Construction cranes are often an indicator of a city undergowing a growth spurt. Last weekend in downtown Austin, TWELVE construction cranes were visibly in use in the 11-block area between 12th Street and Cesar Chavez.
As Austin continues its explosive growth pattern from the past couple of years, I still see an outpouring of vitriol from a vocal minority who seem unaware of what growth means for this area (or for any area, for that matter). Simply put, growth is the lifeblood of a city. Once a city ceases to grow, it starts to die. Just drive up Highway 183 toward Oklahoma. You'll pass through a dozen or so dying (or dead) small towns that were once thriving and lively whistle-stops. These little towns are the perfect example of what happens when a city stops growing. Austin has been an exceptionally bright spot in a strong Texas economy, which has been a shining beacon in an often lackluster national economy. Things here are good, and we should be thankful for that.
Recently, the Austin Business Journal released a poll asking readers if they'd rate traffic or affordability as Austin's biggest problem. Out came the curmudgeons in the comment section. One reader stated,
"The cause of both problems, the traffic and affordability, is bringing more jobs and people to Austin. Will Austin ever have enough people? If people were leaving Austin, there would be less traffic and the homes would be more affordable. So, is it really an advantage to keep bringing thousands of jobs to Austin?"
It's understandable to be irritated when you have to sit in traffic for hours just to get where you're going, and yes, prices are indeed higher for homes, but these are some of the natural consequences of living in a boomtown. As the old saying goes, you can't have your cake and eat it too. The "cake" in this scenario is Austin itself; Austin is vibrant, attractive, economically thriving, and high-profile both in the film and music industry. When you live in such a great place and other people figure it out, they will naturally want to move there. It's a bit like a perpetual motion machine: More people move to Austin, which makes the economy grow, and economic growth brings more jobs and....more people. On a similar note, having great entertainment and music is what attracts publicity, and the publicity attracts more entertainers and musicians.
Yes, we all know that central Austin is expensive. Any desirable city is expensive, frankly. That's the law of supply and demand. The Austin area is not, however, completely unattainable. In fact, Austin Business Journal (the same publication that released the aforementioned poll asking about traffic vs affordability) published this article that states that Round Rock, a north Austin suburb, is America's best affordable city. If you want to move to Austin, but think you can't afford it, there are other options that are very close and pleasant. You can still get a decent home near Austin for $200K or so.
The problem with the "grumpy" outlook on Austin is that the people complaining about traffic seem to be the same ones voting down every new traffic relief proposal the city proposes. It's clear that making traffic awful and refusing to change anything about the city we all love is not going to stop people from moving in. This may sound a little harsh, but if you're unhappy with Austin's current upward trend, the only real solution is to move away or move farther out. So if you're interested in moving away from Austin, please give me a call, and I will be happy to help you sell your home.
Thanks for reading!