I have to jump in and defend Austin - I consider it one of the few parts of Texas that is creative, educated, cultural, and yes even liberal. It is truly nice to be able to live in a community that accepts different cultures, and different people without the typical "bible belt" hypocrisy you find in most of the South. *Most of the area is very open minded and those that are not tend to group themselves in a common area and just look the other way.
Austin is COOL!!
"Keep Austin Weird"
BestStash (I won't ask...)
For the record, I actually have really enjoyed my time in Austin. I especially like the live music bars downtown -- great salsa danciing and unbeatable atmosphere.
I read a book called "Rise of Creative Class" by Joe? Florida, a prof at Carnegie Mellon who spends lots of time consuluting with cities around the globe who want to build up yeasty high tech and entrepreneurial environments, and by any definition, most states would kill to get what Austin has going for it. Californicated or not, it is where the good jobs and growth are heading -- people who are still working (and plenty more who aren't) find this sort of environment stimulating and success-reinforcing, and would gladly put up with the higher taxes to have it.
As a veteran of Berkeley, London, NY, Cambridge (Mass) and Tokyo, (and now for 10 years Westchester County just north of NY) I know the allure of these environments -- Detroit didn't have 'it', and I had to look hard for 'it' in west Miami though South Beach has got 'it' now. In Detroit, we used to drive an hour to Ann Arbor just to sniff the air and look for espresso and a real bookstore in 1990. Maybe someday I'll get over this blue-state, high-tax need, but can't be sure how or when)