Well, this is my last week in Houston. I moved here in 2008. I like many others, I moved down from the NYC area. I took a new job in on the West Coast. Overall I thought Houston was an ok place to live. Not great, but not horrible either. After four years of the heat and humidity that last 10 months of the year (six of them being brutal) I decided I will be happier in a cooler climate that is also more diverse outdoors wise – mountains, forest, streams with a more pedestrian friendly city.
For people looking to move here, I will give an honest assessment of Houston. One thing I noticed about the Houston threads is that there are two extremes. 1) The people who hated Houston so much they just bash it over and over again even when it’s not relevant to the topic. 2) The Houstonians who want everyone to believe that Houston is like Napa Valley, Key West, Lake Tahoe, Cape Cod and Aspen Colorado all mixed together. Both groups are just delusional.
Here are the negatives. Again, some of this is subjective. Weather for example is always subjective.
1)Heat and humidity is overkill. Take the hottest day of the year in most places and that is the weather pretty much everyday from April to early November. Even when your not in this timeframe it does not cool down much. There will be the occasional freeze in Jan or February that will just be enough to kill your garden and it is right back up to 80 the next week. The humidity is just brutal. It actually makes it difficult to breath.
2) Crime. While Houston does not have large ghettos like Philadelphia, Baltimore or L.A., crime is definitely an issue. Prior to living in Houston, I lived in NYC for eight years and was never a victim of any crime. Within my first two years in Houston, my apartment was burglarized twice and my wife and I each had our cars broken into. One was at the Galleria and the other vehicle was at the Medical Center. We lived off of Woodway which was supposed to be a good area, but break ins occurred weekly at our complex and we were paying $1100 per month. The crime in Houston does spill over into the higher income areas. It is by no means contained to the “ghetto areas”. There is also a ton a gang activity in Houston as more and more crap comes up from the border. Houston is starting to look like a Third World city. I hate to say that, but it is. I do believe diversity is a good thing, but not when alot of crime in Houston is committed by illegal aliens. I am not saying legal Houstonians are to blame for the border situation, but dealing illegal alien crime and Latin American gangs is a major problem in Houston.
3) Lack of scenery and outdoor activities. Houston is flat and pretty boring. There really is no natural beauty outside Memorial Park and some areas around Rice University. After that it is just strip malls, apartment complexes and eventually oil refineries. Don’t move to Houston expecting the scenery of Seattle, Denver, Boston or Portland.
4) Traffic and drivers. Horrendous traffic due the lack of mass transit. Houston for some reason is stuck in the stone age when it comes to mass transit. The drivers are horrible, many don’t even have a license and they do not believe in blinkers in Houston. It is a foreign concept.
Ok, that is enough complaining. Here is the positives.
: 1) Food. Houston has amazing food. Some of the best, if not the best in the country. The only area it lacks is pizza. Some places are ok, but nothing compared to the NYC area. Houston’s Asian and Mexican food is second to none. Indian and Middle Eastern also are amazing. Of course the BBQ is out of this world. Baker’s Ribs on S.Voss is to die for.
2) Great shopping, both for casual and high end. Galleria and all up and down Westheimer is great. You can get anything you want. Meyerland Plaza and the Woodlands Mall is also great.
3) Great sports town. Houston Texans give the best NFL experience in the entire league in my opinion. Great tailgating and a true football team. None of their players are getting arrested for trunk fulls of coke. The Astros always make for a fun day and the Rockets really a great experience for NBA fans. The new Dynamo stadium makes Houston a top soccer city.
4) Sunshine. Despite my complaints about the heat and humidity, Houston is sunny. Very sunny.
5) Politics- The politics in Houston is very reasonable. While it is no longer “good ole boy country” it is far from Berkley, CA or other whackado liberal havens.
6) People – The people here are alright. I made some great friends here. While, I feel a large sector of Houstonians are rude and obnoxious, I did meet some great people here. They maybe hard to come by, but when you find them you will know what I mean.
Overall, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best, I will give my experience in Houston a 6. Again, that is just MY experience. The next two guys could give it a 3 and a 9. I am happy and excited for my move to the northwest, but I am a little sad to leave.
I did my best to give the fairest assessment possible. I hope most agree.
1)Heat and humidity- I agree, I’ve lived since 3, moved from Bronx, NY. Traveling to other places, it is just horrible outside during summer, especially sweating like dog, if the AC is out.
2) Crime. Somewhat agree, most of my friends/family have been lucky and been out of police report. I read Chronicle a lot and see some stories on it, so I know.
3) Lack of scenery and outdoor activities. Agree, having been to San Francisco a lot, I can’t help to enjoy seeing some hills and curvy roads. Even San Antonio has some places that you can stare at.
4) Traffic and drivers. Somewhat agree, traffic is horrendous even where I live and I live beyond Harris County, but work in the city. Trucks (non-commercial) do tend to drive faster than cars and I see more wrecker drivers than other states. As for blinkers, it depends which part of the city you live in. As a habitual cyclist, I find a lot of drivers to be courteous, I see a lot of drivers yield to me at intersections (and I do stop at intersections).
1) Food. Nothing compares to Houston, it is one of our greatest asset.
2) Great shopping. Somewhat agree, there are a lot of places that have gone down like Greenspoint Mall, NW Mall, Sharpstown Mall, Almeda Mall and Gulfgate Mall. FM1960 isn’t what it is used to be, you could just go there and find everything you need. Now, it has become a Dollar Store type crowd, one of the saddest thing about living in Houston is seeing that change. The accessibility to shops is probaly our strength, you can park and shop within miles. We now have places that we can buy without going to the Galleria.
3) Great sports town. Somewhat agree, if any of the teams don’t win, we will struggle in attendance (Astros). Texans are just winning, but since we lost the Oilers, I think we don’t take the Texans for granted like the Oilers, so the attendance will be there for a while. We don’t have the sports fanatic in Chicago, Boston and New York. We have a lot of sports radio stations and we have a great resource on kids playing sports.
4) Sunshine. Somewhat agree, we do get a lot of sun because I’ve been cycling a lot more than past years probaly Global warming. Last year, I rode almost everyday because the sun was out so much. When I think of sun, I think of being in SF, we get more cloudy days than sunny days.
5) Politics- No comment
6) People – Disagree. Compare to other places, I think we have a pretty good place, at least my neighbors and fellow co-workers have been helpful and genuine. I cycle a lot on the trails where people walk, I get a lot of walkers and runners yielding to me, or say hellos/mornings than other places. A few years ago, outside my office I saw a live car accident. I heard a can’t miss noise of a car braking extremely hard, so I looked out then an overturned car on 45 South. Immediately, at least 6-8 cars stopped and got out to check on the occupants. The freeway literally stopped on that direction, for 5-10 minutes you can see a group checking on the welfare of the occupants and trying to flip the right side over on the car. That is something I always will remember as Houstonians.
I love looking at what others write about our city, thanks for giving us an insight. Good Luck and have many more properous years in your next location and beyond.
Since I’ve been a regular on this web-site I’ve never posted my own experiences of living in Houston. So I decided why not do it now since i’m starting to feel somewhat like a Houstonian being a resident of the city for some time now.
Overall experience since living in Houston has been pretty much a life changing situation that only get’s better and better. I moved here from Waco,Texas as I was pretty much finish with college and ready to move out of Waco. Nothing against Waco, I just felt like I’ve done so much in Waco and my heart really wasn’t in a small or mid size city but more wanting to be in a urban jungle. Prior to moving to Houston, I had the option to move to DFW or Atlanta and I felt as though Houston would be the best choice for me. Since moving to Houston I’ve had way more positive experiences then negative ones. I’ll just give pros and cons of the city.
1.Traffic- I actually didn’t have that much of a problem with traffic when I first moved but I’ve notice traffic volume has gotten worst due to what I assume is more and more people moving to the city. After spending some time in D.C. and loving public transportation(even though I like driving)coming back to Houston made me hate the traffic even more.
2. The ILLUSION of a lack of scenery- Look,I’ve been to many beautiful places in this country my favorite good looking city based off of scenery alone would be San Francisco. D.C., I fell in love with the architecture and the whole feel of the city(mostly due to the fact i’m huge on history and the city just embodies that) However, I don’t live everyday in Houston wishing and hoping that Houston looks like those cities. I feel that Houston has alot of beautiful looking areas, more then most people realize. It’s alot of charm in Houston. The Illusion of a lack of scenery is the fact that the freeways/main roads cut through some of the ugliest blandest parts of Houston. So to me it makes seem as though Houston is full of blandness when it’s the total opposite. The area in between Greenspoint and right before you get to 610 on 45 isn’t the most attractive. And that cut’s right through hoods on the Northside. But I would get lost on purpose through the city and end up in some beautiful charismatic areas even outside the loop that didn’t come off as a typical sub-division.
3.Lack of marketing/Tourism- More then likely I probably would avoid tourist traps because most tourist destinations in the U.S. most locals tend to avoid anyway. But it would be nice if Houston markets it’s attractions much better. Ex: I just found out about Bayou Bend by accidently browsing the MFAH web-site. I don’t hear many people talk about it as well when it comes to attractions. Maybe i’m one of the few people that find this place fascinating. This is one of many places that Houston actually has that should get more recognition to draw more tourist to the city.
4. Not Pedestrian friendly in most areas- I’ve been taking alot of pictures in the city. Some of the most unique areas are not as pedestrian friendly as other cities I’ve been to. It would be progressive if they made these area’s a little more walk able.
1. Food- Like others have said, bar none Houston has some of the best food in the United states. And eating out is pretty much a religion in this city. I think you have to be in cities like Houston or New Orleans to understand what i’m saying. The social atmosphere eating out is on a different experience down here then most cities I’ve been to. But maybe because i’m around alot of foodies.
2.Social scene-Alot of people on here have said Houston doesn’t have much of a night life or social scene. I say otherwise. I’ve been to alot of cities in this country and Houston is top notch to me and very underrated in this category. Maybe because i’m black and Houston might have more to offer in that sense even though I see tons of other races/ethnicity out all the time in Houston. Trust me there’s always something to do in Houston. Monday to Sunday. I’ve lived or been in cities where you wait till Friday for the party to get started. And that’s only on a Friday and Saturday. I’ve made alot of progressive connections living in Houston. I’ve rubbed shoulders with people I never thought I would be in a position to meet since I’ve been here. I’ve also put together events and had a good turn out to add to the social atmosphere of the city. I seriously don’t see how people can say it’s dead when I always see people out having a good time. Not to mention most people don’t think about party scenes in other cities while there out having fun.
3. Neighborhoods in the inner loop- I like the fact that it’s so many different vibes within the inner loop. Alot of people say that Houston is bland with no charm but I beg to differ. Hoods like the Heights, Midtown, Upper Kirby,Montrose, 3rd Ward, River Oaks, 5th Ward have there own vibes and all have activity going on daily. I mean all those areas I named you could not compare them at all. 3rd Ward and 5th ward are worlds apart and I know most people on this forum are not even aware of the vibes of those areas.
4. People- Houstonians have alot of character. I’ve meet alot of cool people both natives and transplants. Meet people from all over the globe and have been exposed to many different cultures thanks to Houston’s diverse population.
5.Proximity to unique areas- Alot of people might not like the beaches on Galveston. But Galveston in itself is a nice getaway and it’s no other city quite like Galveston in Texas. It has a vibe somewhat like New Orleans,Savannah,Charleston. And the fact it does have beaches and nice hotels,great food,culture and theme parks. I also like the Woodlands area and see it as an up and coming area in the Houston metropolitan area.
6. Shopping- For the wardrobe I like I think Houston is on top 5 or 10 list.
There you have it, the pros outweigh the cons for me. I plan on living here for a long time and raising a family here. I only would consider living in 2 other places in this country over Houston. And even then that’s if I had enough money to have residence in 2 places, that one place being Houston.
Why do people keep on pulling out the “Cost of Living” card out of theor back pocket?
I’ve actually started paying atention to this and while homes in certain parts of the far suburbs are cheaper than compprable cites, homes inside the loop are costly and apartments in trendy parts of the city are not as expensive as premiere cities but they are in the top 25% most expensive.
Additionally, the state of Texas has HIGHER property taxes, sales taxes, and utility fees (water, electricity, etc. ) comparaitively speaking. Also, we have a weak public transportation system so personal transportation costs are typicall more expensive.
Also, we get what we pay for. We have a weakened infrastructure because ‘those perceived lower cost of living’ mentaility does not pay to upkeep the city, as much.
Anyone who has driven on a city road knows this…the city patches a pothole as inexpensively as possible to avoid fixing it for good.
Lower base rent/mortgage (in some parts of the city) but
-Higher property taxes
-Higher Sales tax (these make up for the lack of state tax)
-Higher Utilities cost
-Higher transportation cost bc you MUST have a car and have to drive miles to get anywhere
-Not sure about gasoline taxes (maybe someone else knows where we rank)
…..but we get what we pay for in return.