Why Do People In Austin Hate Dallas So Much?

While testing out my new cheetah knees in Austin over the last several days, I was reminded of my least favorite thing about (certain) Austinites: their abject hatred of Dallas. Anytime (generally) I introduce myself to a local and say where I’m from, they act like I said I live in a cloud of black mold inside a wasps’ nest inside an Ed Hardy store next to a sewage plant inside an active volcano on top of a Native American burial ground.

I mean, I like Austin. I used to live there. I go there and I enjoy myself more often than not. But it’s not like it’s the beach from the Leo DiCaprio movie The Beach or anything.

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90 comments on “Why Do People In Austin Hate Dallas So Much?

  1. Dallas is more business-minded. Austin is more party-minded. They are different from one another. Simple as that.

  2. Dallas has no soul. No innards. No substance. It’s a hollow tree. It’s a deserted movie set waiting for a great script, so someone will believe it’s a real place with four walls where a family lives.

    Dallas could have grown a soul, over time, but it ruined its chances forever with the get-rich-quick mistake of confusing professional sports teams with genuine history and culture. When, in fact, sports are the cubic zirconia of culture.

    People have to believe in a place, and lend it part of their own spark, for it to come alive. Here, folks just pray to the transient, cleated millionaire gods du jour. Roots don’t grow in such shallow stuff.

  3. “but I miss being able to walk around, use public transportation easily, going to parks”

    Sounds like you live in a ‘burb, not Dallas.

  4. Interesting discussion. I like Austin, particularly the great walks and parks that are close in. I’ve walked the Barton Creek greenbelt often and find it a lovely urban hike. I like the music of course.

    Dallas is very insecure about identity. But, I love it here. The hike on the Buckeye Trail was great. You can hear great music every weekend: Kessler, Sons of Herman, and the Granada. Not to mention the smaller venues, like Club Dada City Tavern, and the Doublewide. We are close to Denton, so we can sort of claim Sarah Jaffe and Doug Burr. We can claim Norah Jones and Erykah Badu.

    We’ve got the Chihuly exhibition coming up at the Arboretum, and the John Paul Gautier Exhibit was historic.

    I happen to work at one of the best human rights organizations in the US, where we have some of the best young legal talent representing immigrant survivors of torture and domestic abuse.

    We have great local theater. Kitchen Dog, is just opening up Turn of the Screw.

    And finally, we have a growing number of microbreweries. You hang out at Goodfriend, meet your neighbors, and their kids and their dogs, well it seems like a great community to me.

    there’s rivalries between cities, but nothing about my life here fits the stereotypes.

  5. “but I miss being able to walk around, use public transportation easily, going to parks”

    “Sounds like you live in a ‘burb, not Dallas.”

    I believe that is one of the main problems with Dallas. We are a metro area of 6.5 million people, yet 5 million of those people live in the hinterlands. Most folks I work with live in the far suburbs and drive literally 30 or more miles to work every day. They constantly complain about how awful Dallas is and how there is nothing to do. When I ask them when the last time was that they had actually been inside the loop, most of them say it has been years, if ever. If we were a metro area, like Austin, that was not dominated by suburbs we might not have such a negative minded populace. These are the same folks that go to other places and whine about how bad Dallas is, which perpetuates the negative opinion others have of our city. I have been to many, many cities, and I can tell you, Dallas is actually a pretty great place to live, if you live IN the city of Dallas.

  6. 30 year Austin resident here. The only other place I’ve lived is Houston for 5 years (for school). I’ve never lived in Dallas, so I can’t speak directly to that, but I think Austinites in general are a bit snobby about coolness.

    I actually found Houston to be a pretty good place to live. Some of it sucks and the sprawl in general I could do without, but there are pockets of Houston that to me, are at least as cool, if not cooler, than Austin (Heights/Montrose). I know this is picky, but the thing that bothered me most about Houston was its flatness. I like a little topography. But Houston has great parks (contrary to popular Austinite belief, it is not a concrete jungle), substantial culture, outstanding restaurants and bars.

    Austin has transformed since I was young. My favorite things about Austin- the lakes, parks, greenbelts, etc., have become less accessible as Austin has become more densely populated. So I think in general quality of life has gone down. Someone recently moving here may not recognize that, but it’s true. So enjoy yourself wherever you live, because the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side.

  7. Dallas would be perfect if it had a monorail from Highland Park Village to Uptown and to the Arts District — and then required proof of Park Cities residency to get back. (By the way, who even cares about Austin or what they think? Geez.)

  8. There is one reason why Dallas owns Austin: DFW Airport. I can visit real awesome in Asia, Europe, or South America in 2 flights or less. Suck on that Austin while you’re connecting through DFW.

  9. The people in Austin who put down Dallas are either pathetically parochial, provincial Austionites or former Dallasites. People move to Austin from places like Dallas and want to take credit for having moved to San Francisco or something — the fact that it just happens to be 190 miles down the freeway doesn’t mean they aren’t brave souls who flew the coup; it’ s just that there’s a place on the level of San Francisco 190 miles away, is all. (In places they don’t talk about at cocktail parties, they need to believe this.) So they carp on Dallas as if it’s this distant nightmare thousands of miles in their past. (And simultaneously manage to convince themselves that some pisspoor dump like the Blanton Museum is well-recognized internationally.) The reality is, they just did the safe thing for a stoner liberal-arts type to do when s/he is twenty-something, pointlessly educated, and has no skills except being smart, which isn’t really much of a skill at all.

  10. P.S. Nobody can argue that Austin doesn’t have superior barbecue. And scenery. And festivals. Those are big deals, too, but that’s about the extent of it. I’m not even convivinced their music scene is better, if you include Denton as part of the Dallas scene.

  11. @Daniel: I’ve stayed out of the conversation till now. I need to know: how did you sneak cocktail past our vigilant screener? Kudos!

  12. My opinion of Austin has been that it is the Berkeley of the South and has been that way for several years now. The true Texas character has almost been stripped from the city and been replaced with a manufactured persona full of greenies, smuggy buggies, and benevolent laws (banning plastic and paper bags) “for the good of all and the planet.” Dallas could stand to be a little greener, but not to the point where it feels like San Francisco. Some can say that Dallas’ true Texas character has also been stripped away and I wouldn’t argue too much with that…Austin has the geographic scenery but Dallas maintains the brash, bold, and bewildering bravado which characterizes its personality.

  13. That’s for me to know and you to find out. Is that a bit cocky of me? Why, yes, I suppose it is. But try, try , try to understand: I’m a magic man.

  14. I’m an ex-Dallasite who moved to Austin and love everything about living here, from the water and hills to the corporate culture of my workplace. That said, I love going back to Dallas to see my friends and family, visit museums and eat. Some of my old Dallas friends think Austin is a godless place, so: There’ll always been snobbery on both sides. Of everything, not just geography. Some journalists, for example, believe that other journalists who don’t cover hard news aren’t really journalists. Right, Zac?

  15. If you are from Lakewood you love Dallas passionately – and you think Austin is another cool place.

  16. @Daniel: You have my respect and admiration, you cocky motherfucker. I hope you realize that with great power comes great responsibility. Use it wisely.

  17. @Lakewooder

    “Passionately”? Dallas is more like a better-than-average-looking wife of many years who keeps herself in good shape, knows how to put herself together for a night out, is decently employed, has a knack for entertaining and makes killer Bloody Marys on Sunday mornings. You could leave her for someone who makes you feel “young and alive,” but what kind of damn-fool thing would that be to do? There’s more to life than passion, son.

  18. @Tim

    All right, Grasshopper, you snatched the pebble from my fu — er, from my ****ing hand.

  19. Zac -

    I think @ Daniel – answered your question

    “The reality is, they just did the safe thing for a stoner liberal-arts type to do when s/he is twenty-something, pointlessly educated, and has no skills except being smart, which isn’t really much of a skill at all.”

  20. @BigJon

    That’s why they hate people from Dallas? Because we are crass philistines (as exemplified, I presume you meant to illustrate, by my comment)? Look, fella, you need to dig a little deeper if you think that’s the case. If anything, there’s a more robust creative class here than in Austin. Granted, it’s rather overwhelmed by umpteen-billion square miles of suburban mediocrity.

    In the end, it all depends on what flavor of poseur least engages your gag reflex. Yuppie trendoids are easier to steer clear of here than pseudo-intellectuals are in Austin. The God-guns-and-family set are almost nowhere in evidence in Dallas proper. The artists/thinkers/dreamers in Dallas also share a sense of kindred-spirit that you really don’t find in Austin, where it’s understood you must pretend to have read Foucault if you expect to get nookie. (Paradoxically, this is most annoying if you actually have read Foucault.)

    For the record, I am a (former) stoner liberal-arts geek. Also for what it’s worth, Dallas went 65/35 in 2008 for Obama, so it’s not exactly blue.

  21. “almost nowhere in evidence” = no more so than in Austin

    Certainly much, much more so than in Seattle or Boston.

  22. BigJonDaniel

    “@ John Because Dallas is better than the $h!tholes and cheaper than the great places. That, however, does not make it a great place”

    I don’t see that I ever said anything in my post insinuating that Dallas is a great place because of the reasons you say. Judging from your posts, you seem to like to put words in people’s mouths, and you definately are not happy here. I think Austin is the place for you.

  23. Let’s go easy on BigJonDaniel — he’s bursting with frustration that he had to type the word as $h!thole. Being a magic man, with magic hands, I would labor under no such constraints. But, unfortunately for our more prurient-minded commenters, I am a class act and will decline to prove it.

    (clenches jaw and grips desk in a Heculean display of self-censure)

  24. Kyle, I’m almost too sheepish to point this out. It brings me an anguished welling of deep-down humility to apprise you that I, sir, can curse whereas you cannot; if this means that all our future interactions must be, necessarily, colored by a tacit acknowledgement of my blunt superiority, I should only hope that your candor remains intact — even if tempered with regards to personal name-calling.

    Now go have a cocktail or two, it would seem you need one.

  25. Last time I was there I saw less of the Keep Austin Weird shirts that every single establishment sells and tons of Make Austin Corporate. No opinion, just that was hysterical and in line with this thread.

  26. This is my 2nd try at living in Dallas. First experience was in downtown where people were very snooty, judgemental, frequently drunk and under the impression they were smarter than they actually were. I tried meeting the neighbors that lived next to me on both sides and around the high rise I lived in. When I invited the neighbors over for dinner, 1 just stared at me and shut his door. The other talked to me in a very condescending tone and told me they had big plans that night (even though I didn’t say which night I was going to invite them over) and said they wouldn’t be able to attend my “little din din”. I don’t know what that was a reference to. Throughout the rest of the year and a half I was there, when I made eye contact with the neighbors and said hi, they’d smirk and tilt their nose up just slightly. Very odd behavior. Churches were also very cliquey, and fast to dismiss me from joining any worship groups which completely floored me. Guess they were working on special assignments from Jesus that I was excluded from.

    This time around I moved further north, primarily because of the bad people experience my first time. This experience has been a little better. I also find people’s friendliness proportional to the amount of wealth they have. Some of the people in the neighborhood are very pissed, unfriendly, and reminiscent of downtown Dallas people. I also know one of those neighbors had his car repo’d a few weeks ago. Another had their house foreclosed. It sounds like a lot are struggling to stay in the affluent neighborhood and “keep up appearances”. A lot of the other neighbors are older and close to retirement. They are the most friendly ones, but its hard to visit with them frequently because of the big age gap. As soon as you leave that subdivision and get into the lower priced homes, the people are immediately less friendly and don’t mind showing it.

    Between the times living in Dallas, I was in Austin, and I really do miss it. Its funny how people in Austin called Dallas residents snobby, while Dallas prefers to call itself sophisticated. I guess sophisticated includes being rude, raging alcoholics from downtown or being splenetic and deep in debt while living in an affluent neighborhood. I’m not saying Austin was perfect, but I really miss the friendly attitudes there over the bitter environment I’m in right now.

    The thing that continues to sadly shock me the most is I thought I could escape the bad attitudes of Dallas by finding AT LEAST ONE CHURCH who’s congregation left their attitude, egos and problems at the door. I’m still searching for that place.

  27. No blizzo, Port Arthur is the armpit of Texas. There have even been articles about it. Get with the times, dude.

  28. I’m late to the party here, but I’m gonna add my bit anyway for any other stragglers like me who happen by later…

    I’ve lived in Austin for about four years now (plan on leaving soon) and visited Dallas just last weekend. I first visited Austin in ’98 with the idea of relocating here at the behest of a friend who’d lived in Central Florida with me and shared in many of my misgivings about that area. In the process of his trying to escape Florida to California, he broke down in Austin and stayed there, growing to love it. I liked it after visiting, too, and planned to move here shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, things fell through. Having the chance to move here again ten years later, in 2008, I seized the opportunity. I like Austin, but I feel like my Kool Aid goggles must fit looser than everyone else’s. It’s just not that great.

    The following are some observations from having lived here the last few years followed up with some observations from my very brief visit to Dallas:

    1.) Austin is a not a very photogenic city. I don’t know what people are talking about when they say it’s scenery is amazing. It isn’t. Like any city, there are pockets here and there. Hill Country, when verdant, can be a refreshing departure, but it only seems as pretty as it does because so much of Austin is so homely. There is also a dearth of good commercial and residential architecture, and anything that has even a slight architectural flourish will have some zany premium attached to it — and zany is being cute about it.

    2.) Being the poor man’s California — which, let’s face it, is what ATX has become — is not really a lofty distinction. Meanwhile, Austin (and really, no city in Texas) does not hold a candle to most metro/coastal areas of California. Everyone talks about all the Californians moving to Austin; what they don’t talk about is all the Californians that move back or long to do so. Pay attention to relocation forums sometime and see if the remorse is not palpable.

    3.) I have travelled very extensively across the United States. Even the really scary and highly unglamorous parts. NO other city I have EVER been to or lived in is as IN LOVE with itself as Austin. It’s kinda nice at first. You get here, and you’re a little off your game…y’know, the new kid in town…then you hear the “I moved to Austin in blah blah blah blah (cue charming anecdote)” spots on KUT for the first few times and you’re disarmed. After year two, it starts to get a little nauseating. Austin Austin Austin. When I’m on a plane, I hear people who sound like they work for the CoC, parroting all the buzz and hype about this that and the other thing Austin-related. I even overheard one guy say that he lies and tells everyone he’s a native to gain more points. Whenever I’m in a restaurant I constantly overhear the city mentioned by name…Austin Austin Austin….frequently followed up with Bay Area. This does not happen in other cities. You don’t sit in a restaurant in Manhattan and overhear the word Manhattan every three or four minutes.

    4.) One of Austin’s strongest appeal factor is the people. However, unlike landscape and climate, demographics are given to flux and can change quite rapidly — especially with the middle class decline in America that is under way and the attendant migration flows that will continue to ensue.

    5.) Austin’s claim that they avoided the housing bubble is insane. They’ve enjoyed something of a proxy bubble from all of the bubble gains from other sand states. And since Austin enjoyed a relatively robust housing market because of these wealth inflows, when all of the stimulus and low rates that were designed to prop up prices in the hardest hit states found their way into Austin, it was like administering adrenaline straight into the heart of an otherwise healthy patient. Prices are Kee-Razy here as a result. And for ugly houses or horrible Cubist McMansions.

    Now…when I visited Dallas last weekend — mostly the Northeast section — I gotta say, it was pretty nice city. I didn’t feel smitten, but I didn’t feel beat over the head, either. A lot of the negative appraisals of Dallas that I’ve witnessed now seem pretty overblown. It was by no means compelling, but that’s actually what was kind of nice about it; it just seemed like a city. It seemed to have all of the things I imagine a broad spectrum of different demographics might require from a city — except, perhaps, the folks who need to feel defined by their city, in which case, I can see where maybe Dallas could be a let down. There seems to be no definitive Dallas blueprint. Again, I like that. I don’t need what I already recognized and like about a city to be repackaged and marketed back to me with a catchy sound bite and attendant premium. Just provide me with the basic facilities required for the pursuit of happiness and try not to ding me at every pass.

    The three biggest drawbacks to Dallas: tornadoes; crime numbers; sprawl.

    And khaki shorts.

    Otherwise…

  29. It’s the attitude. I am from Lubbock orignally and then I moved to Austin 10 years ago. I have been to Dallas a million times growing up, and my wife is from DFW (Fort Worth) in particular. It all comes down to attitude. Dallas is a status-quo, corporate-yuppy, don’t-rock-the-boat, don’t-go-outside-the-box, keep-up-with-the-Jones’s type of culture. Austin is totally opposite. We thrive on indiviualisms, creativity, rock-the-boat, break-the-status-quo’s. It’s a giant melting pot of ideas, commerce, cultures, and people who aren’t afraid to be however they want, nor push their ideas on anyone else, it’s a live and let live type of attitude. And no offence Dallasites, but when this situation arises and somebody says, “I’m from Dallas”, it’s not that I don’t like you, it’s that I feel sorry for you, that’s all. I fell sorry that you are not liberated. Free yourself!! Dallas is a climb-the-corporate-ladder type of place where Austin is an entreprener’s dream world, where no idea is too stupid, and the crazier the idea the better the result. Austin not a climb the corporate ladder kind of place….it is a let-me-create-the-ladder kind of place.

  30. Stu — Austin is catching up to Dallas. Give it time. It’s caught the California bug!

  31. Maybe it’s the posturing, affliction t-shirt wearing tools and shallow bitches who date them. The self entitlement of people who cut to the front of the line. Mega churches and perfectly manicured lawns, corporate yuppy jobs, consumers of high-end shopping and great restaurants, yet have no interest in leaving the city better than they found it. Take…take…take. Dallas fashion is status quo, to be someone you’re not. In Austin, if you’re successful or not, you’re comfortable in your own skin and embrace your individuality.