Gone to Texas! The Lone Star State is Getting Big, in a Big Hurry

Austin at Dusk

It started innocuously enough; the scenic drive of the 2 lane Ronald Reagan Blvd. one day made way to a concrete bridge. This was followed by construction crews prepping for the coming highway behemoth and other signs of expansion. In 2005, when I moved to Leander, the only thing I was aware of was the possibility of an Intersection that might be built by my home at some point uncertain.  I could live with that.  Parmer stopped at 2243 and it was so quiet and beautiful. Yet, where once we could see the moon rover’s tracks through lens of my son’s huge telescope, we can no longer see the milky way for all of the lights that surrounded us. Our zoning changed from Rural to Suburban, and the signs of non-resident visitors were becoming omnipresent. Austin was growing, quickly, and Texas with it. Good for the state, if not as good for Texans with inclinations towards country living.

Though not yet the fastest growing state (the U.S. Census has pinned that title on Utah), Forbes contributor Joel Kotkin writes, “Comparisons with the other big metro areas are almost pathetic. Austin’s job growth has been roughly three times that of New York, more than four times that of San Francisco, five times Los Angeles’ and 10 times that of Chicago. Simply put, Austin is putting the rest of the big metro areas in the shade”. Austin has been ranked among the top two or three fastest-growing cities for jobs virtually every year since we began compiling our annual jobs rankings. Since 2000, employment in the Austin area has expanded 52.3%, 15 percentage points more than either Dallas-Ft. Worth or Houston.

While Texas’ largest cities continued to add tens of thousands of residents last year, it’s the suburbs that are seeing the most marked transformation. Huge swaths of land with trees and bushes and cedars are tossed into piles to make way for new construction.  Every new subdivision sells out within just a few months. From small subdivisions of a few hundred homes to massive multi-use developments with recreation, trails and office space, slowly but surely, the landscape is becoming more concrete than dirt.

The demand for Texas real estate grew in 2016 with robust sales activity among several types of property, according to the Texas Annual Housing Report released by the Texas Association of REALTORS®. “Texas is a national leader in real estate growth, housing demand and development, which attracts home buyers from across the country and around the globe,” said Leslie Rouda Smith, chairman of the Texas Association of REALTORS®, in article appearing in The Dallas Morning News. “Texas’ diverse economy, rapid population growth and high quality of life continue to fuel home sales activity across the state.”

And what’s driving all this demand for Texas real estate? Jobs! The jobs are here;  waiting to be filled.  Texas added 51,300 industry jobs in January, a healthy rate that accelerates the state’s recovery from the energy bust and reflects growing optimism among the state’s employers. According to our state government sites, Texas is host to several Fortune 500 companies are here and they’re hiring! Companies such as Sysco, Exxon, TI, and AT&T are firmly settled in the heart of Texas, all producing and expanding in the business friendly climate of Texas.

With all the opportunity in Texas, expansion is predicted to continue in cities and suburbs with 2017 promising to be even greater than 2016. And while expansion is good for Texas, I think we’ll be moving a bit further out, away from the purple haze of progress that  dully illuminates the heavens. My family prefers Texas country life, so we’ll be searching for black skies and a lot more land. Good thing we live in Texas, because land is something we have plenty of!

  • Andrew Piziali

    Great article Lisa! Back in the day I was a co-founder of the Texas chapter of the International Dark Sky Association. As an amateur astronomer, I appreciate your plight of the loss of our once pristine skies. I look forward to reading your future contributions!

  • Very nice thank you. Sometimes in our push to win we forget what we may push away.