Why I Don’t Want To Live in San Antonio

Why I Don't Want To Live in San Antonio

I’ve lived in San Antonio, TX for a long time.  I moved here with my family (since disowned) when I was halfway through sixth grade.  I remember I had just finished dissecting frogs in Del Rio, and then I got to dissect them again almost immediately when we arrived here.  That was in 1997.  Jesus, that feels like forever.

When Jessica and I got married, I was working for a DOJ contractor, getting paid above the national average (~$52k/year), and the people there were great.  The only problem was, I was bored.  I wanted more of a challenge, and that job wasn’t cutting it for me.  We decided that I would quit my job, and we’d move somewhere new.

Jessica and I moved to Utah for about a year in 2011, but moved back to San Antonio in 2012.  Our apartment lease was up in Utah.  We initially tried to rent out a warehouse to build a Tiny House there, but that ended in figurative flames, and we were stuck looking for another apartment in Utah.  With little money left and my business only just starting to gain traction, we decided to move back to San Antonio while hiring someone else to build a Tiny House for us.

So just as quickly as we decided to leave the Alamo City, we were back in it.  It was nice to be able to live with family while we built our Tiny House, and while I built my business up.  Eventually, we stopped pursuing the Tiny Life, and got an apartment.

As I am finishing up my 17th year living in this city, the things that have bothered me over the years are only getting worse.

Nothing Is Close

The city planning here was done very poorly.  The city continues to expand outward, while there’s no focus on creating hubs or activity centers.  People always suggest going “downtown” or to the Pearl Brewery area.  That is a minimum of 25 minutes from where we live.  That’s 50 minutes of round trip driving without even counting the time spent there.

Even when we meet friends in between our place and theirs, we’re still spending at least 45 minutes in the car to drive there and back because this city is so spread out.  Even my best friend’s house is 14 miles away, with a route there that is littered with highway work and traffic – sometimes causing us to take 45 minutes just to get 14 miles down a highway.

I don’t want to live in a city that forces me to rely so heavily on having a car.  I want to live somewhere that can be easily biked, walked, and that has great public transportation.  I accept that a car is in my immediate future, but I don’t want to live in a city that chooses to build its infrastructure around cars.

Manners Be Damned

When we lived in Utah, I sold a LOT of stuff on craigslist (buying and reselling), so I dealt with quite a few people.  100% of the people I dealt with were incredibly responsive, nice, and offered conversation when we met beyond the simple, “How are you?” /  “Have a nice day” bullshit that Texans consider “friendly”.  We experienced the same difference in California – people were generally happier and actually interested in the mundane details, unlike San Antonio, where smiling and saying “How’s it going?” is considered friendly.

Craigslist in San Antonio is a perfect representation of the manners of the population as a whole.  I get emails asking if I still have things, and when I respond, only about 15% of the people I respond to will respond again and set up a meet time. Of the people that do set up a meet time, only about 10% of them actually show up.  That’s right, people say they’ll be somewhere, then don’t show up, and don’t have the decency to let me know they won’t be there.

Sure, basing my findings off of craigslist meet-ups is a bit subjective, but I’ve had enough encounters to form my opinion that the “tomorrow” attitude of San Antonio is alive and well.

The Heat

This one is pretty simple.  It is hotter than a jalapeño’s coochie outside, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change that. Jessica and I love to go on walks, hike, ride bikes, etc – but there are many months of the year in San Antonio that we simply cannot do that, because it is so miserably hot outside.  Even at 11pm, the humidity keeps the outdoors unbearable.

When I take the dog out at night, for only 5-10 minutes max, I’m covered in sweat when I get back to the apartment.  I simply hate the heat here.  I don’t remember it being as bad as it is now, back when I was working at a theme park in 2002.  It has definitely gotten more and more miserable as the years have gone by.

Perhaps I’m just hating it more as each year goes by, but I can say for sure that I have tried to go outside just about every day in 2015, and although January and February were acceptable, the remaining months have been totally miserable, and I just can’t handle living in a city that forces me to be inside for 70% of the year, out of discomfort.  Not to mention the strain it puts on our air conditioner and electricity bill.

Cedar

Juniperus ashei.  The tree that is indigenous only to Central Texas.  Cedar Fever.  Sure, there are allergens in other places, but Texas Mountain Cedar causes some of the most severe allergic symptoms seen by doctors.  Jessica gets hit hard by this every winter, and I have only just started to be affected by it 2 years ago.  This makes winters – the one time that the weather is near tolerable here – nearly impossible to go outside.

We adopted a dog that previously lived in Georgia, and he has had terrible allergies during his time with us.  When we took him to California, his allergy symptoms went away immediately, and did not come back until we returned to San Antonio.

Cedar Fever is not something we can fix – and Jessica has tried every remedy imaginable – and so the only way to avoid it is to leave Texas.  We’ll take normal allergens in another state over Cedar Fever any day of the week.

The San Antonio Vortex

The whole reason we’ve lived here so long, and why we came back here from Utah when we did, is that San Antonio is like a vortex.  It’s just affordable enough, and it has just enough conveniences that it feels like a worthwhile place to live.  We live in an affordable apartment with a grocery store that’s sort of close, but there are so few things to do (aside from eating out), that we end up staying in our apartment all the time.

When we lived in Utah, we were out doing things very often.  We went on daily walks on a gorgeous walking trail that connected to our apartment, with breathtaking views of the Wasatch mountains and the Salt Lake.  We went to Antelope Island to explore its beauty.  We visited Hill AFB to see the planes and helicopters on display.  We wandered SLC and its great parks to work and talk.  We did all of that because the weather was FANTASTIC.  Even in the summer, the 94 degree weather felt fantastic, due to the low humidity.

San Antonio is a hard place to leave because it doesn’t take much to get by.  All of my jobs were low-stress.  It appears to me that most San Antonians just want to mind their own business and not be bothered.  All of this is fine for those who choose to live here, but I simply cannot thrive in this environment.

TL;DR

It’s SO HOT ALL THE TIME, everything is far away, “tomorrow” attitude, and I feel like I’m simply sitting here waiting to die in this city.

Mainly, I want to live in a place with a more temperate or cold climate (yes, I’ve lived in and loved cold weather), and I want to live in a place with mountains, hiking, beaches, and a focus on pedestrian travel.

So now, the hunt begins.

Something Big on the Horizon

Something Big on the Horizon

The tiny house has been sold.  We sold our VW Golf TDI.  And we just got our first offer on our piece of property in Spring Branch (only 30% of what we initially paid for it, woohoo!).  Regardless of the trouble we’ve been through during the past three years, we’re moving forward.

I’m currently working on a WordPress Development project that excites me more than any other web development project I’ve ever worked on.  I’m very excited to make this complex idea come to life in WordPress form, and I can’t wait to help this client improve the efficiency of his website.

I’ve been posting regularly to my WordPress Development Blog at Friday Next, and I hope many people are getting inspiration and education from the content I’m posting there.

Jessica and I have put our next big plan in motion, and you’ll know what it is in another couple months!  Stick around with me, and I guarantee you, if you enjoyed the tiny house build process posted here, you’ll enjoy what we’re doing next.

WooConf and a Water-Cooled Xeon

I went on my first work trip since being self-employed!  That’s pretty exciting.  WooConf was just okay.  I learned a couple tricks, and I’ll be implementing them very soon; however, most of the talks were just selling the audience on WooCommerce products, which is a bit ridiculous, since we’d all already paid to go to a WooCommerce conference… I digress.

I hated San Francisco, but my wife loved it.  🙂  It smelled like marijuana, piss, and trash everywhere – LITERALLY everywhere except inside buildings – and the town just gave me a really bad feeling.  But Jess enjoyed it, so that’s one for two.  The town did make for some nice photos that I hope to use in a Friday Next Web Development redesign very soon.

Open Your Golden Gate

I also built a custom, water-cooled Xeon workstation build (with an NVidia Quadro K2000 workstation graphics card) for my main client.  He’s an orthodontist and uses SureSmile, so this should REALLY ramp up the performance he sees, versus his prior 2010 Mac Pro (running Windows full time).

This build also include ECC memory.  Did you know that ECC memory is made to keep your memory from accidentally flipping bits, due to cosmic rays from SUPERNOVAS???  How badass is that?  It’s much more expensive than regular RAM, but for a workstation build with a Xeon, you want ECC RAM.

Nonetheless, I used a watercooler in a pull (out of the case) setup, inside a tiny, cube Mini ITX CoolerMaster Elite 110 case.  It’s incredibly smaller than the cheese-grater Mac Pro it replaces, and it’s WAY more powerful, and WAY more energy efficient.  I’m really quite excited about this build.  Here are some photos.

Water-Cooled Xeon (ECC) – Mini ITX

A Note on the Tiny House

Tiny House progress is set to resume very soon.  I had to build a website for a new client (and build the previously mentioned PC) and go to WooConf, so I’ve been quite busy lately.  However, Jess and I will be putting together a new list for final things to do to get the house livable.

Unfortunately, that list will still be pretty long, since it’s not just “install flooring, paint walls, build cabinets, done.”  We still have to get two 1,000 gallon water tanks delivered to our property, and then have 2,000 gallons of water delivered as well.  We also have to build the rainwater catch system.  I also have to finish wiring the cabin and run power to the tiny house.

There is a lot to do, but we’re on the home stretch, and more photos will be coming soon!

We Went to Chicago

Chicago 2013 Cold 20

Jess and I just got back from a trip to Chicago, so that her business – Jack Friday Shop – could be featured in the Renegade Maker’s Faire. We had an absolute blast in Chicago, and we loved it so much that we would actually consider moving there (either temporarily or semi-permanently).

I snapped a couple pictures with my Panasonic Lumix LX5, and I am thrilled with how they came out. I was worried during my last photo shoot review that it might be time for a camera upgrade, but after looking at these photos, I’m fully happy with my Leica glass again.

I know I haven’t posted about the house in a while, but I’ll be getting back into it hot and heavy as soon as I get another good web development gig. I did recently shoot a walkthrough video, so I’ll post that up here as soon as I edit it in iMovie. For now, enjoy these lovely pictures of the Windy City!

My New Points Goal – Amtrak

Amtrak Logo

Amtrak Logo

That’s right, folks.  I’m switching up the game.  Jessica and I have had it just about up to here with the TSA, so we’re going to voice our disgust via utilizing another travel medium.  Trains.

I’m going to start researching point redemption rates for Amtrak and ways to hack the points-earning system so that we can start traveling slowly – enjoying the journey as much as the destination.

Traveling by Car

I would also like to travel by car to some of the places we decide to go.  In the future, I’d love to build a small teardrop trailer (after the Tiny House is done, of course!) and tow it with a diesel powered vehicle.  Until then, though, I’d like to plan some vacations where we travel by car to our destination, enjoying multiple stops along the way.

I’m a tad bit upset that our Beetle TDI is getting an average of 32mpg right now, but I should probably be happy that that’s a higher efficiency than most cars.  I’d prefer to have a vehicle that gets 50mpg or better (and NOT a Prius), or have a GTI.  You know what I’m saying?  Go big or go home.

In the Future

I’ll be posting more about my point-earning schemes to travel for free on Amtrak trains, and I’ll report back how comfortable (or uncomfortable) the journey ends up being.  We already know the train system in Europe is awesome, but how good is the US implementation?  Stay tuned to find out!

Sidenote

I still have 130,690 Southwest Rapid Reward points AND a companion pass, so Jess and I will probably use that up a bit more before the end of the year, when it runs out (2013).