Even as recently as a couple of year’s ago, a huge majority of Irish graduates would plum for New York, San Francisco or in some cases Boston to spend their huge year living and working Stateside. A plethora of paid roles, a fast-lane lifestyle, some stunning local attractions and scenery plus the status that comes with becoming a New Yorker or Bostonian were strong pulls.
In 2017, there’s another big player attracting many of Ireland’s newest and brightest degree holders – Texas.
In the first of our two part series, we’ve gone in depth to understand why Austin’s stock has grown considerably for Irish graduates and to speak to one such Music Technology graduate who now calls the city home.
The No.1 Tech City in the US
That’s San Francisco, right? Wrong, it’s actually Austin. There’s a tech corridor in Northwest of the city whose name itself tells you all you need to know – The Domain. It’s here that the tech giants like Amazon, Dell and Facebook hang out, with Apple, IBM and Absolute Software also in the neighbourhood.
Not only is Austin a tech hub but it is the volume of opportunities in the city which also make it a standout option for Irish graduates. In fact, a just published jobs growth forecast report by CNBC shows Austin with one of the rates of unemployment combined with continued jobs growth and GDP into 2019.
Finally, it’s in terms of Austin’s work-life balance where it really outguns its city rivals. It’s not only all the great things to do in the city (which we’ll come to) but for the positive relationship between salary expectations in the city and the cost of living there according to Indeed.com. In short, your dollars go further.
The Cost Of Living v Other Major Cities
An obvious challenge for Irish graduates embarking on a year in the US is the initial financial bottleneck of getting your visa, flights, insurance and accommodation sorted out.
“I had read a bunch of articles talking about how Austin was a really cool growing city, with good employment opportunities, great food and of course great weather. It’s also still much more affordable than other big cities you may think of first”.
It is true that the cost of living in Austin has increased in the last couple of year’s as the city has flourished but this increase still stacks up very well against New York, San Fran and Boston.
It’s paying for the essentials that really makes Austin appealing. A studio apartment can still be rented for under $1,000 per month, gym membership is cheap as is a beer (depending on your mood!) and there’s no state income tax in Texas.
The Home of Live Music
Anyone who has the mildest interest in music will know that Austin is home to SXSW and City Limits Festivals, both legendary musical gatherings. Austin’s love affair with live music doesn’t stop there. In fact, there are more live music venues in Austin (250) per capita than any other city in the US!
For Aidan, this was huge, “One of the biggest draws for me though was the music and independent film scene here. I have a degree in Music Technology so in order to gain some experience in this field it seemed like moving to the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ was a good bet”.
The Irish Comunity in Austin
Of course, part of the charm of leaving Ireland for the US is to experience a different culture and lifestyle but there’s comfort in familiarity, especially in the early days. Austin wouldn’t exactly be known as a ‘Southern Boston’ so are there many Irish leaving here at all?
“I moved over with my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and we were nearly sure we were going to be the only Irish on the graduate visa in the middle of Texas, sure everyone back home thought we were mad for choosing Austin over New York or San Fran and the usual spots, but we quickly found a good group of other Irish over here and that community just keeps on growing as the word gets out”, says Aidan.
“The Irish community here is a real asset and everyone is happy to give advice or help you out whether it be with accommodation when first moving over or getting introduced to the right people to start your job hunt, although it’s becoming a big city it still has a small city feel to it and people tend to look out for each other.
The obligatory GAA club needs to also get a mention, “There’s also the Celtic Cowboys GAA and soccer club here which is a great way to meet other Irish people when you move over”.
Live An Active, Healthy Lifestyle With Ease
Austin is blessed with some of the best biking trails in the US, some gorgeous hiking spots surrounded by wildlife and a plenty of space for a morning run.
You may have a certain political perception when you think of Texas too but you might be surprised to know that Texas produces more renewable wind energy than the next three biggest state producers combined. The state is committed to green energy, in fact one of Austin’s suburbs, Georgetown is run on 100% clean energy.
We couldn’t avoid mentioning the weather and the forecast is HOT! In fact just this week Austin broke its all-time daily temperature record, hitting 106 degrees or 41 degrees Celsius in old money.
“We love the active lifestyle over here and with year round sunny, warm weather there’s so much opportunity to get out and do stuff on your weekends”, says Aidan. His Instagram feed doesn’t point to anything otherwise (give him a follow!)
Aidan’s Austin Advice…
As you can see, Austin is a city that has a hell of a lot going for it. We couldn’t end our catch with Aidan without asking him for his best advice for any 2017 graduates considering where to spend their life-changing 12 months…
“I always urge anyone thinking about moving abroad or going for the graduate visa to do it, even if you don’t like it and come home after 3 months, the experiences you’ll have will serve you for the rest of your life and greatly benefit your career too. I have had the opportunity to do so many things I never imagined I would ever get to do; from working in the sound department on a couple of feature films and attending South By Southwest to filming with Jason Street and Tyra Collette from Friday Night Lights and shooting an interview with Matthew McConaughey”.
“I’d highly recommend anyone thinking about applying for the graduate visa to think about places other than the popular spots you may think of when deciding where to go. Do a bit of research and see if there’s anywhere else that appeals to you and just go for it, we took a big gamble on Austin and it paid off but there are so many other cool cities too that could be a great alternative to the usual suspects if you’re willing to give them a go.”
We have now dipped below 200 Graduate Visas remaining for our 2017 allocation. Our initial allocation filled up last year by August so the time for deliberating is closing fast. Contact Melanie.Young@usit.ie to ensure you don’t miss this chance of a lifetime or call us on (01) 602 1747.