When I moved to Austin from New York City thirteen years ago (GASP! Has it been that long?), I was single. I moved into a huge apartment for the same rent I paid back in Manhattan for a shoebox in the West Village. I didn’t have to worry about moving a family, finding out where the best schools were, and buying a house. Thank gawd–that crap’s complicated!
Flash forward more than a decade and we at Room Fu find ourselves working with a lot of clients who move here from New York, California and Seattle, and I sympathize with the trials and tribulations of establishing yourself in a new city. I thought it might be helpful to ask a couple of our clients for tips and advice for anyone thinking of moving to the Live Music Capital of the World. I threw in my two cents as well, based on my experience. Here’s what we had to say:
What brought you to Austin?
MEGAN: My husband took a job with one of his former clients in business.
SARAH: We moved to Austin for a lifestyle—not because it was practical or made sense based on my husband’s career. There was also a lack of family in the nearby vicinity (of NYC). Scott travels for business and we wondered, “where do we want to live?” We wanted to be close enough to family that we didn’t have to get on an airplane to visit them, and the only place that came to mind was Austin.
ROBIN: The company I worked for went bankrupt and eliminated their entire art department so I lost my job. After eight years in the city, it seemed like a good time to move closer to family.
What city did you move from?
MEGAN: Mountain View, CA (San Francisco Bay Area)
What was the hardest part about relocating?
MEGAN: Leaving our friends and family and adjusting to the summers.
SARAH: Leaving the conveniences of Manhattan—a wide variety of food delivery, Fresh Direct grocery delivery, the park just 100 yards away, etc.—was difficult. Walking down the street of our old neighborhood, running into a friend and deciding to grab coffee or just chat for a few minutes–those are things I still miss. (Austin newbies who miss their grocery deliveries should check out Greenling.)
ROBIN: Navigating this city was a bitch before GPS! There were so many missing street signs and confusing one-way streets. I was 30 minutes late to a job interview once, because that was before I had a cell phone and I couldn’t find a pay phone to save my life. Also, coming from New York City, I was horrified to see locals wearing shorts and flip-flops to nice restaurants–even on the weekends! It didn’t take long to appreciate how casual Austin is. Now I crack up when I see tourists all dressed up like the paparazzi is watching.
What were some things/businesses that helped you during your relocation process?
MEGAN: Meeting other families through my children’s school, participating in local sports and exercise classes, working at UT Austin. Rogue Running is a great way to meet people.
SARAH: Finding Robin (Me! Room Fu’s Design Guru) and having her introduce me to some of the cool shopping places, restaurants and areas of town was a huge help! My husband and I went to college in Austin, but it has been twelve years since we lived here, so to say it has changed a lot is an understatement. Robin helped me to see the “new” Austin and really inspired me to explore the various areas of the city because they all offer something different. (Thanks Sarah!)
ROBIN: I’d ask everyone in your social network if they know anyone who lives here. I met up with a friend of a friend who had moved to Austin a month before me from San Francisco. Although she hadn’t been here long herself, she at least knew some fun restaurants to try out. I’ll never forget getting lost on South Congress when she asked me to meet her for dinner. I was trying to find “Wetto’s” because that’s what I heard her say. I had no idea she meant Guerro’s–I wasn’t accustomed to hearing Spanish pronunciations!
Any tips you might have?
MEGAN: Austin is a very social place. We love Central Market (they have a great deck and playground area if you want to grab a bite to eat while the ankle biters play), Tacodeli, Zilker Park, Rudy’s BBQ, and Alamo Drafthouse.
ROBIN: For me, it was helpful to establish new routines so I could stop pining for New York. I focused on things I couldn’t do back in Manhattan–cooking (I had an eight-inch stretch of countertop in my tiny kitchen so I rarely cooked), taking a drive through the Hill Country, landscaping my balcony and listening to the quiet. Instead of poring over the Sunday Times after drinks with friends on Saturday nights, I would pore over cookbooks on Sunday mornings and shop the luxuriously wide grocery aisles you don’t find in New York. I started haunting Mozart’s for coffee and Town Lake views. Instead of hitting West Broadway in SoHo, I’d hit South Congress. No matter what you miss about the city you came from, you can find the Austin equivalent.
Any other comments about your experience?
MEGAN: I lived here when I was 22 and loved it then and I love it now. People who are born here stay here. I think this city has something for everyone.
SARAH: When we are stressed or question why we didn’t move to Dallas or Houston to make our lives easier (career, families, etc.), we make our way into the city, find a food trailer, sit outside and say, “This is why…”
ROBIN: Get ready to change your pace! We tend to talk slower and walk slower in the Lone Star State. I’ll always love the energy of Manhattan, but have to admit I feel more relaxed in Austin.
Thanks to Megan and Sarah for all of the great advice! If you’d like some help settling into your new Austin home, Room Fu would love to help you. Give us a call at 512-797-5821 or send us an email to get started.