In our August 2018 issue, writer John Nova Lomax explored the movement of many younger Texans away from the big city and into our state’s small towns. They’re making the move for a number of reasons—for space, for a more reasonable cost of living, to be with family—and by and large, they’re not looking back. I spoke with a few such Texans; read their stories below.
Celine Ord, 36, Radiation Oncologist, Fredericksburg
“We were looking to relocate back to Texas from Arizona to be nearer to family and friends. If you’re a Texan, you always come back. We were planning to move back to Austin, but the perfect job opportunity arose in Fredericksburg—and how could we turn down an opportunity to live in such a gem of a town? Moving back to Texas with a new baby, we were excited for the chance to raise her in such a beautiful and safe place.
The people are so kind, welcoming, and friendly. It’s a beautifully charming small town with some big-city amenities like awesome restaurants, wineries, and shops. And of course, you can’t beat the lack of traffic. Life here is so much simpler and less hectic, so you really get to know people. You become part of the community, and feel such a need to contribute to it. It really brings out the best in people.
Brent Humphreys, 42, Photographer, Taylor
“My dream growing up had always been to live on some property with space in the Hill Country just as soon as I could afford it. The idea of being able to come home from travel and decompress in nature was the concept. Growing up in Dallas, my family had a secluded property in East Texas near Mineola. The memories there inspired me to seek the same in terms of open space and land for kids to explore.
Once I moved to Austin, I started looking west. I decided to expand my search to the east, as it seemed less populous, and with the plans for the 130 toll road, it seemed sensible. A midcentury home on six acres popped up in Taylor. I remember calling my realtor and friend, Eileen Gill, and neither of us could believe the asking price. We wasted no time and mobilized the following morning.
Upon seeing the home and taking a quick drive around town, it was a done deal for me. I love the small-town charm, the rich heritage and history told through the architecture and landmarks, and the extreme sense of community. For me, it’s the mellowness here and the connectivity you feel with your neighbors and community at large. Taylor is a fantastic place for my wife, James, and I to raise our boys.”
Alyson Fox, 38, Artist/Designer, Spicewood
“Almost eight years ago, we bought some land in Spicewood and built a house. We were going to add on to our house in Austin, and that got us talking about other options. We wanted to build a house someday, but decided to move on it sooner rather than later. I think we were both a little antsy for some more space, and started driving around looking at land on our own. When we saw the plot that we decided to buy, it all just clicked. We are both happy at home, and while we enjoy being social sometimes, we value quiet and ease, so living outside of Austin felt right. We both felt we would gain more than we would sacrifice. I love going for long quiet walks right out of our front door, seeing a lot more stars at night, and getting resourceful when you don’t feel like going into town for something.”
Lindsay Muse, 39, Nonprofit Director, Driftwood
“What I love most about small-town life is the breeze and view from the front porch and limestone patio under the shade of the large oak tree, the violet crown sunsets to the west off the back porch, and stargazing around the limestone fire pit behind our house.
During the spring and fall, the fireflies light up the yard and surrounding fields in stunning sequences. Even though we’re a little farther away from friends who live in town, we enjoy hosting campouts and having quality time with groups of friends in such a relaxed setting. We love being at the heart of the Hill Country, close to swimming holes, tasty barbecue joints (we’re a mile from Salt Lick), and delicious wineries and distilleries (Desert Door Sotol is our newest neighbor), and taking long walks around our property while watching the sun rise or set.”
Michael Larsen & Tracy Talbert, Photographers, China Spring
“We knew we wanted to get out of L.A. for our kids. We wanted to be near family, and Tracy’s family has a ranch in China Spring, where [the kids] can drive golf carts, shoot air soft guns, and chase cows. China Spring is a safe, family-oriented place with great schools and affordable homes. It was a bit of a culture shock when we first moved from L.A., but now it’s the other way around when we go back to L.A. What we love most is our good neighbors who know how to fix things. We had a hole in the fence that caused cows to get out onto the road. Within an hour, we had four different people stop by to help fix it up. Another time, when a tree fell, a neighbor pulled up and just happened to have a chainsaw in the back of his truck. People out here are always willing to pitch in and help each other.”
Laura Hopkins, 32, Stay-at-Home Mom, Canton
“Our life was moving really fast, and we felt so strongly that we should slow down. We sold our house and lived in an apartment for a year while we figured out what was next. At the end of the day, the desires we have for our family and what we feel called to all pointed toward Canton, where my parents live on nearly forty acres. We’ve just been here a few weeks and hope to start building our home this fall on my parents’ land. I love watching my kids run wild and free every day. They are always fishing, hunting, and bug catching—the stuff I’ve dreamed of for their childhood is becoming a reality. Being surrounded by nature forces you to get outside and breathe deep. It sounds funny, but what I love most is that everyone waves when driving by.”