What are you going to do when you graduate? Aggies are asked this question all the time, and we tend to consider the answer primarily with respect to our careers. However, isn’t where you live at least as important as what you’re doing there? I found myself giving this idea some thought recently, as I’m one of the many Aggies that moved to a larger city after getting my undergraduate degree and eventually found my way back to College Station and Texas A&M. Today more than ever before, I hear stories of graduating Aggies choosing to make their homes and careers here in College Station, in lieu of immediately heading on to Dallas, Houston or Austin. And it's no wonder why, once you consider the factors that all cities measure themselves against when considering something as nebulous as livability.
The case for settling down in College Station has been an increasingly easy one to make over the past few years, and I hope in making that case, you’ll start to give the notion some consideration. Using data compiled from the city government, the B-CS Chamber of Commerce, A&M, national city databases and the U.S. Census, the arguments for making such a decision can be made. College Station is a surprisingly easy town to live in. I say easy because in terms of environment, culture and surroundings, College Station is largely of a piece of East Texas. Yet, the city differentiates itself in many ways which particularly affect young professionals and college graduates, as well as those just starting a new family.
This city is a very rent-friendly place, thanks of course to the student population. In the past few years, we’ve seen rental prices drop across the board as supply finally outpaces demand, putting College Station’s median rent below the national average. This housing boom is spurred on by two sources: a surge in retirees taking advantage of competitive housing prices and accommodating atmosphere, and the continued student population growth between A&M and Blinn College. College Station reported a population of slightly over 93,800 during the 2010 Census, and today we are estimated to have a population of approximately 122,000, outlining an incredible period of 30 percent growth in a decade.
The crime rate in College Station is yet another point of pride, with rates of both property crimes and violent crimes less than half the national average in most categories, and less than a third in others. It’s no wonder so many new families are choosing to raise their children in College Station, where good public schools and the comfort of safe neighborhoods await them.
Founder of the Shaw Law Firm and local attorney Shelly Megan Shaw works closely with new businesses opening their doors around B-CS. According to Shaw, “The Brazos Valley has become a place where recent Aggie grads can live and work without worrying about a lack of quality employment, affordable housing and entertainment.” The City of College Station’s 2016 Citizen Survey ranked the top five qualities residents value most about the city. Number one was “friendly people, family-friendly, good quality of life,” and of the top five changes residents would most like to see, three revolved around the need to improve traffic, maintain infrastructure and plan for sustainable growth. Our collective concerns seem to focus more on the complexities borne out of our rapid success than any long-lasting, structural problems.
Aggies have long worried that rapid change could risk our deep-seated values of tradition and honoring our past. However, it’s exactly those core aspects of our community that form a beacon for those looking for a home that embodies them. Moving back to College Station was the best personal and professional decision I have ever made, and if you find yourself aimless and far from home, consider looking back toward those places where you felt most at home.