We heard this question often when we discuss moving to Waco even though neither of us went to Baylor or have family here. As we are nearing our two year mark of living in our Fixer Upper house, I started reflecting on all that brought us to Waco almost three years ago. Much of our story is on my blog “Why I Moved to Waco,” which is where I started my personal reflections.
Our plan to move from coastal San Diego happened within a quick three month period from the time of my husband’s job interview to pulling into town with an overstuffed car and only a 30 day VRBO rental. There were so many trial-by-fire adjustments we had to make in those first thirty days.
Starting a New School
We were moving to a new state and jumping into the middle school world – talk about swimming upstream!
THEN: On day four in our new surroundings, I went to a breakfast with other seventh grade moms. It’s always awkward walking into a new situation as a newbie – especially as an introvert. You know you’re going to tell some version of your story a number of times. I knew my story led with “we just moved here.”
As I entered the restaurant (Cafe Cappuccino), I met another mom new to the school. We both entered the scene of a u-shaped table with about six or seven other seventh grade moms. By breakfast’s end, there were thirteen of us, one third of the entire class represented. Everyone was very friendly, and it turns out, there were four of us new to the school. One other family had just arrived one day earlier than we had from McKinney, Texas. The mom I had walked in with was a lifelong Wacoan and had just moved her daughter to our school.
NOW: Looking back, it’s fun to see the footprints of God and how even this breakfast led to friendships and community development that still exists today. We bought our house from one of those families!
Driving in Waco
THEN: The biggest adaptation: Roundabouts. They’re everywhere! Instead of an intersection to just turn left or an onramp to merge onto a different direction, you have to do a loop first, being careful to avoid any vehicles that might ignore the yield sign. I know that in California, rolling stop signs is a thing, but here – a yield is only a pause in your mind, not from the gas pedal. There is very little serious traffic in Waco. Most people will tell you that you can get anywhere in about fifteen minutes.
NOW: The good news is that there still isn’t too much traffic in Waco (aside from the eternal 35 (not THE 35) construction, right by the Silos, and big game weekends by Baylor – oh, and maybe Valley Mills Rd now that Magnolia Table is open). We have definitely become accustomed to less traffic, and I find myself very annoyed at sitting at an intersection for more than one light. If we drive to our kids’ away games further than thirty five minutes, it is officially out-of-town. How quickly we forget that my husband’s commute in San Diego was about an hour each way every weekday.
Adjusting to the Weather
THEN: It was a full-blast, dive right into the sauna, HOT-IN-YOUR-FACE baptism from Day 1. Sorry, kids, but you had to start running three miles and conditioning for a solid hour every weekday morning in 90ish degrees and 80ish percent humidity. Then in fall, the rain came. And it didn’t stop. For like three months. Every weekend. For sure if we had visitors. Flooding rain that lit up the radar a nice shade of red, especially over 35 if those visitors were driving late at night from Dallas in a tiny rental car.
NOW: It is still hard to accept the weather fluctuations that can happen within a 24 hour period. The humidity is pretty terrible, and this past winter was colder than the previous two, which we’ve been told is what we should expect most winters to be like. I missed the sun, but now that we’ve entered Spring season, I know we’ll head pretty quickly into the sunny heat zone. Today though, I’ll just enjoy the 70’s breezes and green grasses filled with bluebonnets.
Cost of Living
THEN: Acclimating our allergies and fending off the bugs, I remember that another reason we moved here was for the cost of living. We knew we’d be able to buy a house, put our kids in the school ofour choice, pay off graduate school debt, and still take summer vacations.
NOW: While that’s true, just like in every reality check, there is never “enough.” We didn’t put in a pool, and we haven’t made it outside of the continental U.S. yet. Still no passports. We spend most of our “free money” on sports for our kids or the house improvements that are still slowly happening. Our renovated master bath is almost finished! And as the number of tourists visiting our city climbs, so do our property values (and property taxes). Thankful for the no income tax, Texas!
What I’ve learned as Waco has become our hometown is that no matter where you live, you have to practice having a grateful heart. You can’t just take the small things for granted. So I’ll end with my Top 3 Reasons to Love Waco:
- Its small town feel (local shops, murals, 3 degrees of separation with everyone you meet)
- The people (yes, including Chip and Joanna, but many other incredible caring people)
- Feeling of hope and growth all around (Downtown improvements and continual expansion, non-profits who bring about real change)
Sometimes I forget to be thankful and want to just complain about our busy lives, but I’m reminded when one of my kids says, “I still can’t believe…” So I guess I will also be continuing to work on my Mindfulness. So I don’t forget why we moved to Waco.