why austin?

Allan's Boots
These Boots Are Made For Austin

Perhaps I need to post this somewhere else, on the side, in the “about me” section, so people quit asking.  “My gawd, why would you eva leave New Yawk?”  Because of people who sound like that, for starters.  No, really, people want to know why I’m choosing to leave Manhattan.  “Because I can” is only part of it.  The real reason is because I’m just READY.  I have lived here, in New York, my entire life.  I’ve lived in Manhattan since 1993.  I love it here; I do.  I’m ready for a change though, to go somewhere where the New Yorkers that I love are not.  It’s why I’m not moving to Florida* (where a lot of NYers go).  I’m not moving to L.A. unless I have to.  Why?  Because I’m too scared of L.A. and the materialism.  Yes, NY is materialistic, but you can also walk around in the same tattered jeans and not wash your face, and be fine here.  You can be moody and wear black.  Every single day.  I’m afraid that if I moved somewhere like L.A. it would become about the car I drive, or the handbag or watch I sport.  I feel it in New York, but I feel it more there where everyone wears pink to show off their tans.

When I visit my mother in Florida, I call to ask her what to pack.  She responds, “One nice outfit.  No one gives a shit here.”  I love that.  I’m in a new phase of my life where I don’t feel the need to keep up.  If I moved to L.A. right now, I worry I would still feel that need.  We shop, sometimes, for esteem.  I am worth more because I have… fill in the blank.  We fill our lives with food, alcohol, or credit card debt.  We fill where we feel empty.  Will Austin change this?  Hells no.  I’ll fill it with Viking Grills and furnishings instead of Vuitton and Fendi.  I don’t feel important or worth more if I have these things, but I know my propensity to fill and comfort, to replace with the wrong things.  I’m aware of it.  Thankfully, I’m not one of those woman who shops to feel good.  I write or draw or try to accomplish something to feel good.  But in L.A., I’d be around it too much.  I wouldn’t feel right or good about driving up in a Toyota Carolla surrounded by the Jaguars and foreign cars of friends.  I’d rather be somewhere where it matters less.  Where people don’t give a shit.  Especially if that people includes me.  I think a place can do that for you, give you that ability to care about other things.

Austin is more affordable for us.  Our money lasts longer, since I will have the same salary anywhere I live.  So it’s not as if I will make less in Texas because salaries say so.  And The Suitor is keeping his current job, so that’s not a factor either.  There’s space, and everything is twelve minutes away from everything else.  We’re close to a downtown scene when we want it.  I have wi-fi by the pool every single day!  It’s like being on vacation where you live.  I can sail on the lake.  Go fishing.  Be on the water, where I feel most alive.  There’s a major music scene, which inspires my writing and life.  Right now, I need a more nurturing lifestyle.  I need to breathe.  I need fucking space.  Mountains.  Springs.  I’m just ready.  I don’t have children to uproot.  I don’t need to quit a job.  It’s time.  I can always change my mind.  We all can.

* Joke’s apparently on me. In July 2011, I move to, gulp, Boca Raton, FL.



  1. I think, more importantly, that something that you will notice is that for the first time, in a long time, you will be able to breathe. I hear that a lot from my friends from the east coast, especially the NY'ers who move west, as the air is different. As you say, less materialistic(sans LA, which just sucks anyway!), slower pace of life but cultured(as many cities out here can be), and a different joie de vie. Wait till you actually explore "real" mountains and fly fishing….We may make a western kid outa you yet!

  2. the option to change one's mind is one of the best things about life. Too bad most of don't feel as though we can exercise that option. Cheers to you for knowing what others don't.

  3. this isn't an answer to why Austin so much as it's a justification for why not LA… why do new yorkers do that?

  4. I think what you're doing is right and awesome and perfect.
    I'm feeling a lot of the same things… waiting to leave Montreal and move to San Diego where I can have ocean and desert and mountains. Moving is good for you, when you know you're moving to the right place.
    I wish you all the best. New York will still be there if you ever want to go back.


    After justing buying myself a Chanel bag to feel better about myself and one up the annoying people in my life at the end of the day it ain't worth nothin' if you don't love yourself!


  6. Don't forget that it is much harder to move from Austin to NY than from NY to Austin. If you spend a decade in the cheapest area of the country – Texas – you will find it almost impossible financially to move anywhere else.

    When you have kids, it will cost more than the price of your house to send them to college, instead of 10% of the cost of your condo in NY. Many things cost the same thing everywhere, but salaries are lower in TX because of the cost of living. Because of this, you will suffer on these items that cost the same for everyone (college education, vacation, etc.)

    I grew up in a relatively affluent family in the countryside of VA – for that region, we were affluent, anyway.. We did fine, but when it came time for college, choices were limited. Vacation. Clothes. And so forth.

    Something to think about for the long term.

  7. I, too, moved to Austin because it was time for a change. I didn't like my job, there was no reason NOT to move, so I moved here. I've always been casual, and in Austin I never have to leave my jeans unless I want to. Even the businesspeople work in jeans. It is paradise. (check out our weather today)

  8. I think that all sounds wonderful. As cheesy as it sounds, congratulations on having the courage to leave New York. I feel like I'd be afraid I'd miss something big if I left, and I've only lived in Manhattan for a little over a year and a half. Enjoy the Texas heat. And the sun. The idea of sitting poolside with my laptop, posting to my blog while basking in the rays makes me overcome with jealousy. Enjoy your time with Phil, and later with your children. I can't wait to read all your stories. Best of luck (not that you'll need it)!

  9. I wish I had the guts to move. While contemplating a move to Sag Harbor, Long Island, I realized a move is easier when it's because your company is sending you, for instance. But I am the company (I am the walrus. Coo coo ca choo.), if you can call a freelance writer a company. Or if your s/o needs to move. But mine is a lifestyle choice. I've had it with NYC. Sure, it was great in my 20's. I managed to eke out some fun until about 35 or so. Now I'm left with Eek!

    Sag Harbor offers an easier lifestyle. Laid back. But what if there's no one to hang out with? Spring, summer and fall are no-brainers. Winter might be cruel. As a friend pointed out, few guys live in the Hamptons year round. Those who might, are probably artists. Great. I loves me an artist as much as the next one, but not a granola-cruncher. I might want to escape the wilds of NYC, but I'm not ready to hug a tree.

    Let's say I sell my apt., which I love (not a reason to stay in a metropolis I don't love), and don't like the lifestyle, what will I do? The easy answer is that I will move back. But I don't want to. So where would I go?

    Then I thought about a compromise location. The wilds of Roslyn/Herricks. A townhouse. (Shelter Rock Road. The "shelter" part pretty much says it all. It would put me in the thick of pressure-to-live-like-others land.)

    So what's a girl to do? Envy others who have the guts to do what I should, but just can't seem to manage to do. Maybe when I'm older, but then I'm making it a "when" moment. And who knows when it will happen?

    Steph, go forward and enjoy. I'll sit here and read your posts, and envy the good, the bad and the ugly because at least it's a change. And you're sharing that change with a partner, and I truly believe that will make a difference. A solo-move is a little tougher, I think.

    And now I will order my dinner from a different Chinese restaurant. See, I'm not as averse to change as my post might reflect. Yes, I changed take out places a few months ago. Baby steps…

  10. Stephanie, this is so true. I recently moved from Florida to an Eskimo village in rural Alaska. One of the most positive outcomes has been escaping the materialism that all too often impacted my financial decisions more than my political or spiritual convictions. Here, I have so much more to give to others than I could have ever dreamed of in my former life. Best wishes for a great move and wonderful new life.

  11. You make me want to move back to Austin! Here in DC it's not what you wear so much as who you know and who you think you are and how important you think you are. It's all surface and no heart.

    I have no questions as to why you would move there, I just wonder why I'm still here in DC and not moving back myself! Good luck with the move and enjoy Austin!

  12. I don't think you should have to justify your decision to leave New York. Austin is a fantastic city for many reasons:

    10. Tons of locally-owned coffee shops
    9. Huge independent film scene
    8. Live Music Capital of the World
    7. Beautiful trails, hills, lakes and views
    6. "Keep Austin Wierd" is the city's slogan
    5. Relatively low cost of living
    4. Great place to raise kids or pets
    3. Constantly rated high on the 'best cities to live in if you're single.'
    2. Whole Food headquarters
    1. Texas Martinis

    New York and Austin are both great cities. Bottom line: you are lucky to have the opportunity to live in both.

  13. Austin sounds amazing, but hey…don't be so quick to knock L.A., I moved here from San Diego 6 years ago (I know, big stretch, just 2 hours up the free way) and though I work in "the industry," I have amazing friends that still drive 10 year old cars, love to seek out the cheap hidden restaurants and bars, and are more impressed with you when you arrive with a great bottle of trader joes spanish wine, rather than smirking at your no-name handbag. We don't shop on Robertson, and we don't eat at Nobu….we live downtown, or eastside, and we play records we bought at garage sales on used turntables…we've got a rich, amazing culture here, with plenty of people not trying to be the next "somebody." You can either create the comfort and world around you, or get stuck in a cliched belief about where you're at. L.A. isn't just Hollywood and Beverly Hills….and we all don't wear pink juicy tracksuits.

  14. I didn't mean to knock L.A. All of my friends love it. I don't know why, but it did nothing for me, though. I've been there four times. Stayed with different people (very different people) a few times, and in a hotel another time. It just wasn't for me at this time in my life.

  15. I admire the courage it takes to get away from New York. I find myself lusting after the sun and surf of somewhere else. To keep up with this frenetic pace is somewhat exhausting. But then there were days like yesterday when I walked outside and to a tiny shop that was filled with all the wonders of a japanese garden, bought a square glass box filled with wheatgrass (and showing all their roots) and took it to my friend's candlelit patio party (where everyone was more successful than me, but still) in Soho and drank great wine until 11 and ate amazing apps and just thought: This is New York and I will enjoy it while I can…

  16. "You can either create the comfort and world around you, or get stuck in a cliched belief about where you're at."
    I completely agree. I've lived in LA for a year and enjoy it. Any place with this many people is bound to be vibrant, stimulating, exciting, diverse in taste and priorities.
    And believe me, I have never been anywhere near a pink track suit.
    Not a particular slight against you, Stephanie- just wanted to make a plug for my new home.

  17. I love Austin, I'm sure you will too! It is so great for all the reasons you listed and more! You can be downtown in the daytime or nightnite and have a ton to do, but travel 20 minutes out of the city and see nothing but beautiful texas ranches. It's warm there right now. There is amazing shopping and you can be seen if you want to with your new kickin shoes, or you can head down to get some great texmex and chuy's in your sweats… no one cares. It's amazing! and the greenbelt… omg what fun!

  18. As I'm sure I'm not the first to tell you that you've hit the nail on the head with moving to Austin, you have. There are more things about Austin that make that city so unique its overwhelming. Austin and Texas both have an attitude of their own. Its funny how outsiders see Texas as a state where longhorns are hurded down Main Street and with cowboys riding horses out on the open range, which still goes on today. But Texas, and Austin in particular, is a place overflowing with technology, creativity, music, a multitude of landscapes, and the best BBQ and Tex-Mex you'll ever know! I hope you're able to find Austin and Texas as comforting a place to call home as you have NY for so many years.

    If I may be so bold as to recommend a couple of local artists you might enjoy once you get settled into your new pad:
    * Spoon
    * Bob Schneider
    * Pat Green
    * And a must every year – Austin City Limits Musical Festival!!!

  19. I have a Linus' comment is just about the wisest thing I've read this year. Thank you.

    Glad to hear you are at a great place in your journey down life's highway. Here's wishing you all the best with your move.

    Try Nerina Pallot's "Idaho" on the MyPod for the journey – wrong state, right sentiment!


  20. I've been through this, too and it's the right time (as you said). Well, there will be moments of Nostalgia for you but home is where the heart a.k.a. the suitor is. Good luck, Sweetie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. I moved to Austin from DC in August. It took a few (okay like 5) months to adjust, but I am so happy here now. People value their lives in a very different way down here. Work is a means to a more enjoyable personal life and I haven't met any one who is a slave to their desk. There are definitely still some applicable comparisons between here and LA, but honestly, where else can you walk around in flip flops and work out shorts like every where you go?? Any way, I've found that I have way more time to take care of myself, which is important. The only downside is that while I've found people to be very friendly, I have not found it easy to make friends :(

  22. you are such a wonderful writer, and i just wanted to put in a little plug for EAST SIDE L.A. because you would love it here if you were in the right part of town with the right kind of people. artists, writers, musicians, performers- silverlake and echo park and eagle rock and highland park is where you would love it! and we have the desert and the ocean and the mountains and snow all within 2 hours so i wish you were here. by the way the car you will see most around here is an old volvo. OR an old mercedes modified to run on veg oil because we just got a biofuel station here. thanks for letting me pour some love.. xoxoxoxox

  23. Here's what's funny: I used to judge people's choices — and share myjudgements totally unsolicited. That is until I chose something that I absolutely knew was right for me and got so much flack for it. Now I know that if I'm not supportive of someone's decision, it's really none of my goddamn business. In fact, if it's beyond the tip of my nose, it's never my business.

    Any, where is the adventure in never taking a chance on something?

    Great writing!

  24. Why Austin?
    The question ought to be, why not?
    I visited the city twice in the early '90s for SXSW, and quickly added it to my list of "places where I'd live, if only …"
    It's one of the great places on the planet for good music, the food (barbecue, Tex-Mex) is to die for, and it's really young-spirited.
    Good luck.

  25. Stephanie…This is my first blog ever.
    I moved from Austin to NYC 8 years ago, but kept my 3700 sq. ft.house in North Austin. It's rented to tech people who were brought into Austin from other parts.
    I was in the Wednesday nite "writing" class and our mutual teacher told us about your good fortune and move to Texas.I have to say that I'm flourishing here in NYC.I've walked into opportunities that I never thought possible.I'll be publishing a book too. NYC is the "city of dreams", but Texas will always be home.You are certainly beautiful and will totally fit into the whole Austin scene. Texas needs people like you. WELCOME!

    Cindy C.

  26. Stephanie, You will love Austin. I moved here to NYC a few years ago (for a job) and have been plotting my return to Austin since before I left. It is a great place to live. It does get a little warm but the heat is not so bad while your on Lake Travis. Good luck, though it sounds like you have already found it.

  27. Stehanie,

    Good luck in Austin! It's my home town– plus I did three years of grad school in LA and live in NYC now. I know how you feel about LA, exactly. I'm home to TX every 6 weeks and find it nearly impossible to leave each time. Sorry you'll have to suffer through the summer, but make the best of it with Devil's Cove, Carlos and Charlies, and Hula Hut. Enjoy some queso and Mexican Martinis!

  28. one more suggestion of something lovely to do if you haven't heard of it yet: when I was in high school and a party got busted we used to all head to Eagle's Nest. I don't know what it's called these days, but if you head north on 360 and go over the arched rusty bridge, once you're north of it, make a u-turn, head south and park before you get back to the bridge. I think there might even be 'no parking' signs there now.

    You can hike up the side of the hill and the top of it overlooks Lake Austin with a breathtaking view. Sometimes at night we used to pack a little picnic and sit and watch the boats go under the bridge. It's one of my favorite places in town.

  29. So, 4 years later since your post. How are you liking Texas. Because honestly I am so ready to get the heck out of here, thinking of Manhattan actually.

    Being an artist I feel so depressed here, sure we have a music scene, but so does every other city in the world. I am so ready to go to a city that thrives in culture, art, architecture, seasons, and great food. I want to walk everywhere and discover things that inspire me. Something you will not find in Texas, you drive from parking lot to parking lot all day, every day, you never get to see anything in between. The food is great if you like Tex Mex and BBQ other than that we got nothing!

    Things I know about Texas:
    Its flat, its hot, and there is no scenery (only a small area in Austin, “hill country”
    If you have allergies, forget about Texas, especially Austin.
    If you don’t have allergies you will get some as a welcome gift.
    You will get sick of driving, paying tolls, and gassing up.
    Your mortgage, car payments, gas, tolls, insurance, service, oil changes will cost you about $3000 a month (What! I thought Texas was cheaper!” mhmm)
    When people tell you something is down the street they mean a 35 minute drive there and 35 minutes back.
    If you love fast food you will be right at home.
    We have no architecture, we have no real parks, and no playgrounds.
    No stores to discover cool new things, we have malls.
    No one walks here.

    …Should I go on?

    I just hope your experience here in Texas has been better. We all seek different things in life, maybe Austin is a fit for ya! And sure we do have a few things that are more convenient here in Texas compared to NYC. But for me I don’t think they make up for the quality of life!


  30. I couldn’t agree with Dimi more. Austin sounds a lot better to people not from here than it actually is.
    I have lived in Austin for 11 years and am moving to NYC soon. The last two years I’ve lived in the heart of downtown because I got sick of the cookie cutter apartment complexes and houses and dull strip malls with surrounding parking lots of the rest of the city. Plus I wanted to be able to actually walk somewhere from where I live.
    Now I can say downtown with its “2nd street district” really doesn’t have much to offer besides its proximity to the 6th street and the trail for the price you’re paying. And they actually keep raising the rent. I don’t understand for what – downtown is a far cry from any metropolitan area, and it’s not growing as fast as the rent costs. Downtown shopping is a joke, and the stores keep going out of business because no one shops there, outside cafes are pretty much non-existent and the number of nearby restaurants is still very small.
    But it’s true, we all are searching for different things.

  31. I just moved to Austin from NYC and your post is right on. And the flip side is- do we really need to explain ourselves to anybody, anyway? I’m eight days in, and still getting used to it (and I miss good Chinese and Italian food).

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