The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

When we’re outside working on our home projects or in the garden, at a distance, we can hear the sounds of the train passing on the tracks just a mile away. During football season, the pledge of allegiance projects from D.W. Rutledge Stadium, where Judson High School plays its games. And if we listen closely sometimes, we can hear taps coming from Randolph Air Force Base. These are the sounds of our little community in Converse.

Almost three years ago, my husband (then boyfriend), Zach, moved to Converse after living in the Austin Highway area for some time. He was ready to settle down as a first-time homeowner in an area that was convenient for his job since he’s usually driving the whole Hill Country from New Braunfels to Helotes. Not long after he made the move into our home, so did I.

As a San Antonio native, the West Side had always been home to me, so the Northeast Side felt like a whole other world. For some people moving across town may not be that big of a deal, but for me, it was like stepping out of my element.

This fall will be three years since I joined Zach in Converse and I don’t regret it at all.

We’ve already made so many special memories, like Zach proposing to me here on my 25th birthday. He was planning on proposing in front of our families the following week, but couldn’t wait. And I’m glad he didn’t. It was such an intimate and important memory I’ll always have of our first home together.

Hosting our first Thanksgiving together was also especially memorable. We purchased a beautiful acacia wood dining room table that seats 10 people, but we still needed more seating. So we added two foldable tables for a setup that extended from the dining room into the living room. It was the first time our families were meeting, which was definitely stressful, but it turned out well in the end and was a nice way for us to get to know each other.

For us, Converse is a little community that is growing every day. Converse is one of the fastest-growing cities in the greater San Antonio area, with more than 30,000 residents. The Converse Economic Development Corporation estimates the city to grow another 400% in the next 12 to 15 years.

Within the last year itself, I’ve seen a handful of businesses popping up around the area and several homes going up in the new developments.

We live in a neighborhood called The Meadows, which was developed in the 1980s. Our little neighborhood is made up of families, retired couples, and people in the military. You can often see kids playing basketball in the streets or riding their bikes, as well as people taking their four-legged family members on walks.

  • Valerie Bustamante Johnson and her husband Zach have been Converse residents for three years. They live with their two dogs, Winnie (left) and Piglet (right) who are both Australian Cattle Dogs.
  • Valerie and Zach's cat Gigi slinked through the wooden slats in their fence to come to the front yard. They said that Gigi will walk a few blocks down the road with them when they take the dogs for walks in the neighborhood.
  • Valerie and Zach said that in the three years they have lived in Converse they've made a few friends amongst their neighbors, many of have lived in this neighborhood for generations or are military families passing through.
  • Valerie and Zach love satisfying their sweet tooth at Popcorn Picadilly. The Old Fashioned-themed candy shop offers a variety of candies and a long list of gourmet popcorn flavors.
  • Valerie and Zach pick from an expansive list of flavors at Popcorn Picadilly.

Since I started working from home, taking our two blue heelers, Winnie and Piglet, on walks has become one of my favorite ways of getting fresh air and sun. It’s also been a way to become more familiar with the neighborhood and our neighbors.

We’ve tackled quite a few home projects since moving in, but the most rewarding was when we redid all of the flooring in the bedrooms, living room, and dining room. It was during this project, long before we got married, that I learned how well we both work together. Remodeling our home and making it our own has been such a wonderful bonding experience as a couple.

When we’re not going on walks or busy remodeling our home, Zach and I enjoy exploring our local food scene. It’s important to us, no matter what part of town we’re in, to shop local. This is especially true in our immediate community.

When we moved to Converse, the first thing we looked for was a good breakfast taco spot. When we found El Sabrosito Mexican Restaurant, we never looked back. It’s located at 9141 FM 78 in a bright yellow building right in the center of Converse. When you walk in, it feels like Fiesta year-round with the colorful banderitas hanging from the ceiling and Tejano music playing over their sound system. When we get the chance, we like to take our friends and family to eat breakfast at El Sabrosito to show them our little slice of home.

Some of our other local favorites in the surrounding area include Lee’s Kitchen, Big Aloha’s Ali’i Cove, Snack Attack Ice Cream, Biff Buzby’s Burgers, and our popcorn-loving friends at Popcorn Piccadilly. The Santikos Entertainment Cibolo, which opened in 2019, is also one of our favorite date night spots since we can get dinner, a drink, and see a movie all in one place.

Converse continues to grow with new businesses and residents, but it still has its small-town charm.

And we still have access to the big city amenities. H-E-B, IKEA, and the Forum at Olympia Parkway Shopping Center are just a 5-mile drive away. And if we want to venture into the city, it’s a less than a 20-minute drive to downtown San Antonio or New Braunfels.   

While we’ve lived here for almost three years now, we’re constantly learning about our community and finding new places to visit. As young newlyweds just starting our own family, we look forward to seeing what Converse has to offer as it continues to thrive. And we look forward to one day raising our future children here and having them become a part of the community as well.

Valerie Bustamante Johnson, a San Antonio native, is an award-winning writer and photographer with a passion for telling the story. She holds a B.A. in journalism from The University of the Incarnate Word...