texas, just in time for taxes

We put a bid on a house in Austin, TX.  We were out-bid.  Sort of.  We low-balled, thinking the owners of the house would counter and raise.  We’d haggle.  We’d get the house.  It didn’t work that way.  Instead, another family bid on the house.  They needed an immediate answer on their offer.  When the owners phoned our real estate agent to discuss the situation, our agent was unavailable.  So the house we wanted (so fantastic, in Long Canyon) went.  So be it.  So now, we’ve decided to rent in Austin with a six month lease.  Holy crap!  This morning we put in our application to move to Nalle Woods. (And it was accepted!)  While there we’ll have the chance to see if we really like living in Austin.  The heat, the people, the lifestyle.  All of it.

But why Austin? Everyone keeps asking.  Cost of living.  We can have a huge catalog of a life there.  Now, I thumb through mailers and drool over outdoor furniture.  I don’t even think I have a fire-escape.  I have no outdoor space here.  SPACE.  Austin has space, and good weather, and wi-fi by the pool.  But you could have that anywhere.  I like that we can play tennis, daily, have a big house for the same price as living in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan, and that while in the suburbs, we’re still only ten minutes from downtown restaurants, movies, and live music.  It’s the blue part of a red state.  It’s six months, and I’m eager to try something new.  I think I’ve been playing things a little too safe.  I’m ready for some adventure in my life.

“Yeah, but you are so New York.  I mean, I picture you with stroller in Central Park,” my mother said to me last night.  “You just are.”  I know.  I am a New Yorker; I’ll always be a New Yorker.  And I do love it here, but I’m tired of what I know.  I don’t want to be around New Yorkers anymore.  I just want a change; it’s why I’m not moving to Florida (where so many New Yorkers go).  Worst thing that happens?  I move back, and then I know.  Okay, worse things can happen, but I’m ready, bursting really, to have more in my life.  A fuller life, a more active life, an exciting life making new friends and living in a new way.  For a while.  Or maybe longer.  We’ll see.  I think we’re moving April 15.  Texas, just in time for taxes.

The worst that can happen?  We go back for couples therapy.  Joy.  (Yes, my article on the very subject appears in the Back Stories section of Jane Magazine this month.  In the March issue.  Enjoy)

downtown austin, tx


  1. "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." ~ Marcel Proust

    Stephanie, I look forward to hearing about your upcoming Austin adventures with your new eyes.

  2. Hi, Steph! I'm a longtime reader, but this is the first time I've posted. I've never been to Austin, but I'm so excited to hear about it from you. I wish you and Phil nothing but the best!!

  3. Gorgeous house. I wish you'd gotten it but I'm sure you will find something equally nice. I'm excited for you. Austin sounds like a great place to live – good food and a fantastic music scene. I look forward to reading your posts about the move.

  4. Hi Stephanie. I moved from the East Coast to Las Vegas about 6 years ago. I'm heading to Austin this summer to check it out. City life is great, and I wouldn't dream of moving anywhere where there weren't at least 15 decent restaurants in a 20 mile radius. But you're right about Austin–the culture and cuisine of a big city, but really affordable real estate and a lifestyle CHOICE! – On the lake one day, in the city the next.
    Although I could afford to buy a huge house in Vegas and I like the lifestyle, there is one thing I miss (my friends laugh)–a garden. I can't grow anything here. I want to grow my own herbs and vegetables again, pick them before dinner and throw them in to saute. Sounds like heaven to me.
    Keep us posted.

  5. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker! I applaud you on your bold move to experience life outside of Gotham. And Austin is a great city. You can still get the NY Times, good sushi, and a decent croque monsieur. What more do you need?

    Sure beats living in the 'burbs. Good luck and bon voyage!

  6. Welcome to Austin Stephanie. I think you and Phil will enjoy the climate, the people, and whole atmosphere that is Texas, especially Austin. You are right, it is the blue in a big sea of red, but thats what makes it so enjoyable to live here, the diversity that Austin welcomes. Hope this time we can meet up:)

  7. Your stories of the city will be missed dearly, that's for sure. But at the same time, I'm dying to see how you adapt in Texas, a place so different from where you are now. I lived there once (must say I hated it), but you're right to want a change, change leads to new developments, and more exciting things to write about.

  8. Today's blog could have come out of my mouth!! Boulder, Austin, or San Diego for me, but the wife won't go…. Maybe I'll forward her today's post so she'll take the hint..
    Good Luck out West!

  9. BEST of luck to you Stephanie and Suitor. This is what you really really want and you should go for it and I'm so happy for you!
    Can't wait to see the fabulous pictures you'll take.
    Best wishes for your future and stay cool down there
    Say hi to Sandra Bullock

  10. i think this is wonderful. i see nothing but good coming from trying something new. you are right about the worst case. though i don't see any worst case, we grow from every experience that challenges us in any way. go for it! and good luck!

  11. Looked at the pics.

    I'm green.

    I want space.

    I want to be able to step out my front door without having to look both ways.

    A catalogue.

    Sounds great.

  12. the hardest part is not becoming the person who compares everything in your new city to New York City. I moved to Phila over a year ago and I'm still having trouble accepting that.

    Good luck; so happy for the adventures that await you!

  13. "When a paradigm shifts, the rules for success change." Not sure who said this, but it's definitely true. Here's to exploring new spaces and embracing new ways of being. I wish you and The Suitor the best of luck in your move.

  14. We'll keep a space at the bar for you for when you move back to NYC. And there will be a bottle of Shiraz at the ready. In the interim, have a great time in Texas, cowgirl.

  15. I'm curious how you will handle the heat. I used to have to visit Houston, and never got used to the heat and humidity. Not that NYC is a treat in the summer, either, and if you can handle the 14th street subway, you can probably handle Texas.

    I had a few friends that relocated to the Houston area, and I think they all liked it, mostly for the same reason, cheap land. But the one thing that they mentioned is that it is always hot in the summer. In NYC, it is generally cool in the AM no matter how hot it gets later. In Houston, the heat hits you as soon as you go out the door.

  16. Welcome Stephanie! Living that close to the Pennybacker Bridge on 360 means you need to eat at Thistle just up the road, or down in the arboretum at Z Tejas. You are on my side of town!

    My photog group will be doing another shoot soon where we all pack on our cameras and cover a segment of town (in between stops to drink margaritas or Mexican martinis–the pix get oddly blurrier as the night goes on.) You should come along on our next one! If you'd like to meet other writers in town, I can do that too!

    You'll like it here, until, well, um August, when it hits 103. When is that lease up?

    Have a good move! There are lots of Austinites reading you blog. Most of us will be glad to point you to anything you want to know!

  17. I thought I found the "perfect" apt. in NYC, but went into a bidding war. Someone else was the victor. I found a more perfect apt. Though the house you showed is gorgeous, you'll find another. In the meantime, a rental makes a lot of sense. Try it out. See how it feels. NYC will always be here.

    I've been contemplating a move to Sag Harbor. Found the "perfect" townhouse on the water. It's magnificent. Decided instead that I should rent for a bit. I mean, NYC and Sag offer totally different lifestyles and I want to make sure it's the lifestyle I want.

    I could say goodbye to NYC with relative ease, but can I say hello to another place as easily. Time will tell…

    Enjoy your six months. Live it up. And live and learn.

  18. It sounds so exciting to pick up and move to a whole new place like that – especially a place that's so different from what you're used to. You got guts, lady. I don't think I could do it.

    And even if it doesn't work out, you get the satisfaction of knowing that NYC is where you're meant to be. And being sure of yourself is always good…so I hear. ;)

  19. OMG! This CANNOT be happening! You are a New York institution! It's like the statue of liberty waving bye-bye and moving to nepal or nobu matsuhisa saying he wants to move to colorado to raise emu.

    our loss is bush country's gain!

  20. Stephanie,
    We actually graduated together from Barnard. I'm originally from Texas and almost all my friends now live in Austin. I just left Manhattan last year for the same reasons you are – I just needed a change. Everyone said the same thing about me – you're so New York. It takes a little getting used to, but you'll learn to love being out of the city. I love New York and may eventually move back when I can afford it without having to make so many sacrifices, but I think a lot of people have the same experience where they just hit a wall and have to get out of there. And I think you'll love Austin. I was always surprised how much Austin/NYC cross over there was amongst my friends and their friends – a lot of moving back and forth between the two cities. And as a foodie I think you'll have a playground. Good luck – I may be following you there in a year or two!

  21. I was just in Austin last weekend, stayed at the Renaissance at the Arboretum. You'll love that area. Great shopping, gigantic Barnes and Noble and great drinks at every turn.

  22. This was just the post I needed to read. I'm ready to leave the city as well. New York is fanastic and I'll always love it here, but I'm tired of having to work three jobs so that I can share a crappy apartment with a roommate. We're lucky in that we are able to leave the city and have choices.

    I wish you the best of luck. I'm headed north to Maine. Not as warm as Austin, but on the ocean.

  23. As someone who is in the media and entertainment industry on the business side, where you are on the creative side. I would have to say moving to Austin makes no sense. You get your energy, way with words and charm from being in New York and not just being a New Yorker at heart. Taking yourself out of New York will remove the cool, young, cosmopolitan vibe that you project. Your vibe is your brand. As this move is a big risk I urge you to judge your actions accordingly.

  24. I grew up in the Austin area, but currently live in the Houston area. Actually grew up in a small town outside Austin. I graduated from UT. Go back often b/c best friends still there and my family. In fact, I'm going back next weekend for spring break. You'll absolutely love living there. Very liberal, great music and entertainment (wonderful night life, great restaurants (can't beat Tex-mex), beautiful lakes and rivers for tons of outdoor activities, great shopping, and just tons of things to do. Gawd, I could just go on and on but you already know this or you wouldn't be moving there! ;) You'll never ever be bored. E-mail me if you ever want to know of any particular place to go. Btw, you're moving at wonderful time of the year!
    Good luck,

  25. Congrats on the impending move :) I have friends that moved to Austin from outside NYC (they met while both living in Hoboken) and they really like it. I like the "blue part of a red state" thing — it is a lot of fun and a great city, especially if you're more Buddy Guy/Jonny Lang and less Dixie Chicks/Kenny Chesney. It's an anomaly.

    I haven't been there since Juneteenth awhile back, so I'm not sure how much has changed, but I think it's a smaller "city" than Seattle and San Fran, tho I think Austin offers a culture and nightlife quotient similar, if not quite on par, with those two.

    Kaia and I have discussed our east/west plans; we'll spend 8 or 9 months of the year in NYC and spread out week-long visits to San Fran throughout the year, and if we can swing it, keep a small place there and a one-bedroom here.

    I know where you're coming from wanting space, and there's no question money goes a lot farther the farther you get from NYC; I did the suburbs thing — car, 15 minutes into NYC, etc. — and I am glad I did, but I prefer living in the city. Once we have little ones tho, that might very well change. And the worst thing that can happen is you guys like it but decide to move back. Assuming at that time a closet-sized studio isn't renting for $3500 you'll be richer for the experience (and poorer if you opt to rent) :)

    Good luck and congrats again :)

  26. You will love Texas. Soak in the sunshine and incredible food and SPACE. My god, I miss having space since moving to England.. I am so cramped and sick of living in a mouse hole as are most living spaces in this country….

    Estatic for you, Steph. I really am.

  27. I left NYC after 12 years and it's been quite liberating. I miss the energy of the city, but having SPACE is awesome, as is the slower pace. Now I visit Manhattan, and when I do, I love being able to enjoy all the great things about the city, but not having to deal with the day-to-day hassles of living there.

    And, like you said, if you don't like it in Austin, you can always move back to NYC or somewhere else.

  28. That's so exciting!

    And hey, if you decide Austin's just not for you (why that'd happen I have no idea) Nashville's not very expensive either, plus the weather's great and there's SO much space here.

    And great music.

  29. Hi Stephanie
    I know I sound like one of those damn SARK posters, but your happiness is portable. I truly believe that you will be very pleasantly surprised by Austin. Such a diverse group of people, largely in part because of the university. You will love it and people will love you!

  30. I am about to embark on a similar journey- relocating to the deep south, Charleston, SC, from the big city. I can not wait for the change, the adventure, to feel the energy of a new place, the smell of summer in a different climate. I am giving up my good job and just taking a wild leap. But I think that what I am about to gain is something I can only get with moving on.

    Good luck Stephanie, your story is inspiring to say the least. Your voice so often echoes mine- thank you for what you write.

  31. Ok, I moved to Austin almost exactly 1 year ago, and it was the best thing I could ever do. Its amazing here, with the weather and the music, and all the amazing people. Trust me, you'll love Austin. Its a great place to live.

  32. A true New Yorker (i.e. – someone that really gets what it means to be a New Yorker) doesn't have to live in New York.

    If you don't know what I'm talking about, well then you aren't a New Yorker. Enjoy your adventure!

  33. I'll be honest, I've lived in some cool places and have traveled to more; Singapore, Buenos Aires, Chicago, New York, DC, and even Madison, Wisconsin. Austin is one of my favorite places to just be. This is a good move…especially for a spirit like yours. For quality of life, for opportunity, for culture as not many would define it, you are going to love Texas. And there is nothing like Spring in Texas. Subscribe to Texas Monthly. You'll need the introduction. See you there, I'm sure.

  34. Congratulations on making "your" decision. I too am anxious for other pastures. I have my eye on a blue valley in a big red state also. Being from California I get the same thing you do…"how can you leave, your a native." What they forget, is that I have lived other places, including Madrid, and I need change once in a while to survive, to stay fresh, and most importantly to breath. Yes, I need "change" to breath.

    Here's hoping you catch your breath in Austin.

  35. I wish you both the very best. Don't worry, a bigger and better house will come along. Am thrilled for you. My only disappointment is finding out about it here. I know, so many people, so little time…

  36. I'm a New Yorker….well, I was born there. But I was robbed the chance of growing up there. My parents moved from NYC to South Florida about thirty years ago. I never got a say in the matter. And I've never forgiven them ;) I'm not sayin' DON'T MOVE, but I am saying don't forget to go back.

  37. Ahh, the Texas heat…it's good for the pores and when you're ? mos. pregnant in the sweltering heat and can't reach for a frozen margarita just head down to our magical oasis, barton springs. On full moon evenings at the springs you can even howl with strangers at the monthly full moon pot lucks. Seriously. Besides, Austin just passed an ordinance that allows dogs on restaurant patios…provided the restaurant owners comply. Congratulations!

  38. Austin sounds lovely. Warm weather, mild summers, good luck. you'll love it I'm sure, no matter what home you end up in.

  39. i read the jane article but was left with one dying question. is "stephen" phil?

  40. i had the same thought! I thought maybe it was an old ex', but now i'm thinking it's phil. either way, i enjoyed getting to read you in a different medium. it still felt like you, some of the little word plays, but it was much more tied-together than what happens in your blog, or in any blog. the medium is just different. i think you translated yourself well! i can't wait to see what your book reads like…. =)

  41. Acutually, this is my post. Thanks!

    Ahh, the Texas heat…it's good for the pores and when you're ? mos. pregnant in the sweltering heat and can't reach for a frozen margarita just head down to our magical oasis, barton springs. On full moon evenings at the springs you can even howl with strangers at the monthly full moon pot lucks. Seriously. Besides, Austin just passed an ordinance that allows dogs on restaurant patios…provided the restaurant owners comply. Congratulations!

  42. Wow!! What a change, what a great move! I, as well, am sorry about the house. It really was stunning.

    You will be nothing short of bliss!

    (Is it a problem that I kept thinking "I would never be able to straighten my hair there! How will Stephanie??!!)


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