Suburban Jungle Strategist Katie Cranis is no stranger to making moves. After growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, she headed to Washington, DC for college before moving to Southern California for graduate school.
“I moved to San Francisco after graduation and spent four years there,” Katie says. “Then I moved to Sausalito and Corte Madera. We loved it—who wouldn’t?”
After welcoming their now-11-year-old son, though, Katie and her husband began considering a move—they just didn’t know where.
“We initially planned to buy in the Bay Area, but felt like we kept missing our window,” she explains. “So we gave ourselves two years to keep renting and figure out where to go next—and we opened ourselves up to pretty much anywhere.”
Narrowing their list—and opting for “no winter”
In making a move, Katie says, they wanted to be sure they were settling in a spot that checked all of their boxes, including cost of living, great schools and, above all, no winter.
“The ‘no winter’ piece eliminated a huge chunk of the country, including the Northeast, where my husband is from,” she says. “We considered the Carolinas for a while, but didn’t know anyone there and couldn’t really picture ourselves there.”
Another key consideration: they needed a thriving technology scene. In California, Katie’s husband worked in tech and they wanted to ensure he could either transfer to another office or find a job in his field. This eliminated even more areas—and the more they cut, the more Austin kept resurfacing.
“My stepbrother had been living in Austin for about 10 years at the time,” Katie says. “He was a great resource—he’d moved from California, too, and helped us navigate, initially—what to do, where to potentially land, things like that.” Ultimately, though, Katie hopped on a plane, rented a car and drove around solo for a few days, checking out neighborhoods and trying to get a lay of the land.
“There was no Suburban Jungle in Austin at the time—I really wish there had been!”
Finding their just-right community in Austin
Armed with her first-hand findings and tons of research, Austin seemed more and more like the perfect fit. Major tech companies like Facebook and Google were already in town and others—like Apple—were planning campuses in and around town. The schools, she adds, also scored high marks, with strong academics and diverse extracurriculars.
“I visited so many amazing communities,” Katie says. “Ultimately, we narrowed it down to Westlake. We just loved the schools and the entire area—it hit on all of our objectives, for sure. But Westlake is big—so, then, we had to focus on finding the right neighborhood.”
Fortunately, she didn’t have to do much more digging—a friend reached out after attending a July 4th party at Lost Creek Country Club, a neighborhood in the district. “My friend called and said, ‘you have to live in Lost Creek!’ She knew it was a great fit—and she was right.”
With a Lost Creek-or-bust mindset, the family started their search—but inventory was low. One day, though, Katie spotted a “for rent” sign and decided to make her move—she walked in, found the owner and rented the house the next day. They lived there for eight months before buying in the same neighborhood.
“This got us into the neighborhood and into the schools,” she says. “My son started second grade at Forest Trail Elementary two weeks after the school year began.”
Working with Suburban Jungle clients from coast to coast
That was four years ago—and they’ve never looked back. Though nervous about making such a big move, the Cranis family has been thrilled with life in Austin. The community has been extremely welcoming, bringing cookies and dinner when the family arrived and, since, ensuring they were well acclimated to the area.
“Everyone says hello,” Katie says. “Austin lends itself to being very community-oriented, which we love. And that’s huge for people moving here from other parts of the country—expect to be warmly welcomed and brought right into the mix, as soon as you arrive.”
This, she notes, is plus for many of her Suburban Jungle clients—virtually all of her clients have, lately, come from outside of Texas. Next week, she says, one of her most recent clients is making the leap. Like the Cranises, this family is from the Bay Area—both parents work in tech and they, too, were in search of a different pace for themselves and their three young kids.
“For many, moving to Austin is the ultimate lifestyle move,” Katie says. “They want that slower pace. They want that positive, upbeat, community vibe. They want the schools and the music and the food and the culture. It’s all here.”
Find your suburb…wherever that may be! Contact Suburban Jungle now for a free Suburbs Strategy session.
Photos: Katie Cranis