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Californian revises his 'needlessly hurtful' Austin take, discussing what he could have done differently
(Jeremy Keith/CC)

A month ago, Californian Brett Alder became Austin's public enemy No. 1 after his not-so-flattering op-ed about moving to Austin was posted in Business Insider. Now, he's back to give the other side of his Austin move.

Alder once again posted an op-ed to Business Insider on Monday, this time writing about what he would do differently if he moved back again.

Alder said he heard from people "all over the country" in response to his first op-ed and that Austinites felt the piece "seemed needlessly hurtful" and "unrepresentative" of their city.

"I never knew that that piece was going to blow up, that it would be read by people all over Texas," Alder told Austonia after his op-ed published in Business Insider last month. "I didn't include the positive stuff, like how our neighbors left us brownies or invited us to New Year's parties, or things like that."

After speaking to Austinites "who will still speak to" him about ways he could have made his move more successful, Alder had two major takeaways:

  1. Focus on the big picture when it comes to culture and geography
  2. Allow more time for discovery if moving from California to Austin

Addressing the first takeaway, he references a map showing Facebook connections across the U.S., Alder drew a divide between the western U.S. and Texas, saying Texas is a tightly bound state. To demonstrate, Alder said that while Seattle, Boise, Phoenix and Austin may appear to be the same on paper, "culturally and geographically, Austin is by far the outlier." He says it is more self-contained and therefore, "Texas culture has less experience integrating newcomers."

And on the second point, he writes about getting to know the area. Against the advice of his friends, Alder said he immediately bought a house due to feeling pressured in the competitive real estate market, as opposed to renting and sold his California house. Alder regrets purchasing his house so quickly and wishes that his family had a chance to get more of a lay of the land first, because thinking one area is something it is not can "taint your whole experience."

Alder also corrected one of the most contested issues in his piece—that the lack of public land left them feeling "cooped up"—saying there are a great many things to do around Austin if you have the right friends and know how to find them.

Because he had traveled to Austin many times before moving, Alder said he wasn't expecting to be affected by culture shock. For that reason, Alder said it is important for newcomers to leverage a social network of locals who can help during the transition between states.

"Some of the criticism I'm getting is that, 'How could Californians have not known this about Texas before you moved here,' and that's totally legitimate criticism," Alder said. "I think Texans understand their state and the advantages of their state much better than Californians do. I think that's a big part of it, and I think another part of it was a lack of fit."

In the end, Alder said he feels like Austin's "modified Texas pride" is what has made it a "national brand." His days were often filled with people who raved about the city—"Austin may be the most enthusiastic about their city by far,"—and if he did it again, he would look forward to the bluebonnets, "spectacular thunderstorms," and try and make it through the seemingly endless heat in the Lone Star State.

Reporter Claire Partain contributed to this story.


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