“OMG, you’re moving to Austin!!!”
“I wish I was you. Austin is such an amazing place.”
“Finally getting out of Dallas, huh.”
Four months ago, I decided to “uproot” (I say that because it’s not like I moved to another state) my life and move from Dallas (Plano), the home I had called for 24ish years, and move to the state capital of Texas—Austin.
Everywhere you look, Austin is on a list: “Best Places to Live” “Happiest Towns” “Best Cities for the Next Decade” “Most amount of smelly hippies in the South” ” Best cities for business.” Sometimes it’s number one, sometimes it’s number 5. The fact of the matter is that everyone loves Austin, and that’s what drew me to move down here.
There’s something about the ability to run on a sandy lake every day. Or go biking, hiking, or seeing 500 sports being played. It’s not just Friday and Saturday that music goes on, but every day. It’s also fascinating to see so many people in what used to be a college town, come from all over and help to build and create an “idea.”
I finally became an official Austin resident two weeks ago. It’s been a nice run so far, and Austin is a great city, but the idea of “Austin” has begun to fade, and I’ve missed living in Dallas. Note that I said Dallas, and not Plano. Plano sucks, and it’s a horrible city unless you’re my parents. It’s flat, full of concrete, conservative, and just boring.
Dallas is different. Yes, it has it’s pretentiousness. Yes, people do dress up to go to the gym of all places. Yes, prices could be lower in Uptown, and the city does struggle to create an identity for itself.
Dallas does have character. It has pro sports. It has great restaurants. It’s diverse. It’s a great place for a corporation, and it’s a great place for a startup. It has its quirky neighborhoods, and if you want to include the Metroplex as a whole, great music.
I decided to do my own comparison of things I like to do – Dallas vs. Austin, as well as general comparisons. Feel free to critique, but this is just how I see it. I’m leaving out institutions of higher learning because I’m out of college and, frankly, TCU, UNT, UTA, SMU don’t compare to UT. I’m also leaving out traffic and road comparisons, because the well-manicured roads and ability of Dallas to understand how to effectively build for growth on the roads pales in comparison to the inability of Austin to understand to positive effects of light rail and to effectively curb the constant problem of traffic that persists on days other than festivals.
Downtown Cityscape: Dallas: Reunion Tower, Corporate buildings, Omni, AAC, Margaret Hunt Bridge. It’s mainly Reunion tower, but it really has that big city feel as you drive in from 35.
Austin: Less corporate buildings, but its has Town Lake as part of its cityscape. That in itself distinguishes it.
Nightlife: Dallas: Uptown, Downtown, Mockingbird, Lower Greenville, Shops at Legacy, Deep Ellum, Addison. Each has their own individual feel to it. Except Shops at Legacy is crap.
Austin: Dirty 6th, West 6th, Warehouse District, Fourth Street, Rainey Street, the Arboretum, Numerous concerts (yes, that counts). Both cities are great for nightlife. The “fratmosphere” that encompasses some areas of Austin definitely permeates in Dallas in Uptown and Greenville. Parking downtown blows in Austin. In Dallas, it isn’t so bad, but it’d be nice to have the Car-to gos they do here. Is Austin cheaper than Dallas? In some places they have great specials, but it’s getting more to be prices of a typical cosmopolitan city.
Outdoors: Dallas: Katy Trail, White Rock, various pools in apartment complexes, some parks. A decent start, but way too much concrete. Not enough bike paths, and really the Katy Trail is just one long strip of concrete. The ample amount of pools in Uptown makes it nice to sit and drink heavily on a weekend and view the Dallas skyline, but this is an area where Dallas lacks. The new park on Woodall Rogers will be a nice touch.
Austin: This is where Austin takes the cake. Town Lake, Katy Trail, numerous hike and bike paths, Greenbelt, Barton Hills, Zilker. You won’t find a Dallas park at 9 a.m. spawning with activity unless its suburban soccer leagues. There are parks everywhere. The only problem is a lack of pickup basketball unless you join a gym.
Sports Teams: Dallas: The Rangers and Cowboys are in Arlington. Whatever. A championship parade will still be in Dallas, because Arlington is a terrible city. The Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars share the AAC. FC Dallas plays in nearby Frisco. There are a number of minor league teams in the area. NASCAR at TMS. Lone Star Park. Dallas is a great sports town.
Austin: Sorry, but UT does not count as a pro team. I don’t care how much revenue they make or how good the football team is, it is not a professional team. Neither are the Austin Toros. And the Round Rock Express, the Rangers Triple A team. Will Austin ever be a good pro sports town? Who knows, it has F1 coming in November, but even that is contentious.
Diversity/People: Much is said about both cities people. “Dallas people are snobby,” “Austinites are so laid back,” “Austinites are welcoming,” “Dallas is for rich people.” Yes, there are people in Dallas who are absolute snobs (West Plano, Park Cities, even some Downtown) and yes, there are some really cool people in Austin. But don’t you think a shirt that says “Don’t Dallas my Austin” is pretty snobby? Austinites think highly of themselves, and some will scoff at you when you say you’re from Dallas. In fact, many new Austinites are disgruntled former Dallas residents. The reputation of Dallas may be snobby, but there are nice people all over. Check out a Saturday afternoon by the pool and you will meet some interesting people. Check out a sporting event where you cheer on a team along with thousands of other Dallassites. Check out a Dallassite, Mark Cuban, who saved the Greenville Avenue Parade because he understood what it meant to the partygoers of Dallas. Austin is great, don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of young entrepreneurs who create events, organizations, and relationships that really help build Austin into not such a hippie-centric city, and one that really takes pride in the identity change it’s undergoing. Yes, some people say that change is bad for the city and that Austin is losing what made it Austin. Every city undergoes a period of gentrification though, is this just the fast-tracking of the corporatization of Austin?
As stated before, Dallas is in a similar quandary. With the dearth of reality shows, and glitz and glamor, does Dallas want to position itself as Los Angeles or New York? Or is it the Dallas TV series, with larger than life cowboy personalities, and oilmen who strike it rich and move to the big city because well, who really wants to live in Midland/Odessa once you’ve made your money?
Due to my status as an Austin resident, I’m tied to the city for at least a year. Will I move back to Dallas at some point? I never thought I would, but I probably will, because it’s home. Would I like to live somewhere else before that happens? Yes, everyone should live out of their comfort zone for an extended period of time. Did I think I was going to make Austin my home for an extended period of time? Yes, although now it doesn’t seem so certain. If you live in either of these cities just know it could be worse: You could live in Houston.