I was recently asked by Eli via email, who's considering making the move to Austin TX, my thoughts of Austin. Despite some of the cliche negative things people say about Texas, it's actually a nice place and I've met some really cool people. However, I've had a drive lately to put down roots somewhere, and when I think about the places I'd like to live long term or permanently, Texas does not come mind. The Pacific Northwest, on the other hand, immediately comes to me. At the time of writing this, my girlfriend and I have locked down an apartment in Vancouver, Washington. I'm writing this from Provo, Utah and currently halfway through a solo road trip from Austin to Washington with my little car packed with our garbage.
I don't like the climate Texas. Don't get me wrong, I love being able to wear shorts and flip flops 9-10 months of the year, but man the hot and humid weather really sucks. I also hate mosquitos and bugs, which is excessively abundant. Walking outside to the mailbox and back, I'll return with at least two or three mosquito bites. Maybe it's just our old apartment, but I saw a cockroach as long as my middle finger just chilling on the bathtub like it owned the place. There's also a lack of trees, which is something I was surprised that I'd miss, and Texas doesn't have much in terms of natural beauty. I will admit, however, that although we did visit several outdoorsy destinations, we didn't make a huge effort to fully explore the state.
Austin has an amazing jiu-jitsu scene. From my experience, no-gi is much more common in Texas than it is in the PNW, likely because the differences in climate. Training almost exclusively gi in Oregon then training almost exclusively no-gi in Texas at Village of Wolves, I was shocked just how bad my jiu-jitsu is without a gi. When I started training primarily no-gi, I felt like half my BJJ knowledge went out the window, but as time went on I gradually improved. I got my purple belt in Austin.
There's much more over-sized vehicles on the road in Texas. Someone did point out to me that the over-sized SUV and pickup truck phenomenon isn't just a Texas thing, it's common across all US cities now, but it seems there's a higher volume of over-sized trucks and SUVs on the road. This could simply because I drive a tiny Honda CR-Z and the speed limit is higher than I'm accustomed to. It's also pretty hilarious seeing a line of Ford F-150's lined up in a McDonald's drive-through with only a single occupant. Also, if you want to drive in Texas, you must remember to never ever use your turn signal, always drive at least 20 mph above the speed limit, and never yield to pedestrians or cyclists even if they have the right-of-way. You are more important.
From a financial perspective, coming from Oregon I appreciated the lack of income tax. Moving to Texas I got an immediate raise. Sales tax was something I had to get used to, but I'm a fairly frugal person to begin with and there isn't sales tax on groceries. The cost of living is generally lower in Texas, but since Austin has seen so much growth in the past few years, there's not much difference. Outside of Austin, however, the cost of living is quite a bit cheaper, but are in places I don't really care for.
Another thing I have an issue with is that Texas has laws that tend to side with landlords than protecting renters, which is something I've somewhat noticed during my move. I had to provide a 60 day notice prior to leaving my apartment, whereas it's only 20 in Washington. It could simply be the complex, but something I appreciate about Vancouver, WA apartment is that smoking is prohibited on the premises. In contrast, our neighbors at our Austin complex can smoke wherever they want, treating their porch and entire property like their personal ashtray, including my porch.
I've met some pretty amazing people while I lived in Texas. I feel like people are friendlier, but this could simply be chalked up to living in an okay neighborhood. (In their cars, however, I think people are much more aggressive. In the three years I've been here, I've encountered more idiots on the road, and more instances of road rage than I had in Portland). Maybe it's because I haven't been on social media the entire time I've been in Texas, but people seem far less politicized, at least than people are in Portland. Perhaps it's because I haven't seen the online personas of the new people I've met or friends I've made, but I realize that people act and behave differently in person than they do on the internet.
All this being said, I again want to reiterate that Texas can be a pretty cool place. Like all places, there are benefits and there are drawbacks.
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