Houston is the fourth-most populous city in the country and the most populous city in Texas. The diverse city is home to a thriving energy industry and five professional sports teams. Thinking of moving to Houston? Here are 15 things you should know before making the move.
Find out now: Compare mortgage rates in Houston.
1. It’s Beyonce’s hometown.
First things first. Houston is where Beyonce is from. If that’s not enough to convince you that moving to Houston is a solid choice we don’t know what to tell you. There are other famous Houstonians too, of course, but we’re guessing Beyonce is the most celebrated.
2. It’s also NASA’s hometown.
Houston is home to NASA, which means there’s plenty to interest space enthusiasts. A visit to the Space Center is a must after moving to Houston, and you can save money by buying a Houston CityPASS and checking out other Houston sites included in the pass.
3. You’ll need a car.
Houston is a driving city and traffic can be rough. There’s more in the way of light rail and buses than there used to be but public transit is still underdeveloped. Having a car is pretty much a must, and we’re guessing you’ll want to invest in a car with a functioning air conditioner. The heat and humidity in Houston can be pretty intense.
4. You’ll need insect repellent, too.
Houston is hot, humid and swampy. After it rains, the mosquitoes come out to hunt. And mosquitoes in Houston don’t just mean annoying buzzing and itchy bites – they also carry dengue and West Nile virus. Houston residents love an outdoor party (especially when there’s barbecue involved) but it’s important to know how to stay mosquito-safe.
5. Houston is growing quickly.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2010 and 2015 the population of Houston grew by 8.9%. Between July 2014 and July 2015 Houston added over 40,000 residents. Living in a city that’s booming is exciting and the optimism in Houston is contagious.
6. It’s a diverse city.
Houston is a diverse city with a large number of residents from other countries. That’s part of what makes it such a great place to live. Moving to Houston will give you the opportunity to explore the many cuisines and languages (over 90 are represented in the city) that make Houston what it is today.
7. Home prices are relatively low.
The median home value in Houston is around $150,000. It’s a relatively affordable housing market, which is part of why it has managed to attract so many new residents. Unlike cities like New York and San Francisco which haven’t supplied enough housing to keep up with the demand from new residents, Houston’s housing market has grown with its population, preventing the kinds of real estate bubbles other cities have seen.
8. Commutes are long.
If having a short commute is important to you be sure to buy or rent a home that’s near your office. Living far out in the suburbs and having a long commute is pretty common in Houston, though, so if you can’t find the perfect place near where you work you’ll be in good company on your daily drive. In Houston as in in other heavy-traffic cities like L.A., traffic is a built-in excuse if you’re running a little late to meet a friend.
9. Know how to stay in the loop.
Interstate 610 is a freeway that loops around central Houston. When giving directions, residents will often mention whether a given destination is inside or outside “The Loop.” There’s a lot of good stuff inside the Loop, including cultural institutions and sports teams. If you don’t need a big house in the suburbs with a yard and a pool you may want to settle inside the Loop after moving to Houston.
10. You can explore the rest of the Lone Star State.
As the second-largest state in the Union, Texas has a lot to explore. No matter how much you love Houston you may want to escape its borders from time to time, to see other cities like Dallas, Austin or San Antonio or to head to the beach in Galveston. You can even road trip to New Orleans in under six hours if you want to get out of Texas and have a cultural change of pace.
11. Houston has no zoning laws.
You know those zoning laws that limit the height of buildings in certain districts and tell developers they can’t put a commercial building in the middle of a residential block? Houston doesn’t have any of them. In some ways that’s great for a fast-growing city that’s expanding and adding housing stock, but it can also lead to a funky-looking mix of buildings.
12. Local restaurants are abundant and great.
The food scene in Houston is famous for its diverse offerings and residents count themselves lucky to have such great restaurants at their fingertips. Tex-Mex is the city’s most famous culinary offering but, as you’d expect in such a diverse city, there’s food of all kinds available. Prices range from the high-end restaurants catering to the city’s oil millionaires to humble food trucks.
13. The rodeo is a serious attraction.
In some ways Houston doesn’t always feel like Texas so much as it feels like its own entity. But if you go to the annual rodeo you’ll remember what state you’re in. If moving to Texas conjures up visions of cowboy boots and concealed carry permits, the rodeo is the place for you. Even if you’re not planning to immerse yourself in that culture it’s a fun event that brings Houstonians together every year.
14. Have a disaster plan at the ready.
On a more serious note, Houston is in the path of hurricanes and tropical storms, so if you’re moving to Houston it’s smart to come up with a disaster plan that you share with your loved ones. If you and the people you live with are separated where will you meet? Does your house or apartment have an disaster preparedness kit? These are questions it’s worth answering if you’re settling in the subtropical city of Houston.
15. There are plenty of cultural attractions to go around.
All the oil money sloshing around Houston has been a boon to the city’s cultural sector, with wealthy donors supporting a range of artistic and musical institutions. There’s the Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum, the Menil Collection and the Blaffer Art Museum, to name a few. If you prefer the work of up-and-coming artists, the city has its own arts district on Washington Avenue, which is home to the studios and work spaces of over 300 artists and creative entrepreneurs.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Pebtx,©iStock.com/LUNAMARINA,©iStock.com/Pamela Moore, ©iStock.com/bergsbo, ©iStock.com/dgphotography, ©iStock.com/2008 Getty Images