Austin Newbies vs Old-Timers Explained
Released in late April via the Austin American-Statesman, the Zandan Poll asks local residents to quantify their attitudes and behaviors on the economy, growth, culture, community, health and transportation.
Generally, the 2017 poll reveals that Austin’s newest residents (people who have lived here for six years or less) are a lot more optimistic and energetic about the unique assets, overall appeal and long-term direction of the city. Conversely, this survey verifies the perception that the longer you live here, the less receptive you tend to become to the changes wrought by new growth, new people and new ideas.
More specifically, some of the most interesting findings in this survey are as follows:
- Did we miss the turn? 35% of respondents say that the city of Austin is now on the wrong track. For people who have lived in Austin 21+ years, this figure jumps to 48%.
- Not as unique as before. 54% of those all those surveyed think that Austin is unique but becoming more similar to other major U.S. cities, while 35% think the city is not becoming similar. People who have lived in Austin more than six years are less inclined to believe (30%) that the city is not becoming similar to other US metropolitan areas.
- Long-time residents less tolerant of cost of living increases. People who have lived in Austin more than six years also tend to believe more strongly that the city is at risk of losing its appeal because of the rising cost of living. For those who have lived here six years or less, 50% said the high cost of living threatens the city’s long-term appeal. For people who have lived here between six and 21 years, this figure increases to 55%. For people who have lived here longer than21 years, this figure increases to 58%.
- Creativity is about the same. When asked about the impact of growth over the last five years, 5% of respondents feel that the increase in population has generated more creativity and 4% of respondents feel that the increase in population has resulted in less creativity. This one is pretty much a wash, which is a little surprising given that cost of living increases often have the most impact on the city’s creative class.
- Not so excited about tomorrow. To the question of whether how life in Austin will change over the next five years, 74% answered it will either be worse or about the same. But people who have been here six years or less tend to be much more optimistic about the future.
- We must protect this house. Respondents were slightly more charitable about whether Austin does a good job of protecting its culture and unique identity. 57% answered that the city does a somewhat good job or a very good job at this task.
- Well, yes, we are pretty cool after all. Respondents were also fairly positive in their judgment of the city’s buzz factor. 79% of respondents feel that Austin either somewhat (46%) or definitely (33%) lives up to its hype and reputation.
- My city, my family. Almost half of those polled (49%) say that Austin is a better place to raise a family as compared to the rest of the US. As is the general trend of the 2017 Zandan poll, people living in the city six years or less answered much more positively (56%) to this question.
- ATX + PDX = Love. With 19% of the vote, Portland, Oregon wins as the city that residents most identify with. Other top contenders include Seattle (13%) and San Francisco (11%). Although, this question also somewhat verifies the uniqueness of Austin as “Don’t Know” was the second highest answer at 16%.
- Its become more of a festival town than a football town. 83% of respondents say that SXSW is important to Austin’s identity. The ACL Music Festival checks in with the same 83% rating. Both SXSW and ACL rate high across all demographics participating in this poll. By comparison, UT football games are rated slightly lower at 75%.
Click here to see all the data from this interesting survey. And, if you are a long-time resident of the city . . . lighten up — growth, change and new opportunity is a lot better than the alternative.
Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.