We moved to Austin for the tech jobs, but finding a home was defeating. We kept getting outbid by people making cash offers sight-unseen.

In August 2019, my husband Scott, our six-month-old daughter Amelia, and I made the move from San Antonio to Austin, which was just an hour and a half away. Naively, I thought selling our San Antonio house and finding a new one in Austin would be a breeze. However, things didn't go as planned, and we ended up staying at Scott's aunt's house for a challenging four and a half months—a situation I wouldn't recommend for any family with a newborn.

Navigating the housing market in Austin proved to be much more difficult and overwhelming than we anticipated. I had no idea what to expect, and the process became disheartening as we faced numerous obstacles. Despite being in our early thirties and financially responsible, we found ourselves competing against buyers who were in a league far beyond our reach. We placed multiple offers on different houses, only to be consistently outbid by individuals making cash offers, some even from out of state without physically seeing the properties. Finding a home in the neighborhoods we desired became a tremendous challenge.

All I wanted was to provide a stable and loving environment for my family by settling into a new house, but it took much longer than I had ever imagined. It was a humbling experience, making me realize how competitive and tough the housing market can be, even for those who have worked hard to establish financial stability.  

A baby sitting on the front lawn of a house.
Hollingsworth's second daughter, Zoey, in front of their home in Austin. 
Sarah Hollingsworth

We decided to expand the perimeter in which we were willing to live. We found ourselves buying a house in West Austin, in the neighborhood of Bee Cave.

We closed in March 2020, and truly, I think it was the universe's way of saying, "No, this is the right place at the right time," because then the world shut down. But we had a neighborhood community with sidewalks and parks and we were thankfully in our home.

I feel so fortunate that we bought our house when we did because if we tried to find this house today, we would be completely out-priced.

It has three bedrooms, and two baths, with a two-car garage, and a pretty small backyard, but it's the perfect size for my now two kids. It cost around $400,000 and is about 1,700 square feet.

We bought our house in San Antonio for much less. It was $325,000 and was similar in size. We basically just moved to a more expensive city for pretty much the same house that would cost a little bit more.

The main motivation for moving to Austin at the time was my husband was looking for a career change. We were both working at a tech company headquartered in San Antonio. There really just aren't that many high-paying tech jobs in San Antonio and we both loved that industry and wanted to stay in it.

Austin, being the next-closest tech city, had an abundant amount of high-paying tech jobs. My husband was recruited and ultimately ended up working at a tech company in Austin.

So I was in tech when I moved here in 2019, but I actually resigned from my position in January of 2020, because I had this idea for my startup, Poppylist.

I enrolled in the Entrepreneur Center of Austin, which San Antonio doesn't have. Capital Factory, a co-working space in Austin, always had tech and coffee chats that I would attend. I was completely immersed in events.

I am never afraid to go to places where I might meet people that I could learn something from or who could potentially be helpful. I went to Techstars Austin demo day, sitting in the audience and listening to people pitch their ideas and meeting the Techstar staff. There were just so many opportunities in Austin for someone with no entrepreneurial experience to get fully immersed and start learning and meeting people.

I think I would've started Poppylist no matter where I was located, but I don't know if I would've been able to accelerate that business idea and get it off the ground as quickly. I think Austin and the people I met and got to know really helped move things forward, and I got to connect with people pretty fast.

I felt like I hit the jackpot when I moved to Austin.

I think the biggest thing that we realized after living in Austin is just how much we love walking and being outside. Austin is not a walkable city by any means, but we have miles and miles of sidewalks in our neighborhood.

I think one of the things that we were so grateful for was access to outdoor activities. We have access to Greenbelt trails in our neighborhood and Lake Austin. They just built this beautiful trail from the beginning of our neighborhood all the way down to the water through the country. We can walk down our neighborhood and jump in Lake Austin.

A selfie of a husband and wife and their two daughters.
Hollingsworth, her husband, Scott, and their two children, Amelia and Zoey. 
Sarah Hollingsworth

While San Antonio may not be known for its abundance of outdoor activities compared to Austin, it still offers its own unique charm. The city has a distinct energy, particularly during the fall and winter months when people venture outside and the music festival scene, like Austin City Limits, comes alive. It's as if the city awakens from its summer hibernation, and there's a renewed sense of vibrancy.

One of the things I appreciate about San Antonio is the access to water. Whether it's the nearby rivers or lakes, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy water-related activities. Additionally, the international airport provides a wide range of flight options, making travel more convenient compared to San Antonio.

Another aspect I cherish is the connections my daughter has made at school. Witnessing her thrive and form meaningful relationships brings me immense joy. Furthermore, both my husband and I have benefitted from the career opportunities available in Austin.

While San Antonio may not have the same reputation for outdoor activities and entertainment as Austin, it offers its own unique experiences and opportunities for growth and enjoyment.  

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