Owning a home had never been something Kristopher Esqueda even thought about. He was a successful restaurateur in San Francisco, helping to open many popular restaurants such as Saison and Sons and Daughters, and every month he turned in a $3,500 rent check for a two-bedroom apartment in the Tenderloin. One day after visiting a friend in Nashville who had moved there from the Bay Area, Esqueda left his apartment, stepping over hypodermic needles and feces on his way to work and started to wonder whether his time in the city was up.
He’d enjoyed his time in Nashville, but decided to explore a few other places before making any decisions, spending a week in both Austin, Texas, and Richmond, Va., in 2018. Richmond was great, but it seemed like it was too small for him. Austin was “comfortable,” Esqueda said, but almost too comfortable. “I found that Austin reminded me too much of San Francisco. There were too many tech workers. It already seemed like it was the ‘it’ city.”