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, as it’s called, 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 native 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. There are relatively simple ways you can make a living in Houston more affordable. For instance, living close to your job will not only cut down commute time, but it will also save you some money on gas and car repair. Choosing to rent an apartment in an up-and-coming neighborhood will be significantly more affordable than selecting a larger single-family home in a well-established community.
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.
- 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 waterways 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. Become familiar with this highway before you decide to live here. Loop 610 creates a large circular barrier within Houston, subsequently labeling destinations as either within or outside of this manmade roadway. Generally speaking, lots of singles and culturally relevant, trendy experiences are located inside the loop whereas the suburbs, white picket fences, and families are located outside the loop.
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 in Houston depending on your comfort level. Most commonly, Houston natives will stress to you the importance of picking an area to live that is close to where you work.
Best Houston Neighborhoods:
- Garden Oaks / Oak Forest — 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 town for you.
- 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.
- East Downtown — 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 and is working to become an essential residential sector of downtown.
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.
- Katy — This tiny suburb is home to nearly 16,000 people and is much more affordable than The Woodlands regarding housing costs. As more and more people discover this suburb, more is being invested in new restaurants and entertainment. Get in before this area becomes oversaturated.
- Galveston — As one of the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, the suburb of Galveston is 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.
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 area 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.
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
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. Case in point, owning a car is highly encouraged because Houston is not a very walkable city. Perhaps this is because rapid growth set in before the proper infrastructure was in place to accommodate all those extra people and buildings.
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 as we emphasized before, do your best to find a home close to your job if you want to cut your commute down. Also, try to find a job with flexible work hours. That way you can avoid rush hour more easily.
- A bus and a light rail system that connects downtown and midtown.
- Minimal bike lanes that are in the process of being expanded.
- Car sharing services like Enterprise Carshare and Zipcar.
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.
Top Texas Universities:
- 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 so decadent that you’ll want to work out.
It may be a Texas cliche to reference barbeque and Tex Mex, but the Houston area does both of these things well. Truthfully, Houston does all types of cuisine well and is home to thousands of restaurants and eateries.
According to Amy of Eating in Houston, Houston is not only a great city to live, but it’s perfect for foodies as well. Whether you want a weekend brunch, the best burgers, a fun meal at a soufflé restaurant, or want to see what the poke craze is all about, Houston can satisfy your craving.
On your next visit, be sure to visit some of Amy’s top restaurant recommendations, and for more Houston food inspiration, visit her Instagram page.
Places to Eat in Houston:
- Beaver’s or State Fare
- Bernie’s Burger Bus
- Rise No.2
- Pokeworks, Pokii Eatery, Wiki Poki, and Seaside Poke
8. 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.
- 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 some high-end and high-fashion shops you won’t find in every city.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
9. 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 large picture, weather in Houston is beautiful and spending a day outside with a light jacket in the middle of January is not unusual. 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 be a problem. 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 —
- 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.
- 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.
10. 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, Hurricane 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:
11. 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. If you need to rent a storage unit to streamline your move, a free moving truck rental is also included.
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 in the comments below!