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Austin Is Building a Mini Silicon Valley (bloomberg.com)
155 points by pseudolus 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 201 comments

I lived in the Valley for 10 years, and have now lived in Austin for 7.

While certainly Austin has its problems (traffic, heat in the summer, and allergies would be my top 3) I find Austin is handling high growth far better than California did.

We do have older, homeowner NIMBYs here, including my local neighborhood association. The difference between here and California is that the NIMBYs don't have as much power here. They fought an apartment complex in my neighborhood and lost--now hundreds of new people are able to live closer in to downtown.

The current fight over zoning is allowing "granny flats", or back yard buildings. It does look like the NIMBYs are going to lose on that one as well.

There are also a lot of older houses being torn down, developers splitting the lot, and building 2 houses on the lot. These older houses aren't historic; they're 1950's-1960's suburban sprawl. I did not see California allowing these types of development as easily in the 10 years I lived there.

Overall, Austin has a compelling mix of factors that keep people moving here. The weather is great 9 months out of the year, and if you're in tech, it's not uncommon to work from somewhere else in the summer, or take some time off.

You're actually able to raise a family here without insane waits or crazy prices for daycare.

The community overall is more laid-back than SF because you don't feel the need to work 90 hours a week just to be able to afford a 1BR apartment.

Plus, we have breakfast tacos. :)

I've traveled through most of the US at this point, and lived in several different areas, and still think Austin has one of the best communities of people I've ever seen...which is why I continue to live here and advocate for smart tech folks to move here.

You're right about everything but the weather. It's only good for about 2 months of the year. 10 months out of the year it's either too hot or too cold. Air conditioning is a must. If you love Bay Area weather, you might want to stay in the west coast instead. Portland seems to be a good alternative.

It certainly does get hot, but too cold? My goodness. Winters are something like 50 degrees on average with a handful of cold spells (_maybe_ hits freezing overnight) here and there. If that's too cold then most of the world is off limits to you.

It's been a while since I lived in TX. I just remember experiencing snow for the first time there. Looking at a climate graph, it looks like it's good 4 months out of the year there and not just 2.

Snow in Central Texas is rare and it's astounding when it sticks for a whole 24 hours. Compared to nearly everywhere else in the US, it's a warm climate. I can't even believe I'm debating whether or not Texas is "too cold"...

Yea I can’t believe this whole comment thread either... I’ve only been visiting in Austin but I’m from Madrid, Spain, widely considered a warm or at least temperate city, and Austin is like +5C on average every month... we’re talking about it being “cold”?

The original commenter is someone who has lived a long period of time in California. I grew up in SoCal and SF is too cold for me. I did not even own a pair of long pants before moving to the bay. I am actively trying to move down to SoCal but the tech scene is ass. And yes, the vast majority of the world is off limits. You can rip the California coast out of cold dead, penniless fingers

And in many decades it has snowed only a literal handful of times. Lots of northerners prefer living in Texas simply because the number of days each year that we see freezing temperatures can usually be counted on one or two hands.

As someone who moved to Portland from the Bay Area ~2 years ago the weather is significantly more variable. It gets colder, has a longer (and wetter) winter, and has fewer overall sunny days. I love Portland and I don't doubt that it is a smaller variation from the Bay compared to Austin, but I just didn't want people to get the impression that Portland has Bay Area weather.

Looking at the climate graph, Portland’s weather looks similar to sf Bay Area weather. Personally I don’t mind rain as long as it’s not hot

Are you in SF or Daly City or something? Most of the bay area has vastly more sunny days than Portland (??). Hell, even SF proper should have more sun than portland.

Actually, from google, Portland has 144 sunny days vs 205 national average vs 259 in San Francisco. And only 257 in San Jose (?).

I think those descriptions are meant to be about Portland rather than SF (where the commenter moved to a couple years ago). Would be perfectly accurate in that case. :)


Too cold? I visited in January and couldn't believe how nice it was. It may be my Midwest frame of reference, but everyone else was walking around in short sleeves and perfectly comfortable so I doubt it.

LA Weather >>>>

Yup, why does the tech scene suck though ...the vast majority in the scene there will underpay you. The companies tend to be larger, slower moving with offices in office parks. SB has some potential but has yet to get the company traction I have been hoping. UCSB engineering grad school is one of the best in the countries yet all the talent flees to the bay.

> Plus, we have breakfast tacos. :)

I miss a lot of things about living in Austin, but that has to be right at the top of the list. Right next to that other giant of Texas breakfast cuisine, the brisket kolache.

Kolaches have to be one of Texas' best kept secrets. I discovered them after I moved to NYC (from DC) because a friend from Texas is opening a kolache bakery in Brooklyn, and man... what a treat. I highly recommend everyone travel to Texas and try a kolache from a roadside stand.

What's the roadmap for mass transit looking like? Texas is such a car-heavy state.

Do you really want to sit in a bus shelter when it's 102 degrees out? Worse, you can't walk from the bus to your office without getting sweaty and smelly three months of the year.

A car (or truck) is a necessity here IMHO. I do ride my bicycle, but only because I have a shower at work.

having a car only city basically guarantees that 15% of your post-tax income goes to transportation costs

I bet people around here generally exceed that. It's not that uncommon for people to have their cars and then also a pickup truck and boat or motorcycle or something like that for weekend activities.

Car culture is very strong here.

then have an underground subway? a car only city is a bad thing.

If you don't like cars, then you probably don't want to move to Austin.

I suspect the meager public transportation offerings here are going to get worse, not better. Austin has a good climate for self-driving cars and I think when they hit the market, they are going to fuel sprawl like crazy. I know if I could buy a self-driving car, I'd move another 30 minutes out of the city to get more space.

Mass transit is currently virtually non-existent and it appears that every new proposed transit project is defeated by voters.

The traffic in Austin is the #1 reason that keeps me from considering living there. Constant gridlock, plus a lot of dangerous drivers. Yes, there are worse places (L.A. obviously), but not many. They need a huge increase in both quality & quantity of public transportation, and it isn't happening soon enough.

The population of Travis County was only 212,136 in 1960 and is now 1,226,698 so there probably aren't that many historic buildings that can't be redeveloped. I think it's probably the lack of air conditioning that kept the population low until recently.

Air conditioning was not a rarity in TX from mid-60's or at latest mid-70s onward.

this has far more to do with Dell computer/TI/IBM/etc. reinvesting locally into developing UT grads into tech hub, UT as grid supercomputing facility, 'insourcing' SV devwork, and insane local promotion by hollywood/sv/media/local investors into SXSW festival which brought more attention/tech growth to the area. Most of this has happend from mid-90s onward, esp. post dotcom bubble- prior to this Austin was mostly a sleepy college town and local administrative center supporting a state economy more centered around oil/gas and agriculture in houston/dallas

Wasn't Silicon Valley a bunch of orchards in 1960?

Code NEXT was a huge loss, but I don't think the NIMBYs will be able to pull that off again, because their entire tactic was based on spinning people's lack of interest into a conspiracy to change the code by stealth. The city is licking its wounds, but there will be another go at overhauling the code, and there will be plenty of public interest next time.

> Austin has a compelling mix of factors that keep people moving here.

I think it has to do with it having a lot in common with certain other places but lacking certain things that make those other places highly unattractive.

80% of the upsides and 10% of the downsides at a fraction of the price of the alternative is a going to be attractive to a lot of people who can't justify the other option.

I see a lot of dense 3-story housing complexes being build in the south bay. For example along Montague expressway near the great mall near the new BART station Many mixed residential/commercial buildings also. I think the real problem area of housing expansion is San Francisco which is not doing much of this.

Austin is great, lived there for 4 years, and I think it's healthy to have alternatives to Silicon Valley - both geographically and taxation-wise.

My observation is that while there are plenty of startups - helped by Joshua Baer's Capital Factory and Techstars - it seems that most of the big tech companies are more taking advantage of the state's business-friendly tax laws and cheaper labor force than anything.

A lot of companies - Apple, Oracle, etc - are more using it as a customer service and sales team base than for engineering, R&D, etc.

Of course there will be plenty of counter-examples (HomeAway, Dell, BazaarVoice, RetailMeNot, Indeed), but that's just a macro observation to keep in mind.

I lived in Austin for the past two years and was quite disappointed by the people, the city, and the schools. Glad to be out of there and I have no interest in moving back despite it being my hometown.

Number one complaint, the city has feeble public offerings (no zoo, no aquarium, no subway or light rail, small museums).

Number two complaint, the schools are overrated (and Texas math is one grade year behind most other states).

Number three complaint, I encountered a lot of people with a remarkable lack of integrity. Sorry to say that as it was the most surprising and disappointing.

Could you elaborate on the integrity bit? Shady people exist everywhere,why expect Austin to be better?

True, shady people do exist everywhere but I expected more of Austin due to it being in a part of the country where someone's word is supposed to, or at least used to, mean something. Maybe I'm old-fashioned that way.

To elaborate on the integrity bit, ... over-promising to the point of creating an expectation that would not be met or acknowledged at any point in the future. Some people might refer to that behavior as being 'flaky'. And I should note that most people in Austin are not like that, but that I encountered a lot more flakiness there than in other cities.

Having grown up in the South, I think I understand what you experienced.

Yeah, someone's word seems to count a bit more in smaller towns from my own experience too. I grew up in nothern GA and between the methheads and bill o'reilly fans, there's a lot of goodhearted, honest people there with old-school values. If you break down on the side of the road, you'll certainly have a couple people stop to help you in a bit. I never got that in LA. I have done my part though. :)

You would really like Minneapolis/St Paul or Madison.

Do you have anything to back up your claim about math?

I see here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/economy/2018/02/08/geog... -- that Texas ranks pretty low in math. But it's hard to say what that really means.

I've been under the impression that Texas's k-12 education is much better than California's and on par with New York and Illinois.

Texas has something crazy like 1/5th of all k-12 students in the country. That number has shot up faster than any other state, so I think it's reasonable if they're having some "growing pains" so to speak.

==I've been under the impression that Texas's k-12 education is much better than California's and on par with New York and Illinois.==

Your own source disagrees:

9. New York

16. Illinois

35. California

40. Texas

==Texas has something crazy like 1/5th of all k-12 students in the country.==

It's more like 1/10th. Texas has 5.4 million in public k-12 [1] and there are 50.7 million in the US public k-12 [2].

==That number has shot up faster than any other state, so I think it's reasonable if they're having some "growing pains" so to speak.==

A good way to get past those growing pains would be to invest in education. Again, from your source on Texas "Public school spending: $8,485 per pupil (4th lowest)".

[1] https://tea.texas.gov/Reports_and_Data/School_Performance/Ac...

[2] https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372

Personal experience and greatschools.org used to have a math comparison by state but I think they have changed their site since I last saw it.

Parents that can afford to move into the city send their children to private schools, so if you are looking at moving there and your children don't play football then I would recommend considering private school as an option.

> A lot of companies - Apple, Oracle, etc - are more using it as a customer service and sales team base than for engineering, R&D, etc.

Cloudflare have an office in Austin, and it is majority engineering and mostly the R&D new experiment teams and some core security at that (first class engineering teams)

> A lot of companies - Apple, Oracle, etc - are more using it as a customer service and sales team base than for engineering, R&D, etc.

That may be how it was, but recently (especially in the last year), I've heard tons of anecdotes, in addition to my own experience, that engineering teams are slowly being moved (or started) out here.

To add to your counter-examples, Apple is spending $1 billion to build a gigantic campus in NW Austin. Also, PayPal and eBay have been here since at least 2008 and various PayPal pivotal technical teams were evenly or majorly present in Austin. Google is buying more property here for additional technical teams and Amazon has a fairly large technical presence (e.g. PrimeNow) in N. Austin. Edit: $1 billion, not $5 .

Great to hear - will be good for the city (depending on who you ask). That's a positive trend.

Still think Austin needs more homegrown startups to be in the same sentence as Silicon Valley.

This is what I noticed and reasons I left after living their for 3 years.

I lived downtown proper and had no interest in moving out in the suburb areas where these bigger tech opportunities were. The appeal of Austin is downtown to me. The areas in which these larger companies and opportunities are in Austin (or Round Rock actually?) is a rather time consuming commute. I also didn't want to have a car and the transit system is... there isn't one. There are some smaller well established and known startups closer in downtown. I applied to a few, but I guess I'm just not what they were looking for because I didn't get offers. I guess I'm not the super rockstar they want.

On the suburbs - the funny thing is, besides a few wealthier suburbs to the west of downtown, if you drive 15 minutes outside of downtown, it feels almost no different than the suburbs of Waco, Houston, Dallas, etc.

Google has an office downtown. They've got a growing engineering team too, mostly in Cloud.

So funny to see you mention Joshua Baer's Capital Factory. I've done some work for them in the past.

he's probably a top 5 figure in the austin tech community

I'm largely biased since I grew up within 60 miles of Austin, but I never got the hype. It's hot as hell, has the worst traffic I've ever seen, is geographically lame (you don't get to claim the hill country, and no, barton springs doesn't count either), and super weak public transportation. The only thing Austin has on just about any other city in the US is world-class BBQ and a fleet of Richard Linklater wannabes.

> has the worst traffic I've ever seen

I really can't understand this common trope of "Austin traffic is bad" (much less the worst you've ever seen, wow!). If you've lived anywhere like LA or NYC, that's bad traffic. Traffic during rush hour is expected. I've never seen a midnight traffic jam in Austin in my 6 years of living here. That was a daily occurrence in LA.

> is geographically lame (you don't get to claim the hill country, and no, barton springs doesn't count either)

Why does the Hill Country not count as amazing geography? It's gorgeous, by any definition.

> It's hot as hell

As for the heat, I grew up in Miami. Austin has nothing on Miami summers. Even NYC, for that matter, is less comfortable in the summer than Austin is.

Austin traffic isn't the worst there is on an absolute scale. But it's frustrating because it's so much worse than it should be for a city of this size.

The people in charge of it seem to be kind of checked out and ineffectual. They don't always even try to solve problems, and when they do, they do stuff that doesn't seem to be thought out very well.

A well-known example is I-35. It is a huge pain point and has been for decades. A few years back, they started talking about doing something to solve that, and rather than trying to improve I-35 itself, the idea of building a parallel toll road really far outside of town was pitched as the solution. The toll road (SH 130) was built, but surprise, nobody wants to drive on a road in the middle of nowhere. The toll road was used so little it went through bankruptcy, but more importantly, all this didn't help fix I-35.

Yea, in absolute terms, Austin traffic isn't bad. I moved to Austin from Atlanta, and Atlanta has massive commutes and traffic. That said, for a while, my commute in Austin was ~3 miles. It took about 7 minutes on the weekends, and took between 30 and 45 minutes in average 8 AM morning traffic. (Loop 360, for the curious.)

Austin traffic is just amazingly severe for short periods - you'll see trips go to 2-4x the time regularly, and a trivial event in downtown is enough to cause a 2-3x increase in traffic. Even on the worst day, you're usually not looking at more than 45 mins in absolute time, but it's nearly mandatory to check Google Maps before you go anywhere, because there's a 40% chance it's going to take 45 mins to get somewhere you can usually get to in 5-10 mins.

I find myself staying late at work (mostly doing self study or hacker news reading if I'm lazy) because Mopac commute times become totally reasonable somewhere between 6:00 & 7:00 pm. Like for every 90-120 seconds I stay in the office my commute time drops by like 60 seconds.

I've found Austin traffic to be bad, but very predictable. Stay off the roads during morning and afternoon rush and it's fine. Outside of those of those times, you can get just about anywhere in the city in 30-45 minutes.

Will be interesting to see if Austin takes the typical Texas laissez faire attitude toward parking and lets developers build whatever they want and let the negative spillovers of traffic get worse and worse, or if they go the Los Angeles route and require absurd amounts of parking to artificially inflate the price of land as much as possible.

They've already gone "the Los Angeles route". Austin requires a parking spot per 275 sq ft of office space[1]. Given that most parking lots or garages take 300-350 sq ft per space, that's a bigger garage than the office. They did eliminate parking requirements in the Central Business District, though[2].

[1] http://www.gatewayplanning.com/uploads/COA_Airport_Blvd/back... [2] https://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2019/02/2019-could-be-...

Spoiler alert: they build parking everywhere downtown

similar experience to noirbot, outside of rush 'hours' my commute would be 25 minutes, during rush hour it would usually be 75 to 90 minutes.

Austin is very hot in the summer. The average high is nearly 100 degrees in July and August: https://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/austin/texas/united-st...

Miami is 90 degrees. And Austin is humid too.

And there's no comparison to NYC, which isn't even usually above 90 degrees.

I live in Austin. And I've lived in Miami. And I've lived in NYC.

Degrees don't tell the whole story. Austin is nowhere near as humid as NYC or Miami. No question. Ask anyone who's lived in both places and they'll tell you the same: Austin is more comfortable in the summer.

I totally agree. I lived in New Orleans for 3 years and NYC for 8. NYC summers are horrible and I was 10x more uncomfortable. One: down south has more expectation of everywhere having air conditioning. NYC doesn't. Two: the cement everywhere makes everything so much hotter and uncomfortable when the weather gets over 85 degrees in NYC. Three: when you live in NYC for awhile you get immune to the piss smell. Except when its hot and it has rained. Then the smell is as strong as the first day you moved to NYC.

I loved living in Manhattan. Especially Harlem. But summers there were horrible when it got really hot out.

I have lived in NYC and Austin and I grew up in southern Alabama. Austin is much hotter in the summer. It's nearly as humid as Mobile but tack on 10 degrees.

Average humidity during the summer: Austin: 90% Mobile: 100% Miami: 100% NYC: 54%

It's not even close.

Maybe its because people are outside more in NYC and don't have a car readily available with AC torqued to full blast? Or less buildings have AC / the subway is oppressive?

Concur, lived in Texas and NYC both, Austin is hotter for sure, but air conditioning is on blast everywhere and the driving helps. Just walking a couple of blocks on a 90 degree day in NYC is enough to get you soaked.

On top of that you can wear shorts most workplaces in Austin and not have a problem. Shorts in NYC is frowned upon in the cosmopolitan set and professional industries.

This is Hacker News. The conversations generally have a tech-oriented context. I've never worked at a tech company in NYC where lots of people don't wear shorts in the summer. Shorts, flip flops, tank tops. It's all fair game. No one cares.

thanks for the mansplain. you got new york figured out, bro.

Can one be comfortable outsidee when it's 100 degrees? I would think that would make a lot of things unwalkable because you would show up covered in sweat.

I've been outside when it was 120 and as long as I stayed hydrated I wasn't too bad. Sweat tended to evaporate quickly. I've also been outside when it was 90 and humid. That was sweaty hell.

I've lived in both places. You're on glue.

Lived in Austin 17 years. It's traffic surpassed NYC back in 2014 as 4th worse in the USA; however, it looks like its dropped back down to #8 based on INRIX Global Traffic score card.


Humidity does not equal heat. I grew up in SE Louisiana and agree with you. I'll take a drier heat of 113F in ATX over 95 and 100% humidity any day. It's oppressive.

That said, ATX is the only place I lived where I had to walk my dogs very early or late at night b/c the heat on the roads would melt their paw pads.

re: traffic There are multiple larger US cities that have less traffic than Austin. The reason why people cite Austin's traffic as a problrm is because it's horrible relative to the population of the city. Most of Austin is very suburban, with windy/hilly roads that cause horrible congestion.

A few years ago, I was out from NYC visiting some family. I forgot to pack socks, and I had to drive 45mns to the nearest shopping center to buy some. After driving, parking, busy mall, the entire Saturday afternoon trip took me almost 2.5 hours just to get socks! In any other American city, I'd expect this to take 1 hour max (most parts of NYC would take 20-30mns).

Yes, there are many variables I'm not accounting for in my anecdotal example, time of day, distance from major conduits, etc. But I've talked to other people who live in Austin and this seems like the norm.

> A few years ago, I was out from NYC visiting some family. I forgot to pack socks, and I had to drive 45mns to the nearest shopping center to buy some. After driving, parking, busy mall, the entire Saturday afternoon trip took me almost 2.5 hours just to get socks! In any other American city, I'd expect this to take 1 hour max (most parts of NYC would take 20-30mns).

Wow, that's totally wild. I've literally never experienced anything like this, or heard of anyone ever experiencing this in Austin.

Thing is, going end to end of Austin "proper" will never take more than an hour and a half on the worst of traffic days. I can't even imagine how far you were going for a trip to be 1.25 hours to the nearest shopping center. Maybe there was a really bad accident? Or major road work? In any case, I don't think this is a common occurrence.

It really depends on where you live. I live in a pretty central part of Austin, and for socks I have the following options:

1) Amazon Prime Now with 2-hour delivery

2) I can drive to Walmart (5 minutes) or Target (10 minutes)

3) I own an electric scooter (the same ones Bird uses) so I can scoot over to Walmart (10 minutes on scooter)

In any city, if you live 45 minutes outside of civilization, you're going to run into the situation you described. Lots of people here live in the hill country or out in rural areas because it's quiet and they can get lots of land cheap. To me, that's a benefit of living in this area--that that type of real estate is available--but personally, I prefer to live closer in.

NYC area traffic is bad but you have walkability, the subway, commuter rail systems, express bus lanes, etc. In my one visit to Austin it seemed like rush hour consisted of everyone cramming on to a couple highways and sitting. Are there good ways to avoid that?

> NYC area traffic is bad but you have walkability, the subway, commuter rail systems, express bus lanes, etc.

Like anywhere, depends where you live. Downtown Austin is incredibly walkable, and the bus system is great. Scooters have completely taken over here as well.

> In my one visit to Austin it seemed like rush hour consisted of everyone cramming on to a couple highways and sitting. Are there good ways to avoid that?

It depends when you visited, since there was a fair amount of highway construction going on within the last 3-4 years on Mopac. Most of it's done now and I think the traffic has really gotten better since then.

Unlike NYC or LA, if you don't drive between 8-9:30am, you'll avoid pretty much the majority of rush hour.

I was there in May 2016 (and looking forward to heading down again later this year).

Yeah, construction was definitely going on then. It was a great thing when that express lane opened. :)

Please get in touch if you end up coming down! Email is in profile.

As a person who drives down 35 a lot, I've seen plenty of midnight traffic jams.

> Why does the Hill Country not count as amazing geography?

The hill country is amazing geography, but Austin (as a city and not as the surrounding area) is on the fringes and doesn't get the hills. I lived there for a year, after having grown up in hill country, and it always felt like the hill country was an hour away.

I think it's rare for cities to have notable topography within the city proper. Cities normally develop on the flat areas where its easy to build and move around, not on the hillsides themselves. SF is very much an exception here. Do you have other US cities in mind that have interesting topography within the city limits?

Many of the Pacific Northwest cities have significant sections that are steep and rugged terrain. This is why, for example, Seattle shuts down when the rare snowstorm hits -- the grades of the streets in the middle of the city are so steep that they are impassable if iced over.

San Diego is another city with significantly mountainous terrain. I remember in the late 1980s that property developers would use massive quantities of explosives to create flat areas they could build on in north county.

There are plenty of places in Austin proper with as gorgeous hill country views. Mt Bonnell Drive overlooking the river is fantastic, as is the hiking along Bull Creek and the Barton Creek greenbelt.

I've lived here for about 5 years. I live downtown and routinely walk (or Bird) to work (I started a startup here and the job market is great). I run on a 10-mile loop that's completely isolated from traffic around the (beautiful) lake that runs downtown between my apartment and my office. I watch the sun set from my balcony over hill country (Google "violet crown sunset") and I frequently hike the Greenbelt trails that are walking distance from my apartment. I can easily walk or bike to over 100 bars where I routinely see jazz, rock, and blues shows in this so-called "Music capital of the world." And the food scene here is incredible. Lots of young, fit people live here and downtown is always safe and abuzz with buskers, tourists, and locals alike all intermingling and having a great time. Yeah, it's pretty lame – don't move here.

Have you made strong friendships?

Honestly agree. I've spent some time there, because my SO has family there and they've been trying to convince us to move from NYC. You pretty much listed all the things I can't stand about it. It gets so hot you can't go outside in the summer. You're basically accepting that a non trivial percentage of your life will be consumed by being stuck in traffic. Plus, having lived in Kansas City as well, I think the Texas BBQ is sub par compared to that.

Also, Austin was immeasurably better 10, or 20, or even 30 years ago (depending on who is explaining this to you).

Every single area with a population density over 50/sq mi in the US has "the worst traffic" because nowhere is the public transit and alternative travel (buses, bikes, walking, etc) viable to displace cars. So everyone, everywhere, is driving cars and consume so much space to do so (between the roads, parking, gas stations, mechanic shops, dealerships, etc) that you cannot build an effective transit system in any major metro area. No city is interested in investing the amount of, well, political capital to make trains ubiquitous and all of them get to suffer endless congestion for it.

Its a chicken and egg problem, but modern America was built for the car. To retrofit cities away from the car is resisted on both ends, from the monetary expenditure to do so and how deeply ingrained in the design of everywhere the personal car is. But cars are worse the more you push people into the same urban cores but even if you were able to build for density you can't ever allocate the space for all those damn cars to make it actually beneficial but you also can't get funding for good infrastructure because so few can take advantage of it when they are so low density.

I don't know, I've lived in Austin my whole life and I've always loved it. But I've also never lived anywhere else for any kind of comparison. But the traffic I've experienced visiting other cities really makes the traffic here seem not so bad, especially now that the Mopac construction has wound down.

But yes, it's frickin' hot. But I'm a homebody anyways :)

So basically Bay Area except for the hills. It doesn't get hot as hell but these days it's getting cold as hell.

It's just as expensive as Chicago and Seattle but with less amenities. I imagine it's going to become more expensive to live there than other major cities very soon.

I am a bit surprised to read this since I often compare Austin and Seattle. IMO, Seattle's property and rent prices are way higher compared to Austin (I guess at least 50%). Both places have no income tax but Austin has slightly higher property taxes for less amenities, but that does not seem to make up for the purchase price difference.

Sure Seattle has much better public transportation but Austin has reasonable options for some specific locations.

To live in a one bedroom apartment near downtown Austin I was looking at around $1,800-$2,000. I thought that was about what I would pay in Seattle. Is there a way to quantify this with a published statistic?

Sure, if you are comparing new construction luxury apples to new constrution luxury apples.

step away from things built post 2008 mortgages and still leveraged to the hilt and the real picture becomes more clear

Of course I am. I want to live in a nice place in a good location with washer and dryer in unit. I'm probably not alone considering the means of the average of Hacker News reader.

It's cheaper than both of these cities.

The actual title of this article is "Austin Is Building a Mini Silicon Valley, With Some of the Same Problems", and indeed, when this post was first submitted to HN, the post had the same title. It appears as though an HN mod removed the "With Some of the Same Problems" part from the post submission. Why? The entire point of the article (and discussion in this post) is talking about the common downfalls of both areas.

I moved to Austin in 2008 when I was working at IBM. I was working at the IBM site in Dallas at the time, and my team was moved to Austin. I nearly didn't go. I knew I didn't want to stay at IBM forever and figured it would be harder to get a tech job in Austin since it is a smaller city.

Well I was wrong. I left IBM in 2012 and have had no problems finding jobs since them. In fact I was laid off at the end of last year. I wasn't even really looking as I wanted to take some timeoff, when a recruiter called me for my current position.

Overall I like Austin. It is more expensive that other Texas cities, but not ridiculously so. The winters are a bit warmer than Dallas so I like that, and the summers are about the same. Lots of stuff to do in the cites. Lots of smaller bands play here and you can get into those shows for not much. However we are also big enough to draw some of the larger acts to.

We have a minor league Hockey, Basketball, and Baseball team. Which is nice because the tickets are still affordable. UT College football is a bit of a religion here, if you like football.

A couple of the things I don't like. Our public transportation is terrible. The population is growing faster than the infrastructure can handle. Any new roads that get built or expanded are toll roads, because the state refuses to raise taxes so it doesn't have money to pay for them. Lastly people in this town drink a lot, and I mean a lot. It is pretty much a sport. DUI is a big problem here. Thankfully Uber and Lyft came back after the city ran them off.

> Thankfully Uber and Lyft came back after the city ran them off.

Uber and Lyft voluntarily left after refusing to comply with new background check policies that the city passed, and the citizens confirmed. They spent $7M (a record on a local election in TX, btw) on a failed referendum campaign that the citizens of Austin voted on, and then they acted like children and left. In the meantime, new companies sprang up to fill the void.

A better to phrase it would have be to say they left after they got into a spat with the city of Austin.

I did try the new companies that popped up but never had much luck with them. Had problems with the apps or took too long to get a ride.

The companies and facebook groups that sprang up were an interesting experiment. Also your comment leaves out that they came back.

Why the city can't figure out public transport is still pretty baffling though.

Lyft/Uber came back after the state legislature passed a law that nullified Austin's background check requirement. The same thing happened with Austin's plastic bag ban, btw - some say the state legislature exists just to punch Austin government.

I use the bus service (Capital Metro) occasionally and I have to defend them a bit: they try and they keep getting better. They have 1 rail service that runs from the NW parts of town to downtown, and it runs full during commute times, taking a few hundred drivers off the road in the process. They created dedicated commuter buses for remote neighborhoods (e.g. the 980 and 985 service) to enable office workers and students avoid the traffic; these also are quite full every day and help keep traffic saner - the park-and-ride that I use is full of hundreds of cars daily. In addition, the Metro Rapid service and the Every 15 initiatives have looked like improvements to me for the few occasions that I used them.

I haven't tried the public transportation in Dallas or Houston so I can't say they are better but Austin Capital Metro I think has tried to do a reasonable job.

I haven’t tried Houston, but it looks ok for such a sprawled Texas city. DFW’s is a joke. That area lives and dies by the very Texan belief that you should get where you are going in your own truck by yourself while sipping a beer and also the poor are poor because they are lazy.

They came back after the state nullified the regulation that the city passed.

The city is trying to improve transit, but it's a very chicken-and-egg problem. Critics of public transit spending point to the relatively low usage of certain aspects of the bus system as wasteful and would rather see continuous infrastructure improvements that help them because they drive. It's strange logic IMO because better public transit should theoretically reduce congestion on the roads.

The other major problem with public transit adoption is ridesharing. Wealthier people who seek out better public transit often choose to rideshare instead because its easier, leaving the poor to remain the biggest users of public transit. Transportation professionals have started sounding the alarm on ridesharing undermining mass transit development.[0]

[0] https://prospect.org/article/ridesharing-versus-public-trans...

> Our public transportation is terrible

Cannot agree with that. It has one of the cheapest public transportation fees in the country. And one of the most diverse, on par only with NYC, where everybody commutes by train and subway.

Of course it's crowded because everybody takes the bus, compared to cities where nobody but the poorest takes the bus.

Compared to Dallas, Dallas is still much more like Silicon Valley. Austin is doing the catchup lately. Houston and San Antonio are bigger and have a bigger market for specialized SW development, Austin is more for the Berlin-like hipster culture, ruby on rails and Javascript mostly. Android/iOS apps.

I've considered moving to Austin (like so many others). I think my biggest concerns are 1) lack of good public transit 2) scorching humid heat ~5 months of the year 3) not a major airline hub.

I honestly wish Vegas became the tech dream that the Zappos founder had tried to build like 10 years ago. I would move there in a second.

I can't really argue with #1 or #2, but I've found that flights in and out of Austin aren't drastically more expensive than elsewhere. Directs to Seattle, SF, LA, NYC, Boston, Atlanta, Miami are all $200-300 round trip, and there's a lot of flights that are just a quick hop to Dallas or Houston and then on to fill in the gaps.

You'll find some weird one-offs - Louisville KY was a $700 round trip last time I checked, for some reason, and there's no way to get to Vancouver that doesn't take like... 8 hours, but in general, I haven't had serious problems.

You also have the advantage of it being a smaller airport, so you can pretty reliably get to the airport with only an hour or so before your flight, since the gate is at most 5 mins from security.

The fact that neither Vegas or Reno have become major tech hubs is confusing to me. Both are closer to the Valley (Reno is a 4 hour drive away), they're in the same time zone, and Nevada is super business friendly. That being said, Texas does have a lot more people than Nevada, which could definitely be part of the draw.

Folks on the east coast are often hesitant to move to the west coast because of distance from family. I think the west coast already has plenty of tech hubs so who do they draw talent from? Who wants to leave the Valley for Reno? Outside of gambling and tourism what major anchors are there?

Austin became a tech hub over decades due to anchors like UT, National Instruments, Dell, Intel, IBM, etc.

I think there's more appetite now because the housing crisis in CA has really reached a tipping point (IMO). There's plenty of inflow into cities like Vegas from CA. Housing prices have rebounded but still relatively speaking cheap.

Why would you want to live in Vegas? Bleh.

Reno is really small, but agree it's too bad Vegas hasn't become a major hub for more companies. The best thing is there are so many cheap direct flights, especially during the weekday. And only ~1hr from SFO and less than that from LAX...

Also has really, really beautiful nature in the outskirts. And the weather is great outside of 3 months/year.

I found the heat unbearable only a couple of months of the year (as a native Texan) on the other hand it got cool enough that a pool requires a heater for almost half the year. :) My allergies went off the charts in Austin even compared to other parts of Texas, also the traffic if one has to go cross town is comparable to Houston, a much bigger city, since there was only I-35 going through town (versus the 360 loop which had a lot of lights)

These all sound like anti-New Orleans arguments too. Give us a shot, we’re way more fun and we have Internet too.

With the money you save on taxes and housing vs. california, you'd be able to take uber over public transit

That doesn't scale, though. If everyone does that then you're going to be stuck in traffic all the time.

Not everyone on the road can afford to do it. Maybe a small segment of the population will do it.

You understand Vegas is in a desert right? Austin's heat has nothing on Vegas.

Dry heat is fine. It's the humidity that makes heat miserable.

Austin heat is dry (usually).

Only about 50% of the time. Much of the summer is over 50% humidity.

I wonder if there's a way to start from scratch. Build a planned city with a focus on having a dense urban environment and lots of public transportation. It must be more cost-efficient than trying to keep adding to existing cities that don't really want the growth.

The world is littered with examples of this, mostly showcases of what urban planning of the time didn't understand. So much so it's a recurring theme on 99 PI:

https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/bijlmer-city-future-p... -- ended up as slums outside of Amsterdam

https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/soul-city -- a city for and by blacks

https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/fordlandia/ -- ford's company town to build tires

There's also Brasilia that was supposed to be full of monumental grand plazas, but they learned people don't want to walk 3/4 of mile through a grass field outside their apartment tower just to get to the local market bodega.

Today I think Google is making one outside of Toronto, and I heard of someone doing something around Boulder. Economic Opportunity Zones (ie regional tax breaks for development) are kinda in this realm.

Personally I'm waiting for Elon's planned city where he will MVP all his social and organizational concepts before blasting off for mars.

> There's also Brasilia that was supposed to be full of monumental grand plazas, but they learned people don't want to walk 3/4 of mile through a grass field outside their apartment tower just to get to the local market bodega.

As if people ever walk there :) It's only walkable if you are going from one apartment complex to another.

But the major problem is that there isn't much room for expansion. There is space, but it would mess up the planning. So they push people to 'satellite' cities.

I've read it has 4 to 5 times the number of pedestrian accidents per capita compared to other large cities in Brazil.

I've been there once, I can confirm that it's not pedestrian-friendly.

There's a good book called A History of Future cities that talks about historical examples of this. Although "success"is relative bc it was often the British forcing it on a country that was colonized.

IIRC the cities discussed are St. Petersburg, Mumbai, Shanghai, and Dubai.

The biggest takeaway is that this is a lot easier if you're an autocrat with an army.

> The biggest takeaway is that this is a lot easier if you're an autocrat with an army.

I'd believe it. I've often heard that a lot of the most recognizable features of Paris came from Napoleon's renovations.

It would be interesting to see an in-depth look at how different government/social power structures have correlated with successful city design.

> Personally I'm waiting for Elon's planned city where he will MVP all his social and organizational concepts before blasting off for mars.

This is more what I'm thinking of. Most planned cities I'm aware of are more like planned suburbs. I'd be more interested a Manhattan without cars.

> I wonder if there's a way to start from scratch. Build a planned city with a focus on having a dense urban environment and lots of public transportation. It must be more cost-efficient than trying to keep adding to existing cities that don't really want the growth.

The kind of geography suitable for city building hasn't really changed that much since the dawn of civilization, and while the specific spots with that Geographic do change over time somewhat, the best places (and everything pretty far down the list) are taken. Starting from scratch most likely means starting with a big location disadvantage, unless you are exploiting some recent change that has created newly-suitable land.

There's loads of places you could do this and not even have to do it "from scratch". But the network problem is immense.

You're gonna build stuff that doesn't make sense for a small city with money you don't have and pray that it becomes a big city.

China has housing shortages and also gobs of vacant planned cities because no one wants to live in an empty city.

Cities with great transportation, layout, etc. are not pre-planned; they are hundreds of years old.

Man. This has been my dream since childhood. I mean a serious dream, with countless hours thinking, dreaming, reading, etc.

~17 years ago I wrote a novel set in the future, in the imaginary city that I hoped I could build one day.

More recently, I founded a company with the idea to eventually build it; we ended up building a software platform to digitize real estate, had some friendly disagreements with the other founders, and left ~3 months ago.

I still have that dream.

I'm not alone either: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2019/02/27/how-to-create-real...

Employers determine where people go because everyone needs a job. People may want new cities, but employers don't care: it's not their problem. So, when a new city pops up, employers don't need to move there, and therefore no one else does either. You'd need to have some kind of big tax advantages to make this happen, then employers will gladly move there.

Walt Disney thought a lot about this and came up with EPCOT. Unfortunately, he died before the vision could be realized and they turned the idea into another amusement park instead. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPCOT_(concept)

Celebration, FL [1] is a Walt Disney developer master planned community. I lived north of Orlando for a few years, only ever visited for sports events, and it was nice... if a bit sterile looking.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebration,_Florida

Oh yeah it's a cool town but its nothing like what Walt was planning.

Relevant: James Scott's "Seeing Like a State". https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/03/16/book-review-seeing-lik...

The general gist is that there are many benefits from the ways that cities have come to be, which careful planning and control doesn't consider.

The economist Paul Romer has done a lot of work on the idea of charter cities.


Unfortunately he has stopped working on Charter Cities a while ago.

China does that

China tried this. SPOILER: It didn't work.

Odd reference to Juul: 4 dozen new employees juxtaposed with Apple's possible 15,000.

> "Apple’s presence in Austin is the biggest after its headquarters in Cupertino, California, and the company said it would invest $1 billion in Austin to build an office park capable of holding 15,000 additional employees, roughly double the current workforce there. Juul Labs Inc., the San Francisco-based maker of a popular e-cigarette, said it will open an office in Austin for some four-dozen employees to start."

Especially since Juul is not a tech company.

They are somewhat a hardware company. The design of their e cig is the best I've ever seen

I've lived in Austin for 42 years. I've seen alot of change, but the traffic has stayed the same. They wait until the traffic becomes unbearable, and then add a solution, and it's back to just plain bad. The drivers are very rude. As for the weather, you can have it. I'm done with 3/4 year being overly hot. I hate having to run AC all the time. I hate having to water the lawn. The look and feel of Austin has been lost. In the old days buildings couldn't be higher than the capital, and they had to allow for views to the capital. Now buildings overwhelm the capital in size, and block the view. It's all about money. The downtown is becoming vastly overbuilt, with 50+ story condo's. I used to work for the city. I know the infrastructure is just not there for that. There is exactly 1 grocery store downtown: Wholefoods. There is exactly 1 fire department station downtown. It simply can't handle the high rise condos. The burbs are ok, if you don't mind a hour each way to work, which is what I do daily. Forget mass transit in Austin, its a joke. We put our house up on the market TODAY (really!), and plan on retiring to Portland and living a livable lifestyle walking, biking and using mass transit. No more AC, just have to use the heater once and a while. Oh, and it's much prettier. I like the last sentence: “The cool people are going off to live somewhere else.”

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but Portland's roads are already overwhelmed with traffic, its mass trasit past capacity, and its former "cool" residents have already left for less popular destinations.

Also, they get hot in the summer at times—think 90s...so you'll end up getting a box air conditioner unit at the very least.

All other things aside, as long as we have less NIMBYism than SF I think we might be all right.

It's certainly an entirely different cost universe at present. A quick price scan through realtor.com for Austin TX listings, shows that you can buy housing in Austin for $500k-$700k that would cost more like $3m-$5m in SF.

Given the nature of real-estate in Texas in general, and the way that Austin has an enormous amount of room to free-sprawl (ala other TX cities), I'm very skeptical Austin can ever end up with a comparable housing situation to SF or Seattle.

As a plus, in the next 20 years Austin will be connected via high-speed rail to Dallas, San Antonio and Houston (HSR triangle). You can still do infrastructure in Texas cost-effectively.

I bought my house for 130k 15 years ago. It is probably worth about double that now. People who can afford a 100k house used to be able to get a home in Austin, even 10 years ago, and in a few pockets of the city even 5 years ago.

What SF considers affordable, is way overpriced.

Double? I would guess triple or quadruple.

> A quick price scan through realtor.com for Austin TX listings, shows that you can buy housing in Austin for $500k-$700k that would cost more like $3m-$5m in SF.

That's worthless info without also understanding operating cost (taxes) and earning power.

According to https://smartasset.com/taxes/texas-property-tax-calculator it's roughly 2% in travis county, vs 1% in CA.

Earning power appears to be about half in Austin compared to SFBA.

So you can afford 1/4 the house, in terms of dollars. $3mm -> $750k. To the extent that your operating cost includes mortgage service, the Austin number would go up. Let's just call it 2x, so $1.5mm. Not bad.

WAIT! We are neglecting income tax. 0% vs 13.1%. But because TX doesn't have the stupid prop 13, let's just call this a wash. per TFA: "The median home price in Austin jumped 40 percent over the last five years".

The usual west coast problem of Californians moving to other cities and bringing their bad habits with them will probably extend to Austin as well over time.

probably extend to Austin as well over time

I thought Austin was one of the primary targets, not a "probably as well over time" target!

"less NIMBYism than SF" isn't really saying much.

With even fewer viable public transportation options!

It's worth noting that a reasonable software engineering salary in Austin allows you to live in a lot of walkable areas, and along main bus corridors. That said, it seems like most people make their choice of housing without taking any of that into account and then decide to complain about their lack of transit options afterwards.

I believe the last time anyone outside of Austin heard anything about transportation in Austin -- public or otherwise -- it was that they had banned Uber for some reason. What's the latest on that?

It wasn't literally a ban, but it was at least a serious impediment to their operating in the way they want to operate. The TX legislature overturned Austin's regulations with superseding, much more Uber/Lyft friendly regulations, and they are back now.

Speaking as somewhere who first moved to Austin in the 90's, you are so right. While they have worked on it, the growth in population happens faster than the growth in public transport. I take the bus whenever possible (I'm a contract developer, so I have 1-3 different workplaces during a typical year), it is often the case that I have to do at least part of the commute by car.

Lots of people here complaining about the traffic, but is there any major metro in the US where people don't complain about the rush-hour traffic? Off the top of my head, the people that I know in/from Boston, NYC, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Nashville, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Denver, Seattle, Portland, SF, and LA all complain about rush-hour traffic, and many will insist that their city is "the worst" on some specific dimension.

My impression is that if you're living in a desirable metro area, your drive to work will be on congested roads, and there's no real way to avoid this. Your choice of location within a metro area (e.g. living close to work, on the same side of the city as your office) matters more than your choice between different metros. Some metro areas make these choices more desirable/affordable than others.

you can not drive in many of those metro areas

I left the Bay Area almost 5 years ago now to start a company that I spun out of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Everyone - investors, my friends & family, our founders, even me - thought we would move to San Francisco within a year.

Four years later, Descartes Laba is almost 100 people strong, $38M investes, and thriving in the Land of Enchantment.

The reality is that if you have a strong mission, a viable company, and a great place to live, you can build a company. Sure, we can't hire anyone from Silicon Valley, but that's ok. Our recruiting team looks in all of the places FANG isn't looking - and we've found some incredible talent.

I hope that it's not just major cities that see this Renaissance of tech, but cities across America and the world. This is how we transform society with technology - by bringing a wider audience into the conversation.

Yes, please come ruin this fine city with hypersensitivity, elitism, and 'disruption'.

afraid it might be too late :(

From another Bloomberg column this week:

> I lived in Austin, Texas, in the mid-1980s when it was a comfortable town with a population under 300,000. During that same time, however, a college student named Michael Dell was building computers in his dorm room at the University of Texas. The success of Dell Computers — which now has its headquarters in nearby Round Rock, Texas — utterly changed the character of Austin. Austin’s population today is around 1 million, big tech companies are everywhere, traffic is unbearable, and entire neighborhoods have been razed to make way for high-rise office buildings. People who live in Austin bemoan what’s happened to their city.


The character of Austin was already changing when Dell arrived. TI, IBM, Motorola and others were already there making Austin a tech hotbed. They named 183 "Research Blvd" long before Dell arrived.

curious to understand how austin's traffic compares to that of NYC. i was in austin with a car rental and it seemed like no big deal (granted i wasnt driving during rush hour).

Texas may not have income tax, but property tax is very high, and property values are pretty high by Texas standards.

The SALT deduction cap removes an important incentive for perusing (using mortgage leverage) high value residential properties. Now we just need to cap mortgage interest deduction to a much lower level.

It's going to be a lot less appealing for high income people to pile into a few coastal areas when they can no longer deduct away most of their Federal tax liabilities by borrowing a $700K house.

I have been tracking Austin's hype as a tech hub for over a decade. And I have to admit that is waay overrated. For example, Austin startups only raised $1.5bn VC funding in 2018 [1] Compare this to the $45bn [2] raised by SF Bay Area companies and you get why Austin is all hype. The only true next SV in US are NYC, Seattle, and Boston. Everything else is a PR piece from that city or state government.

[1] https://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2019/01/10/austin-co...

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-01-08/ventur...

Why is VC funding your only metric? I work in Austin and we don't take much VC funding. You know why? We're _profitable_. Yes, a tech startup that actually makes money. We don't feel the need to grow at some arbitrary and ridiculous rate in order to please VC's looking for an exit. I have the added bonus that my cost of living I less than half of what it would be in SV, but I don't make half as much.

Certainly there are more meaningful metrics to consider. Like... number of tech jobs.

It is just a proxy for other tech metrics. If VC funding is that high, number of software engineering jobs will be as high. And you can also conclude that public company presence will be equally high. I just did a quick LinkedIn job search and filtered by location. My rudimentary math suggest that there are over 12,000 "software engineer" jobs open in Bay Area, compared to ~2500 in Austin. Keep in mind, the Bay Area number is actually underreported as Google, Facebook, and many others just use a representative job posting

It's funny, I read this as "Austin is building a Mini in Silicon Valley." It had me thinking "But Austin hasn't operated since I was a kid..."

Go figure one word missing changes the whole context of the sentence.

As a Texas native, living in Austin for over 5 years now, here's my take on the complaints I'm seeing in this thread.

Traffic: It's a common complaint, but I find it's really not as bad as everyone says. Though, the key to beating traffic is to reside as close to work as possible, and avoid 35 at all costs. Alternatively, live off MoPac or 183. I worked for a few years in downtown Austin, and lived up near Apple's campus. Getting to work was not bad at all (~20 min, given no accidents). My advice, stay North West to give yourself the option of traveling 183 or MoPac. Worst case, hit MoPac's Express Lane and you'll fly past the traffic. Outside of rush hour, the roadways are generally clear.

Heat: Being a native, I actually enjoy hot summers, and hate winter. All of the waterways between Austin and San Antonio are fantastic. My typical summer weekend is spent on the river with a beer in hand. If you want to beat the heat, you have to get near the water. Go-tos: Lake Travis, Canyon Lake, the Guadalupe River, Barton Springs, etc. Summer nights are warm, so camping is do-able without all the cold gear.

Housing: It's not "cheap" to live in Austin, but far more affordable than the Bay Area. Typical apartment rent per square foot hovers around $1.00-$1.50 (1br, $1,200/mo is typical). Typical home rentals closer to $1.00. To buy a home, you'll be hard pressed to find anything decent under $250k. There's a ton of new developments in the far suburbs, where prices are more reasonable.

Tech Scene: There are plenty of meetups, conferences, and coworking spaces to enjoy. Most of my neighbors are in the tech industry. Nearly every Silicon Valley company has a presence in Austin. The job market is very hot.

Public Transportation: I do miss this, having lived in SF for a few years. I live right near the Metro Rail line, and I've used it once. It takes forever to get downtown. I'd rather pay for a ride share and get there in 1/2 the time. As much as everyone complains about the lack of public transit, Texas is huge so having a car allows you to visit all of the towns between and around the major cities. We have Lyft/Uber, which is available even in far out areas like Cedar Park/Georgetown/Round Rock, and between Austin and San Antonio. Considering the cost of living, and your take home pay, you can easily afford a car.

Air Travel: There was a mention of Austin not being a hub, however, there are many direct flights from Austin to great destinations (including international destinations). I've never had a problem here.

Geography: This is lacking. You won't find beautiful mountains or redwood forests here. We have lakes and rolling hills.

Allergies: It's manageable. Daily allergy pill and you'll survive.

I got very excited reading this title... until i reached 'silicon valley'. Was hoping for a revival of the classic Austin Mini.

San Antonio is pretty much like an hour away. The small retirement towns between them are now over-fucking-run by mommy vans. Crazy traffic. I was seriously considering putting down a rental in that area until I got there. I thought tailgating was pretty much a western thing, but Texas is no different it seems. Why is everyone in this damn country in a rush? How can we get back.

>The small retirement towns between them are now over-fucking-run by mommy vans.

I don't understand this. Are you upset that communities of retirees are being displaced by...moms? Not criticizing at all, just no idea what this sentence means or why "mommy-vans" are bad.

Not the OP but I wonder if they meant that the small retirement towns (presumably Buda, San Marcos, Kyle, etc.) are now mostly single family commuters and thus much more expensive and crowded than before.

> I thought tailgating was pretty much a western thing

I've driven across country a few times and most of my genuine fear moments on the road came in Texas. In LA you get the sense that some asshole is late for a meeting or took too many uppers that morning. On Texas interstates it feels more like you're in a remake of Duel

I have seen it vary by city with Houston drivers bordering on homicidal, Dallas being no-nonsense fast (with many left lane hogs), and Austin being a bit too easy going (plus many left lane hogs). I miss MN - people sure (used to) drive nice up there. One thing to keep in mind is that trucks and giant SUVs rule the roost here so if you are driving a smaller car, things will generally look scary.

Minnesota drivers are not very good in my experience. They are so passive aggressive that they made a law that said you had to zipper merge, but no one does it and you end up with ridiculous one-lane backups that go on forever because of said passive aggressiveness.

Definitely - most the incidents I'm referring to were on 10 around Houston (all sorts of vehicles but especially trucks & SUVs) or on 20 heading west away from DFW (big rigs)

> Why is everyone in this damn country in a rush?

Time is money, the average American has little of either.

Interesting that I found that everywhere in the USA, coming from asia, driving in the US is so much less stressing, easier and most people are actually following the rules.

Drivers around San Antonio can be insane, from my experience

So where’s the next Austin for tech?

I'm thinking Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill. Lots of good universities there. I've never been but I have heard good things.

Three good universities within <30 minutes drive of each other, each in a city of a different size and feel at each anchor point, with a business/job center smack dab in the middle in Research Triangle Park, which has plenty of room to grow. And still a great COL at the moment. I'd agree that we could/will be the next Austin (but I live here so of course my perspective is biased) as long as we don't self-sabotage, which is a real possibility. For example: Duke University just effectively killed the planned Light-Rail between Durham and Chapel Hill for some reason.

Houston. We already have a large international tech base, built-out infrastructure, and a (slowly) developing mass-transit plan. Added benefit is that we're just 163 miles away - short move for folks that burn out on the Austin eXperience.

Nashville. Amazon is ahead of the game.

Austin is still in Texas and no matter how hard you polish it's still there.

Some talent will want to move there but where is the ocean and where is the lake tahoe / skiing?

Just in time for SXSW...


The problem if non-tech people can't afford to do here, who is going to do the jobs that make the city a pleasant place to live. Unless we want to go back to making our own coffee it is something we need to think about.

University Students supplemented by their Parents and Loans.

So university students are going to fix my car?

I'm guessing you are a recent transplant. Not sure why you're so angry about non-tech folk living in Austin.

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