusive gigs throughout the year). I used to have a shirt, when I worked downtown, that I would wear every year during SXSW. It said, “Welcome to Austin, Don’t Forget to Leave!” 🙂
        Again, every place has its downfalls, and Austin is currently a little jumbled, but that doesn’t mean it’s ruined like some are claiming. It’s not for me, but I also have a ton of patience. And maybe THAT’S the key young grasshopper. 😉

  22. You can have it both ways and actually many ways. The days of cultural homogenization are over. Try to drop the fascist ideology for a little while and see if you’re happier. It helped me anyway.

  23. Those of us who were born here and remember what is was like before YOU people came here would very much appreciate it if you would LEAVE.

  24. To be honest I am glad not everyone that visits ATX might not find it appealing. Seems like every looney tune on the planet is moving here. I liked it better in the 70s & 80s when I first moved here. I lived in LA for 3 years in the 80s and found it to be a madhouse. Go figure! We are all different. If we were all 6′ with blonde hair and blue eyes it would be a boring planet. And don’t take this wrong, it is not directed at you. I am also a blogger and one thing I have learned is you can’t please everyone. And why would we want to anyway?

  25. Spot on, indeed. I’ve lived in Austin since ’63 when the population was 60K and all that was here was the Capitol, UT and the Air Force base. Then it all went to shit when our civic leaders got a case of Dallas envy. I’m still in south Austin after 50 years (with the exception of 3 yrs in the army and 4 yrs in Houston), but what Austin has become (for whatever reason) really sucks. The reason we voted down light rail (in my opinion) is that Capitol Metro is the most corrupt and incompetent entity I’ve seen. Good luck riding a bus across town in less than 3 hours. Good luck in your search for the perfect place to live.

  26. I know this is many months after you initially posted, but as far as riding the bus goes, you can actually purchase a day pass for $2, which allows you to transfer all you want in a 24 hour period.

  27. I feel like you applied an arbitrary set of criteria to Austin. Using these criteria, cities like New York or maybe places in Europe will be considered great, but they are a very narrow set of things that people look for in a city. Here are some rebuttals:

    No public transportation: this is correct. Austin is a driving city. Traffic is not that bad because most things in the city are close together. I lived within 4 miles of downtown, where I work, and bike 99% of the time. I can do this, despite it being hot, because:

    No dress code. You say, Austinites have poor fashion. I say, we don’t need to get dressed up to feel important/get into bars/eat at a restaurant/go to work in many places. Because most people in Austin think that dress code is a stupid, arbitrary, and uncomfortable restriction meant to exclude people.

    You say Austin is ugly. Have you been to the green belt? It’s a 13 mile creek/forest preserve about 2 miles from downtown. That means I can easily bike to a place where I can mountain bike, rock climb, hike, swim, hang out, and completely forget about the city, and then come back to the city a couple hours later and enjoy the amenities. There are lots of other things to do around the Austin area too.

    Last: we get it, Austin is not the weirdest place on earth anymore. Sorry that our unofficial motto stuck. If you came here expecting people to be tripping on acid on the streets or just getting weird all over the place (whatever that means), you’re not gonna find it, because Austin mostly just has nice, relaxed, fun loving people. Sorry.

  28. I grew up in Austin, went to college in Austin, and finally left for NYC a few years ago. FUCK AUSTIN. Everything you said, consider it confirmed by someone who has been there for the last thirty years. Whatever it was, it is not now. It’s not for me either.

  29. i lived in austin for 10 years, did my undergrad there, met my wife there, partied there… it was a huge chunk of my 34 year old life. I watched the city go through this massive change from the late 90s and through the aughts. Its identity has definitely changed. I remember indie rock types riding old bikes around hyde park and hippie/boomer moms in their tevas at wheatsville. but, ironically, even back in ’99 when austin was still “weird” it was still mediocre and yet strangely so totally full of itself. I have very dear friends there and grew into adulthood in that town, but after living in NYC for the last few years I can honestly say that i kinda hate austin. I hate its ego, i hate its heat, i hate its totally non-existent cultural scene.

    in reference to one of your commenters, i would gladly be an asshole that lives in williamsburg than a wannabe asshole who dresses like a wannabe bushwick hipster who lives in austin where, lets just face it, its easier to be that big fish in the pond. i know its much easier to feel “cool” or “weird” when you go to ACL and are surrounded by douchebag real estate agents or marketing department types. where i live now, everyone IS actually doing interesting shit…. not just talking about it.

    • we are working on that, Austin cant be NYC over night DUH!!!! Its still growing, its like telling a kid he sucks because hes not fully grown yet, yall need to calm down!

      • i mean, get real austin can NEVER be nyc. austin has to be austin. just like a kid has to figure out who he is and grow up and all that per yr metaphor. but…..remember that kid in high-school who always wanted to talk about himself? he always wanted to tell you how cool he was. he wore stupid white-framed sunglasses and acted like he was a badass rock&roll type even though he lived with his parents in the suburbs? that kid is like austin.

        the comments in here just go to show how much like that kid austin is, like SCREAMING of insecurity. I hate to be a hater…. like i said, i have super super great, intelligent, creative, awesome friends still in austin living on the east-side. the east-side has this little community thing that is something way better than most cities. but austin as a whole is just so bloated and full of itself/self-conscious. I fear all that big willy talk will tear the house down.

  30. I live in Austin, and I agree with a great deal of what you said. However, not all of it is bad. There are great little pockets of awesome if you care to seek them out, but the weather and the traffic are pretty gross. There’s some great music out there too, if you care to look (Black Irish, Izzy Cox, Guns of Navarone), and it’s nice to have major bands come through all the time. It’s a laid back city with an image problem, and the cost of living is expensive, but still cheaper than California or cities in the Northeast. All in all, Austin is a mixed bag. Some good, some bad, but isn’t that everywhere?

  31. After living in Austin 6 years, I would say that I mostly agree with this article, especially the last paragraph. I think it’s funny how angry people have become about this article! “How dare anyone not like Austin!”. You see, worshiping Austin is their religion and you have just blasphemed it. It is obvious by many of their reactions. Austinites are full of themselves. It’s part of the culture. They need to claim to be the “most” this or that to feel good about themselves. They’re the most progressive, the most green, the most liberal, have the most live music…etc. You name it. You’re right that this city can’t decide what it is.

    Good post.

    P.S. Despite what many Austinites would want you to believe, there are other good big cities in Texas. I’ve lived in one.

  32. Seems like you inspire a lot of comments. I wish I had as much wrath of Khan on my blog. Never been to Austin, can’t say much about it, I good friend of mine from Long Beach, CA lives there and has a radio show, he likes it. I prefer Cali, with my Cambodian-Mexican-African American-Midwestern-Gay-and whatever fits mix within three blocks of my place in Long Beach. Only complaint, no summer this year. Its been 60’s and 70’s so far. Cold, like San Francisco, well not that cold, but almost. I spent a lot of time traveling when I was younger, but now I am more sedentary, I let the world come to me… keep up the good work.

  33. People like you moving to Austin expecting something to be weird when you are not weird yourself haha! So glad you’re leaving my beloved and please do hurry!! No one likes a negative Nancy…

  34. This is all lies lol. You obviously didn’t explore Austin outside the UT campus or DT. The only way to really see this city is to grab a bicycle and hang with some locals.

  35. So, I am an Austinite, born and raised here. I’ve seen how the city has grown -and stayed the same in some ways – over the past thirty years, and have to say that you got one part of Austin right. Austin HAS become like all other cities. Absolutely. It’s lost some of its magic, especially behind all its highway smog of traffic. So I agree with you in various ways here, and applaud you for speaking up and saying it. The music here has lost its spark, not all Tex-Mex spots are equal anymore, and traffic’s been a huge problem here since the ’90s!

    My own confession – I’ve only gone to SXSW once. Due to its popularity, bands come here to get known at SXSW, so there’s always a huge slew of bands you’ve never heard of before. And that’s what I saw the one time I went. Some big names, and many not so well known. It’s the way the music industry is working in this town right now. But you know, I am wondering if that’s just to be expected right now in this stage of the music game. We used to have tons of big names come and play. Now, not as much. But I think that’ll pick up within a couple of years, since Austin is becoming like most other towns.

    My problem is you also went ahead and judged the lifestyle of the 1.2 million Austinites who live here. As far as fashion goes – while I am an Austinite, I am also a fashion consultant. You would have to threaten me at gunpoint to wear UT garb during my every day. About 60% of my friends here do care about how they dress (but yes, there’s a good 40% that don’t). And when we head out shopping, yes, we are limited in our choices. But we still find those amazing stores and find gems all over town if you just look well. I personally work in the Domain, and there’s some amazing vintage shops down SoCo too I really want to visit soon – I just haven’t had the chance to yet!

    Granted, if you are hanging out around UT campus, the super casual look is all you are going to spot. And that’s because they’re college students, or that’s just their thing. (I’m glad you didn’t spot Leslie before he passed away, who would’ve driven around downtown in nothing but a G-string. Definitely a fashion no-no, and definitely weird!)

    As for Austin being ugly – yeah, I can see that. But the majority of the people I know can’t get enough of Town Lake, boating, going kayaking, exploring the various trails around town, enjoying the good food places that we have found around town, and going out dancing at night. Not every town can offer all of that. We may not compare with the cities in Colorado, New York, or upper California. But part of the blame there is this 10 year old drought we have been in. So we have been grateful for the rain over the past few weeks, hoping it’s a sign of better times a-coming.. The brown-ness you are seeing is from that drought.

    Overall, you are seeing what you want to see. You have seen Austin at a downturn, yes. Traffic’s the worst it’s ever been, the college town look has presently seeped into the rest of the city’s culture, and the drought is only now getting some relief. But that’s what your eyes are resting on. Before you leave, give it one more good look before calling us out again. I hope that, by reading my post, you understand I am not trying to be Texan-arrogant. I’m just trying to give Austin a fair reading.

  36. If you spent 10 months in Austin and where using CapMetro to get around and didn’t ever figure out that you can ride all day for $2, it makes me question how well you explored and really made the effort to get to know the city. It sounds like you spent all your time in West Campus and on 6th Street west of I-35.

    • I live in New Orleans now and it reminds me of when people come here and say New Orleans sucks and all they did is go to Bourbon Street.

      • My sentiments exactly…go back to where you came from but don’t bash my town..when she hasn’t even been to the best parts of it.

  37. I’ve lived in Austin for 5 years, and before that Dallas, Houston, NYC, Florida, North Carolina, and Japan.

    I think that the intent of your message is accurate. People from Austin are sometimes astounded when I don’t like the food here, and then ask me if I’ve eaten at every decent-ish restaurant they can think of. I can’t say that I’ve eaten at every place that people generally consider is a cornerstone of Austin food, but I’ve eaten at a lot of them. Uchi is good, but nothing I couldn’t get in Houston. Or NYC, but that seems unfair. Overall, while some places stand out, it is fairly mediocre.

    Fun fact: Did you know that there is no consistent system to control whether or not people pay to ride the Metro Rail trains? In seven months, I have seen Fare Inspectors come aboard the trains and check people’s tickets about 10 times. They have to do this because there are no turnstiles like in NYC. And the inspectors only check tickets in the mornings, as the evening trains are so packed that they wouldn’t be able to move about and scan.

    I agree with most of your opinions about Austin. There are a lot of things about the city that could be improved to match the hype. But I think that some of your points are made with enough bite that some people reading this aren’t going to look at your thoughts objectively. And maybe those thoughts aren’t coming from an objective place because you may be angry that Austin didn’t live up to the utopia that others made it out to be. I think that the challenge moving forward is to maintain objective criticism so that your opinions resonate with the most people. That way people won’t be able to as easily dismiss your thoughts and experiences, which are valuable.

  38. This is so funny! Austin is bad because you don’t know which side of the street to wait on for the bus and you didn’t bother to look up the weather before you moved here? Also,

    “Let me put it this way: It’s a city that claims to be liberal and forward thinking yet won’t let you purchase alcohol on Sunday before noon. You know, because of god and stuff.”

    That’s a state matter;

    • The #30 bus – when picked up near Bee Caves – picks up on the same side of the street. The busses go opposite directions after 3 stops. 🙂

      And you’re right – all of Texas has that lame law. Thanks for the correction.

  39. what? this is such a lame article and seems like it was written by someone with VERY limited life experience. 2 busses with the same number that go opposite directions….has she never ridden a bus? thats the way buses work!!! It sucks you didn’t have a good time but you can make ANY place a utopia with the right attitude and by approaching life with positivity instead of complaining. Austin sure sounds a hell of a lot better than the middle of nowhere. at least they HAVE public transportation, and a variety of food, people, music and culture. Stop complaining. Not everything is going to be absolutely perfect anywhere you go…

  40. Thank you for putting into a contained resource all of the reasons that I am leaving Austin. It’s a joke. I’d pick Nashville any day over Austin.

  41. Yawn, yuppie. I am a native from chicago. Have visited 90 percent of the places you mentioned in this article. Austin does not need another person like you. In fact, it would be best if the vibrations that are emitted from this distasteful article moved away. Please.

  42. Well then leave I’ve been here for over 5 years a transplant from Portland Or. and I love Austin. I choose Austin over my home town that stole the slogan “Keep Austin Weird”. I think this place is amazing the less we have people like you here the better.

  43. Thank you. I just move away from Austin and you summed up my two years their beautifully.

    The only other thing I can say is, the cost of living is steadily rising and anything that is or was cool is being bulldozed for condo space. That’s Austin in a nutshell.

    Though I miss Alamo Drafthouse badly.

  44. As a Texan, it’s a natural response to say “don’t let door hit you on the way out” mainly due to the idea that Texas is still the state with the option to secede from the rest of the 50 states. But obviously things didn’t pan out they way you had envisioned and I can only assume on bad taste led to another. You have guidelines on what you enjoy about a city, and from what I read, can easily be researched on the internet. I hope your next destination will remove whatever resentment you are holding onto about Austin, and try to keep things positive and reflect back with better memories.

    As a side note, I don’t use public transportation as I can afford the means of getting around on my own which saves time and other annoyances reflected here. The cost of living in Texas as a whole is pretty affordable when you look at no state income tax and cheap land values due to the sheer size of land available. And whoever told you the weather is good in any part of Texas obviously has no idea what good weather is, as 80 degree weather can be interpreted in so many different ways.

  45. Whomever told you the weather was great in Austin (or anyplace in Texas) is not your friend

  46. Hmm, Interesting.

    What food places are you visiting?

    What parts of Austin did you visit for scenery?

    I’m wondering (like a lot of people who read this) where are you going to come to these conclusions about Austin. There are some beautiful places to visit and some great restaurants with a lot of character… but you may be limiting yourself and coming to a conclusion about the city due to a lack of knowledge. Open yourself up to new experiences.

    Would offer tips, but you sound like you’ve already set your mind on hating the city already…You know?

    • Yup. After a year, I know it isn’t for me. Moving on in Jan.

      And I’ve been all over, eaten at lots of places, and again – for the money I’m just not impressed. I don’t get why that makes folks so angry, but… oh well. Such is life.

  47. i like how you wait until the end of your blog to list what you look for in a good city and then blame austin for not having those things. people of america: austinite did not start this publicity campaign to say we’re great. also: we don’t give a fuck if you like it here. we’re mowing our lawns and feeding our dogs. if you want to be “impressed,” go to Disneyworld. If you want a city that lives up to its reputation, move to waco.

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