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8 Things We Didn’t Expect On Our Trip To Texas

Tags: Austin, Houston, Texas

Earlier this year, members of Empire’s marketing team took a trip down to Houston and Austin to tour our communities and explore the area. Here’s what they found.


Americans and Canadians have a lot in common: we share similar lifestyles, values and freedoms. But there are a few cultural differences between us too, especially in a state as singular and larger-than-life as Texas. Read on to discover eight things we were surprised to discover while visiting the Lone Star State.

1. WE WENT FROM “EH” TO “Y’ALL”

Canadians are known for saying “eh,” and the same is true for Texans and “y’all.” From thank y’all, how’re y’all, y’all have a great day and every phrase in between, I loved hearing y’all use this favorite Southern saying. Every time I’m in Texas, I find myself repeating it back in a twangy Southern accent. — Courtney McMullan, Corporate Brand Manager

2. GAS STATIONS ARE A DESTINATION

It may come as a surprise that something as ordinary as getting gas would make my list of things I didn’t expect to discover on our Texas trip, but when it came time to fill our tank, I was astonished to learn that we could leave the pump unattended. Even that paled in comparison to the size of the gas stations in the state (I’m looking at you, Buc-ee’s!). Not only were the Buc-ee’s the size of a Walmart, they had a selection as extensive as the superstore’s. — Amanda Tucci, Content Writer

3. THE WEATHER IS BEAUTIFUL, BUT EVERYONE STAYS IN

 After six months of a cold Canadian winter, I can’t wait to get outside and make the most of warm weather. I spend as much time outdoors as possible, barbecue almost every night and take advantage of dining al fresco. But since Texas is blessed with hot weather year-round, keeping cool indoors — especially during peak summer months — is where it’s at. Every indoor space is so well-chilled that I eventually started travelling with a sweater to combat the frigid temperatures blasting out of the air conditioning systems. Spending time outdoors, however, will have you quickly wishing you were back inside with the icy breeze! — Steve Giampa, Digital Designer 

4. WAITING FOR A TABLE AT RESTAURANTS CAN BE FUN

When I found out that we were going to Cracker Barrel for breakfast one morning, I couldn’t wait. This was my first time in Texas, so going to a classic American restaurant was exciting. When we walked in, we thought we might have entered through the wrong door since the first thing we saw was a gift shop. When we realized we were in the right place, I had a great time looking around the store while waiting to be seated. Unfortunately, I only brought a carry-on for the trip and so was limited to what I could buy, but I would have come home with plenty more knickknacks if I had the space. — Nancy Gioffre, Graphic Designer 

5. EACH COMMUNITY HAS A DIFFERENT FEEL

Given that we work for a homebuilder, we couldn’t visit Texas without going to see some of the exciting communities that we build in. One of the biggest differences I noticed was that each community truly has a distinct look and feel — it was incredible to see how location, amenities and branding help shape community identity. — Amanda Tucci, Content Writer 

6. SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE VERY IMPORTANT 

As a dad of two boys in elementary school, one of the biggest differences I noticed was how much a school district’s reputation factors into choosing where to live. Canadian schools are funded publicly so generally speaking there is an equal standard across the board. Community appeal, proximity to work and price play a bigger factor when purchasing a home here. It was interesting to learn about how the status of a school district takes priority and drives the choices of young families looking to settle into a neighborhood. — Cary Smith, Content Director 

7. EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS

As a massive foodie, I was beyond excited to visit Round Rock Donuts — a beloved Austin staple. We had heard about this Western-themed donut shop from locals, but getting to see and taste its famous fare for myself was an experience I’ll never forget. Naturally, I was dying to try their award-winning Texas-Sized Round Rock Donut (spoiler alert: it’s MASSIVE) but was also curious to sample a few extra treats as well. From their Donut Holes (as a Canadian it pains me to refer it to anything other than a timbit), to their savoury kolaches, and everything in between, rest assured that all of your cravings will be satisfied at Round Rock Donuts. — Alexa Margie, Social Media Specialist

8. WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY IS TRUE

This one was incredible to witness first-hand. While visiting Granny’s Korner, a small antique store in Tomball, the ladies that owned the shop offered each of us a pin of the American flag after learning that we were from Canada. When she realized she was one pin shy, she took her own flag pin off her shirt and offered it to me. Southern hospitality doesn’t get any sweeter than that. — Courtney McMullan, Corporate Brand Manager