Top 10 Reasons Why Austin Basically Sucks

Austin, Texas: it’s a city overflowing with great music, great BBQ and lots of friendly (and awesomely weird!) people. Just one problem: it sucks.

Once upon a time, Austin was an unknown gem nestled in the heart of Texas. The only problem with Austin is that a bunch of very sucky things are now starting to happen to this city, which suddenly makes Austin a far more complicated proposition. For many, Austin kinda sucks these days.

Here are just a few of the nagging problems, according to the honest natives who shared some of their issues.

(1) SXSW

The world’s most gigantic music festival is really fun, especially if you’re making the choice to visit.  Unfortunately, most Austin natives now systematically avoid major parts of the city while the multi-week SXSW chaos ensues.

And it’s getting worse: a growing number of locals are now taking multi-week or month-long vacations away from Austin just to avoid SXSW.  Others are cashing in on Airbnb, while others struggle through their otherwise-normal routines.  “You have people coming in from San Antonio for SXSW now,” one native explained.

“It’s just too big.”

(2) Every other big festival or event besides SXSW.

Because it’s not just SXSW, according to one person who calls Austin home.  Instead, the city has smartly struck gold by hosting a number of big events, including Austin City Limits (ACL).  Which means, thronged hotels, out-of-towner traffic jams, and packed flights are becoming more and more commonplace.

(3) It’s not THAT cheap anymore.

Yes, Austin remains vastly cheaper than the Upper West Side, Santa Monica or SoMA.  But compared to other US cities, Austin’s cost of living is noticeably more expensive and creeping upward.

(4) The highways have become quite congested.

No, not LA congested, but not exactly an escape from ‘big city’ traffic jams.  “The exits are designed badly and always jammed,” one native complained, while noting that many Austinites actually deny that a growing gridlock problem exists.

Another pointed to seriously-long commutes across the Austin expanse, just like those bigger cities you hate.  “If you’re trying to cross the Colorado River, it can be a nightmare,” while another pointed to “90 minute commutes” as not unheard of.

(5) Public transportation remains hit-and-miss.

We’ve heard mixed things on this topic.  One pointed to a great, newly-constructed light rail system and good bus coverage, but a lot depends on your A and B.  In many cases, you still have to drive (see #3).

(6) It’s still surrounded by Texas.

So there’s the whole “it’s really not like the rest of Texas thing,” which appeals to Yankees and is true much of the time.  But those disliking Texas find themselves only partially insulated by Austin ‘weird’ liberalism. And if you aren’t a ‘weird’ liberal, then yes, Austin kinda sucks.

(7) But wait: what’s wrong with Texas?

All all the heavy expectations of hipness, weirdness, and ‘we’re not Texas’ taking their toll?  The bigger this city gets on the international stage, the more complex that relationship becomes. “When you’re trying to set yourself apart from a place as large and as bold as Texas, you have to work really, really hard,” snarked HuffPo writer David Landsel.  “Which could explain why everyone walks around here looking so stressed.”

(8) Flights suck.

Cities like LA, San Francisco, and New York are way more expensive to live in, but at least you can get a direct flight to pretty much anywhere you need to go.  That is, without unnecessary hassle, delays, connections, or expense.

(9) The summers are sweltering.

Nice weather comes with supremely hot summers, where AC and pool-dunking is mandatory.  Which costs a lot of money: “I couldn’t afford AC when I graduated,” one denizen relayed.  “I’d sleep naked with the windows open, and still wake up sweating.”

So if you hate sweltering heat, then yes — Austin sucks badly.

(10) Everyone plays in three bands.

If you love music, it can be strange dealing with way too much of it.  One music-loving local admitted that there’s just too much live music of the mediocre variety, and sometimes, you just want to talk and eat with music in the background.

Others draw a strange parallel to LA, where everyone’s an actor waiting for a big break.  “‘He plays drums in three bands’ is something you run into a lot,” one resident quipped.

19 Responses

    • Randall

      1 reason why the internet is full of $hit and hack Journalism:
      – LISTS

    • Visitor

      SXSW is now officially Austin’s bid to become Silicon Valley South. SXSW Interactive is a week long beat down on the musicians and the record business designed to bring tech companies to Austin.
      So I can’t say I disagree with this article, but I still love Austin. I visit family frequently there and sans for SXSW I don’t find the city to be that much of a problem any other time of the year.
      Summers are brutal, but no more than say Arizona or New Mexico, or even Lousianna for that fact (talk about a sweatfest).

      Austin is turing into a little California blending parts of So Cal entertainment and parts of Nor Cal technology businesses. That makes it attractive to many young people.

  1. Visitor

    I won’t say Austin has jump the shark but there’ s a lot of truth to what ‘s being said here. I will say I do know a lot of people that bounce out competely for March which does suck.

  2. englandia

    At first,I thought the reasons were ordered in descending order of significance,but then saw ‘Still surrounded by Texas’ right down at 6.

  3. ChuckSplatt

    As a 12-year Austin resident, I can confirm these are all real issues. The city is growing faster than it can build, and the existing infrastructure doesn’t scale well. That said, it’s still a pretty awesome place to live, but it is experiencing some considerable growing pains.
    One thing the article should probably mention: we are running out of water. Drought + growing population is resulting in everyone here having to take water saving measures, such as watering our lawns only once a week and only during certain hours of the day. I just flew back into town this past weekend and got to see an ariel view of Lake Travis. It is really sad looking.

    • Visitor

      Drought + growing population is resulting in everyone here having to take water saving measures, such as watering our lawns only once a week and only during certain hours of the day.

      Oh how horrible! Poor grass is thirsty.
      I need it green!

    • Visitor

      Dude, that seriously blows! You actually have to think about your water usage? What is this, some sort of third world country?

  4. Visitor

    I am not trying to be toocoolforschool but sxsw became overcommercialized around 1995

  5. Austin is majorly overrated

    The music scene is great, but like anything too much of one thing makes a city one dimensional. Austin is essentially one big Williamsburg but without decent mass transit or the diversity of NYC. It’s the L.A. version of the music industry with traffic and smog, but in Texas with unbearable humidity and a brown ocean. Be prepared to be force fed organic + hipster + ‘independent’ whatever (political, small biz, persona) + a slew of mediocre music to sift through.

  6. Visitor

    I don’t live in the United States. Can I watch sessions from this festival online somewhere? The official website is a mess.

  7. Chris

    You should add in the very few international flights that stop in Austin – meaning that international guests have to fly to Dallas or some other tiny airport where the wait in immigration and customs can be 3 – 4 hours!US needs to sort it out asap or international guests will stop attending events like SXSW

  8. John

    The yuppies/newcomers have ruined Austin with the skyrocketing high prices,especially the ridiculously over priced rent on apartments and small homes.I had no choice but to move to my family’s home in Lago Vista because of this.

  9. The Power Elite

    “Austin was cool in the 90’s” – Hipster Austinite

  10. Rory Breaker

    Austin is over.
    It is nothing more than an empty shell of its own former greatness.
    The yuppies joined forces with the hipsters and this town is now Aus Angeles.

  11. Anonymous

    No, the main reason Austin sucks is because it’s infested with stuck-up yuppies, hipsters, & beatnicks. They drive the cost of living up on everything