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Relocating to Austin Takes Cojones and Connections

Written By Molly Hitchings | Mar 10, 2015

During one of my first job interviews in Austin, I was asked, “tell me something unique about yourself.” I responded, “I’m from California!” My interviewer shook his head and replied, “everyone is from California…”

Living in Austin for the past eight months, I’ve met maybe four people who are actually from here. Everyone I meet is in the same boat–new to town and looking for a job. Searching for the perfect career can be a full-time job in itself. It can be discouraging, exhausting, and exciting, but once you find that perfect fit in this amazing city, everything else seems to fall into place.

I never really thought about moving to Austin as taking guts…it just seemed like the right thing to do; the next step in my life following college graduation. Now that I’m here, it’s hit me that packing up and leaving everything I knew does take some cojones.

It gets lonely after college. For the first time in four years, I’m not surrounded by 20,000 kids my age looking for friends to go to the beach with, or dress up and cheer on the school’s soccer team. People have real jobs, families, and some already have an established friend group. No one needs a 22-year-old California transplant to go grab coffee with. Or sometimes that’s how it feels.

I moved to Austin with my best friend from college. We made two trips to Texas before we graduated, and when June rolled around, we had the U-Haul packed up and ready to make the 27-hour drive from San Luis Obispo to Austin. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke…“What do you get when you take a blonde, a red head, and a 7-month-old kitten driving a U-Haul half way across America?”Around hour 22, somewhere along the never-ending Highway 10, the move did seem like one big bad joke.

We arrived at 11pm in the middle of a Texas summer, and I thought we might turn around and go back to SLO. It was 100 degrees, about 150% humidity, and we had to unpack the entire U-Haul to get our beds out of the back. I arrived in Austin unemployed, but had hope that I would find something soon.

Since I moved in July, I’ve had four jobs. Some were part-time, some full-time, but all of them helped me realize what I did and didn’t want in my future. I didn’t want to be in an environment where I was underutilized and uncomfortable. I did want to be around people that made me smile, and felt that I was doing work that mattered. I don’t regret pursuing a single opportunity, but now that I am settled in with a company that I appreciate, and that makes me feel appreciated, my standards are set high.

Whenever I do have a moment of weakness, and feel homesick for my family, friends, and the Pacific Ocean, I look around and recognize that 80% of the people walking the streets of downtown Austin are new transplants as well, experiencing the same things that I am. Here are a few stories that prove that you’re not as alone as you feel:

Montana Sparkman | Graphic Artist | From Long Beach, California
I moved to Austin in May of 2014. I had never stepped foot in Texas before crossing the border in my car. My overall relocation from Southern California to Austin went fairly smoothly, however, given that I didn’t know a single person here or have a job officially lined up when I arrived. I was able to find work fairly quickly at Trader Joe’s, a hometown staple of mine, as a sign artist. During my first few months, I was able to build some connections through work, and through local designers I follow on Instagram, for meet ups and small events.

My hometown of Long Beach, CA is a pretty diverse and eclectic city with a lot of events and social gatherings to meet new people and be involved with. The nice thing about Austin is that it caters nicely to the same type of lifestyle. The music scene in Austin is nonstop, the night life is vibrant, and yet the speed at which the city operates is pretty laid back. Austin gives off the small town feel with the beginnings of a bigger metropolitan center lightly sprinkled throughout. It’s a rad city to be living in during its transformation.

For people looking to move to Austin, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone. The people here are excited to share and direct you to new places, or help find the next cool thing to go check out. The pretentious attitude of big city inhabitants is almost nonexistent here and it shows. Since moving to Austin, I have only grown to love it more and more, and there is no way anyone can not love this city.

Josh Harwell | Account Executive | From Chicago, Illinois
Relocation for me was easy, since most people who live in Austin aren’t from the area. My advice would be to look into the neighborhoods and find one that fits your style. There are so many different, great areas to live, so it will make the experience and transition that much easier if you find the one that best fits you.

The great thing about Austin is all of the up-and-coming companies that can put you in a position to grow and succeed. It’s important to do research on companies and their culture, because with the list of outstanding options, you don’t want to sell yourself short.

Emily Branson | Social Media Manager | From Reno, Nevada
My relocation to Austin was overwhelming, stressful, and incredibly exciting all at the same time. It was mostly just excitement before the move, but the process of moving and adjusting was a little overwhelming.

There are a lot of factors that go into living a fulfilling and successful life in a new city: friends (making new ones and keeping in touch with the old), activities, and probably most important: your job. Mine was totally not what I expected, nor was it what I wanted, which leads to my advice.

My advice would be to really test the waters before choosing and accepting a job. Know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Know the culture, know the inner-workings of the company, know the communication model, and know the potential for both personal and company-wide growth. As cheesy as it sounds, find a job that will make you happy and push you to do your very best at work every day!


 

With a never-ending list of things to do, a booming job market, and some of the friendliest people in the country, it’s no surprise that 100 people move to Austin every day. My advice is to not get discouraged, be persistent, and try to meet the 99 other people who arrive on your moving day.

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