Austin is one of the 25 least affordable U.S. cities for minimum wage workers—even if the minimum wage was bumped up to $15/hour, according to a study by movebuddha.com.
Living in Austin costs more than the $2,400/month income of full-time $15/hour employees and that's without adding to a savings account. Alongside Plano, the 13th least affordable city studied, Austin is also one of the only cities on the most expensive end to not have a local minimum wage higher than $7.25/hour.
The study analyzed 99 cities, all with a population of more than 250,000, and factored in average costs toward rent, utilities, income taxes, transportation and food. The study does not take car expenses, phone bills, loans, insurance or property taxes into account.
With rent skyrocketing to record median price levels month-after-month and a booming housing market, it's no surprise that Austin is around a thousand dollars more expensive a month than the cheapest U.S. city on the list—Albuquerque, New Mexico. In Laredo, Texas' least expensive city studied, residents can pocket as much as $774 after paying for living costs.
Move Buddha ranked the 25 most and least affordable cities for $15/hour wage workers, with Austin at No. 22 on the list. (moveBuddha.com)
With the average rent in Austin at a record $1,442 a month (60% of a $15/hour workers' income), Austin joins the growing ranks of U.S. cities that can no longer follow the "minimum wage should be a living wage" mantra championed by worker's rights groups.
Austin's rapid-fire growth is still far from the six most expensive cities, all of which are in California. All but $39 of a minimum wage worker's salary in Irvine, which tops the list, would have to go toward rent. Unsurprisingly, San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego, Anaheim and Chula Vista follow suit.
But many cities and states on the list have already instituted wages near what the fight for $15 movement has been working toward for years. In California, which constitutes 11 of the 25 most expensive cities studied, the state minimum wage sits at $14/hour, and San Francisco's minimum wage is elevated to $16.32/hour. Seattle and New York have similar heightened wage rates.
Just as a federal minimum wage of $15/hour slowly edges closer to reality, it becomes more evident that living on that wage alone isn't feasible in many U.S. cities. According to a Harvard University study, a quarter of U.S. renters now spend 50% or more of their salary on rent. That's well above the recommended budget, which puts rent at a third of monthly costs.
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Nicklaus Pereksta says he loves photographing enthusiastic people, and it’s why his latest gig offering pictures to people out on Lady Bird Lake’s hike and bike trail is going smoothly. He sets up his gear on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge and puts out a sign: Photos, $10.
“Overwhelmingly, this has been a really positive experience,” Pereksta said. “I get excited when I wake up in the morning and I can't wait to go to work.”
Bikers and joggers are excited about it too. On the pedestrian bridge leading to downtown Thursday morning, a man on an e-bike rode up and posed, wanting more photos.
“I posted the last pictures on Instagram and people loved it. They asked, ‘where is this guy?’” the biker told Pereksta. Bashfully, Pereksta, who also photographs landscapes and at weddings and other events, said he was happy to hear that.
Pereksta started these photos about a month ago, after the strenuous runs required in his valet job started causing pain in his legs. And though he has a passion for photography, he wasn’t so sure when he started working independently if it would work out.
He felt uncertain about the demand for it and was also worried about having lots of expensive equipment out in the open.
“Then like the first day was nothing but high praise and people are like, this is so awesome. This is great. I've never seen anything like this before. I was like, Wow, this was really good, like positive turnout. So I got encouraged.”
Now, he wants to expand and is thinking of contacting the Mueller Farmers Market about how to become a vendor. Still, he'll carry a connection to photographing on the bridge since the word bridge is related to his last name.
“It's a name my great, great, great grandfather came up with when he was marrying somebody. It's actually quite a romantic name. It means a joining of two bridges," Pereksta said. "So, I thought it was ironic that I'm set up on a bridge. I'm kind of representing my last name right now.”
Austonia talked to Pereksta about life in Austin, where he’s lived for eight years after living in Boston doing band photography.
What was your first experience with Austin?
I came here to visit some friends and they took me to Barbarella. So we went to Barbarella and I was like, ‘wow, this place is great.’ And then the restaurants and the food and going to Barton Springs. I was like, ‘this is amazing.’ Because there's nothing like that in Boston. If you want to go to a natural spring, you got to go to New Hampshire. There's no pools in the city at all. So there's lots of swimming out here.
What do you like best about Austin?
You go to any little quiet bar and there's a band playing that should be like onstage for a sold out show. Yeah, they're playing to 10 people, right? Like, one of the best bands ever and they're playing for 10 people, right? And just little magic moments like that are pretty fun. You just run into little random weird things.
What do you think makes Austin different from other places?
There’s no fall.
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Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
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