A Newcomer’s Guide to Being a Newcomer in Austin

  • May 3, 2011
  • INK Team

This post comes to you from Jessica  Warren, the newest addition to INK.  We’ll get her pretty little headshot on the blog as soon as possible!

I’m two months in. Two thrilling months in Austin, after spending my years in New York (Long Island) and Washington, D.C. While I’m still new to the city, I think I’ve gotten a pretty good grasp of my new hometown. Now I’m trying to crack the Austinite code and really become a local.

In my quest to decipher Austin, I’ve developed a vault of newfound newcomer wisdom. I thought I’d share this wisdom with the world and any future newcomers, as I’m sure the mass migration of youthful-tech-and-music-centric-artsy-folk to Austin will only continue.

Austinites are foodies.
With an inconceivable amount of bars and restaurants per capita, it’s no wonder that Austinites love food. Upon stepping foot in Austin, you’ll learn the difference between Inner Mexican and Tex Mex. You’ll try margaritas made with unexpected ingredients. You’ll attempt a mental list of restaurants to try, but you’ll soon be overloaded and forget all the names—yet somehow Austinites know the ins and outs of restaurants around the world. Furthermore, many Austinites can rank their favorite destinations for specific food items; just ask INK’s Allison Glass for a complete list and analysis of Austin’s best eggs benedict dishes.

Austinites are fit.
Not only are they fit, but they are in peak physical condition and have probably run a marathon or two. Need proof? Join the running rush hour around Lady Bird Lake each evening, start counting fitness shops, or read more of FRESH INK: Rachael is training for a triathlon, and nearly every INKer has participated in the Austin Marathon.

You will struggle to fit into number 1 and 2.
Happy hour or a work out? The Austin conundrum.

Austin has a traffic problem, and you will hear about it frequently.
Long-time residents of Austin will blame the traffic on newcomers such as me. This is a valid point, considering that Austin ranks 5th most moved-to city in the country this year. You, too, will complain about the traffic, but you’ll need to avoid pointing fingers in order to avoid getting blamed again. I think Austin residents just need a few hours in New York City traffic to soothe the complaints.

Approximately one-third of all car decorations, shirts, shorts, hats and key chains you see each day will feature the Longhorns logo.

Another third will feature the slogan, “Keep Austin Weird.”
Apparently it’s not just for tourists. Either that, or the tourists get sucked in and stay. Both are valid.

Zip codes are important.
Austinites know the various Austin zip code boundaries, each of which has a unique personality, and they talk about their personal zip code with a nationalistic pride.

Lady Bird Lake is not a river.
It looks like one, but it is not one. I called it a river for at least a week. Don’t be fooled.

But there are pianos on the bridges and paths surrounding the lake.
Yes, it’s true. I thought it was a rumor until I heard music coming from nowhere on the South 1st bridge. They are parts of a temporary art installation and will sadly be removed in May.

You cannot sound out Austin street names.
Many of the street names throughout the city are not pronounced like you think they would be. Mispronounce these and you will be pinpointed the naïve newcomer. Learn them and you’ll be on the right track:

Guadalupe = Guah-da-LOOP-eh Guah-da-LOOP.

Manor = MA-nor MAY-nor.

Manchaca = Man-CHAH-cah MAN-chack.

Burnet = Bur-NEHT BUR-nit.

It is hot.
I now consider 80 degrees a cool day.

It’s not called “seltzer” or “nacho cheese dip.”
Calling soda water “seltzer” gets me stares and glares like I stepped out of the 19th century, and while I find it funny that everyone called it “queso,” I don’t dare to question.

There you have it, some newfound wisdom on Austin and Austinites. Stay tuned as I continue my quest to becoming a true local.


Piano on the 1st Street Pedestrian Bridge


2 responses to “A Newcomer’s Guide to Being a Newcomer in Austin”

  1. Colton says:

    Absolutely love this. I just moved to Austin (one month) and very thankful that this mentions Lady Bird Lake as an actual lake. Definitely guilty of calling it a river.

  2. adrienne says:

    Although it’s called a lake, I think it’s technically a “reservoir” of the Colorado River… So no one should give you too much grief for calling it a river. Also, it is 100% appropriate and Austin-y to say “north of the river” or “south of the river.” (E.g. Some South Austinites say that you’d have to be crazy to live north of the river.)

Other good stuff in here