I just came back from visiting my parents over the Easter Weekend. I had dinner with my cousins and there is a question that is always asked, “would you ever move back here?”, to which I always answer “no.” I love Austin and don’t intend to move anytime soon, much less back to the Rio Grande Valley. This time they asked, “Would you ever move from Austin?” I answered, “Only to a bigger city.” This got surprised looks from the couple that asked that (their eyes bulged I think). “Bigger than Austin!”
Austin’s kind of a little big city. We’re smaller than our neighbor San Antonio, we don’t qualify in terms of population for a major sports franchise, though we do pack Royal Memorial Stadium every weekend with 45K people (or more if we’re winning). But we still feel like a small town.
Not to beat up on where I grew up, but they just don’t have what I need down there. I tried looking up comic shops and bookstores and didn’t find many beyond Barnes and Noble and Waldenbooks in the malls. Half-price books may have started in Dallas, but I have 3 that I shop regularly in Austin. I could not live without Half-price Books. I rent my movies from I Luv Video for the most part, though I have been known to use Redbox (which is pretty much your only choice in the RGV – the local video store went out of business in my hometown last year). I shop 2 different comic shops here, there are others but I love Austin Books and Dragon’s Lair. There was one sad one in Harlingen that I visited, though I think the one in McAllen is still in business (but I wasn’t going to drive all the way over there.)
I can’t imagine only being able to watch movies in a regular theater. Correction: it would be a nightmare to watch a movie in a regular theater down there. I can’t watch a movie anywhere but the Alamo Drafthouse (now that they’re opening one in Manhattan I may finally move). No children running through aisles, no talking, no cell phone ringing randomly. Alamo is how movies are meant to be seen. And I didn’t even mention the food and beer (or getting Makers and Coke at the Ritz – movies and liquor are where it’s at).
When it comes to food, the Valley does have big cities beat. My sister and I took our parents to a great restaurant called La Playa that has some of the best fajitas anywhere, and we paid $60 total with tip. That’s 4 full meals and to-go boxes! Part of the reason I’m single is that meals cost $60 for 2 people here.
The cost of living down there is WAAAY better than it is here. For the price of a crappy 2 bedroom in Austin you can get a luxurious 4 bed/4 bath with a lot of yard in front and back. But you have to live in the RGV.
The RGV is a great place, and a great place to raise kids, but it’s just not for me. Books are really important to me, so is a good film watching experience and the ability to access great foreign films. Not to mention Austin’s great bars, clubs, music venues, playhouses, comedy club, and independently owned stores.
Only cities have these all in one place. So that’s where I have to make my home. Sorry, Mom and Dad.