Erik Harvey, his wife Michelle, and their toddler Jackson were all ready to fly from Denver to Austin on April 1 through Southwest Airlines, Fox News reported.
Aware of the federal regulations for all flight passengers over the age of two, the parents knew their son was required to cover his face for the duration of the flight.
“I practiced with him at least two or three times at the house and every time he threw it off, but I figured that [Southwest] would work with us on the plane because he’s 2,” Michelle Harvey told Fox 7.
When the family boarded the flight, Jackson was wearing his mask. “Everything was going swimmingly … until it wasn’t. That’s when Jackson threw off the mask and “was done wearing it.”
“The flight attendant comes over and she says, ‘Ma’am he’s not wearing his mask, you’re gonna have to leave the plane,'” Erik Harvey said.
James Peck, an old friend and private pilot, spotted a social media video about the family’s experience and decided to offer them a private flight to Austin at no cost, per Fox 7.
“I knew that I could use that as a great excuse to go take a flight and help them out and get them here,” Peck said. He has even offered to fly the Harveys back to Denver after their trip ends.
Acknowledging the selfless deed, Harvey told Fox News: “The miracles will come to you, things will show up, and that Good Samaritan will show up.”
Another tech executive has turned their eyes to Texas.
Tesla CFO Zachary Kirkhorn has bought a home in Austin, according to public records, proving that the Southern state is further attracting tech talent. Bloomberg first reported the purchase.
The home is on a 2.5-acre lot right on Lake Austin, west of downtown. According to the listing, which you can view below, it has five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, and more than 5,000 square feet.
There’s also a pool lined with trees that faces the lake. Per Travis County documents, the home was purchased by Kirkhorn and his partner, Daniel Naughton. The pair married in early 2018 in California, according to the New York Times. Naughton is a vice president of finance at Remix, a transportation software company, based on his LinkedIn profile.
The document is dated mid-November 2020 and notes that Kirkhorn paid $3.29 million for the house.
Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
News of another executive moving to Texas comes after much speculation that tech workers are fleeing the San Francisco Bay Area and California in general. Many remote tech workers and leaders, now untethered from pandemic-shuttered offices, are free to move to more affordable locales.
American Airlines is preparing for the summer of vaccinated travel and has its sights set on Texas, but not its usual Dallas hub.
Austin, Texas is receiving 10 routes this spring and summer aimed at increased leisure flyers and the hopeful return of business travel. The Texas capital city has been the preferred destination of technology exodus from California and Silicon Valley, including Elon Musk’s Tesla, opening a new market of well-to-do leisure and business travelers for airlines.
“It’s going to be the biggest boomtown that America has seen in 50 years, at least – megaboom,” Musk said in an interview with Joe Rogan.
Austinites can already catch a non-stop flight to most of American’s hubs but they’ll now be able to fly directly to where they want to go. Most flights to the destinations in this expansion would’ve required a connection in Dallas, Charlotte, Chicago, Phoenix or Miami, for example.
Austin’s popularity has been increasing with airlines in past few years as the city grew into the Silicon Valley of Texas, now known as the “Silicon Hills.” Delta Air Lines considers Austin a focus city while low-cost and ultra-low-cost airlines like Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Allegiant Air have also built bases in the city.
Foreign carriers had also been flocking to Austin before the pandemic crippled international travel. British Airways, Lufthansa, and KLM Royal Dutch had launched or planned flights between Austin and major European cities like London, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam.
Here’s where American Airlines is flying from Austin later this year.
Between Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee
American will launch flights between Austin and Nashville, Tennessee on May 6. The new service will start as once daily, with a morning flight from Nashville to Austin and afternoon return flight, and increase to twice daily service with a morning and evening flight in each direction on July 2.
Southwest Airlines will be American’s primary competition on the route, offering as many as four daily round-trips between the two cities on its Boeing 737 aircraft. Spirit Airlines offered flights on the route in 2020 but hasn’t yet announced a return for 2021.
American’s will be operated by Embraer E175 regional aircraft from Republic Airways.
Between Austin, Texas and Las Vegas
American will launch flights between Austin and Las Vegas on May 6. The new service will start as once daily with a morning flight from Las Vegas to Austin and an evening return flight.
On June 3, the route will see two daily flights with afternoon and evening flights to Las Vegas complemented by morning and afternoon flights to Austin. Flights will operate with American’s Boeing 737 mainline aircraft.
American will see more competition on this route as Southwest, Spirit, Allegiant, and Frontier Airlines offer a mix of low-cost and ultra-low-cost flights between the two cities.
Between Austin, Texas and Orlando, Florida
American will launch daily flights between Austin and Orlando, Florida on May 6, upgrading the route from its current once-weekly status. The daily route will see an afternoon departure from Austin accompanied by a late afternoon return from Orlando.
Flights will be operated on American’s Boeing 737 aircraft, an upgrade from the Embraer E175 regional aircraft currently used on the Saturday-only service.
Another popular route from Austin, American will see competition from JetBlue Airways, Southwest, Spirit, and Frontier. Allegiant Air also offers flights to Orlando Sanford International Airport north of the city.
Between Austin, Texas and New Orleans
American will launch flights between Austin and New Orleans on May 6. The new once-daily service will see a morning flight from New Orleans to Austin complemented by an afternoon flight from Austin to New Orleans.
Flights will be operated by Embraer E175 regional aircraft from Republic Airways. Only two other airlines serve the route including Spirit and Southwest.
Between Austin, Texas and Raleigh, North Carolina
American will launch flights between Austin and Raleigh, North Carolina on July 2. The new service will start as once daily with a morning flight from Austin to Raleigh and an afternoon return flight.
On August 17, flights are increased to twice daily with a late afternoon flight from Austin to Raleigh accompanied by an evening return flight. Flights will be operated by American’s Embraer E175 regional aircraft from Republic Airways.
American will see competition from JetBlue, Delta, and Southwest on this business traveler-heavy route. From Raleigh, however, American flyers could also get as far as London in pre-pandemic times as the airline operated a daily flight to the UK capital.
Between Austin, Texas and Tampa, Florida
American will launch flights between Austin and Tampa, Florida on June 3. The new service will start as once daily with a late afternoon flight from Austin to Tampa and an evening return flight.
Two airlines offer competition on the route as Frontier and Southwest already fly between the two cities. American’s flights will operate with Airbus A319 aircraft.
Between Austin, Texas and Washington, DC
American will launch flights between Austin and Washington, DC on August 17. The new service will utilize Washington Dulles International Airport and start with twice-daily flights right off the bat.
A morning and afternoon flight will be offered from Austin to Washington while an afternoon and evening flight will be offered in the opposite direction. Flights will be operated using American’s Airbus A319 aircraft.
United Airlines is American’s primary competition on the route as Washington is a United hub. Southwest also offers flights between Austin and Washington via Ronald Reagan National Airport, the airport closest to downtown.
Between Austin, Texas and Aspen, Colorado
American will launch flights between Austin and Aspen, Colorado on June 5 with Saturday-only flights through September 4. A morning flight will be offered in both directions operated by Bombardier CRJ700 regional aircraft from SkyWest Airlines.
Those not wanting to travel to or from Aspen on any other day of the week can connect in American’s Chicago or Dallas hubs. No other airlines currently serve this route, leaving American with no direct competition.
Between Austin, Texas and Los Cabos, Mexico
American will continue flights between Austin and Los Cabos, Mexico from June 5 to August 14 with Saturday-only service. A morning flight will be offered from Austin to Los Cabos complemented by a late afternoon return flight, both operated by Airbus A319 aircraft.
No other airlines operate flights on the route, leaving American with no direct competition.
Between Austin, Texas and Destin, Florida
American will launch flights between Austin and Destin, Florida on June 5 with Saturday-only flights through August 14. A morning flight will be offered from Austin to Destin complemented by an afternoon return flight, both operated by Embraer E175 regional aircraft from Republic Airways.
No other airlines operate flights on the route, leaving American with no direct competition.
A Texas judge on Friday ruled that the city of Austin is able to keep its mask mandate for at least two more weeks, running against Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to roll back a statewide mandate.
Abbott earlier this month issued an executive order that lifted the state’s mask mandate beginning March 10.
With this ruling from Judge Lora Livingston, Austin can keep its mandate in place until at least March 26, KXAN reported. When the two weeks are up, there will be a hearing to determine whether Austin’s mask mandate remains in place going forward.
In response to Abbott’s order, city officials announced that a local mask mandate would remain in place until April 15 to “avoid another surge of cases” of the coronavirus.
The announcement from Austin officials drew ire from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who threatened to sue for enforcing mask-wearing despite Abbott’s order.
After receiving a letter from Paxton indicating intent of legal action, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he and Abbott were “simply wrong” and said their decision is an “assault against doctors and data.”
Most Texans have not yet received a coronavirus vaccine. Just over 9% of the state’s population has been vaccinated, vaccine-tracker data from Johns Hopkins University showed. Meanwhile, Texas has been rebounding from a devastating winter storm that led to disruptions in vaccine operations in the state.
Health officials have been sounding the alarms against relaxing COVID-19 restrictions like mask-wearing.
Mask-wearing for months has been one of the guidelines that various health agencies have touted as most effective for preventing the spread of the coronavirus in public spaces. Texas, however, is not alone in the decision to roll back mask mandates. Other states such as Mississippi, Montana, Iowa, and North Dakota have either entirely rolled back or announced plans to end mask mandates.
An ABC News-IPSOS poll released last week said 56% of Americans surveyed believe that government officials are loosening mask mandates too quickly.
Abbott’s executive order contradicts the guidance from health officials like Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who cautioned that despite three FDA-approved vaccines on the market, “now is not the time to relax restrictions.”
Adler called the judge’s ruling “good news” in a tweet.
“No matter what happens then, we will continue to be guided by doctors and data. Masking works,” Adler tweeted.
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Austin, Texas is known for its laid-back vibe, awesome food and music scene, and outdoor attractions.
From bungalows in historic neighborhoods to sleek lofts, we found top-rated Airbnbs across the city.
These exceptional Austin Airbnbs are all affordable and range from $87 to $194 per night to start.
While it’s the capital of Texas and the seat of state government, Austin is best known as the Live Music Capital of the World, home to more live music venues per capita than any other city in the nation. Music is typically one of the biggest draws for Austin visitors, especially in March.
In non-pandemic times, hundreds of thousands of people descend on the city for the massive South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, with more than 2,000 international acts. While SXSW is still happening this year, it will be an online event, with virtual speakers, film screenings, and showcases.
Beyond music, Austin is also a serious foodie destination, where barbecue, Tex-Mex, and tacos have been elevated to an art form. Natural jewels like Zilker Park, Barton Springs, and Ladybird Lake provide many opportunities to explore the outdoors. And, of course, there’s the city’s bohemian streak – best summed up by its famous moniker, “Keep Austin Weird.” You’ll find the offbeat everywhere, whether it’s a drink at the legendary circus-themed Carousel Lounge or a stop at the famous Bat Bridge, where a million roosting bats take flight come dusk.
While any lodging options have inherent risk amid the coronavirus pandemic, experts and the CDC have noted that private vacation rentals like Airbnbs are safer alternatives to traditional hotels. Rental properties greatly minimize, or in many cases, entirely eliminate, contact among people outside your pod. Additionally, Airbnb has enforced strict new Enhanced Clean protocols hosts must follow.
Be aware that even with the increasing availability of coronavirus vaccines, there’s still no guarantee of safety when it comes to travel right now. We always recommend following guidelines from the CDC and WHO, wearing a mask in public spaces, washing hands frequently, and practicing social distancing. This is especially true in Texas, where the governor recently lifted the statewide mask mandate and announced that businesses can now operate at full capacity.
With that in mind, spring is a great time to visit Austin and take advantage of the temperate climate and wildflowers blooming all over the city.
We selected the best Airbnbs in Austin based on the following criteria:
We only included entire homes or standalone guesthouses with private entrances, per current expert recommendations.
Every listing is highly-rated with a 4.61 score or higher and excellent recent guest reviews. Several are coveted Plus listings.
We’ve chosen a range of rentals to suit different types of travelers, from couples to families to pet-owners, and kept affordability in mind, with price points starting between $87 and $194 (though rates can soar during popular events).
Properties are well-appointed with appealing design touches and onsite amenities, and all are close to top attractions.
Here are the best Airbnbs in Austin, sorted by price from low to high.
In the past five years, East Austin has emerged as one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods. Art galleries, boutiques, craft cocktail bars, taquerias, and food trucks have popped up all over this former working-class district, whose leafy residential streets are lined with quaint, refurbished bungalows.
The backyard setting of this East Austin guesthouse is wonderfully quiet, yet it’s within easy walking distance of all the bars and restaurants of trendy Chicon Street. The freestanding studio is a stylish blend of contemporary and mid-century modern, featuring a chic, white-subway-tiled kitchen accented with gold hardware, vintage-style wood furnishings, Edison bulb lighting, and black-and-white framed photos throughout. A record player and curated collection of vinyl LPs add to the old-school feel.
Modern conveniences include a washer/dryer, heating, and reliable Wi-Fi. While you do have the option to add a floor mattress to sleep more guests, the open-plan space does not have a separate bedroom, so it’s really best for couples, solo travelers, or those with small children.
The guesthouse, which has been awarded Airbnb Plus designation, has availability starting in April. There is currently a four-night minimum.
Located in the quaint, quiet Bouldin Creek neighborhood, this freestanding backyard studio is close to Auditorium Shores, Palmer Auditorium, Lady Bird Lake, and two of Austin’s best outdoor spots: Zilker Park and the massive, three-acre Barton Springs Pool fed by natural springs.
While the guesthouse is petite, its high ceilings, glass sliders, and open-plan design make it feel much bigger. Contemporary furniture in neutral earth tones and warm woods give the place a serene feel, while a huge colorful artwork in the living room adds a whimsical touch. There’s a comfy Queen-sized bed in the sleeping area, plus a fold-out sofa bed, but given the studio’s small size and lack of a bedroom, it’s best for couples or solo travelers. The spacious bathroom was recently renovated and features a large, walk-in shower. Outside is a private deck shaded by big oak trees and guests have use of the shared backyard (the owner lives in the main house).
The space does not have a kitchen, but it is equipped with a coffee maker, kettle, mini-fridge, and microwave, and coffee and tea are provided. A variety of restaurants, coffee shops, and food trucks are a short stroll away on South First Street, and it’s just a few more blocks to all the bars, restaurants, and shopping on South Congress.
The studio has availability starting in April.
Tranquil Hyde Park apartment with private patio, $117
Located in the Hyde Park Historic District, known for its gorgeous assortment of landmark homes dating from the Victorian Age, this one-bedroom garage apartment was built in 2010 in the same architectural style as the original 100-year-old main house. Enter through the private brick patio, which features a gas grill, a small seating area, and a shady pecan tree, and head up the stairs to the light-filled hideaway. The apartment is cozy, but nicely laid out, with a combination living/dining room, separate bedroom, and full kitchen with modern appliances.
A tasteful mix of contemporary and mid-century modern pieces decorate the rooms, and walls are painted in a soothing neutral color. There’s a Queen-sized foam mattress and big, walk-in closet in the sunny, spacious bedroom and the living room has a fold-out Queen-sized sofa bed. The tiled bathroom, while petite, has a cool vintage vibe thanks to the pedestal sink. A washer/dryer in the hallway closet is convenient for longer stays.
The apartment is walking distance to the UT campus, but there are many homegrown treasures in the neighborhood worth checking out. Among them is the low-key Mexican spot Julio’s, Exploded Records for everything vinyl, and Austin’s oldest drugstore, Avenue B Grocery & Market, a beloved stop for deli sandwiches since 1909.
The rental isn’t suitable for children under 12. It has availability from April on.
Hilltop Clarksville apartment with skyline views, $149
Sitting high on a hill in Clarksville, one of Austin’s most coveted, centrally located neighborhoods, this spacious garage apartment offers unbeatable city views. Big windows in the dining/living area look out over the skyline, or step out on the private deck and soak up unobstructed views of downtown and the domed capitol building.
The bright, airy, recently renovated space features cathedral ceilings and parquet flooring throughout. There are modern appliances and stylish wood cabinetry in the full-size kitchen, and the tiled bathroom has a large walk-in shower and a bonus seating area with a makeup mirror. The big, sunny bedroom has a Queen-sized sleigh bed, seating area, and plenty of closet space, and there’s a pull-out sofa that can sleep two. Simply furnished in a contemporary style, the highly-rated space is warm and welcoming, as are the hosts, who enjoy sharing homemade treats with guests.
Clarksville has a number of top restaurants, and it’s an easy walk to downtown Austin, Ladybird Lake, West 6th Street, home to the famous Swedish Bakery and the artisanal Amy’s Ice Creams.
This home is in high demand, with limited dates in April and more availability in June. There is a two-night minimum. The property is not suitable for infants or children under 2.
Step outside the door of this contemporary condo building and you’re right on 6th Street, a blocks-long stretch packed with bars, nightclubs, and live music venues that’s arguably Austin’s most famous party zone.
This spacious, two-bedroom, two-bathroom loft can accommodate up to seven people and features an open-plan living room/kitchen that’s ideal for hanging out with friends. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of light, while high ceilings and exposed concrete beams give it a cool, industrial-style vibe. The look is complemented by sleek, modern furnishings, including a leather sofa, plexiglass coffee table, and cowhide rug in the living area, while a playful neon sign on the balcony makes for fun photo ops.
The large kitchen is equipped with all the latest appliances and the apartment comes with a huge Smart TV and high-speed Wi-Fi. Each bedroom has two beds — one with two Queens, the other with a Queen and a Double — giving larger groups plenty of sleeping space. The condo also comes with one reserved parking space (important in this downtown zone where parking is scarce).
This condo is available for booking from the end of March.
The city’s famous catchphrase, “Keep Austin Weird,” is alive and well at this bungalow dubbed the “Pig Parlor,” whose backyard is home to Gerdeth, a friendly little pig who guests adore. It also has a great SoCo (South Congress) location, just steps from the iconic street lined with vintage shops, restaurants, and bars—including one of Austin’s most famous music venues, the Continental Club.
The rustic-meets-modern interior features white-washed shiplap walls and ceilings, and every room is accented with a glass chandelier. Black leather sofas and a plush carpet decorate the living area, while the open, eat-in kitchen features new, retro-style appliances. Nice-sized bedrooms have Queen- and King-sized beds and big windows looking out onto the backyard. A fun touch are the brightly colored paintings of (what else?) pigs throughout the home.
This home has availability from March. Note that it is not suitable for infants or children under 2.
A 1930s cottage in the Heritage neighborhood, $189
The aptly named Heritage neighborhood is dotted with historical homes and charming cottages like this one, built in 1935 and retaining its original hardwood floors, lovely trim detailing, and fireplace. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home has been thoroughly updated and is artfully decorated with contemporary furnishings in neutral gray tones and black-and-white photos dotting the pristine white walls. Light floods in through the many windows throughout the kitchen, living room, and separate dining room, giving the cottage a bright, airy feel. Both bedrooms are spacious, but the larger of the two has a Queen-sized bed and direct access to a terrace. The private backyard features a hammock beneath a large oak tree and is the perfect spot for napping.
While the neighborhood is mainly residential, it’s within walking distance of the UT campus and the many bars and restaurants along Guadalupe Street — commonly referred to as the “The Drag.” Because of its proximity to the university, you can expect higher rates during big events like football games.
The home, which has received Airbnb Plus designation, has availability starting in late March. Note that the property is not suitable for children under 12.
This sleek, redesigned 1950s bungalow located in trendy Windsor Park offers fantastic indoor/outdoor space. Sliding glass walls in the living room open to a private, fenced backyard, whose big wood deck, 12-foot-long outdoor dining table, and fire pit with seating area make for an ideal gathering place.
The home is impeccably decorated with chic, contemporary furnishings and carefully curated artwork. The streamlined open kitchen with breakfast bar features glossy white cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, and natural wood walls. Both bedrooms are large and each has its pluses. One with a King-sized bed features a standout ensuite bathroom with wood-lined walls and ceiling, gray-tiled floors, and a Chromatherapy Jacuzzi bathtub. The other has a Queen-sized bed and sliders with direct access to the backyard.
Windsor Park is a bit farther out from downtown — it’s a 15-minute drive to 6th Street — but it has its own cool scene with plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars (don’t miss the old-school, circus-themed Carousel Lounge), as well as the Mueller Blue Starlight Drive-In.
The home allows one pet with prior approval and infants or children over the age of 8. The Airbnb Plus property has availability from March.
Elon Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX, says it’s planning a facility in Austin, Texas.
SpaceX lists two job openings on its website – one for an assembly-and-packaging equipment engineer and another for an automation-and-controls engineer – that will be based at the future Austin location, local outlet KXAN spotted Tuesday. The postings don’t offer details beyond that the new location will be a “manufacturing facility.”
“To keep up with global demand, SpaceX is breaking ground on a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Austin, TX,” the company said in one description.
The automation engineer job, which will focus on SpaceX’s satellite internet business, Starlink, requires that applicants agree to travel to SpaceX’s Los Angeles-area headquarters 25% of the time “until Austin facility is fully established.” SpaceX did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment about when the facility will be finished and what kind of work will happen there.
The company is headquartered in Hawthorne, California, and already has multiple outposts in the Lone Star State. It operates a launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, and a rocket-development facility in Hawthorne, Texas.
A new SpaceX facility in Texas would follow the pattern of Musk resettling his personal life and some of his business to the state, and Austin more specifically.
In late 2020, Musk confirmed that he had moved to Texas following multiple spats with California’s public-health officials over COVID-19 restrictions. Last year, Musk also listed several of his Los Angeles homes for sale and quietly moved his charitable foundation to Texas, Bloomberg first reported.
Last July, Tesla chose Austin as the site of its next US manufacturing plant, which will build its planned electric pickup truck, the Cybertruck. In November, Musk’s tunneling firm, The Boring Company, posted several jobs in the Austin area.
And Musk hasn’t been shy about his bullishness on Austin.
“It’s going to be the biggest boomtown that America has seen in 50 years, at least – megaboom,” Musk said during a February interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast.
Moving is hard enough, but to do it during a pandemic has to be next-level headache-inducing and a huge stress test, so kudos to you.
In case no one else has said it, let me officially welcome you to Austin. When you think of Austin, you probably don’t think your welcoming committee will be led by a Black man, but here I am to welcome you wholeheartedly because I’ve volunteered for the honor.
Truth be told, if I didn’t welcome you, it’s possible no one would. Not unless you’re Elon Musk and Governor Abbott has a smile as wide as the Texas Panhandle or you’re Joe Rogan and every tech bro in Austin is so pumped to point to your move (and Tim Ferriss’ move) here as some kind of stamp of approval that they never needed Silicon Valley. Austin has gone through a great number of years of growth and many of the people who’ve lived here for years -correction: many of the people who’ve paid property taxes or voted against rail bonds in Austin for years – have not been the friendliest to newcomers.
“Don’t California My Texas,” “Don’t Dallas My Austin,” “Thanks for coming to SXSW. Don’t move here,” and all kinds of signs have been spotted around town for some time. Yet, here you are, one of the 100 to 150 new people who moved to Austin today, one of the roughly 35,000 to 50,000 people who moved to Austin this year, and one of the people who some longtime homeowner is griping about increasing their property taxes. I’m sorry in advance for the nimby crowd. They don’t have any manners.
In all honesty, Austin does a better job of welcoming big businesses like Oracle to the city than it does of welcoming working class people and small-business owners who’ve lived here all their lives. The city won’t really cater to you unless you fit into the narrative of a tech billionaire, life-hacking genius, White man and friend of McConaughey, million-dollar-homeowner, or some other big personality moving to Austin. In that case, the red carpet will be unfurled.
But that’s beyond my point. My point in welcoming you is to both invite you to help us longtime Austinites (anyone who was here before you, as you’ll soon learn) in the ever-present, oft-undiscussed process of deciding what kind of city we want and need Austin to be to make sure it isn’t just good for newcomers but also for those of us intending to stay, and also to strongly encourage you to get involved in doing the work of city shaping.
Since at least 2007, Austin has been the fastest-growing metro area in America. This growth has fueled Austin’s economic maturation and increasingly enviable national profile, but it has also fueled widespread gentrification, a decline in local business retention, income disparity, and real estate zoning challenges that are as noticeable as burnt orange hats and T-shirts.
Austin, in many ways, shows the promise and the problem in America. I’ll return to this shortly.
Austin, as a city, has been one of the fastest-growing cities for years because of the University of Texas, a reputable live music and food scene including the Grammy-nominated Black Pumas to the James Beard-nominated Tyson Cole, and a thriving tech and consumer product goods companies that count Indeed, Bumble, Tito’s, and Whole Foods among its winners. Even still, it’s the outerlying areas such as Buda, Georgetown, and Round Rock that have experienced most rapid growth. As more people are forced out of the urban core because of the national attack on the middle class that has manifested here locally through antizoning, antihousing policies, we are giving more and more control over our city to people who want a suburban lifestyle in neighborhoods within a few miles of downtown like Tarrytown, Hyde Park, Bouldin Creek, and Rollingwood.
The tug-of-war between Austin catering to a suburban lifestyle rooted in spacious single-family homes that prevent the kind of zoning changes, housing stock, and transit investments that would ensure long-term affordability and equity versus an urban lifestyle that would ensure adequate emphasis on density and more inclusive housing policies while understanding some policies would have the city confront the State of Texas and its penchant for conservatism on issues ranging from police funding and homelessness to transit and school funding.
In moving to Austin, you didn’t just change your address to a city (and state) with a lower income tax burden, a city (and state) that loves to support business and entrepreneurs, a city (and state) that loves BBQ, music, and sports (despite the lackluster state you find the Longhorns football team, the Cowboys, and the NBA’s Rockets and Spurs in). No, in moving to Austin, you also welcomed yourself to a city that defies some of the beliefs this state pushes upon its residents through gerrymander-protected politics that for years allowed (or forced) Austin to metaphorically hover between adolescence and adulthood, between a college town and a state capitol, between a breakfast taco and sushi, between Red River and Red Bud; a city now firmly beyond its teenaged naiveté and yet not quite into the wisdom of middle age.
People moving to Austin isn’t at all new. People of the Tonkawa Tribe called this area home long before names like (Stephen F.) Austin, (Edwin) Waller, (Mirabeau) Lamar, and (Andrew) Zilker were etched into this city’s civic history. Black people freed from the bondages of slavery called Austin home decades before Dell Computers or Outdoor Voices ever existed, though you wouldn’t think of Austin as a city that once had a 20 or 30 percent Black population. And, in 2002, when Richard Florida published Rise of the Creative Class, Austin was a city that outperformed similar size cities in large part because of droves of creative professionals wanting to live here.
In many ways, Austin of 2020 isn’t all that dissimilar from the Austin of the 1970s that brought creative people like Willie Nelson here or the Austin of the late 1990s that got national attention for software companies like Trilogy. Austin is still a great place to see attractive people gallivanting near a watering hole or trail, still a great place to catch a live music show (once we get through this pandemic), still a place to avoid some of the suburban sprawl of Dallas or Houston, still a place to make fast friends, and still very much a place to enjoy life.
But something has in fact fundamentally changed about Austin over the decades, and new Austinites should be as familiar with these changes as longtime residents. Austin has shed some of the innocence of its youth as a city circa 1970 through 2000 and replaced it with socioeconomic stratification and segregation of its growth, post-2000. I know this as someone who has sampled and dove deeply into lots of versions of life in Austin. From college at UT during the peak Longhorns athletic years (the TJ Ford / Vince Young years) to owning a small business downtown to producing part of SXSW Festival to launching a tech startup to being appointed to the Austin Music Commission to sitting on the boards of various nonprofit boards like Austin PBS and ZACH Theatre, I can wholeheartedly say I’ve seen the many sides of Austin. I’m living in my seventh ZIP code here already and I’ve lived in Austin while working at Domino’s Pizza making $7 an hour and while working for a tech startup making nearly $200,000 a year. I’ve had police pull me over just because and I’ve hosted events raising tens of thousands for charity.
Because of these changes and their impact on what Austin actually is versus what it’s marketed as, I know without a doubt that Austin needs newcomers. Yes, the tech industry is mostly white and male and Austin doesn’t necessarily need more of that, but I’ve also seen a Black VC move here from one of the most prominent firms in Silicon Valley, a Black female entrepreneur who is among the only Black women to raise several million for a startup move here, and a Black film producer who co-produces an award-winning show on HBO move here since March. No one will convince me someone on Scenic Drive’s property taxes going up is more important than these types of people moving here.
Because as a city with one of the largest aging populations per capita and one of the largest under-18 populations per capita, we need people in their 20s and 30s and 40s helping this city figure out how to optimize for everyone and not just blindly creating this awfully segregated and misaligned version of a “cool” city without thinking intersectionally about what Austin can do to create a shared, multigenerational, economically blended, industry agnostic reality that benefits everyone. Selfishly, to me, this means we need more progressive voters coming from Manhattan and Brooklyn and San Francisco and Los Angeles and other cities that will lose some of their grip on jobs and buzz and quality of life for creatives after Covid. I’d also love Austin to be on the international radar.
We need young professionals who don’t just want to fit the mold, but to create the mold as well. We need entrepreneurs with more passion for helping communities than creating monopolies. We need women who want to start and own their own businesses and Black and Hispanic/Latinx creatives who can force deeper integration and inclusion on Austin’s predominately White institutions and gatekeepers across live music, art, nonprofit, and educator sectors. We need White people who know the value of living in a city that isn’t full of only White people. We need wealthy people who value not just the work but the lives and opinions of working-class people. We need newcomers who voted in every election where they used to live to register here and vote routinely here, too. We need nonprofit board members and volunteers from other cities to commit to the work here, too. We need more ethnic food options and more music venues for Black and Latin music and more people living in duplexes and four-plexes and more ways to go out without driving and more nonalcohol entertainment options and more people leading the fight against climate change locally and more young people on nonprofit boards and more people supporting the theater and symphony and library and arts beyond what Spotify, LiveNation, and Instagram are selling.
Austin needed people like Michael Dell and Austin City Limits producer Terry Lickona to move here when they did in the ’80s and ’70s instead of Palo Alto or San Francisco, and we needed people like Kendra Scott and Whitney Wolfe Herd to move here and to build their empires here instead of in Dallas or New York, and there are tens of thousands of nonprofit leaders, educators, designers, musicians, restauranteurs, yoga instructors, artists, and small-business owners without whom this city couldn’t be what it is today.
The values of Austin are not unanimous or commonly publicized but I’ve found there are three that have kept Austin alive and thriving (and fending off competition from cities more rooted in industry and sprawl), and I implore you to make haste and adopt these as your own if you are to give to Austin as much as you take:
1. Local first. Buy local first, support local first, do local first. That goes for your grocery shopping and your nonprofit donations all the way to what restaurants you eat at and where you buy your clothes. Keeping your money in Austin is a great way to keep your connection to Austin and not chase some other city’s ideals while living here.
2. Live here, give here. I’ve touched on it already, but this seriously can’t be understated. Nonprofits, local music venues and musicians, the trails, they all benefit from your realizing this city isn’t what it is without all these people, places, and priorities that make Austin unique.
3. You can flake, but don’t be fake. You wanna know why Austin is so special? The people. We aren’t uptight. We show up. We are quick to smile and quicker to invite, we don’t want to know what you do for a living before we know your name; we may even ask what music you like or what restaurant you like before we know what you do. We haven’t lost our easy going nature yet. I hope we never do. I’ll find you.
These values kept Austin protected from the Great Recession every bit as much as the job and population growth, and they’ll get us out of the pandemic dip quicker than other cities too.
In the earlier part of this millennium, we honestly thought we could afford to lose some of our connection to these values while we mostly embraced all this growth as exciting and rewarding for us residents because it presented itself as music festivals, upscale dining, direct flights to more cities, better-paying jobs for college graduates, and better tips for those in the service industry. More recently, however, we’ve seen the other side of the coin that paid for all that growth, which has become a disconnection from the working-class Austin musician who is passed over for a festival slot by a buzzy band from Silverlake, affordable restaurants that used to be everywhere and now are outside the city or in food trucks, mind-numbing traffic congestion (wait until after the pandemic, you’ll see it), racial segregation exacerbated by rapid development in East Austin, and an over-reliance on the real estate development industry to pass key zoning changes, and a growing dependence on the tech industry – and not the startup kind but the Facebook/Google/Apple/big tech kind – which clearly suffers from a myth of meritocracy and has fewer women and people of color in positions of leadership than sectors like automotive, government, and manufacturing.
As a result, Austin has become a city of far fewer Black residents, a city with a growing penchant for overpriced restaurants and bars replacing working-class establishments owned by Latino and Black business people, and a city in which homelessness is becoming as big an issue downtown as it is in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. I’ll save the city’s Master Plan of 1928 for some other time and spare you the clear evidence of racial bias and profiling by our police department, and just let you know that Austin’s reputation and allure isn’t the same for us all.
You came here for a job, I bet. Or maybe just because you want more space. I’m here to tell you that co-creating the future Austin is now one of your new jobs and all that space should give you plenty of room to make a positive impact.
“Austin offers people the cachet of a cool cultural center and a burgeoning tech hub paying high wages, while still remaining much more affordable than coastal markets like San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle,” Jeff Tucker, a senior economist at Zillow, told Insider’s Natasha Solo-Lyons in December.
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Miraval Austin has 117 guest rooms on 220-acres of land to create a “one-of-a-kind restorative haven.”
Its latest extended stay offer was designed to allow people considering a move to Austin a chance to “test drive the area” before officially committing to a move.
The package starts at $18,504 for a month-long single occupancy stay.
Guests who book the deal will also get four additional nights for free.
The offer also includes a free aromatherapy Swedish massage …
… and $175 nightly credits to use on the resort grounds.
“There has been significant interest in the last week alone, with many phone inquiries and online chat inquiries about extended stays,” Anthony Duggan, area vice president and general manager of Miraval Austin, told Insider in an email statement.
The resort, located by Lake Travis, is about a 30 minute drive to Austin.
This means anyone staying at the hotel under its new package will be able to easily explore the nearby city.
Miraval also offers Austin-focused features that can be seen throughout its decor and meals, according to the hotel.
However, living at the Miraval resort for a month would probably be much more luxurious than living in a typical Austin apartment.
For starters, most apartment buildings in Austin probably don’t offer unlimited smoothies, coffee, or teas like Miraval does.
The hotel also has a catalog of “restorative outdoor activities” for its guests.
This includes a “challenge course,” hikes, yoga, and horseback riding.
And Miraval’s list of on-site activities doesn’t just stop at outdoor adventures.
Unlike most hotels near a major city, Miraval was designed to be a “spa destination” with different wellness programs.
This emphasis on wellness can be seen throughout its lineup of other resort experiences.
This includes Miraval’s list of culinary, “creative expression,” and “spirit and soul” offerings …
… as well as a variety of spa-related activities, including “body renewal rituals.”
Want to learn how to play with shadows for your Instagram photos? Miraval has an experience for that.
Looking for someone to help you through difficult times? Hit up the hotel’s wellness counselor or spirit guide.
Bee enthusiasts can also learn how to become a beekeeper on the hotel’s property.
If all of this sounds enticing to you, Miraval’s extended stay offer also includes a shuttle to bring guests to and from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
The coronavirus pandemic upended American life this past spring and summer, driving millions to move in search of more comfortable work-from-home locales and greener pastures.
Analyzing US Postal Service data, MyMove found that almost 16 million Americans moved between February and July. Mail-forwarding requests to USPS made in that time frame show that moving Americans mostly fled urban cores and relocated to more suburban areas.
Some moves were short-term. Temporary change-of-address requests to the US Post Office were up 27% in 2020 versus 2019. Permanent change-of-address requests were up 2% from last year.
Requests from the height of the pandemic largely show that Americans were moving away from cities and toward less densely populated suburbs. New York City lost over 110,000 residents from February to July, according to USPS. Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles lost thousands, too.
Texas, however, gained thousands of residents amid the pandemic.
Of the top 10 places that gained residents per USPS, six were located in Texas. All were suburbs of the state’s largest cities: Houston, Dallas, and Austin.
While it seems like everyone is moving to the Lone Star State, other locations in Florida and Idaho made the list, along with a tony Hamptons neighborhood in New York state.
Keep reading for a look at the most popular locales Americans decamped to this year: