Austin thinks of iteself as 3rd coast, and values eclectic, local uniqueness. There are suburban neighborhoods that offer everything you could want from a surburban family lifestyle, retirement commuities, as well as the university and urban experiences. A river runs through it.
I like Austin best, and am glad to live in such a culturally diverse metroplex.
They were by the atmosphere here as well as the lower humidity, the outdoors lifestyle with fitness, boating, fishing, music venues (so many live ones here), and great places to eat. best of all the people are great..
Best thing to figure out is "how do you like to like and what are your interests", once that is figured out you will have your answer.
If you want the quite, private rural life close to the city - we have that too.. You can live within 30 minutes of downtown (not during rush hour) and that lifestyle is available. How do you want to live??
Let me know if this has been helpful and how I can best assist with your decisions..
Not sure where the thought came from that you are moving from Southern California, it doesn't appear in your question. It would be helpful though, to know where you're coming from so that we can provide a more complete comparison, not just between cities, but also to where you live now.
I've lived in Houston, Northern and Southern California, and the midwest, in small and large cities. People diss Houston a lot, but that's typically from people who don't live there, or who moved elsewhere. Yes, it is relatively flat, sitting on ancient coastal plains, and it is further south and closer to the Gulf of Mexico, so it will also be hotter and more humid. It's a big city, 6th largest in the country, and is second only to New York City in the number of Fortune 500 headquarters. It has an international element, arts, entertainment, sports, and overall diversity of cultures and activities that is not available in Austin. This is not to diss Austin, it's just that Houston is big city, that offers things on par with other cities its size. Many, many people like it, and want what it has to offer.
Austin on the other hand, as many here have already commented on, is much more hilly, due to the Balcones Fault and the geological formations to the west, that create what we call the Hill Country. I do not believe it will ever come close to living in California, and while we like to think we have big city offerings, if you've lived in a big city, I think you'll quickly realize we are still a relatively small town, with somewhat of a small town feel. This too is preferred by many people, avoiding many of the big city headaches, although our traffic is probably on par with many of the traffic issues in Houston.
We have a strong offering of choices in education, including the nations 1st or 2nd largest university located downtown (we trade positions with Ohio State); we have a strong technology based job market (second to only a small handful of other cities); we are politically active on both sides of the aisle (Travis county is considered a bluish county in a red state); oddly, on a per capita basis, we have a very large urban population and vibrant downtown area that is growing rapidly; and our city government and police force have done an excellent job at curbing the undesirable element (much more so than almost any city our size). But we do lack the choices of activities of a city like Houston. We have no major league sports teams, we have a dearth of museums, and outside of a strong music focus, honestly, our arts and entertainment are simply not on par with a city the size of Houston. But, it's a tradeoff that many people are willing to make to get a smaller town feel.
Note, the city itself only recently passed 700K in population, but the areas population is considerably larger and very spread out (this is an advantage to keeping the small town feel, but plays havoc with traffic), with a large base of the 1.7+M total population located in Round Rock to the northeast (HQs to Dell), Cedar Park to the northwest, and a host of other small towns.
If your Trulia profile name is indicative of your career or passion, while I love Austin and wouldn't live anywhere else in Texas, I think you'll find more choices for this career/passion in Houston. If you want a smaller town feel, more connection to the folks around you, but with a growing offering in the arts and entertainment, along with a better overall outdoor experience, then Austin is your place to be.
Checkout Wikipedia for any city your considering to get a good overall perspective. Then visit both over an extended weekend, not to house hunt, but just to enjoy what each has to offer. Only then can you really make a more informed decision.
If I can help in any way, don't hesitate to contact me, even just for more perspective on each.
Austin is fun - and we manage to get a lot of business done. Houston is... well I know it's humid, the water tastes like oil, and if you ever think Austin traffic is bad Houston will cure your thoughts.
I am sure there is a lot to love about Houston, but the clients I have served who were from Houston - every single one - had been waiting for their chance to come to Austin.
There is The Woodlands with tall pines just north of Houston - a beautiful area.
West of the Balcones Fault (roughly a mile west of IH-35 running parallel) in Austin we have hills with shorter live oaks, cedar elm, juniper, madrone, etc. Our hills are better described as rounded canyons - level tops with rolling valleys.
Live music, outdoor everything (lakes, golf, running, biking, festivals....), great restaurants with most meals under $15, active churches, and we still have a large dose of southern hospitality.
I wish we had a ski mountain with a trout stream though.
Residential & Commercial Realtor
Marotz Realty Partners
A Chartreuse Plains Company
Joe Jarusinsky, Realtor/Master Instructor, Keller Williams Realty, Austin Tx. 512-261-4415
Since 1997, I have been living at the edge of the Hill Country, 22 miles from downtown. I am around the corner from Lake Travis and Lake Austin and yet still within 45 minutes from downtown.
We love it of 620, between Lakeway and Bee Caves. The schools are great, the lifestyle is great.
I visit Houston every now and than but have no desire of ever living there.
Good luck deciding.
Austin is the birth place of Whole Foods Market, host city of the SXSW and ACL festivals and Circuit of the Americas F1 racing beginning Nov 2012, and home to the University of Texas.
If you are interested I'd be happy to send you out a relocation guide, all I need is an address and your contact information.
ERA Bettinger Realtors, Inc.