Austin, capital of state of Texas prides itself on being liberal and independent and above all, ‘different’ from the rest of Texas. Its recently adopted, unofficial slogan ‘Keep Austin Weird’ is in deference to its residents’ open-minded attitudes and respect for individualism. Austinites are easy people to live among, and the city is both affordable and comfortable to live in. Despite its humid, hot summers, Austinites have a passion for the outdoors, particularly for water sports, hiking and off road biking.
Austin boasts a technology hub in its northern districts, which earned it the name ‘Silicon Hills’ back in the 1990’s. Nevertheless, Austinites tend to avoid big corporate in preference for its local small business community.
Austin boasts a vibrant music and arts scene and community spirit here is alive and well. In the city’s residential areas, such as South Congress, (or SoCo), street markets flourish on the weekends, and shops stay open late while local bands fill the streets with music.
What is special or unique about your city?
The city of Austin, self-proclaimed "live-music capital of the world" is a hot spot for music. Here, musicians of every genre thrive in the city's plentiful venues.
Austin is also characterised by water; Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin and Lake Travis provide Austin's residents year-round access to water sports and other activities. Lake Travis is 65 miles long and sits on the western edge of Austin. It offers sailing, power-boating, fishing, jet skiing, camping, hiking and biking.
Austinites enjoy the outdoors and take advantage of the city's greenbelt. Home to seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, Austin boasts a strong biking community. Austinites regularly hike and bike the city's abundant nature trails and partake of the region's numerous natural springs and other natural outdoor venues.
The city also boasts the largest urban, bat colony in North America and each evening from spring to summer, at sunset, the Congress Avenue bats emerge to cover the countryside in search of food.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Those new to Austin, and to Texas in general, will quickly learn that Texans are incredibly proud of their 'Lone Star State'. These people also take pride in being genuinely friendly and hospitable.
However, nothing can really prepare you for the humidity and heat, nor the hectic motorways (and often erratic driving) found in this southern city. It may take a little getting used to, but most newcomers acclimatize and adjust as time goes by.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Even as the city of Austin constantly evolves, and as its people are liberal and freethinking, neither the heat nor their driving habits are likely to change any time soon!
What is the local language?
While English is the most common and the official language spoken although, there is also a large Spanish-speaking population in Austin.
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Without an understanding of basic English or Spanish, a newcomer to the area will face challenges.
However, Austin is home to residents from many other countries around the world, so with help from other English speakers, a person might be able to get by in his or her native tongue.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
As with moving to any new city, you should attempt to learn about Austin's local culture and history.
Austinites are very proud of their city, and celebrate being different from other Southern cities. Be warned, however, that they do not take kindly to derisive comments about neighbouring Texan cities, nor about the state of Texas.
Given Austin's multicultural community, respect for and tolerance of other cultures should be demonstrated at all times. Similarly, local customs and social norms should also be respected. People in the United States value their personal space, which is at least an arm's length between you and the person next to you. Avoid asking too many personal questions when you first meet someone, and refrain from using certain hand gestures (such as displaying your middle finger); it is considered offensive.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Austinites are active all year long. The mild temperatures in winter will allow you to spend the entire season outdoors. High temperatures and humidity during summer, however, can often discourage newcomers from going outside. It is important to give yourself time to adjust. In summer, drink a lot of water and expect to move a little more slowly. Keep properly hydrated and you'll be able to enjoy Austin's outdoor living throughout the year.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
People in this city take pride in eccentricities. They celebrate their differences and being different (in lifestyle, character, beliefs, etc.). "Keeping Austin Weird" has become the local motto in recent years.
It's featured on innumerable bumper stickers and t-shirts and not only been used in promoting the city's personality and diversity, it has also been used to bolster support of local and independent businesses. The art that gave Austin its reputation for being "weird" is featured at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture. The people of Austin are considered "laid back."