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Which City Is The Next Austin?


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Most of us are snowed in and bored so I’m hoping this can provide a little diversion. Which city will be the next Austin in terms of growth?

For a little perspective, Austin had 345,000 people in 1980. We are now basically at a million. The metro area is now at 2.2 million.

But growth isn’t just about people, there has been a mass migration of tech companies and just money in general. Real estate prices aren’t in the same stratosphere as even 20 years ago.

We haven’t attracted a major sports franchise, although I think MLS will eventually be a really big deal. But that’s another thing that could be factored in.

So, who are the top candidates and why? I’m not talking about a city with 200k that can go to 400k. I’m talking about turning into a major city with tall buildings, major companies, pro sports, etc.

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I like the Boise answer, it appears to already be on its way there with the movement from CA. 
 

I think Boulder might have a chance, still only 100k people and with the new work anywhere tech industry we are looking at I think it has a chance. 

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I'm kind of curious whether we see some tech spillover into San Antonio. 

A lot of the California tech veterans that are moving to Austin for cheaper real estate have had a rude awakening in 2021. 

Outside of Texas I agree with those suggesting university towns in Colorado. 

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I thought it was going to be Nashville. Still could be, but COVID-19 definitely seemed to slow their momentum. Still with Amazon bringing in the de facto HQ2 lite after the Long Island City fiasco as well as it becoming a destination for young, smart southeastern types who are too hip for Buckhead/Atlanta, it was getting a lot of Old Austin, buzz and energy, especially around the Gulch from what I say 2017-2019. They are still only ~700k population and could get to 1mm like Austin I guess, but they already have major sports, so do they count?

Boise I mentioned on another thread has historically been hamstrung with having a population, and university, which is mediocre. Boise State is ranked like a Texas Tech I think (or worse). But maybe with the expats in California bringing some of those Stanford/UCX brains they can build out (or maybe have already?) a solid foundation. One thing that I think has helped Austin grow the past 30 years is the trajectory of growth, businesses, etc. matched the growth in UT evolving from a decent/average state school to a globally ranked reputation. Boise just doesn't have that foundation and a young, smart (and cheap labor) person factory.

Salt Lake City does. So I guess my vote goes to SLC. though it's metro pop. is already like 1.3mm, and they've already carved out a nice little niche reputation in tech, so not sure that counts.

In both Utah and Idaho's case, while still very liberal compared to Texas, there are definitely conservative areas and way more political diversity than in California which is probably integral for the next boom city (e.g. favorable tax situations, pro-business, etc. while still being socially liberal and Patagonia-vest friendly).

I thought Omaha or Des Moines would eventually grow up a little bit as well and get some legacy modernization religion but they don't seem to make any noise outside of like the insurance industry or food industries.

I've also heard both Columbia and Charleston, SC are doing well with attracting young, smart folks and becoming a growing area in the same vein as Nashville, in that it's an Atlanta alternative for people who don't want to deal with what Atlanta has become/is becoming. CapGemini just opened a world-class delivery center in Columbia which rivals anything I've seen in any "real" city, for example and I know it's a school that is on nobody in Texas' radar or relationship/social circle, but apparently U of SoCarolina is a pretty decent school with a well respected undergrad business school.

I wish I knew or had a strong point of view on the next Austin though, because I'd buy up some property and retire in 20 years.

Edited by DonkeyCigars
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Just now, Buzzrock said:

Rule out any place with consistent shitty winters.

Yep. People from those states are driving a lot of the growth to the Sunbelt states.

An interesting and semi related article below.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/this-southern-town-was-growing-so-fast-it-passed-a-ban-on-growth-11580738467?st=5ip5qv10spesv0v&mod=pkt_ff

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There's one thing that attracts companies above all else...the availability of potential employees.  A few years ago, there was an article that had polled companies on why they relocated and tax cuts and benefits didn't even make the top 10.  Far and away the number one answer was it was a place that attracted the employees they needed.

I think driving that would be a solid education base from K-12 (attractive to families) and higher education (multiple universities with graduates to draw from).  Say what you will about the shit pockets of schools, overall, the Austin area has some really strong performers in the K-12 area.  Obviously, Texas is the big dog for higher education but there's also many other universities within a short distance constantly pumping out graduates looking to move to Austin.

What'll be interesting is that if remote working is here to stay, will you see any more big boom cities built on tech companies with the exception of those with manufacturing?  Future companies may just all be HQ'd in Delaware or offshore with the majority of employees remote. 

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8 hours ago, DonkeyCigars said:

I thought it was going to be Nashville. Still could be, but COVID-19 definitely seemed to slow their momentum. Still with Amazon bringing in the de facto HQ2 lite after the Long Island City fiasco as well as it becoming a destination for young, smart southeastern types who are too hip for Buckhead/Atlanta, it was getting a lot of Old Austin, buzz and energy, especially around the Gulch from what I say 2017-2019. They are still only ~700k population and could get to 1mm like Austin I guess, but they already have major sports, so do they count?

I would have said Nashville but I think they are already there. The Nashville metro area is already 2M people and they have pro sports. I do think it is a area that will still see significant short term growth though much like the last 5-10 years in Austin 

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 Would say Nashville doesn’t count and I could have titled the thread “the next Austin/Nashville”. Salt Lake City is already there too.

Huntsville is an interesting choice. Population is 200k city and 450k metro. It’s in the south so it’s better weather but you have to eventually convince coastal people to move to Alabama. Austin had the cool factor to pull it off that a lot of other southern cities don’t have. 

San Antonio is too big to count for my original question, but I could see them continuing to grow and maybe even pick up the pace. Cost of living is still low and may parts of the city are getting nicer. Austin housing prices are getting crazy so I’m thinking some transplants might opt for San Antonio. 

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Ashville and Charleston are good suggestions. I think Chattanooga is worth mentioning, along with Lexington, Ky. Each has its differences with Austin, but potential for growth. Charleston and Lexington are the only cities on my list with relatively large colleges. Not very familiar with cities out west though.

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Other, random names, to consider

Chattanooga TN
Lexington KY
Grand Rapids MI
Spokane WA


major universities nearby, on major hwy, with in an few hour of major cities,

 

places it won't be - Flint, Beaumont (Pt Arthur, Orange), Gary Indiana, anywhere in New England, 

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19 minutes ago, KYHorn said:

Ashville and Charleston are good suggestions. I think Chattanooga is worth mentioning, along with Lexington, Ky. Each has its differences with Austin, but potential for growth. Charleston and Lexington are the only cities on my list with relatively large colleges. Not very familiar with cities out west though.

 

17 minutes ago, Wally Fairway said:

Other, random names, to consider

Chattanooga TN
Lexington KY
Grand Rapids MI
Spokane WA


major universities nearby, on major hwy, with in an few hour of major cities,

 

places it won't be - Flint, Beaumont (Pt Arthur, Orange), Gary Indiana, anywhere in New England, 

Beat ya by 3 minutes, but I agree. Lexington has lots of outdoor/nature-based activities all around, including world-class rock climbing at the Red River Gorge, and the KY capital is nearby, along with other growing areas like Richmond. There's some tech already in the area (not a ton) and interest in the eastern KY area is growing in the tech industry (see App Harvest, for example). There are also a lot of pretty strong colleges in and around Lexington.

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I forgot about Chattanooga. There is a growing contingent of folks living in Chatt, TN but who commute to the northern burbs of Atlanta (Alpharetta->Sandy Springs) for work. It can be it's own thing, but also a bedroom community for Atlanta workers is my point.

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1 hour ago, dingleberryswitzer said:

If I had the extra cash I'd buy land in and around San Marcos.  

I know it's probably not cheap now but it's a city that has a ton of room to grow.

 


35 between Georgetown and SA has already blown up. East side of 35 has business growth potential as everyone wants to be west of 35 

Edited by tx 3 putt
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Just moved from Austin to Raleigh with the move largely hinging on finding a new job in tech (product owner). I didn't look all over the place, but I did look in a lot of places and was enamored with the idea of Asheville as an Austin a bit further back on the curve (which is how it feels when I visit). The jobs are in Raleigh and Charlotte. Could be that looking for product owner/technical program management type positions skews larger org, and looking for jobs in spring/summer of 2020 also skews larger org, and larger org skews more established hub, but there was a stark difference between the number of potential positions in the research triangle (raleigh-durham-chapel hill) and Charlotte as compared to Asheville. Similar true for Charlottesville vs Richmond or Northern Virginia (which is all government shit anyways).

I did notice a lot of stuff in SLC, and... I definitely was filtering jobs in Idaho out as soon as I saw them but it feels like I saw a lot of Boise too.

Just some anecdotes. As for Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, I think it has some elements of Austin stuff but is also on a different track. My experience is skewed by pandemic and being 35 explicitly trying to move to suburbs (briefly lived in Cary before buying a house in Wake Forest), but Raleigh feels nice and cool and not particularly weird.

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I loved Chattanooga downtown when I visited, but the neighborhood situation is fucked. The good ones are up huge hills, which makes any easy trip to downtown untenable, and the other good ones are far as shit. The ones close to downtown besides North Chattanooga are ghetto. We looked at moving there but turned off by neighborhood situation. 

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On 2/19/2021 at 8:01 AM, Neonmoon said:

My guess is Huntsville, Alabama

Keeps growing. jobs moving there. 

This.

Also, Bentonville/Bella Vista/Fayetteville Ar is blowing the fuck up right now.

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Lexington and Chattanooga have been on my list for decades now. As mentioned, Atlanta has grown far enough out to where you can commute to northern suburbs. Chatt is not that much further to the southeastern burbs of Nashville, too. In either case, you've got those two big cities an easy drive away for shopping, dining, culture, nightlife, pro sports, and airports. And that SE corner of Tennessee is really beautiful, Chatt included. I don't think any city east of the Rockies has a prettier setting. 

I don't know Lexington as well but a good friend lived there 20 years ago and I really liked the downtown and older neighborhoods. Yes, some were "ghetto," but come on, y'all. Ghetto Lexington and Ghetto Chattanooga are not the same level as South Central, South Dallas, Fifth Ward, West Baltimore or South Side Chicago. Catching a stray bullet potential is low. If you try, you might even make some friends as you gentrify the neighborhood away.

Huntsville is a solid pick for science / tech types. Me being an effete artsy type, it's not for me, but its got promise for the Gen Z rendition of the pocket protector set.

I'm crazy enough to throw Birmingham out there. It's a lot prettier and cooler than I thought, but that might be skewed by the fact I had the debonair and suave Mr and Mrs @RDCanecutter showing me around.  Yes that city has real problems but it's more similar to Atlanta than it is Jackson. Poor Jackson; it's a solid mess.

I dig the shit out of Richmond, VA, and their OG Lexington is also nice. So is Staunton. Seems like there are quite a few small cities in VA worth a look, like Harrisonburg. 

In Texas, sheer I-35 corridor pressure leads me to believe Temple might be worth a look. 

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Lots of smaller Tech companies are moving to New Orleans. Maybe that city will see a renaissance and not just tourism. Having almost the worst crime rate in the nation doesn’t help for a wide scale transformation at this time.

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9 hours ago, Stunns38 said:

Lots of smaller Tech companies are moving to New Orleans. Maybe that city will see a renaissance and not just tourism. Having almost the worst crime rate in the nation doesn’t help for a wide scale transformation at this time.

The only company I’ve ever seen anyone fly into NOLA for legit business (not corporate events, or retreats or industry events, but because a Corp. is HQ’ed in NOLA) is Entergy. Would love to hear about it’s growth because there doesn’t seem to be much there to allow for a 7 figure earning for your common clay type man.

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Nola is below sea level, so scratch it from the list. Madison is cool and it’s a state capital, and it has a large university, but the winters are extremely shitty. The average temperature in January is 20 fucking degrees. AVERAGE.

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