Austin, Texas is known far and wide as the live music capital of the world. But behind the bustling city, vibrant culture, and music scene, Austin has its fair share of drawbacks too!
Plenty of people love visiting this city but take it from the locals when they say that Austin is far from perfect. Below are 17 reasons why you might not want to put down roots in this Texas city.
1. Cedar Fever and Allergy Season
Nothing is worse than dealing with allergies. The headaches, itchy eyes, and runny noses can ruin your day before it even gets started.
Cedar fever is a spring allergy season that plagues Austin every year from December to March. The Ashe Juniper tree produces pollen during this time period, and those who are allergic to it experience flu-like symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and stuffy noses.
Unlike viruses, allergy symptoms won’t fully go away on their own until the source is gone (or you have some good medication!)
Even if you don’t usually have allergies, you still may not be safe from this nasty allergy season. There have been many cases of people developing allergic reactions to Ashe Juniper pollen after a couple of years of living in Austin.
2. Blue City in a Red State
Austin, like many large cities in Texas, has been trending more and more Democratic over the years. Texas has historically been a fairly red state and many of the current senators and house representatives are Republican.
So although Austin is a fairly progressive city, it’s still governed by Republican leaders. Those who live there sometimes feel that their voices are not properly represented by state leaders, so that’s something that you should take into account if you’re more left-leaning.
There has also been growing tension between Texas voters and their representatives lately, so this divide could continue to grow. If you’re more conservative, this might not be a drawback for you. It’s still worth keeping in mind though!
3. Hot Summer Months
Texas covers one of the Southernmost parts of the U.S. so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that it has some pretty high temperatures throughout the year.
According to usclimatedata.com, the summer months of June through September frequently reach 90+ degree weather. In recent years the maximum temperatures have continued to increase as well, with the city passing to the 100-degree mark several times.
So if hot weather is hard for you to deal with, Austin might not be the place for you to settle down. Winter sports are nonexistent in this area and even the winter months are frequently in the 60+ degree range.
4. Heavy Food Culture
Austin isn’t just famous for its music; it’s also a hotspot for food trucks, diners, bars, barbeque joints, and other popular restaurants. This might seem like a good thing (and it sometimes is) but it’s very easy to overeat and overspend in Austin.
You might need to spend a bit more time at the gym to make up for all the food you’ll have access to. Social eating is a real thing and it’s easy to pack on a few pounds while you’re exploring the area.
Many residents are also fiercely loyal to their town’s local food scene, so you might not endear yourself to others if you compare out-of-state restaurants to the offerings there. You’ll want to keep a watchful eye on the food culture to make sure you don’t step on any toes.
5. Pest Problems
The warm weather and high population density of Austin also attract its fair share of seasonal pests. These pests can make life miserable and will keep popping up no matter where you go.
Different types of vermin are more common during certain seasons, but you can often find them somewhere in the area no matter what time of year it is.
Some of the most common pests are rats, yellow jackets, kissing bugs, spiders, and cockroaches.
Most of these are not especially dangerous, but they can introduce infections and viruses to your home. A couple of truly dangerous spiders like the black widow and brown recluse are also common in the Austin area and their bites might necessitate a trip to the hospital.
Visit naturesownpestcontrol.org to learn more about the pest situation in Texas.
6. Locals Unwelcoming to Newcomers
Speaking of the local culture, there’s a bit of a cold shoulder extended to new residents of Austin. Many locals love their town and may view newcomers as people who are just jumping on the bandwagon of Austin’s music scene and tourist appeal.
You might have to live there for a few years before you’ll be fully accepted as a member of the community. A common catchphrase that you’ll see echoed on souvenirs is “Welcome to Austin – Please don’t move here.”
Obviously different neighborhoods will have different attitudes toward newcomers, but generally, there can be a bit of an exclusive atmosphere. Austin locals love their town and don’t want new people to take away the culture that they’ve gotten used to.
7. Music Festival Tourism is Overwhelming
One of Austin’s biggest brags is that they’re the live music capital of the world. This is definitely true and you can find music venues around every corner. But this can also become a downside during the music festival season.
South by Southwest (SXSW) is the biggest festival of the year and it always draws in major crowds. This influx of visitors completely swamps roadways, restaurants, hotels, and every inch of elbow room.
Locals come to dread the coming of SXSW because of the difficulty it brings them. It’s never fun to have a hard time getting around your own city and this festival can be a major pain in the neck. No matter how much you love music, you’ll probably come to hate the buildup to this event too.
8. Independent Power Grid
Texas operates on an independent power grid. The U.S. has three major power grids and Texas completely owns and operates one of them. This helps them to avoid federal regulation on power and keeps them independent from other states of areas that might want to use some of that power.
However, this also comes with weaknesses. The majority of Texas’ power comes from fossil fuels, not renewable energy. This ratio leaves them open to resource shortages and lets companies charge whatever they want, even in times of crisis.
In 2021, there was also a massive winter storm that wiped out the power grid. Because the state grid was independent, many Texans were without power for weeks and there was massive damage to homes and businesses.
Some people even died as a result of the power outages and cold temperatures.
Even after the power began to return, residents were hit with massive power bills that had been raised during the shortage. The power grid has many flaws that need to be reinforced and addressed to prevent future blackouts.
9. Some of the Worst Traffic in the U.S.
Like many large cities, Austin also has an issue with traffic. There are a lot of people living in limited space. This will inevitably cause
some traffic jams and slower travel times. The Texas Department of Transportation has declared that IH-35 is the second most congested road for drivers.
Other national studies have gone as far as to rank Austin’s traffic as the 10th worst in the U.S. Considering the size and open space that most of Texas enjoy, that’s saying a lot!
The traffic situation has only gotten worse as more and more people flock to Austin. The roads weren’t built to carry so many people and they often end up crowded and immobile.
10. Limited Public Transportation
Another element that complicates the travel situation in Austin is the lack of public transportation.
Most Austin residents own their own cars and will use them as their main source of mobility. This is a driving city!
Public bus lines are available in Austin, but there isn’t a subway, rail line, or other methods of mass public transit. This further contributes to the traffic issue and increases pollution in the city.
Austin’s air quality index averages around 50-60 which is moderately dirty.
Many residents prefer to avoid walking around highly trafficked streets and keep their windows closed to keep their indoor air clean. This also makes outdoor exercise harder because of the priority for cars. Walking, running, and biking are all limited.
11. Homeless Population
Like many large cities (particularly those in warm climates) Austin has a significant homeless population. And far from going down, in 2020, it was discovered that the homeless population actually increased by 11%.
The city has tried multiple methods of housing and helping the homeless community, but so far they’ve been ineffective at stopping the spread. The governor has attempted to force the city’s hand into banning homeless camping in public spaces, but Austin hasn’t accepted it.
During particularly hot or cold weather, this population is at risk for heatstroke, hypothermia, or other exposure-related hazards. They also contribute to the city’s litter and sanitation problems.
There’s no clear way to resolve the issue currently.
12. Lack of Diversity
Despite its position as a blue and progressive city, Austin doesn’t have a very diverse population in terms of race, ethnicity, or religion. The majority of Texas citizens are affiliated with a religious group, and more than 10 million are in a Christian-based religion.
The only other major religion in the area is Islam and there are less than 400,000 Muslims in the entire state.
There is a wide Christian majority and this is often reflected in the politics of this area.
There is also a major white majority, with over 70% of the population being white. No other race or ethnic group has more than a 7% representation in this state.
13. Expensive To Move There
A 2018 study by USA Today found that Austin was the 12th most expensive city to move to in the United States.
The average total moving cost is over $4,000 and the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Austin is $1,500, not including the first-month deposit and any other moving expenses.
Homes are also expensive in this area. The median cost for Austin homes is $384,000 which is well over the national average of $295,000. Space is at a premium in the Austin area, so any kind of living setup is going to be expensive.
14. Poorly Prepared for Cold Weather
As the 2021 freeze demonstrated, Texas isn’t properly equipped to deal with cold weather. Most of the time this isn’t an issue because they live in a climate that’s often above 60 degrees.
However, when storms and cold weather do roll around, they can cause a catastrophe. Homes aren’t properly insulated for cold weather and pipes can burst. This causes thousands of dollars of damage, which may not be insured.
People also don’t know how to drive on snow-covered, icy roads, so it’s hard for people to travel or commute. There’s also the previously mentioned issue of blackouts and price bumps during winter storms.
15. High Tornado Risk
Texas also sits in an area of the country that has the right conditions for tornado creation.
Historically this state has been plagued by tornadoes more times than we can count. These often destroy property, cause injuries, and claim lives.
The Waco Tornado in 1953 killed 114 people and injured 597 more. There have been tornadoes sporadically throughout the years, but this is a disaster that could strike at any time and there’s really nothing that can be done to prevent it.
Cold weather spikes in Texas can create tornadoes as well. 8 people have already been killed by these cold-weather tornadoes in 2021 and there’s no guarantee that we’re out of the woods yet.
16. Flash Flood Risk
Austin is also at risk for flash flooding. In fact, the low elevation area where Austin sits is sometimes called “Flash Flood Alley”.
Texas is usually a fairly dry state, but when rain does come along, it falls hard and fast. There aren’t many established channels for the water to funnel into, so it can flow into canyons, roadways, and other low areas at frightening speeds.
Flash floods are common in the Austin area and they can lead to property damage and shutdowns. Cities are usually paved with cement and asphalt which makes it hard to absorb water into the ground.
Drains and water processing systems are often overwhelmed by flash floods and the debris and water damage can cause harm as well.
17. High Crime Rate
Austin isn’t all fun and games. In fact, it’s in the bottom 10% of U.S. cities when it comes to crime. Neighborhoodscout.com has given it a 7/100 on the crime index scale.
Downtown areas are particularly dangerous and there are almost 4,000 violent crimes every year. There are 136 crimes per square mile and many of the violent crimes include some kind of assault.
Criminal activity has been on the rise in recent years as well, so be very careful if you’re considering a visit to Austin (let alone a move!)
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