There is a lot of information ambitious future residents should know before moving to Houston. by population, houston is the fourth largest city in the us, and according to this census report, houston grew by 10.7% between april 2010 and july 2019. in addition, the city is expected to see another increase demographic between 2020 and 2029; about 1.2 million more.
it’s not hard to see why houston is an attractive city to many people. A booming job market combined with a low cost of living and year-round sunny weather make Houston an excellent choice for building a life and raising a family. However, Houston’s propensity for extreme heat, vulnerability to hurricanes, and legendary long drives can also put off people who prefer a temperate climate.
In this guide, we’ll cover all of the amazing experiences and amenities that Houston has to offer. While its neighbors like Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio have received most of the attention in recent years, Houston has carved out a place for itself as a city for families and singles alike. Houston is also one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in the country, making it a great choice if you’re looking to experience new cultures. these are some of our favorite things about houston. And just so you have the full picture, we’ll also discuss some of the drawbacks if you decide to move here.
have you made the decision to move to houston yet? scroll ahead for some moving tips and resources.
1. living in houston is more affordable than in many other large metropolitans.
in general, houston’s cost of living is much lower than other major metropolitan areas like new york or san francisco. Combine this with high wages and no state income taxes, and you may have more money in the bank each month if you move to Houston.
a study published by la zebra in february 2020 also named houston as the city that gives you the most housing for your dollar. However, you should keep in mind that geographically, Houston is a very large city and home prices vary widely by neighborhood. In a big city like Houston, living close to work can save you money on gas and commute time, but it can cost you more in living expenses if you live closer to downtown or in more upscale neighborhoods.
By some estimates, Houston is 19% cheaper than Austin and 5% cheaper than Dallas. San Francisco is estimated to be 179% more expensive than Houston, while New York City is 94% more expensive.
cost of living pros and cons:
- Advantage: Housing prices are less expensive than in Austin and Dallas.
- Advantage: Energy costs are competitive because they have fewer regulations than other states and even other cities in Texas, like Austin.
- con: you may pay more for insurance in houston.
- pro: no state income tax.
- con: there are relatively higher property taxes in houston and a sales tax of over 8%.
- the heights: Located on the inner loop, residents pride themselves on being hip inner-loopers in this houston neighborhood. Known for being one of the poshest neighborhoods in Houston, The Heights is filled with quirky nightlife, great bars and restaurants, and a wide selection of gyms.
- 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 1990s, this region was littered with empty buildings and businesses. but thanks to some savvy developers, the area is undergoing considerable revitalization, vibrant street art, and has become an essential residential sector of downtown. Living in Eado will put you within walking distance of several of Houston’s sports arenas and restaurants, making it easy to catch a baseball or soccer game on the weekends. for this same reason, eado can be very congested and noisy on game days.
- river oaks: home to grand mansions and estates, this is houston’s most exclusive neighborhood on the loop. Even if you can’t afford to live in this neighborhood, a lazy Sunday night drive to see the houses can be very enjoyable.
- West University: Just west of Rice University is the quaint town of West U. This quiet, walkable neighborhood is one of the most family-friendly on the loop.
- The Woods: This Houston suburb is home to just over 90,000 residents and has a median home price of just over $365,000. As its name implies, the forests have lots of nature and green spaces, along with some quaint shopping malls. the cost of living can be high, but the good schools and relatively safe neighborhood can make this area an ideal choice for a young family. If you work in the oil and gas industry, living in the woods will make it easier for you to commute to companies like ExxonMobil and Repsol.
- Sugar Land: Fort Bend County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country and the quaint Texan charm of Sugar Land is certainly contributing to this growth. With a plaza for shopping and community events located in the center of the community, small town meets suburban life.
- katy: This small suburb is home to almost 16,000 people and is more affordable than the woods to live. As more businesses move into the nearby energy corridor and Memorial City area, Katy is rapidly becoming more popular. Katy’s school district is also one of the highest ranked in the city!
- cypress tree: this area is currently one of the most popular markets in the city of houston. There’s lots of new development, beautiful trees, and one of the highest rated school districts in Texas, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD.
- Bay Area: As one of the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, suburban Bay Areas, including Clear Lake, League City and Galveston County, are experiencing a new important growth. areas that were closed after the hurricane are reopening and communities are rebuilding with the help of many area organizations. this area has beautiful views, but should only be considered if you are comfortable sailing in hurricane force weather from time to time.
- aeronautics and aerospace
- life sciences/medicine
- a bus and light rail system that connects downtown and downtown.
- free greenlink circulation bus in the center.
- minimum bike lanes that are in the process of being expanded.
- bike trails along houston’s greenway system connect areas like the heights with downtown.
- car sharing services such as enterprise carshare and zipcar.
- the university of texas — located in austin, tx
- texas a&m: located in college station, tx
- the university of houston — located in houston, tx
- texas university of technology: located in lubbock, tx
- local foods
- rodeo goat
- mala sichuan
- aga’s restaurant
- gus’s world famous fried chicken
- pho binh noodles and grill
- the pit room
- killen’s grill
- the noodles
- mf sushi
- the eighth wonderful brewery
- brewery yell
- miss carousel (craft cocktails)
- increasing real anomalies
- saint arnold
- spring street
- blacksmith’s coffee
- Catherine coffee
- black hole
- anvil (craft cocktails)
- julep (craft cocktails)
- revolution study
- high power yoga
- challenge pilates
- studies of my interior
- seventh facet of fitness
- crossfit h-town
- crossfit black wolf
- yogaworks center
- black swan yoga
- crossfit eado (the largest crossfit box in texas)
- memorial park
- hermann park
- university of rice
- buffalo bayou park
- jester park tc
- white oak swamp park
- spot park
- Museum District: Although 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, most Thursdays offer free admission!
- theater district: This section of downtown has seen much revitalization over the last decade, giving many residents access to incredible shows at the handful of venues located here.
- the gallery: didn’t you think a shopping center could be an attraction? the gallery in houston welcomes more than 30 million visitors each year! With more than 400 shops and restaurants, there’s plenty to keep you busy 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 were formed.
- houston space center: houston is home to nasa’s johnson space center and while most residents can’t visit nasa, the houston space center is an opportunity to let visitors learn more about your discoveries.
- Downtown Aquarium: Fish and an underwater adventure aren’t the only things you’ll see at this aquarium. take in the houston skyline from its ferris wheel or visit its white tiger exhibit.
- houston zoo: With more than 6,000 animals and insects on permanent display, this zoo is worth a visit more than once. its mission is to help educate and change practices to preserve and protect wildlife.
- children’s museum: this museum is made for children! With rotating exhibits and countless activities, it will keep them engaged while they learn.
- professional teams: There are many 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 also a great city to be a college fan. With two local colleges, Rice and the University of Houston, you can always catch a game at home.
- high school sports: Head to suburban katy or the woods to see some real-life Friday night lights.
- houston astrodome: will this well-known sports dome come 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 cattle show and rodeo: Sometimes people who live in houston forget they live in texas. but for 20 days a year, houstonians celebrate texas heritage and culture at this cattle show and rodeo.
- hermann park: with 445 acres of space, hermann park is one of the most important green spaces in houston. complete with a railway, there are plenty of activities for families and people of all ages.
- memorial park: with more square footage than central park in new york, memorial park is a hub for runners, tennis players and training camps. a recent renovation has widened the walkways 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’s home to many large-scale events, including the Houston Korean Festival and many Super Bowl 2017 festivities. You’ll also find a rotating interactive art exhibit throughout the year.
- buffalo bayou park: enjoy a break from the heat under the dandelion fountain (also known as the gus s.wortham memorial fountain), which is a popular destination within the 160 acres of green space in this park. taking a puppy on your walks? visit the johnny steele dog park located near allen parkway and montrose boulevard.
- Rice University: Located on the edge of the Houston Medical Center, it is flanked by large oak trees and a three-mile walking/jogging trail. on campus you’ll find the famous turrell skyspace exhibit.
- levy park – this new park in the upper kirby neighborhood has something for everyone! With weekly events, a dog park, and a water park, it’s the perfect summer retreat.
- houston food bank
- animal best friend society – houston
- galveston bay foundation
- the beacon – legal assistance for the homeless
- writers in schools
- Revised Aug 5, 2020, with new information from Houston expert Colleen Williams.
- Revised March 22, 2019, with new information from Houston expert Lindsay McLelland.
- originally published in 2013.
2. figuring out where to live in houston is simple.
like new orleans, houston is home to many inland waterways, which is why it is sometimes known as the city of swamps. These wetlands provide natural barriers that create some of Houston’s most desirable neighborhoods and suburbs.
but the most geographically significant marker in houston is “the loop”. the 610 freeway creates a circular barrier within houston, delineating neighborhoods and providing a geographic reference for destinations throughout the city. The inner loop houses downtown Houston along with the city’s most densely populated areas and contains most of the city’s social activities, from sports games to new restaurants, city parks, and theaters. In-circuit housing will generally consist of apartments and townhouses, in contrast to outside of the circuit, where single-family homes are the norm.
Whether you want to be on or off the track, that may be the first decision you make. Proximity to work, commute, and housing costs will all be important factors in making this decision.
Like any city, Houston has its fair share of ultra-chic neighborhoods with high-end entertainment, low-income neighborhoods, and everything in between. When choosing a neighborhood to settle in, consider where you plan to spend most of your time. For example, if you work in the spring but live downtown or vice versa, you’ll have to deal with at least 30-45 minutes of travel time each way. living within the circuit will give you quick access to some of the best nightlife in the city.
best neighborhoods in houston:
best houston suburbs:
3. it is possible to buy a house in houston with a modest income.
houston’s wide selection of affordable homes is probably one of its biggest draws. In Houston, the median home price is just under $200,000 and homes are typically large, with ample yard space to comfortably accommodate family life.
On average, homes within the loop are priced significantly higher than those in neighboring suburbs. Previously dilapidated neighborhoods within the loop have seen a surge of development into trendy urban communities in recent years.
When selecting a neighborhood, travel times and flood risk should be two of the most important considerations. If you are new to the Houston area and looking to relocate there, it will be more important than ever to have a well-versed real estate agent. Within a neighborhood, you will have some sections within flood zones and others that are generally unaffected. beware of home prices that seem too good to be true. Unusually low prices on beautiful homes may indicate that the home has recently been flooded or is highly susceptible to flooding. Home purchases have also dropped significantly in Houston since the COVID-19 outbreak and it is unclear what long-term effects the pandemic will have on the market.
also read: rent vs. buy in houston
4. Houston’s population is booming thanks to the job market.
houston’s job market is also a big selling point for the city. With booming oil and gas, aerospace, medical, and technology industries, Houston is an excellent choice for engineers, scientists, and medical professionals. the city’s flexible zoning laws also blur the line between business and residential districts. it is not uncommon to see offices and businesses in close proximity to residential housing.
houston is home to the largest medical center in the world. Graduates from the world’s most prestigious universities come to the Medical Center to take up positions at the many hospitals, including the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center, or to continue their education at Baylor College of Medicine.
houston bush intercontinental airport is also a major hub for united airlines, making it a great location for people working or seeking employment in the airline industry.
The influx of young talent has also created an entrepreneurial environment in the greater Houston area. A thriving new startup scene has emerged with coworking spaces like novel coworking and station houston ready to provide flexible office space for these entrepreneurs.
The growing economy fuels an overall positive atmosphere throughout the area, contributing to a more positive quality of life. the better the economy, the fewer people will 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 nice respite if you’ve been having trouble finding a decent paying job elsewhere.
main industries of houston:
5. you can bring your car when you move to houston.
While this reason to move to Houston masquerades as a pro, to many it’s a scam. As a whole, Houston is not the most walkable city. while it is walkable in certain neighborhoods, it is almost impossible to walk from one to another with ease. however, with low fuel prices and affordable street parking, it makes driving a bit more tolerable.
Beware: While the price of street parking remains constant, it fills up quickly during events, leaving expensive gated parking the only other option. Privately owned parking garages typically charge significantly higher rates during games and other events, and the closer you are to the venue, the higher the prices.
despite the city’s efforts to address the problem, one of houston’s biggest drawbacks is lackluster public transportation and long travel times. if you live inside the 610 loop, use the subway as much as possible to avoid driving downtown. if you must drive, having a car with a decent stereo and working air conditioning will help, but avoiding long commutes or rush hour is definitely key.
Traffic entering the city center typically between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. m. and 9 a.m. m. and traffic leaving downtown between 4 p.m. m. and 7 p.m. m. it can be a nightmare. if you must drive, there are several hotspots you should try to avoid, such as the arcade area.
houston also has easy access to two international airports: iah and hobby.
6. students have access to all of the best colleges in texas.
Depending on where you choose to live in the Houston metro area, there are several school districts to investigate. the houston independent school district is one of the largest. in fact, hisd is the largest in the state of texas, operating 283 schools. the larger the district, the more resources are available to students. In fact, HISD has won many accolades and was honored by the US News Best High School Report for its aggressive expansion of the AP program.
While their primary education will be limited to schools located within the Houston area, secondary education for students is extensive due to the many top-tier universities in the state. College-age students and residents of Houston will have a choice of all colleges within Texas and will qualify for a significantly discounted in-state tuition rate. Although not a state school, Rice University, located next to the Medical Center and west of U, is considered the Ivy League of the South.
the best universities in texas:
7. Houston’s food scene is legendary.
while houston’s texmex and barbecue options are as good as their reputations suggest, houston has much more to offer. Anthony Bourdain called Houston, “a wonderland of the strange and the diverse”. The city boasts ethnic cuisine from around the world, James Beard award-winning chefs, and dishes so unique you’ll only find them here. Try the cajun vietnamese crab: a fusion of the gulf cajun favorite with a southeast asian twist you’ll only find in houston.
In this city, you can eat at a different restaurant every night for a year without running out of options! classic american, vegan, thai, indian, italian (the original carrabba is in houston), you name it! Houston’s profusion of taco trucks serving classic street tacos make grabbing a quick, cheap and tasty snack easy and enjoyable.
houston also has a wide variety of pubs, cafes and cocktail bars. after a game at bbva stadium or minute maid park, you can walk to rodeo goat for one of the best burgers in town, then wander over to miss carousel for a delicious cocktail. or if you’re more of a beer person, you can also grab a tall glass at the real freak brewery down the block.
places to eat in houston:
places to drink in houston:
cake war (tequila bar)
8. personal care is an important part of houston culture.
If you’re moving to Houston from a city like New York or San Francisco, you may be wondering about the city’s fitness offerings. rest assured, the city is packed with yoga, pilates, crossfit, and a variety of studios to suit your tastes. While boutique fitness is thriving, you’ll also find big names like Soulcycle, Equinox, Yogaworks, and Lifetime Fitness throughout the city. You can even take free fitness classes at Discovery Green throughout the week.
houston also takes center stage in some of the major endurance events. The Woodlands and Galveston host Ironman Texas each year, while the city of Houston shines in January when 40,000 runners participate in the Chevron Houston Marathon, which hosted the Olympic trials in 2012.
When it’s time to relax and recover from your fitness regimen, Houston also boasts amazing massage and skincare establishments. river oaks advanced bodyworks offers the best massages in town, including deep tissue and hot stone. they also offer fascia stretching therapy that will leave you feeling refreshed. For your skin care needs, Houston Beauty & Beyond is one of the best options.
best training places:
best places to run or walk:
9. there are thousands of things to do in houston.
Life in Houston, Texas is a unique combination of Texas traditions and a more modern urban lifestyle. What makes Houston a great place to live is all the places to go and things to see and do, many of which you won’t find in other cities. 365 things to do in houston is a great source for up-to-date information on houston events.
events for all ages:
activities for children:
houston sports & athletics:
10. outdoor activities are enjoyable throughout the year.
This moving guide would not be complete without mentioning the climate and quality of life in houston. Houston’s weather is beautiful year-round, and spending a day outdoors in a light jacket in mid-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 consider.
first, it rains more in houston than in other cities in texas. daily showers during the rainy season (May, June and July are usually the wettest months) are not uncommon. You will also need to adjust to the extreme heat and humidity of summer.
stay stocked with insect repellant and sunscreen for days you plan to be outdoors for an extended period. Keeping the air conditioning in your home and your car in good condition will be key to coping with the hottest months. Additionally, you’ll need to prepare for hurricane season (June 1 to November 30), as Houston’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico makes it particularly susceptible to hurricane damage. Overall, Houston is a great city for outdoor entertainment.
things to explore outdoors:
11. Houstonians are very good neighbors.
houston has seen its fair share of struggles in recent years; In particular, the severe destruction of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Houstonians came together in great measure to help each other recover from the devastation. the positivity houstonians displayed during this tragedy speaks to the character and resilience of the city. Despite being the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country, Houstonians still exude the warmth and friendliness of a small town. it will not be difficult to find your tribe in houston.
notable houston charities and nonprofits:
In keeping with Houston’s community-focused culture, the city is full of notable charities doing amazing work like:
12. Moving to Houston is a doddle with the right resources.
Whether you’re moving to Houston or around Houston, being able to track moving supplies is an integral step to a successful move. At Life Storage, we sell a variety of moving supplies and boxes that can be picked up at storage locations in Houston. If you need to rent a storage unit to expedite your move, a free moving truck rental is also included.
how has moving to houston improved your life? Are there any hidden gems in your city that we missed? let us know on twitter, @lifestorage!