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Dear Austinites, You Have Permission to Move to an Affordable, Weird City: Houston

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Sums it up quite nicely.   

My brother is a very well known and accomplished blues musician in Austin and has made his way as a professional musician in Austin since arriving there in 1990.   In August the Mayor will be declaring a day in his name.  However, a couple months ago he had to leave the city and moved to Buda.  He can no longer afford it in the city.  Very few of the musicians can.  Last month, he started playing music in front of live audiences again...and it was in over here in Galveston (Old Quarter), Woodlands (Dosey Doe) and two shows at Mucky Duck.   My brother works very hard at keeping Austin vibrant and alive, but he is also are reading the writing on the wall.   

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Same author wrote an article urging politicians to build an Ike dike, citing the prospect of a 20 ft storm surge tossing around giant oil tanks along the Houston ship channel and creating an epic environmental disaster.  Houston real estate will always be cheaper than Austin because everything floods here.  Even if you luck out and live somewhere that doesn't flood, you just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time to lose your car to a flood.  My house in the Heights does not flood.  But I parked around the corner one afternoon and a sudden downpour filled the street with water flooding my car.  

The desirable neighborhoods in Houston are not far off from the pricing in the hot neighborhoods in Austin.  Same for the burbs with the top schools and neighborhood amenities.  Houston really only looks significantly cheaper when you throw out statistics like median home price.  Austin's gentrification has gone farther and wider than Houston's.  So, Austin's median is much higher.  But the reality on the ground is that there are no big housing bargains in Houston, unless you want to live next to an oil refinery or in a 60s rambler with a wavy foundation and crappy schools.  

Yes, Austin's real estate market is hotter than Houston's right now and if you are a young attorney at a big law firm you have a better chance at finding a nice house in Houston than having to compete with Silicon Valley tech millionaires looking for a second home in Austin.  But for everyone else, there really isn't a huge difference that would justify fleeing Austin for the swamp.

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