Betting on San Antonio: A Homecoming Story

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Margaritas with the Yardsellr Crew in SF

Margaritas with the Yardsellr Crew in SF. Courtesy Photo.

It was nearing the end of 2006 when I decided that after 22 years of living in the same town I was  born, it was time to move on to a new journey in life. I had absolutely no savings to my name and no real plan of what I would do once I left San Antonio.

I knew in my heart it was the right choice for my life. I packed my bags, gave a respectable two weeks notice to my job and booked a flight to San Francisco. After purchasing the airfare, I had only $300 left to make things work.

I moved in with someone I met in an online chat room who ended up being a normal person that helped me tremendously. Within two weeks of being in San Francisco, I landed a job with a startup company called Ingenio.

Living in San Francisco was a fantastic experience that lasted almost eight inspiring years. During my time in San Francisco, I traveled extensively to Taiwan and fell in love with the country. After four visits to Taiwan and one trip that lasted four months, I find myself a frequent visitor.

When people ask me about myself, I tell them: “Born & Raised in Texas, Matured in San Francisco, Cultured in Taiwan.” After living away from my home of San Antonio, I grew as a person and learned a lot of valuable life lessons.

Night out at Taipei's "Funky" dance club. Courtesy Photo.

Night out at Taipei’s “Funky” dance club. Photo courtesy of Mike Price.

But it was in 2014 that I decided that life in San Francisco was coming to an end for multiple reasons. For one, rent prices were getting outrageous and SF no longer seemed like a realistic long-term solution for someone my age. Secondly, I was homesick for the things that make Texas great. You know, things like BBQ, Whataburger, Barbacoa, Tejano music, and Southern hospitality.

So once again, I packed my bags, gave a respectable two weeks notice to my job, took my last paycheck, and purchased a flight to Austin! Why Austin? I wanted to come back home to Texas but wanted to give a new city a chance. Plus, Austin was said to be similar to San Francisco in many ways.

I arrived to Austin with less than $1,000 and no job or place to live. I had applied to WP Engine in Austin before arriving but did not have a job offer just yet. The interview was scheduled for the day after my arrival, so I stayed in an Austin hotel for the meantime.

The interview went fantastic and was offered the job the very same day. I immediately went to work on finding an apartment and within two days, I signed a one year lease to my very own apartment. No more roommates.

Here we are, almost a year later and I’m still not satisfied with where I am living. At age 31, I am now realizing that having my close friends and family around me is more important to me than it was eight years ago. But not only that, I’ve realized that the culture of San Antonio itself is so embedded within my DNA that I must return.

A rendering of the new Peanut Factory Lofts. Image courtesy of Lake | Flato architecture.

A rendering of the new Peanut Factory Lofts. Image courtesy of Lake | Flato architecture.

San Antonio is and will always be my home, regardless of where I currently “hang my hat.” I am excited to report that this May, I am returning to San Antonio and will be living downtown at the newly renovated Peanut Factory Lofts near Market Square. WP Engine has an office in Geekdom that I will work in.

Part of what makes San Antonio such a beautiful place is that preserving history is so important to the culture and vibe of the city. My new home-to-be at the Peanut Factory Lofts, which are being converted from the abandoned Birdsong Peanut Factory, is an example of this preservation.

Most cities decide to tear down and rebuild, however San Antonio is proud of its history and makes certain that history gets transformed and made fresh. I love that San Antonio remains true to its culture, even in 2015.

What I am most excited about in returning home to San Antonio is the wonderful authentic Tex-Mex, which includes breakfast tacos with barbacoa and chorizo and potato made with homemade flour tortillas. A great deal of a city’s culture lives in its food.

Ramon Ayala at Tejano Conjunto Festival- photo by Al Rendon

Ramon Ayala at Tejano Conjunto Festival. Photo by Al Rendon.

In addition to the wonderful food of San Antonio is the homegrown music traditions of Tejano, showcased year after year in Market Square during the Tejano Music Awards. And don’t forget: the beautiful historical buildings which keep San Antonio’s downtown area alive with tradition and memories.

What does the future of San Antonio look like? I believe this is a very important question to anyone in their 30s that may be considering moving back home. This is something I thought a lot about when making the decision to return.

I strongly believe that San Antonio will make progress in the startup industry, beginning with Geekdom which recently purchased the historic Rand Building in downtown San Antonio. This tech hub will help see to the success of new businesses in San Antonio.

This will bring new opportunities to the city and its youth in a day and age of technological advance. San Antonio will stay true to its traditions and historical preservation, yet will do so in a manner that will not stifle progress in the startup arena. This is my hope and prediction, which is why I’m betting on San Antonio as I return to call it home once again.

Featured/top image: Margaritas with the crew from Yardsellr, a startup I worked for while in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Mike Price.

Related Stories:

Call to Action from Departing San Antonian

Geekdom 2014: Moving, Growing, Geeking

Why I’m Stubborn About San Antonio

From the City of Brotherly Love to Falling in Love With The Alamo City

Why San Antonio’s Future is Bright

12 thoughts on “Betting on San Antonio: A Homecoming Story

  1. When I first moved to San Antonio I worked on the next block to the Peanut Factory. I remember the trucks unloading and the nearby scrapyards. Fantastic transformation, welcome home.

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