So what's the big difference between where I'm at now (Austin) versus where I was (Dallas)? Well, there are lots of things, including both the obvious and not-so-obvious.
Eating. People LOVE to eat, and everyone seems to be a foodie. Places are crowded with a line out the door on a Monday night because food is everything - culture, adventure, social time, etc. And when you hear of a good place to eat, YOU HAVE TO GO! Not to mention, there's tons of good food everywhere to meet every budget possible, and you don’t really have to spend much to get a lot.
The People. People wave, say "hi," and are legitimately happy to be alive... and living in Austin. Everyone here shares a common interest… called AUSTIN, and we’re all one big happy community. Really, we’re all here in a city we love, and anyone could potentially be a friend because we all seem to love doing the same thing. It’s a little less about the rat race and a little more about simply living life.
Traffic. Ok, Austin loses here. Traffic sucks, but I knew that coming into this. My 12 mile commute has ranged from 15 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. It's unpredictable and never going to change. Along with the traffic are the friendly courtesy wavers (so refreshing) and then the people who subconsciously ride bumpers as though it might make their drive a little bit quicker. This one big hodge podge mess of friendly drivers, wanna-be aggressive drivers and lack of alternative routes collectively make up the awful situation called “Austin traffic.”
Red Lights. There aren't red light cameras here… well, in most places. I totally forgot what that felt like. Traffic sucks here so you better believe you WILL make it through that light.
Outdoors. If it's a beautiful, you WILL NOT work past 5 o'clock, and if you can help it, you will not work past 4. You will find every way possible to get outside - whether it's happy hour on the patio, a run on Town Lake, a venture to the dog park. And as far as patios, they're everywhere... and full... of people AND dogs. Let’s not forget that dogs are a bloodline around here.
Size. A 15 miles radius covers most of the town from top to bottom. That's like the area of I30 to I635 in Dallas, and we all know DFW is a million times bigger than that, especially when factoring in ALL of the cities that make up DFW. In DFW, I had good friends and family an hour in every direction of me - north, south, east, west - and no one even within 15 miles of me. Do you know where an hour will get me in Austin? Almost half way home to Ennis! Anything not in 5 miles reach of me around here (ok, that might be slightly exaggerated... 5 miles for the necessities), is TOO FAR.
Proximity. Because Austin is contained, everything is close. I live less than five miles to ridiculous amounts of my favorite places (almost everything I need), and that includes being in walking distance from Target and Hobby Lobby. Yes, I’ve particularly walked to Taco Cabana, Ramen Tatsu-ya AND Target… from my house. In DFW, everything is just way too spread out.
Walking. It took me a second to realize that the people walking on the streets around my neighborhood were not just homeless people. Normal people WALK here... to places... and it's just so, well, normal.
Attire. Despite the fact that my office actually does require business dress attire, when I wear high heels (I mean I did collect a lot in Dallas), I feel completely overdressed. I'm totally going to have to hem some of my favorite pants so I can wear more flats. And as far as everyday attire, all I really need are maxis and v-necks. Thank goodness.
And then there's EVERYTHING else that makes Austin the city that it is – the music, the hipsters, the Texas Longhorns, innate tourism, all the millions of things to do, the deep-rooted culture, HEBs, art, creativity, active lifestyles, festivals, entrepreneurship, etc. etc. etc.
Most of this stuff is not new to me at all. I've just been away for a while and got myself in a rut, so it's very refreshing to be living and breathing the ATX culture again! And don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Dallas, and I'm not saying DFW doesn't embrace any of these qualities (gosh, I can just hear the complaining now). Austin is just a very different place!
(Greetings from Austin Part 1 here)