There’s a lot of information that ambitious prospective residents should know before moving to Houston. With Texas quickly becoming the most moved to state in the US next to Florida, it’s estimated that approximately 275 new people move to Houston every day. It’s easy to get caught up in this hype without truly knowing how a move to such a large metropolitan could impact your life.
Relocating to Houston TX is a hot topic that is weighed heavily with pros and cons. And believe us when we say there are a lot of factors to consider. Pro: the job market. Con: navigating some extreme and challenging weather. If only the list were that simple.
What makes Houston more desirable than other Texas cities like Dallas, Austin or San Antonio? H-Town is progressive and may be attracting almost as many millennials to its city as Austin. It’s also one of the most rapidly growing cities in the country, which isn’t just by happenstance. Perhaps the reason people move to Houston boils down to the fact that it is a well-rounded, desirable place to live. Ask any Houston resident—native or transplant—and they’ll beam with pride and explain just how much living in Houston has influenced their life for the better.
We’ve come up with some of the top reasons to move to Houston based on some of the city’s most advantageous pros. And just so you have a full picture, we’ll also be discussing some of the drawbacks if you decide to move here. Already made your decision to relocate to Houston? Skip ahead for some sound moving advice and resources.
1. Living in Houston is more affordable than other large metropolitans.
With all things considered, Houston’s cost of living is reasonable, but it fluctuates based on several factors, including where you live, where you shop and what you enjoy doing for fun! In a big city like Houston, living close to work can save you money on gas and commute time, but might cost you more in living expenses.
In comparison to other cities with similar offerings, Houston is actually a bit cheaper, which is a huge plus. If you were to compare the cost of living in Houston to Chicago, you would find living in Houston is more affordable on all accounts, but not by much. Overall, Houston is 8% cheaper than living in Chicago. More appropriately, consider that the cost of living in Houston is 13% cheaper than Austin TX, which could play into why some residents ultimately choose Houston as their Texas city of choice.
Cost of Living Pros and Cons:
- Pro: House prices are less expensive than Austin
- Con: But the housing market in Houston is more costly than in Dallas.
- Pro: Energy costs are competitive due to fewer regulations than other states and even other cities in Texas like Austin.
- Con: You might pay more for insurance in Houston.
- Pro: There is no state income tax.
- Con: There are relatively higher property taxes in Houston and a sales tax over 8%.
2. Figuring out where to live in Houston is simple.
Like New Orleans, Houston is home to many inner waterways, which is why many refer to this town as the Bayou City. These bayous provide natural barriers that carve out some Houston’s most desirable neighborhoods and suburbs.
But the most geographically significant marker in Houston is “the loop.” The 610 highway creates a circular barrier within Houston, delineating neighborhoods and providing geographical reference for destinations throughout the city. The Inner Loop is home to downtown Houston along with the city’s more densely populated areas, so naturally it’s where most of the action happens, from sports games to new restaurants, city parks and theatre. Generally speaking, the inner loop is where you’ll find more singles and apartment dwellers versus the single family homes and larger lots of the suburban outskirts.
Whether you wish to be inside or outside the loop is perhaps the first decision you should make. Next, decide which is the best neighborhood for you based on your lifestyle. Like any city, it’s important to steer clear of dangerous neighborhoods. Most commonly, Houston natives will stress to you the importance of picking an area to live that is close to where you’ll be spending most of your time.
Best Houston Neighborhoods:
- The Heights — Located in the Inner Loop, residents pride themselves on being hip “Inner-Loopers” in this Houston neighborhood. If you like to go out to an eclectic wine bar or pub after work, this might be the part of town for you.
- East Downtown (or EaDo) — This niche neighborhood is very urban and was initially filled with Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants. When these immigrants resettled elsewhere in the 90’s, this region was plagued with vacant buildings and businesses. But thanks to some savvy developers, the area is seeing a considerable revitalization, vibrant street art, and has become essential residential sector of downtown.
- River Oaks — Home to large mansions and estates, this is Houston’s most high-end neighborhood inside the loop.
- West University — Just west of Rice University is the quaint town of West U. This quiet and walkable neighborhood is one of the most family friendly inside the loop.
Best Houston Suburbs:
- The Woodlands — This suburb of Houston is home to a little over 100,000 residents and has a median home price just above $300,000. Just like its name implies, The Woodlands has a lot of nature and green space, along with some quaint shopping centers. The cost of living might be high, but the good schools and relatively safe neighborhood may make this area an ideal choice for a young family.
- Sugar Land — Fort Bend County is one of the largest growing counties in the country and the quaint Texan charm of Sugar Land certainly contributes to this growth. With a town square for shopping and community events located in the center of the community, it’s small town meets suburban living.
- Katy — This tiny suburb is home to nearly 16,000 people and is more affordable than The Woodlands for housing. As more companies move to the nearby Energy Corridor and Memorial City area, Katy is quickly becoming more popular!
- Cypress — This area is currently one of the hottest markets in the city of Houston. There’s a ton of new development, pretty trees, and one of the highest ranked school districts in Texas, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD.
- Bay Area — As one of the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, Bay Area suburbs including Clear Lake, League City and Galveston County are seeing some major regrowth. Areas that were closed after the hurricane are being reopened and communities are rebuilding with the help of many area organizations. This area has beautiful views but is one to consider only if you’re comfortable navigating hurricane force weather from time to time.
3. It is possible to buy a house in Houston on a modest income.
Because Houston is so large, there are many options to consider, and each housing market has different offerings as far as what your dollar will buy you. But with the help of a realtor and a little luck, you can find a house on almost any budget.
On average, homes within the loop are priced significantly higher than those in the neighboring suburbs with the exception of up and coming, more urban areas like East Downtown. If you’re new to the Houston area and looking to relocate there, using a well-versed realtor will be more critical than ever. Within one neighborhood, you will have some sections within flood zones and some that are generally unaffected. If a price seems too good to be true, there might be a reason for that. But even with the city bouncing back from Hurricane Harvey, the housing market is still lively.
According to Mark Dimas, one of the top real estate agents in Houston, the market has only been minimally impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The people displaced from the storm haven’t yet entered the market to drive prices up or down. “Hurricane Harvey wiped out about 10% of the inventory. I don’t think the storm impacts the value tremendously at this time,” Dimas notes. “So, while there are buyers that are out there that were displaced, it’s not a ton of them. Will it impact? Yes, but it will probably take 12 more months.”
Read Also: Renting vs. Buying in Houston
4. The population in Houston is booming thanks to the job market.
Houston has a rapidly expanding job market that has turned many heads in Houston’s direction over the last decade. And because there are loose zoning laws, businesses have opportunities to open up shop all over the city. This means you might find a skyscraper next to a mom and pop bakery. Business is welcomed, which is apparent with so many leading companies placing their headquarters in Houston.
Houston is also home to the largest medical center in the world. Graduates from the world’s most prestigious universities come to the Med Center for positions at the many hospitals including the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center or to further their education at Baylor College of Medicine.
The influx of young talent has also created an entrepreneurial environment in the Greater Houston area. A new and thriving startup scene has emerged with co-working spaces like WeWork and Impact Hub ready to provide flexible office space for these entrepreneurs.
The growing economy feeds into an overall positive atmosphere throughout the area, which plays into a more positive quality of life. The better the economy, the less people have to worry about job security and being able to keep the lights on. No city has a perfect economy, but Houston could be a fine respite if you have struggled to find a decent paying job elsewhere.
Top Houston Industries:
- Aerospace and aviation
- Life Sciences / Medical
5. You can bring your car when you relocate to Houston.
While this reason to move to Houston is masked as a pro, to many, it’s a con. As a whole, Houston isn’t the most walkable city. While certain neighborhoods are walkable, it’s nearly impossible to walk from one to another with ease.
Despite the city’s efforts to address the problem, one of the of the most significant drawbacks from Houston is the lackluster public transportation and the long commute times. Having a car with a decent stereo and working air conditioning will help, but avoiding long commutes or peak travel times is definitely key.
- A bus and a light rail system that connects downtown and midtown.
- Greenlink FREE circulator bus in downtown.
- Minimal bike lanes that are in the process of being expanded.
- Bike paths along Houston’s Greenway system connect areas like The Heights to downtown.
- Car sharing services like Enterprise Carshare and Zipcar.
- Houston also boasts easy access to two international airports — IAH and Hobby.
6. Students have access to all of Texas’ top Universities.
Depending on where you choose to live in the Houston metro, there are various school districts to investigate. The Houston Independent School District happens to be one of the largest. Actually, HISD is the largest in the state of Texas and operates 283 schools. The larger the district, the more resources available to students. In fact, HISD has earned many accolades and was honored by US News Best High School report because of their aggressive AP program expansion.
While your primary education will be limited to schools located within the Houston area, secondary education for students is ample due to the many top rated universities in the state. College-age students and residents of Houston will have the option of all colleges within Texas and will qualify for a significantly discounted in-state tuition rate. While not a state school, Rice University, located adjacent to the Medical Center and West U, is considered the Ivy League of the South.
Top Texas Universities:
- University of Texas — Located in Austin, TX
- Texas A&M — Located in College Station, TX
- The University of Houston — Located in Houston, TX
- Texas Tech University — Located in Lubbock, TX
7. The food in Houston is diverse and world famous.
It may be a Texas cliche to reference barbeque and Tex Mex, but that’s not all Houston has to offer. Just take it from the late Anthony Bourdain. Houston is truly a foodie paradise featuring diverse ethnic cuisine from across the world, James Beard award-winning chefs, and dishes so unique you’ll only find them here. Take Viet Cajun Crawfish as an example — a true fusion of the Gulf’s Cajun favorite with a Southeast Asian twist so unique you’ll only find it here.
In Houston you can eat at a different restaurant every night for a year and not hit them all! Anything you’re in the mood for, you’ll find here. Burgers, Vegan food, Thai, Indian, Italian (the original Carrabba’s is in Houston after all), you name it!
But it certainly doesn’t stop there. Houston’s a great city for drinking as well. Whether you’re a coffee aficionado or more into the local brewery scene, there is no shortage of one-of-a-kind coffee shops, breweries (the oldest craft brewery in Texas, Saint Arnold’s, is right downtown), and incredible craft cocktail bars.
Places to Eat in Houston:
Places to Drink in Houston:
- 8th Wonder Brewery
- Holler Brewing Company
- Saint Arnold’s
- Spring Street
- Blacksmith Coffee
- Catalina Coffee
- Black Hole
- Anvil (craft cocktails)
- Julep (craft cocktails)
- Pastry War (tequila bar)
8. And there’s no shortage of places to workout.
Fitness may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Houston, but the city actually has a huge workout scene. With yoga and Pilates studios on nearly every corner and new CrossFit boxes popping up everyday, there really is something for everyone. While boutique fitness is thriving, you’ll also find the big names like SoulCycle, Equinox, YogaWorks and Lifetime Fitness throughout the city.
Houston also takes centerstage for some major endurance events. The Woodlands and Galveston both host Ironman Texas each year while the city of Houston shines in January as 40,000 runners take on the Chevron Houston Marathon which held the Olympic Trials in 2012.
Top Workout Spots:
- Revolution Studio
- BIG Power Yoga
- Defy Pilates
- CrossFit Eado (the biggest CrossFit box in Texas)
Top Places to Run or Walk:
- Memorial Park
- Hermann Park
- Rice University
- Buffalo Bayou Park
- TC Jester Park
- Spotts Park
9. There are thousands of things to do in Houston.
Life in Houston Texas is a unique blend of Texas traditions and a more modern city lifestyle. What makes Houston an ideal place to live are all the various places to go and things to see and do, many of which you won’t find in other cities.
Events for All Ages:
- Museum District — Though you need a car for most things in Houston, you won’t need a car to explore the museum district. Museum fans can walk to different sections and visit up to 19 museums within a 12 block radius. Plus, every Thursday most offer free admission!
- Theater District — This section of downtown has seen a lot of revitalization over the last decade, providing many residents with access to incredible shows in the handful of venues located here.
- The Galleria — Didn’t think a mall could be an attraction? The Galleria in Houston welcomes over 30 million visitors each year! With over 400 stores and restaurants, there’s plenty to keep you occupied for hours, including an indoor ice skating rink.
- Underground Tunnel Tour — Houston lacks a large scale subway system, but it is home to the most extensive collection of pedestrian tunnels in the world. Take a tour and learn how these tunnels came to be.
- Space Center Houston — Houston is home to the NASA Johnson Space Center, and while most residents can’t visit NASA, the Space Center Houston is a chance for visitors to learn more about its discoveries.
- Downtown Aquarium — Fish and an underwater adventure aren’t the only things you’ll see at this aquarium. Enjoy the Houston skyline from their Ferris wheel or visit their white tiger exhibit.
- Houston Zoo — With over 6,000 animals and insects on permanent display, this zoo is worth visiting more than once. Their mission is to help educate and change practices to preserve and protect wildlife.
- Children’s Museum — This museum is made for kids! With rotating exhibits and countless activities, it’ll keep them entertained all while learning.
Houston Sports & Athletics:
- Professional Teams — There are plenty of professional sports teams to cheer on. Some teams include the Houston Rockets in the NBA and the Houston Texans in the NFL. Houston is also home to the 2017 MLB World Series winner, the Houston Astros.
- College Sports — Houston is a great town to be a college fan, too. With two hometown universities, Rice and University of Houston, you can always catch a home game.
- High School Sports — Head out to the suburbs of Katy or The Woodlands for some real life Friday Night Lights.
- Houston’s Astrodome — Will this well-known sports dome be torn down? Since many call it the Eighth Wonder of the World, maybe not. Despite years of vacancy, the Texas Historical Commission made the site a designated State Antiquities Landmark in 2017.
- Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo — Sometimes people who live in Houston forget that they live in Texas. But for 20 days out of the year, Houstonians celebrate Texas heritage and culture at this Livestock show and rodeo.
10. Being outside in Houston is enjoyable most of the year.
This moving guide wouldn’t be complete without some mention of weather and quality of life in Houston. In the big picture, weather in Houston is beautiful and spending a day outside with a light jacket in the middle of January is not unusual. Many restaurants and bars feature large patios and outdoor dining for this very reason. However, there are some weather-related factors to know.
First, it rains often in Houston, more so than other Texas cities. Though the rain may not last for longer than an hour, getting daily showers is common. Also, in the height of the summer, extreme heat and humidity can take its toll. With that weather comes some extreme mosquitos and other insects.
So long as you are prepared with a well air conditioned car and interior space (and some bug spray), navigating the summer heat is arguably more comfortable than navigating an extreme winter up north. Just be sure to have a hurricane safety plan in place for hurricane season.
When the weather is nice enough where you don’t simply hop from one air-conditioned vessel to the next, make sure you enjoy some of the green space Houston has to offer.
Things to Explore Outdoors:
- Hermann Park — With 445 acres of space, Hermann Park is one of the most important green spaces in Houston. Complete with a railroad, there are plenty of activities for families and people of all ages.
- Memorial Park — With more square footage than Central Park in NYC, Memorial Park is a hub for runners, tennis players and boot camps to congregate. A recent renovation has expanded the trails to create more space to enjoy the outdoors.
- Discovery Green — This urban green space in the heart of Houston hosts more than 600 free events each year. It is home to many large-scale events including the Houston Korean Festival and many 2017 Super Bowl festivities. You’ll also find a rotation of interactive art exhibits throughout the year.
- Buffalo Bayou Park — Enjoy a break from the heat underneath the Dandelion Fountain (aka the Gus S. Wortham Memorial Fountain), which is a popular destination within the 160 acres of green space in this park. Take a pup on your strolls? Visit the Johnny Steele Dog Park located near Allen Parkway and Montrose Boulevard.
- Rice University — Located on the edge of Houston’s Medical Center is flanked by large oaks and a three mile running and walking trail. On campus you’ll find the famous Turrell Skyspace exhibit.
- Levy Park — This new park in the Upper Kirby neighborhood has a little something for everyone! With weekly events, a dog park and splash park, it’s the perfect summer refuge.
11. People in Houston stick together during tough times.
Recently, Houston showed how its residents come together in times of hardship, and this sense of community during and after Hurricane Harvey didn’t come as a surprise. As news outlets reported, Harvey devastated sections of Houston and Houstonians came together in a big way to ensure that those who needed help got it.
There is nothing that pulls a community together quite like a natural disaster. While Houston is still picking up the pieces, the positivity that came from such a devastating time speaks to the character and resilience of the city as a whole.
If you were to describe the people of Houston in a few words, many attest that they are kind, friendly, diverse and welcoming. If you decide to move to Houston, make the most of your new residence by becoming an active part of your community. Your involvement will be appreciated by native and transient Houstonians alike.
Notable Houston Charities and Nonprofits:
- Boys & Girls Club of Greater Houston
- Ronald McDonald House Houston
- Houston Area Women’s Center
- Houston Food Bank
- United Way of Greater Houston
- SEARCH Homeless Services
12. Moving to Houston is a breeze with the right resources.
Whether you’re moving to Houston or around Houston, being able to track down moving supplies is an integral step to a successful move. At Life Storage, we sell various moving supplies and moving boxes that can be picked up at storage locations across Houston.
- Everything You Need to Know About Moving Boxes
- The Ultimate Moving Checklist
- How to Rent, Load and Drive a Moving Truck
How has moving to Houston impacted your life for the better? Are there some hidden gems in your city that we missed? Let us know on Twitter, @LifeStorage!
Update: This post was originally published in 2013, and was revised on March 22, 2019, with new information from Houston expert, Lindsay McClelland