Moving To Houston Texas? (The Truth About Living Here)

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Texas is home to several of the largest cities in the United States, and the largest of them all is Houston. People are making the move to Houston because the city has warm weather, several large entertainment venues, a young population, and a growing job market.

With over 2.3 million people, Houston is the fourth most populated city in the United States, behind New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The diverse city and its nearby suburbs encompass over 9,000 square miles, with the city itself stretching over 600 square miles.

The weather in Houston is a major selling point. The summer months reach average highs in the 90s, while the high temperatures in the winter months are in the 60s. The spring and fall temps range between the 70s and 80s. Houston’s rainy seasons are the spring and fall.

Houston is a diverse city with residents who speak over 140 languages. To add to the diversity, at least 25 Fortune 500 companies make Houston their home. Houston is also home to many championship professional sports teams, including the Astros and Rockets.

The cost of living in Houston is affordable. Insurance is higher than in other big cities, but home prices and energy costs are low. Best of all, Texas does not have a state income tax. Employers pay well in Houston, too.

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What Are The Neighborhoods In Houston?

 

Like other cities along the Gulf of Mexico, Houston has several waterways earning the nickname Bayou City. The waterways outline many neighborhoods. Another boundary that establishes an important area in Houston is Interstate 610, or “The Loop,” which includes downtown and other more populated neighborhoods.

Inside The Loop, most people live in high-density residential apartments and townhouses. In contrast, those who live outside of The Loop have single-family homes and condos. Most large corporations, entertainment venues, and popular restaurants are inside of The Loop.

Houston Texas modern skyline at sunset twilight from park lawn

When choosing a neighborhood, Houstonians tend to pay attention to their commute. People who work in The Loop but live outside of it can have long commutes that are 30 minutes or more each way.

These neighborhoods are popular in Houston, and each one offers something a little different.

Bay Area

Houston’s proximity to Galveston Bay and Trinity Bay makes the city itself a desirable place to live. The suburbs like Clear Lake and League City are where people go to enjoy living near the water. Bay Area neighborhoods are popular with those who like the view and don’t mind dodging hurricanes or paying insurance prices because of them.

East Downtown

This urban neighborhood was originally filled with immigrants from China and Vietnam who later chose other neighborhoods in the end of the 20th Century. Since then, the empty buildings have been revitalized with restaurants, sports stadiums, and entertainment venues. If you enjoy professional sports and colorful street art, you might enjoy living in EaDo.

While EaDo is a trendy and fun place to live, it can get congested when teams are in town. EaDo still has ethnic grocery stores alongside new art galleries and nightclubs. Transportation to and from EaDo is easy with the newly opened Metrorail Green Line.

The Heights

Like EaDo, the Heights is inside of the Inner Loop, making it a hip place to live. This comfortable neighborhood has plenty of bars and restaurants on walkable streets lined with cozy bungalows. Residents enjoy block parties with fun themes. They also take great pride in shopping locally within the boundaries of The Heights.

Katy

If you are looking for a small suburb with affordable housing and good schools, Katy is the answer. The neighborhood resembles The Woodlands, but without the Woodlands price tag. Several of the large companies that were in downtown Houston have moved into Katy because of its affordability factor.

Montrose

Montrose made its name as a safe-haven for Houston’s LGBTQ residents. Now, it’s a hip and vibrant spot where home prices are increasing rapidly. Montrose is home to art studios, unique homes, and fine dining. Interestingly, Montrose’s unique atmosphere includes a blend of thrift stores, high-end boutiques, dive bars, noteworthy art galleries, and local coffee shops.

River Oaks

If you prefer to have a plethora of square feet to peruse, then River Oaks is the neighborhood for you. This neighborhood is filled with mansions and estates and is inside The Loop. Visitors come to River Oaks to shop at the high-end boutiques and to gaze at the historic homes.

Sugarland

This suburb has more of a small-town, exurban feel, making it one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in the Houston area. Sugarland is known for its enjoyable community events in the town square area. The homes are affordable, but most predict that will change soon.

West University

Along with sports stadiums and Fortune 500 companies, Houston has several highly respected colleges and universities. One of those is Rice University, which is where the West University neighborhood gets its name.

This family-friendly neighborhood is quiet and is home to Rice Village. The town’s borders are actually shaped like a house, and many streets don the names of famous historical writers like William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer.

The Woodlands

This suburb is a popular area for families, but the median home price over $350,000 keeps many from living there. It is filled with natural spaces and intentional green space, as well as lovely little shopping centers and amazing schools.

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How Is The Job Market In Houston?

 

The big attraction is the Houston job market. The city is home to several industries that offer good-paying jobs. Those industries include oil and gas, aerospace, and medicine. Engineers are in demand in Houston, with all of the high-tech industries that populate the metro area. No matter the skill level, unemployment is low in the Houston metro area.

Interestingly, Houston has unusual zoning laws, so industrial and residential areas intermingle, giving Houstonians opportunities to live near their workplaces.

Medical Industry

The medical industry is growing at a rapid rate. Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, as well as the MD Anderson Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine. Having such a large medical industry allows people of all skill levels to find a reliable and good-paying job.

Along with the Texas Medical Center, Houston has 21 hospitals and 8 institutions dedicated to research and learning.

Aerospace Industry

Houston is also home to Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport. Bush Intercontinental Airport is a hub for United Airlines, and both airports are major employers in the area. Like the medical industry, the airline industry also offers jobs in a variety of skill levels.

Along with the major airport, Houston is home to NASA, making the town a popular destination for engineers, mathematicians, and analysts looking to work in the aerospace industry.

Energy Industry

Many young people are moving to Houston to get in on the entrepreneurial spirit of the town. Co-working spaces continue to emerge, and many people find jobs in the Fortune 500 companies like Phillips 66, Sysco, ConocoPhillips, and Occidental Petroleum.

Houston is known as the Energy Capital of the World, as there are over 4,600 firms that work in the industry. The city’s proximity to Mexico also increases the demand for workers in the energy field. The energy field includes the lucrative gas and oil industry, as well as exploration, production, marketing, and technology.

picture of commuting to work in Houston Texas

Top Companies to Work For

If you are someone who likes to work for well-established companies, then there are plenty to choose from in Houston. Top companies in the metro area include Fortune 500 organizations like Phillips 66, Sysco, ConocoPhillips, Baker Hughes, and Halliburton.

Other popular large employers include Edward Jones, LJA Engineering, Visible Changes, and Panda Restaurant Group. Medium-sized employers with top ratings from Houston residents include Power Home Remodeling Group, Houston Physicians’ Hospital, and Team Gillman. Small companies with high ratings include The Joy School, Texon, and Newmark Homes.

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How Is The Houston Real Estate Market?

 

The Houston housing market is strong, as homes continue to sell as quickly as they are listed. Buyers and sellers continue to benefit from the low mortgage rates. Even with the pandemic, homes in Houston are continuing to sell, and many communities have selling rates that have recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

Before choosing a home, homebuyers should look at a few considerations. Hurricanes hit Houston, and with hurricanes comes flooding. Some neighborhoods have high flood risks, which can increase insurance costs. Homebuyers should look closely at commute times, too.

Home prices in neighborhoods that are flood zones might be attractive, but floods are anything but that. Be aware that some home prices might be too good to be true, so check the flood zones and recent flooding histories.

Houston has many moderately priced homes with reasonable square footage. To make matters even better, many of those homes have plenty of yard space, too. If you are looking for an affordable home, stay outside of The Loop. However, gentrification has turned some Inner Loop neighborhoods into attractive opportunities for homeowners.

picture of Houston Heights Texas Neighborhood

Hot Segments and Median Prices

Because of the quickly-turning inventory, Redfin charts the median price of homes in the area was just over $260,000, which is up from the previous year. The hottest price points for buyers in Houston is between $250,000 and $500,000. Sales of houses below $150,000 dropped significantly from the previous year.

Interestingly, the other hot price segment was the highest – homes over $750,000. Low interest rates allow Houston home-buyers to purchase homes with higher prices. Unfortunately, despite the demand for homes, Houston’s inventory is the smallest its been in several years.

Along with being a hot home-buying market, Houston is also popular for people who want to invest in rental properties. The market’s stability makes rental properties a solid investment that brings immediate cash flow and long-term equity. Long-time rental-property investors can make money selling their properties for profit, as they are in high demand, too.

Connections to Oil Prices

When talking about the Houston real estate market, it is important to talk about oil prices. When they drop, home sales tend to drop. But, with so many other industries dotting the Houston landscape, homes are still moving, even with lower-than-expected oil prices.

Like other big cities, Houston’s home values are increasing rapidly. This is a good and bad thing. When prices get too high, first-time home buyers have difficulty finding a home they can afford. When home prices get too high, some homes become too expensive to sell, too. The Houston area is a seller’s market, and experts do not expect it to shift to a buyer’s market in the future.

If the prices get too high, Houston could resemble towns like San Francisco and Los Angeles where middle-class professionals struggle to find a home they can afford. As for now, that has not happened.

According to Zillow, the typical value of homes in Houston is $201,276. This number includes the mid-tier of homes. Zillow also explains that home prices increased by more than 6% in 2020, and the expectation is that they will increase by nearly 10% in 2020.

Renting in Houston

Renting in Houston is the only option for some residents. According to RentCafe, the average apartment in Houston is just under 900 square feet and costs about $1100 per month. Renters occupy about 40% of homes in Houston. The cost to rent in Houston is lower than in other cities around the US, and the cost per month has remained steady for the past three years.

Like many big cities, apartments in the downtown area tend to be the most expensive per month. The lowest rent prices are in South Park, Greater Fifth Ward, and East Little York, where rent is between $600 and $720 per month. The highest rent costs are in Midtown, Montrose, and Downtown, where prices exceed $1800 per month.

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How Much Does It Cost To Live In Houston?

 

When figuring the cost of living, experts use the number 100 to determine the average costs around the United States. According to Best Places, the cost of living in Houston is below the average, with a rating of 96.5. Compared to the rest of Texas, Houston is slightly more expensive, but both are under the national average.

Utility Costs

The costs of utilities in Houston are below the national and state averages. Utility costs include gas, electricity, water, and garbage. The national average for an apartment around 900 square feet is about $152 per month. In Houston, the average monthly cost is $133. The average internet cost per month in Houston is around $60.

Transportation

Every city has a problem or two. In San Francisco, the problem in housing. In Los Angeles, it’s transportation. Houston has a transportation problem, too. The city was not built to be walkable, like New York or Chicago. Within Houston neighborhoods, walking is a breeze, but this changes when residents need to leave them.

Fortunately, Houston is the oil-and-gas mecca of the United States, so finding affordable fuel prices is not a problem. Because residents rely on driving their own cars, parking is affordable, too – as long as you don’t have to park near an arena on a game night. But, driving is wreaking havoc on the roads.

Houston’s problem is the lack of public transportation and frustratingly long commutes. Within The Loop, the Metro Rail solves many problems. But, it’s difficult to get into and out of The Loop during peak travel times. Between 7 AM and 9 AM and 4 PM and 7 PM, the downtown traffic gets out of control, and some commutes last for more than an hour.

Those who live within The Loop can use the Metro Rail for $90 per month. To avoid expensive public transportation costs and long commutes, park-and-ride hubs are popular as Houstonians prefer to share rides with strangers during the weekdays. To make this system work, the HOV lane gets heavy usage.

When comparing transportation costs to the rest of the nation, Houston comes in high at 119. The rest of Texas averages 103.3. Transportation costs for one adult living alone are around $4,300 annually. A family of four spends about $11,600 on transportation costs annually.

Houston is growing its public transportation options, but most are in the downtown area. For example, the city has a bus and light rail system for residents who live and work in downtown and midtown. Car-sharing options have also grown, with Zipcar and Carshare leading the way. Houston is also investing in bike paths in the Greenway system.

Food and Groceries

Comparing Houston’s food costs to the rest of the nation, it ranks at 98.1 Texas as a whole ranks 93.7. In Houston, the annual food expenses for a single adult is just under $3000 annually. Adding a spouse and two children increases the annual food expense to over $8,800.

People shopping in the supermarket in Houston Texas

Houston has a robust collection of restaurants, and those prices are a bit higher than costs around the country. The average meal costs for two range between $15 and $65, while the national average is between $14 and $50.

Healthcare and Medical

People all over the United States are experiencing increased health-care expenses, and Houston is no exception. A single adult in Houston can expect to spend around $2,400 annually on medical expenses. A family of four can expect to spend about $7,800 annually.

Interestingly, Houston has some of the lowest health-care expenses in the United States. When compared to the national average, Houston ranks 92.4 in health-care expenses. Having so many options in the metro area helps to control costs.

Taxes

A big benefit of moving to Houston is not having to pay a state or county income tax. To make up for the lack of an income tax, Houston residents pay an 8.25% sales tax. This rate includes state, county, and city sales tax rates. Paychecks in Houston go farther than those in other large cities around the United States when looking at tax rates.

Property owners in Houston pay 2.12%. This is higher than the average property tax rate around the country, which is 1.1%. This higher-than-average rate makes up for not having a state income tax. Florida does not have a state income tax, but that state’s average property tax rate is only .98%, below the national average.

A single Houstonian will pay about $3,000 in annual taxes, while a family of four will pay about $6,600 in taxes each year.

Other Expenses

Houston is generally an affordable place to live. The home values, taxes, and utilities are not out of control. Residents of Houston often spend money on the plethora of entertainment options around the area. With all of the professional sports in the area, many invest in season tickets. People also pay for memberships at museums, golf courses, and zoos.

Residents of Houston also tend to spend money on self-care. This includes buying a membership to a yoga studio or gym. However, it is common to see Houstonians exercising in the fresh air at public parks all around the city and metro area.

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Is Houston A Good Place To Retire?

 

More retirees are choosing big cities. Houston is a vibrant and diverse city that has plenty of opportunities for today’s retirees. For those who enjoy trying food from all over the world, Houston has it all. From donuts to Tex-Mex, German to Vietnamese, Houston really has something for everyone.

Despite the hot and humid summers, Houston has outstanding weather that retirees like. They never have to complain about cold seeping into their bones, like those who stay in the frigid north do. The average high in January is in the mid-60s, and only about 18 days per year have nights that drop below freezing. Retirees in Houston never worry about shoveling snow.

Retirees enjoy day trips and entertainment venues in Houston. With the Gulf of Mexico a short drive away, saltwater beaches beckon all residents. Houston is home to the Sam Houston National Forest and a pair of nearby wildlife refuges so that retirees can enjoy time in nature.

For those who prefer concrete to sand, downtown Houston has several options that retirees love. Those who love sports get to enjoy the Astros, Rockets, Dynamo, and Texas. Those who enjoy college sports can support NCAA Division-One teams at Rice University and the University of Houston.

Living in Houston is affordable for retirees, especially because they do not have to worry about daily commutes. They can choose the neighborhood they want and support their local microeconomy. Not having to pay a state income tax is attractive to seniors, and Harris County and Houston have property-tax exemptions for seniors 65 and over.

Seniors appreciate having access to medical care, and with the largest medical facility in the world, care is available. According to Infoplease, 15% of the population of Houston is over age 55.

Houston has several top retirement communities with good value, plenty of community events, and comfortable accommodations. They include these communities in and around the Houston metro area:

  • Treemont Retirement Community
  • The Village at Tanglewood
  • Attiva Pearlland
  • The Buckingham
  • The Abbey at Westminster Plaza

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What Are The People And Culture Like?

 

The fourth most populated city has a diverse blend of residents. It’s proximity to Mexico means that about 36% of its population is Latino. Another 36% of the population is white, and the rest is a mixture of African American, Asian, and others.

With such a diverse population, it should come as no surprise that over 140 languages are spoken in H-Town. Only New York and Los Angeles have more languages represented. In Houston, over one-third of the population speaks at least two languages, with one of them being English.

Houston is a young city, with only 15% of its residents aged 55 and over. The largest population segment is the 5-19 group, which occupies 22% of the population. Houston’s population is well-educated as about 30% of the population over age 25 has a bachelor’s degree.

picture of Elderly Father and mature son are saluting with the beer in front of the grill in their house backyard on a beautiful day.

The education level of Houstonians helps the plethora of Fortune 1000 companies that have headquarters in Houston. There are 49 major companies in the area; only New York has more.

When it comes to culture, spending time outside is important to Houstonians. The metro area has more total park acreage than any other large city in the United States. The largest parks include

  • Cullen Park
  • George Bush Park
  • Lake Houston Wilderness Park
  • Bear Creek Pioneers Park

Along with the public parks, there are almost 200 golf courses within the metro area. Houston also has a 300-mile bikeway that interconnects across 500 square miles. It includes dedicated bike lanes and routes as well as signed-shared and shared-use routes.

Houstonians also get to take in birds and butterflies as they migrate north and south annually. Over 400 species of birds have been counted in the area.

Houston’s cultural districts are notable, with 20 distinct areas. Over 9 million people visit various cultural events each year. The city has four professional performing arts companies that include ballet, opera, symphony, and theater. Very few other cities have this honor. The city also has more than 500 organizations devoted to culture relating to the arts, science, and history.

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What Are The Popular Things To Do In Houston?

 

There is always something to do in Houston. From outdoor activities at the public parks to games at professional stadiums, the range of activities is massive. Activities abound for families, individuals, visitors, and residents. Houston has numerous museums, shopping centers, and educational activities, too.

When in Houston, visitors and residents should take time to enjoy all of the Tex-Mex dining choices. The spicy delicacies can be enjoyed at dine-in restaurants, stands, and food trucks all over the city.

Other popular destinations in Houston include the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and Johnson Space Center. These polar opposite activities define the variety of opportunities in Houston.

These are a few other must-see places in Houston:

  • Buffalo Bayou Partnership
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • La Carafe
  • Ninfa’s Original on Navigation
  • Minute Maid Park
  • Rothko Chapel
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Pros And Cons Of Living In Houston

 

Like all cities, Houston has a mixture of pros and cons. The choice one has to make before moving there is to decide which list is more important.

Pros:

  • The booming job market
  • Plenty of green space
  • Cultural diversity
  • Numerous professional sports
  • No state income tax
  • Plenty of food choices
  • Affordable housing market
  • Two major four-star airports

Cons:

  • Traffic and congestion
  • Minimal public transportation
  • Heat and humidity in the summer
  • High property taxes
  • High sales tax rate
  • Hurricanes and flooding
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Fun Facts About Houston

 

As the fourth largest city in the nation, Houston has many fun facts unique to it.

  • The town is named for Sam Houston, who was the first president of the Republic of Texas.
  • Houston was the capital of Texas for two years.
  • Houston has a 25-mile docks system that brings in more foreign, commercial tonnage than any other port in the United States.
  • Houston has an underground tunnel system that covers six miles between almost 100 city blocks.
  • The Texas Medical Center has over seven million patients walk through the doors each year.
  • Houston does not have formal zoning laws.
  • Houston is the home of the National Museum of Funeral History.
  • The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo lasts for 20 days and entertains over two million attendees.
  • The Beer Can House on Malone Street is covered in over 50,000 beer cans.
  • The Houston Astros, who recently won the World Series in 2017, were once known as the Colt .45s.
  • The Houston Astrodome was the first sports venue to feature AstroTurf, but the Astrodome is currently empty and unused.
  • The Houston Galleria is the largest shopping mall in Texas.

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Final Thoughts About Moving to Houston

What Houston lacks in public transportation or traffic control it makes up for with a booming job market, cultural diversity, and plenty of green space. Not to mention, its affordable housing market makes it an attractive place to live for many people.

 

Further Reading: Looking For More Texas Resources? Check These Articles Out!

 

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