As finals are kicking in, school seems like it’s never going to end and you’re doing everything you can to live out your last days in college. The future seems daunting.
We’ve been there. It’s scary.
Big cities, big companies and big kid jobs are calling your name and the pressure is now in full swing for you. May is just around the corner and most people say you should have your post-grad plans figured out by now.
If you don’t, and if Waco is still an open option for you, we believe you should choose to stay.
Here’s the deal, we’re biased and we know it. But we truly believe Waco is on the cusp of its big boom. Waco has three colleges that make up almost a quarter of our population, yet our retention levels are astoundingly low. Meaning that more people leave Waco to work elsewhere than those who choose to stay.
Waco is overlooked. But we think that’s about to change. It’s starting to be kind of trendy to stay, and we love it.
So, in listacle form, this is why you should stay.
Cost of Living
Cost of living is extremely low. You can live here on $40K salary and have the same spending power as earning a salary around $50K in Dallas. Renting is cheap, and sometimes owning a house is even cheaper. Groceries, gas and daily expenses are all astronomically lower than any big city. To give a brief example: movies are like $7 bucks. (keep your student ID.) Go anywhere else and you’ll have to be willing to drop $15 for your movie alone, and that’s without popcorn.
The food culture in Waco is not only growing, but it’s also incredibly inexpensive. Places like Cajun Craft and D’s Mediterranean Restaurant provide diversity of food while also making eating out an attainable activity. Also, we have more burger places than you could eat at in one week. And our breakfast tacos sincerely cannot be beat. The amount of hole-in-the-wall places in Waco are not only fun options for eating out but affordable options for eating out. And don’t even get me started on brunch. Waco is taking brunch and taking it to the next level.
If local places aren’t your forte, then we have many, many chain restaurants to offer you. Just drive through Central Texas Market place or the Grease Pit for a small glimpse.
One of our absolute favorite things about Waco is it’s attention and appreciation to crafted work. Local jewelry, furniture, clothes and coffee not only thrive here, but are made possible by the cost of living, community and other city movements.
And not only do we make items, we make incredible beverages. We are particularly excited about this aspect of our growing culture because it’s so focused on the craft. To take a short tally of our current situation, we have 1 internationally acclaimed craft whisky distillery, 2 craft beer producers, 3 local wineries and 3 wine bars varying from imported to internally produced vino. We have four local coffee shops around the downtown area and we have 3 locally brewed beans. They say you can measure a town on it’s craftsmanship, and in beverages alone we have it growing in spades.
You’d have to have your head under a rock to not know that Waco’s Arts culture is making huge strides. Another key measurement of a city’s progress is counted by the presence of art. Not only do we have amazing local artists that do things like create beautiful city maps to pepper our stoplights, but we have a supportive student population of artists that constantly exhibit and show off their incredible work. We are now officially a Cultural Arts District. That is nothing to be overlooked.
If you follow us consistently, then you will have noticed through our Waco Weekender articles that each weekend holds multiple live music opportunities. Common Grounds brings in the big boys. Dichotomy hosts incredible growing talent. And The Backyard Bar and Grill has multiple different country music options on the regular. Places like The Grape, Klassy Glass, Valley Mills Vineyard and Diamondbacks consistently host everything from folk to jazz ensembles. We have everything from original, incredible Gospel Music to EDM festivals.
The great part about Waco’s community is how accessible it is. You can be two handshakes away from meeting the Mayor or your new best friend. There are several Young Professional groups varying on different categories. Churches provide multiple options for centralized places to meet people in your stage of life, and everyone is eager to make friends. Our Waco community is the most supportive, relational oriented community, and it’s one of our favorite things about Waco.
Being located in the Heart of Texas is one of the greatest advantages about Waco. Dallas and Austin are an 1.5 hour drive away from Waco but a 3 hour drive from each other. Houston is easy to reach from Waco, but a full half days drive from Dallas. We are able to access the airports at each of those location easily, making traveling out of Texas simple.
Yep, that’s the big one. We can be low-cost, super cool and centrally located, but at the end of the day the question remains- where the heck are you going to work? Luckily, Waco’s leadership is on it. Thanks to our amazing leaders, new initiatives like Campustown Waco, interninwaco.com, a ton of local job fairs, the Waco Trib’s job board, and each university’s career and professional development departments make it way easier to find opportunities than two years ago. But, the real key is getting out there. Go knock on doors, shake hands, use your pre-existing relationships within the community- teachers, church friends, etc.- and tell them what you’re looking for. Odds are, they know where you should go next.
And if you can’t find one, make one. Waco’s entrepreneurial scene is in full force right now. Events like 1 Million Cups are happening weekly and it’s easier than ever to get started. Waco has an abundance of resources in the community to help entrepreneurs solve any problems they may have. There’s never a better time than the present to start chasing your idea. And if you don’t have one, join one. Waco’s budding ecosystem is full of dreamers, makers and innovators. Find someone and help them make the next big business. You never know.
Projected Growth and Development
A recent article came out noting that the Greater Waco community was projected to double it’s economy by 2040. How nuts is that? This once spec on the map is now popping up on everyone’s radar. Literally- on the way back from France, the airplane GPS system that showed you where you were in the sky had ‘Waco’ showing very far zoomed back on the map so that must mean we’ve made it.
Not to mention, we have the up and coming riverfront development that is already underway in phase 1 of 4. The old train track bridge is in talks of becoming a big trail through town. There’s new businesses receiving TIF (Tax Increment Financing) funding from the City every month it feels like, and let’s be honest, the amount of tourists that are in our town each week is freaking ridiculous. If you could buy stock in a city, I think I know where I’d put my money.
So if you’re one of those students whose life is not yet determined, but are thinking of Waco as an option, we encourage you to make Waco your home. We’re on our big growth kick, and we think you should be a part of it.