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When Can You Call Yourself A 'Real' Austinite? Y'all Had Some Ideas.

Hazel O'Neil for KUT

A couple weeks ago, we asked you to help us answer a question for ATXplained.

Sarah Edens moved to Austin about six months ago. She wanted to know: "When can you call yourself a 'real' Austinite?"

RELATED | Subscribe to the ATXplained podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast player

As we told you at the time, Sarah had moved around a lot in the past 10 years, since her husband is in the military. Now she wants to settle down.

We knew there wasn’t a single answer to this question, so we put out the call for your answers. You delivered. We got hundreds of answers — and what we found was less of a checklist and something more intangible.

So here’s when y’all think you can call yourself a “real” Austinite!

These responses have been edited for length and clarity.

You can call yourself a real Austinite if you were here when it was Waterloo. – Laura Maxwell Scott

When you have lived in Austin more than half your life. – Danny

[You have to be] born and raised. Everyone else is a transplant. [I'm a] fifth-generation Austinite myself. – Anne Marie Beard

Can you tell the difference between an Indian Paintbrush and an Indian Blanket? Does the thought of Leslie bring back memories (good or bad)? Have you let go of that loud East Coast dialect in favor of the more soothing Texas drawl? Have you accepted that true tamales are never vegan? A real Austinite has lived here for at least half of their life. Otherwise, you're just a transplant. – Sandy B.

Credit Callie Hernandez / KUT

I remember my great-grandmother saying, in her thick German accent, "Ach! These foreigners are ruining the country!" She considered herself an American, but everyone who came after her was a "foreigner." I feel like a lot of Austinites see themselves this way. The cut-off is when they arrived. I don't think we can draw a line like that. – Emma Flocke

It was my second day living in Austin, Feb. 6, 1993. I walked down the hill to Waterloo Records where there was an in-store with free live music and beer. I struck up a conversation with the guy in front of me in the beer line who said, "Moved here yesterday? You missed it. Austin's not cool anymore. You're 10 years too late." I've heard that same speech at least once a week for 26 years now. If you give that speech or are sick of hearing it, you're an Austinite. – Tony Cooke

You're a real Austinite after coming here with no allergies then being afflicted with them and suffering along with the masses. – Sarah Gallardo

Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

[When you've] survived fighting grackles for your tortilla chips on a porch with a Trudy’s Mexican martini in hand. – Jarell Wilson

[When you've] found yourself not hearing grackles and wishing you were hearing grackles. – Julie K.

You can call yourself a real Austinite when you've had a favorite neighborhood haunt, restaurant, bar, store, shop or other landmark torn down or replaced by gentrification's aggressively bland attempt at creating authenticity and "local flavor." – Jonathan Robison

[When you've] gotten lost in a neighborhood you used to live in because it has changed so much. – Greg Mast

Once the list of places you remember used to be in Austin is longer than the list of new places you want to try. – Gregory Mace

When your favorite restaurant or music venue closes, you can't afford your property taxes, and you don't recognize the skyline any longer. – Kim L.

The first time one of your favorite restaurants/bars/venues/etc. closes due to rising rent or gentrification! – Meghann Sumner

When you refer to everywhere as "used to be." For example, "Oh it's where Romeos used to be. And before that it was ..." – Dorie Pickle

When you can name at least three restaurants/bars/trailer parks that have long closed and since turned into condos. And/or when you've been priced out of living off Riverside, South Austin and the East Side. – Laura Torres

You can call yourself a "real" Austinite when you've complained bitterly about your favorite places closing – only to realize that those places weren't even around five years before you got here. – Andrew T.

You can call yourself a "real" Austinite when you are priced out of the neighborhood you grew up in. – Patricia S.

When you feel a certain level of resentment that people are asking this question. ... I was raised in Northeast Austin and would still like to live in Austin if I could afford it and felt that my children would get a quality education.  – Victoria

When you've been here long enough to refer to and reminisce about the "old" Antone's – whether it be the "old original" on Burnet (yes, I know it was on Sixth Street before then), the "old, old Antone's" on 29th and Guad, the "old Antone's" on Fifth and Lavaca, or the "old new Antone's" over by the new Emo's.– Nichole Wagner

When you realize the tallest building when you first moved here is no longer the tallest (or second tallest), when a business you visited regularly closes abruptly (bonus points if it gets bulldozed for condos), when you start feeling nostalgic about things that are still here because you're used to losing places you care about. – Christian Long

Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

You can call yourself a real Austinite when at least three of your favorite restaurants have closed down and your favorite food truck has finally opened up a brick and mortar. – Louisa

[When you] see the house you bought in 1999 now on the market for three times what you paid for it. – Wendi Aarons

You can say you're from Austin but after the state bird (the building crane) settled here in the early 80s this became just another generic big city. With the exception of a few small pockets the things that made Austin unique are gone. – Russell Julian

I think to be a true Austinite you need to have had time to experience the ways Austin has changed and continues to change. ... You also have to give back. You have to connect with something that is also in you and become part of it.  – Claire Hall

You can call yourself a "real" Austinite when two of your main topics of conversation are (1) how much Austin has changed and is changing (usually for the worse), and (2) why Austin is (still) the best city in the world.  – Bob Davis

[When] someone asks you for directions and you know the answer.  – Patrice Sarath

Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

[When] you've floated the Greenbelt from the waterfall at the Hill of Life down to Barton Springs.  – Ryan Gray

When you remember when Jo's on Congress was built and when Circle C may as well have been South America.– Heather

[When you've] twirled under the Zilker Park Christmas tree until you get dizzy and fall down.– Joseph Juricak

If you know ... where our little old airport was located and it's pronounced "Meller" not Muller!– Vickie Dunlevy

I've been here for 13 years and it wasn't until I swam in Barton Springs pool this year for my birthday did I really feel like a true Austinite.– Patee

[When] you've been to Blues on the Green. It has so many Austin elements: great live music; Zilker Park; raging Texas summer heat; a crowd with thousands of other Austinites, just grooving; and it's free! – Gordon

I went to many concerts at the Southpark Meadows Amphitheater. I remember seeing bands at Liberty Lunch and having casual conversations with Leslie at Star Bar. I STILL don't call myself an Austinite, though. Maybe in another 24 years ...– Nisa Wilson

After living here for long enough, you find certain nooks in the city that feel special and magical just to you – even though you also have thousands of people closely existing around you, you feel like you're in a world of your own. For me, there are quiet times on the Boggy Creek Greenbelt, walking down the fairy trail by the S. Lamar Alamo, or the day I was totally alone on Town Lake in a post-Hurricane Harvey run. Experiencing those widely varying special moments makes you a "real" Austinite.– Darby Kendall

Credit Martin do Nascimento / KUT

[When you’ve] stripped down at Hippy Hollow.– Brian Bennett

[When you] drive around South Austin on bulk trash day looking for treasures. – Jodie Jones

When you've eagerly watched for a chicken to poop on your Bingo number at Ginny's Little Longhorn.– Lyndsey M.

When you've taken your dog to a restaurant or bar (extra points if you went to a Yappy Hour).– Devin Oller

When you've played a minimum of 20 unpaid gigs.– Adam Protextor

After you've lost a chess game to Leslie.– Matthew Garland

You've been "up close and personal" with Willie Nelson! After 36 years in Austin, I went to Stubb’s to see and hear Willie, but he was so far away! So, being less than 5 feet tall, and 76 years old, I squirmed through the much younger crowd to get a better look. I was surprised when they pushed me forward and I found myself on the front row with my elbows on the stage, and Willie sweating and spitting all over me! What a thrill!– Laurie G.

When you move anywhere, you start to make friends. And if you notice, these friends are grouped: You have a group of friends from work, a group of friends from school, and so on. At first, these groups won't intersect; your friends from school don't know your friends from work. But after you make enough friends, your groups will start to intersect. Suddenly, you'll find out your one friend from school knows your one friend from work. Once this happens, you're an Austinite. – Javier Palomares

When you live here and enjoy the diversity of people here. I’ve lived in the area for almost 40 years, and the entire time there have been “old timers” who think they are more a part of Austin than newer people. I’ve never bought that. We are all part of what makes Austin Austin. –  Anonymous

I moved here and felt out of sorts, until I landed a job as a director at a child care center. All of the sudden, the world of Austin opened up to me because of the people who became instant friends and my guide to how to live and explore Austin. The connection with people makes me feel a part of something bigger and included.– Sharon Knight

If you smoke weed with Willie you get automatic rights! —  Erichead Lee

Willie Nelson performs at the Turn out for Texas rally at Auditorium Shores.
Credit Montinique Monroe for KUT
Willie Nelson performs at the Turn out for Texas rally at Auditorium Shores.

When you have "seasonal friends" you meet up with at the Downtown Stroll and Christmas Tree Lighting.– Rachel F.

If you don't know anyone in a band, you're not an Austinite – yet.– Kristopher Watters  

I felt like a real Austinite the day I joined the Austin Beer Run Club. We get together, run a 5K, and afterwards enjoy an Austin brewed beer! I have met so many amazing people at this club and together we all get to enjoy the best the city has to offer.– Solange Adams

It's when you stop feeling like an outsider – you have found your tribe(s) and you've got the hang of things here.– Brandi Clark Burton

You can call yourself a real Austinite when you take access to fresh tortillas for granted. When we have visitors in town, we always send them home with a 20-pack of HEB tortillas and they curse us when they have to go back to store-bought after the last tortilla is gone! True Austinites never have to run out of fresh, pillowy tortilla goodness!– Rachel Johnson

[When you've] eaten tamales at Cisco's in East Austin!– Carolyn Emanuel

[When you've] repeatedly been the only one in your friend group to insist that Mr. Gatti's is, in fact, the best pizza in town.– Susanna Cohen

[When you've] eaten tacos for all three meals in a day.– Stephen Whipple

When your pantry is always stocked with local chips and an array of hot street salsas, including little leftover containers from Torchy's.– Diana

[When people] start to care about local issues and how their representatives at City Hall, the Legislature, commissioners court, school board, etc., handle them. In five years, a new resident can experience two or three campaign cycles, explore all parts of the city and establish themselves in the community.– Skylar

Austin City Council members discuss a proposed labor contract with police officers.
Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT
Austin City Council members discuss a proposed labor contract with police officers.

When you have lived here for about 10 years, so you've had time to become intimately familiar with the ins and outs of the city, [and you've] gone down to a City Council meeting and protested something important to you.– Mark Weiler

When you regularly contribute to the community, rather than just taking advantage of all the amazing experiences that are part of this town. This can take the form of time, talent or treasure. For instance, if you hate the traffic ... volunteer for a mobility group working to expand transportation options, take your bike or walk more often, or donate to such an organization.– Pam Bixby

When you have made a difference in your community and helped improve the quality of life of your fellow Austinites.– Aida Cerda

It's not a time issue, it's whether or not you fit in with the vibe. Some people become Austinites as soon as they get here; others never do.– Tom Pointer

I think "Austinite" is a state of being. It’s how you treat people and handle yourself. Austinites dig nature and a slow pace. They return smiles and open your door. We value community, be it at church, running club, drum circle or family dinner. Not perfect, we lend a hand and are never afraid to call Texas home. It's not politics, the car you drive, where you shop or if you do/don't own guns. If you try to be kind and real, you're a real Austinite to me.– Emily Siegel

[When] you want the bumper sticker, "I wasn't born here but I got here as fast as I could."– Sharon

Real Austinites are quirky and abstract and have a bit of that hippie vibe. It's not quantifiable. Real Austinites know they are real Austinites.– Eric Humphries Moffett

When you're someone like [question-asker] Sarah Edens, you're a "real Austinite" from the get-go. She has the character and spirit. ...  You've been here forever.– Wally Stopher

[When you've] contributed constructively to the community according to your gifts, thereby becoming an integrated part of it for the benefit of all.– Nancy Castleberry

Folks are "real" Austinites when they embody and live the values that make this city amazing: creativity, non-pretentiousness, openness to diversity, neighborliness, an aversion to corporate attitudes, breakfast tacos as the perfect anytime meal, your friends' bands playing any night of the week, dog walking at the Greenbelt, etc. – Reed Burnam

When you say, despite the growth, despite the gentrification, despite the loss of local businesses, despite all the traffic, despite all the allergies, despite all the heat, "I'm so blessed to have found Austin and I'm never leaving."– J.B. Raftus

Real Austinites don't have checklists about what makes a real Austinite. Instead, it's how you act. Are you genuine? Do you listen when your grocery store cashier talks about her kids or get frustrated about her wasting your time? Do you let people merge on MoPac? Do you look out for your neighbor or are you the person who's secretly calling the HOA about someone's pet or fence? People make a city – not checklists of barbecue, Christmas lights and swimming holes.– Laura K.

If you have honked at someone in the past six months, then you are not yet a "real" Austinite. If you find yourself explaining to someone how Austin used to be, you probably are a "real" Austinite.– Jeff Perry

First thing, lose the "us versus them" mentality. Practice your most open, genuine smile on everyone whose eyes you meet, and you'll fit right in. Back off being judgmental as much as you can, and you will soon stop worrying if others are. No sweat, dude.– Jeanine Mankins

When you're abroad and people ask you where you're from and the first thing that comes out is Austin.– Anonymous

When you've had the thought, or an opportunity, to move to another city to be closer to family, and just couldn't do it because you wanted to stay in Austin.– Alex Head

I think the first time I felt like an Austinite was the day I was flying back to Austin from work, looked out the window and said to myself "It's so nice to be home."– “Jackson”

When I first moved to Austin, I went to Ruta Maya's, and there was an open mic going on. Someone got up on stage and said that they had just moved to Austin. Someone else in the audience shouted, "Welcome home!" That, to me, is Austin.– Deena Verbena


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Matt has been a reporter at KUT off and on since 2006. He came to Austin from Boston, then went back for a while--but couldn't stand to be away--so he came back to Austin. Matt grew up in Maine (but hates lobster), and while it might sound hard to believe, he thinks Maine and Texas are remarkably similar.