Austin is a great place to live. If for no other reason that every time you travel someplace else people will ask where you’re from and then reply, “Oooh, I love Austin!” Or “I’ve heard Austin is totally great!”. It’s nice to get that positive reaction, especially after living in Detroit (“Ewwww. Really? Did you see anyone get shot?”) or Utah (“oh”. Meaning either “are you Mormon?” or, if the person asking is also Mormon, “glad you escaped. You’re not from there originally, right?”)
Every couple of months I have somebody write to me because they are thinking of moving to Austin and want to know what it’s like. In order to assuage curiosity and save myself some time, I’ll just put this on my blog. It’s going to take a few entries, though, so I hope you’re in a Texas state of mind this week!
People in Austin are incredibly friendly and are very considerate drivers. They will always let you merge. Most people here are transplants, but the original Texas nice-ness is catchy. (Except for my neighbors from Boston. They are determined NOT to be friendly and want to get back to the cold as soon as possible. Please go! We don’t need your surliness!)
Because many people are transplants and because this is a big college town, Austinites don’t have accents, even the old-timers. If you hear anyone with an accent, they are most likely from elsewhere in Texas. It’s a good thing there aren’t more Texans with accents, because the accent is very catchy. You only need to talk to someone from the country for a little while before you start dropping your g’s at the end of words and start saying “fixin’ to”.
The weather here is hot in the summer. Oh my goodness glory it is hot. If you live someplace like Oregon or Vermont, you cannot even wrap your head around the hotness here. Today is the first official day of Summer and it is going to be our 16th day of temps over 100º. That sort of thing is not normal, though. Last summer we only had two days over 100º. Whatever the temps happen to be, it is kind of humid. Not terribly, like the South; just enough to keep your skin feeling supple. The weather starts warming up in March and doesn’t cool down again until November. Most of the time it’s quite lovely. We even have a tiny smidge of Winter where it gets down into the 30’s and 40’s for a few weeks.
Normally it rains in Austin, too. The kind of crazy thunderstorms that roll in and make you realize that your humanity is pretty insignificant. I love those. During the day, that is. At night they are annoying and a little freaky. There are tornadoes from time to time but not very often. And we are far enough from the coast to not be threatened by hurricanes.
It is usually pretty green around here. Not East-Coast-green, but green for being The West*. There are trees but also Prickly Pear Cactus. Right now, though, we are having the third worst drought in Texas history so everything looks brown and dead. And it’s only June! What is it going to look like in August?
Austin is the gateway to The Hill Country. But “hilly” is relative. The rest of Texas is flat as can be, so a few hills here and there are pretty novel for Texans. The hills are pretty, though. It reminds me of the South of France. Kind of green but kind of rocky too.
*There is always a debate about whether Texas is a Southern state or a Western State. Texas sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War so I guess that technically makes it Southern. But it has the whole cowboy thing going on which makes it sort of Western. The Eastern half of Texas, where Houston and Dallas are, is definitely more Southern. It’s lush and green and nothing like people imagine Texas to be. The western half, starting at about Austin, seems much more typically Western. It definitely has more of an independent, can-do feel which I think is more typical of the West. S0 my answer is both. Texas is where the South turns into the West.