It looks like the “Welcome to Austin, Don’t Move Here” shirts locals like to sport at Austin’s never-ending array of festivals aren’t working at all. Do we need more shirts? Bigger font? Blockades at the city limits? Since I moved here in 2003 – yes, I’m part of the invasion – Austin has overtaken Columbus, San Francisco and Fort Worth. Between 2011 and 2012, we also managed to grow beyond Indianapolis and Jacksonville. While I’m sure these five cities are alright places to live, they’re simply not Austin.
It’s easy to see why the city we call home is so inviting to outsiders. If you want to move to the big city, you’re met with the choice of metropolises like NY, LA and Chicago (too big), a few other Texas cities (too lame) and a list of places in California (too California). Austin is like the “just right” bowl of porridge after tasting the ten cities ahead of us in population.
So, is it a bad thing that Austin’s getting bigger? The first thing I loved about Austin upon relocating here was the number of activities available, and those activities continue to expand as the city grows. A few years ago, Austinites never dreamed of skydiving indoors; you had to go all the way to San Marcos to skydive, and you had to do so outdoors – the horror! We didn’t have a mega-venue for big-name concerts until Circuit of the Americas opened its doors and welcomed Kenny Chesney and Lil Wayne. And, if you wanted to live in the action of the downtown area, you shelled out $10 million for a dilapidated house instead of leasing a condo next to ACL Live, which also didn’t exist at the time.
Sure, there will be more traffic, but will anyone even notice the gradual slide from really bad to slightly-worse-than-really-bad? Parking becomes harder to find (Wait, we had parking at one time?). Condos change the city’s skyline and its historic streets, but now that panorama of the Austin skyline circa 2007 on your wall is its own piece of history.
We’re still no Houston, San Antonio or even Dallas when it comes to population, and that’s a good thing. Austin is happy being the “small” town in a big state. We still boast the fourth-lowest crime rate among large cities, the #7 ranking for Best Hipster Neighborhoods (Forbes) and, more importantly, the most Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ Joints. I say, bring it on out-of-towners. You could all move here, and I still wouldn’t become a Hoosier for all the breaded pork in Indianapolis.