The End of 'Slackerdom' in Austin (or Pittsburgh Rich vs. New York Poor)

Yes, that's a lot of cities in one headline. But recent urbanism media has included a lot of writers lamenting the rising cost of living in formerly bohemian locales while noticing former bohemians moving to more affordable regions.
tex1sam / Flickr

Marty Toohey writes of the cultural shifts underway in Austin. "'Austin used to be a spot for a lot of people to check out. Now it’s a good place to check in," said Peter Zandan, a pollster who has been doing opinion surveys here for three decades. 'We used to be a place you could go to go nowhere and not do much. Now, increasingly, Austin appears to be a place where people go to be somewhere and do something.'"

The cause of the cultural change, according to Toohey's article: "The average rent in Austin is now more than $1,000, having risen 50 percent in 10 years, while the median income rose just 9 percent. Housing now takes 30 percent of Austin renters’ income, more than the national average and more than the 'red line' that Zillow Real Estate Research says is too much of a household’s income."

Toohey follows the story of Wammo, a reformed "Slacker" of an earlier Austin era. Wammo moved to Pittsburgh three years ago, which is where Jim Russell picks up the trope of moving to Pittsburgh as a polemic against the creative class narrative made famous by Richard Florida.

In making the point that "Cool has a price point," Russell argues that Florida "got the economic development story backwards."

Russell also cites a recent article by Natalie Kitroeff that claims, according to Russell's analysis, "that student loan debt will be the last straw for naive talent willing to subsidize creative industries that aren’t really profitable in such an expensive city [as New York]."

Full Story: Career ambitions, higher cost of living erode Austin’s ‘Slacker’ vibe


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