Aug 28

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Allstage in Austin:

Austin The City

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Allstage in Austin: The City

Oh, where to begin about Austin?

Well let’s deal with the facts first. Austin has a population estimated at 931,830 and it’s growing all the time. The city has become the new Silicon Valley as the tech sector has exploded and has resulted in millennials flooding the city from all over the United States to secure work in that field. During my 7 days there where we stayed in a massive condo complex, there was a large secured area for residents to let loose their dogs and I spent a lot of time there to have a beer and get an idea of what the residents thought of Austin and where they came from if not born there. A few were born and raised in or around Austin, but the vast majority were transplanted from other parts of the country. They loved the climate; they loved their jobs and of course the live music scene was a major plus in their world.

 

Now living in or around downtown Austin is a little heavy. The condo complex we were at was a two-bedroom, two bath one floor unit that was extremely nice with a large kitchen and living and dining room. Talking to those that lived there renting year-round cost them $1,600.00 per month for a 1 bedroom and $2,400.00 for a two-bedroom like we had. The complex came with the doggie park, a gym, gorgeous swimming pool, four story parking structure and was very well maintained by management – and all this was 5 minutes from downtown Austin by car. Barb investigated condo prices to buy in the core of around where we were, and the prices were anywhere from $565,000.00 - $6,000,000.00 plus. Mind you the condos were gorgeous in that price range.

 

Downtown Austin was designed by smart people, everything about it is based on common sense and logic – unlike here in London. In Austin there is no BRT, double our population as it stands but everything traffic wise in the core moves fluidly and with purpose. There is no “bus islands” screwing up a street like we have on King Street now, there is no designated “bike lanes” that reduce the width of a street and eliminate vital parking in the core – the city’s engineers actually put some thought into what makes the most sense.

For example, there is “bike lanes”, but they are a mutual shared lane with cars. If the lane is open in front of you, cars use the lane – if there is a bike in the lane, the car stays out of it until they pass the bicyclist – common sense. Travelling around the city’s core is facilitated by a network of scooters that you can rent online from either Uber, Lime or many other such sites. You download the app, scan the QR of the scooter you want to rent, it allows you choice of times and off you go (software tells you how much battery length is left and how far that will take you). When you arrive at your destination you simply take a pic of the scooter and send it off via the app and leave it where it is – a crew comes around the city at night and picks them all up. It was amazing to watch how many people use these scooters everywhere in the core to get around and many from our condo complex used them to get to work as they are literally everywhere.

 

The streets in the core are what makes the most sense when trying to get around. As a first-time visitor it takes a day to sort it out but then on it is a dream to get around. The main streets of downtown are 3 lanes wide and the lights are synched so that you are not consistently getting reds. Side streets are one lane each way and therefore are far narrower, but the beauty is that a lot of them are one way in either direction or the ones that aren’t are still free flowing. Parking in the core is a dream, there is hundreds and hundreds of parking spots everywhere on main and side streets to accommodate everyone – unlike London where a parking spot is rare gem, the engineers of Austin realize that cars are the main ticket for tourists and those that live there. There is a bus system but I rarely saw them out and around which is strange for a downtown core as large as Austin – I presume that the bus network gets you to the edge of the core and from there the rental scooters or bikes become the primary transportation mode.

 

We were fortunate enough to be within walking distance of some stellar restaurants but over all through the entire week, every restaurant we visited from a high end burger joint to a mouth watering Mexican restaurant, from the best pizza I have ever had to the final night at Vince Youngs Steak House where I had the best steak in my life EVER – the food is a 15 out of 10 – it was extraordinary. And if you like to sit on a patio or open roof top like we did many nights, there is large misting machines to help keep you cool.

 

The climate down there is not for everyone. From June to end of August is the hottest months in Austin. By day the temp on average is 40-42 degrees C and it is HOT, and while the air is best described as “heavy” – the humidity is somewhere between Ontario’s thick humidity and Vegas’ dry climate. At night it was still hovering around 30 degrees C at 1am in the morning – for me that was absolute heaven. The day temp I found I acclimated to after a couple of days and again if you went somewhere and sat outside for a beer there was always the large misters which helped considerably.

 

The total downside of Austin is like any other large city in North America – the homeless people – they are everywhere in the core and it makes you angry seeing people in such dire straights. During the day they recede to sleeping under bridges by the river to escape the heat or doorways and alleys where there might be shade – and when night falls, they come out of everywhere. I dealt with probably a dozen of them over the week and none ever were threatening – I handed out a few cigars and had some cool discussions with some of them. It just drives home that in North America our governments squander millions upon billions on nothing while these people are left to wither away – and make no mistake, that is totally on our shoulders as citizens for not making this situation right.

 

On a positive note, you have to love that you can buy booze in the corner stores. I told a couple of store owners and citizens how in Ontario we are treated like infants as the unions and government run this false narrative that the LCBO and The Beer Store are the ones saving us from a total societal meltdown if we had booze in gas stations and variety stores 24/7. It’s all about jobs and control with the monopolies here by the two of them as opposed to what the consumer wants. People can drink and drive anywhere in either country so that argument doesn’t hold water and minors can get booze in Ontario just as easy as if it was in a variety store. The price of booze in the U.S less than half what we pay here and its far past the time for us to disassemble these two monopolies and their false narratives and allow adults to be adults.

 

Austin is a town that exits in a wonderful climate, the people are incredibly friendly and once they find you are Canadian the opinion is unanimous – they LOVE Canadians. Fortunately Barb has an annual Keller-Williams Conference every year in Austin so we will be going back again and again – I can’t wait until 2020.