A Texas treasure of NASA fame, Houston is hot right now. Growing rapidly, in 2012 Houston surpassed both New York and Los Angeles as the most ethnically diverse city in the nation. Houston is home to an impressive food scene, a robust economy (like, really robust), great professional sports teams, and more.
Whether you're thinking of moving to Houston (or maybe just moving to Texas) because of a job offer, a graduate school, a relationship, or just for a change of pace, your friends at Bellhops want to help (we're movers in Houston, by the way). Keep reading and we'll walk you through what it's like living in Houston: where to live, where to eat, what to expect, the pros and cons, and more. Let's dive in.
One City, Two Major Airports
Because of its size (627 square miles!), getting around Houston can be daunting. If you're trying to get out of Houston, though, it's a little easier. With two airports, domestic and international travel to and from the city is quite straightforward.
George H. Bush Intercontinental Airport, located north of the city, is a hub for United Airlines and flies several international flights daily. William P. Hobby International Airport serves as a hub for Southwest Airlines and services all major airlines except for United.
Like we mentioned before, in 2012 Houston surpassed both New York and Los Angeles as the most ethnically diverse city in the nation. With a large percentage of the population living in Houston of Hispanic, African American, or Asian origin, there is a delightful blend of cultures here. Houston is also home to over 80 foreign embassies and consulates.
Houston has over 50,000 acres of park space within its city limits (52,912 acres, to be exact). Houston is also home to the largest county park within a city—George Bush park, at 8,043 acres.
Obviously, with over 50,000 acres of parks, there are many more parks than we have space to talk about here. But we do recommend that you check out Memorial Park on Houston’s west side. You can find the Houston Arboretum in the park, which is free to the public and definitely worth your time. Memorial Park is also home to a variety of hiking trails, running trails, and open fields, for those that like to get their exercise outside.
Houston's a big city, so choosing where to live can be a imposing proposition. We selected a few key neighborhoods to help you get an understanding of what some of your options are:
Eastwood: Affordable and Convenient
Eastwood is located about 3 miles east of the downtown Houston area, just north of Interstate 45 between Velasco and Hughes Streets. This neighborhood is popular with both young professionals and young families.
And it makes sense—Eastwood is close to downtown and it has a residential vibe with more affordable housing. This neighborhood is known for its craftsman and mission style architecture and modest feel.
Located on the north side of the city, between Interstate 610 and Interstate 10, Houston Heights is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Houston. The neighborhood is also one of the most historic districts in all of Houston. Here you'll find an eclectic blend of life with an authentic feel throughout.
The traditional southern style residences with big, wrap-around porches found here can be expensive. However, more lofts and shared living spaces are popping up, attracting residents of all ages. Also worth note, the “First Saturday” Arts Market here is a monthly staple for shoppers looking for local art, plants, and free live music.
Three prominent West Houston neighborhoods are Uptown, West University Place, and Bellaire. Uptown is near the west side of Interstate 610 and is home to Texas’s largest shopping center, The Galleria. This retail-driven district has a pleasant mix of lofts, condos, and suburban-development-type housing. Apartment hunting can be a little tough here, so check out either rent.com or apartmentguide.com. Both are excellent apartment aggregators with impressive databases.
West University Place is home to a mix of families, young professionals, and college students (it's close to Rice University). This residential and community-focused neighborhood is extremely popular, driving up housing costs for single-family dwellings, in particular.
After moving to Houston, you may realize you have more stuff than you have room for. It happens to the best of us. If you find yourself in this situation, check out SpareFoot. SpareFoot is the world's largest marketplace for storage, making it easy to find your stuff a home. Their website lets you compare the storage options nationwide and reserve the best solution for your needs, whether it is traditional self-storage or on-demand full-service storage. And lucky for you, they cover Houston.
Chowin’ Down in H-Town: The Houston Food Scene
Tex-Mex is King
Houstonians are proud of leading the way in delicious Tex-Mex cuisine. If you’re hungry for tacos, look no further than Ninfa’s Original on Navigation Blvd. The restaurant was started in 1973 by Mama Ninfa herself, creator of the delectable Tacos El Carbon, or as we know them today—fajitas.
The bad news: at Killen's, you'll probably have to wait in line. Why? Well, that's the good news. This is some of the best barbecue, not just in Texas, but in the country. But don't take our word for it. Killen's has been garnering national press attention almost since it opened. At Killen's, head chef and founder Ronnie Killen has brought his Le Cordon Bleu-trained eye to the world of barbecue, and Texans are grateful for it.
Allow us here at Bellhops to join the chorus of voices: Killen's is some of the best barbecue out there. If you're moving to Houston, it's a must-visit.
Okay. So there are a lot of great places to eat in Houston. But one place you can't miss is the neighborhood known as Montrose. Home to some of the best eateries in Houston, Westheimer Ave. and Montrose Blvd. (two key streets in Montrose) are packed with unique, local restaurants.
While the neighborhood has classic favorites like taco and barbecue joints, you can find all types of cuisine here. Indika, for example, has become known city-wide for its delicious Indian food. If fine-dining fits your budget, try Pass and Provisions for multiple-course meals featuring a little bit of everything.
Happy Hour in Midtown
Midtown is one of the more popular happy hour destinations in Houston. The after-work crowd is fond of making the quick jaunt over to Midtown from Downtown for drinks and conversations.
In Midtown, the recent development Greenstreet houses multiple restaurants and bars. Crowd favorites here include the House of Blues and Howl at the Moon.
Restaurants and bars are popping up right and left along Washington Avenue, making it a popular nightlife destination for young professionals.
The Porch Swing Pub is a particularly popular destination on Washington Avenue. Here, regulars call the bartenders by name and jam to an eclectic variety of music—but be sure to head over early if you want to claim a spot on the porch. Next, locals love Kung Fu Saloon, home to vintage arcade games, private karaoke rooms, and an awesome beer selection.
Where to Spend a Saturday in Houston
NASA (Enough Said)
Houston has played, and continues to play, a key role in the United States' space exploration. Houston is home to NASA's Johnson Space Center and NASA's Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center. If you’re interested in space exploration (who isn't?), head over to the Space Center visitor’s center. Here, visitors will find an interactive museum showcasing both historic space missions and exhibits about the world outside earth's atmosphere.
The museum district is located between Interstate 69 and Hwy. 288. The museum district is filled with opportunities for education and fun alike. Here you can explore the Children’s Museum, the Houston Science Museum, The Holocaust Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, and The Houston Zoo.
Things You'll Need to Have
A Car is a Necessity
Houston is a large city, and getting around means you need transportation. The majority of Houstonians own a car for their main mode of transportation.
The city’s public transit system is growing, but it is still underdeveloped compared to other major cities. Due to the limited availability of bike lanes and the massive land area the city covers, a car is the most convenient method to get around H-town.
Unfortunately, the hot and humid climate in Houston is prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. In certain areas, some mosquitoes have tested positive for Dengue Fever and are also at risk for carrying West Nile and Zika Virus. If you're moving to Houston, be sure to pack some bug spray with you.
Expect the Unexpected: A Couple Pros and Cons
Be Prepared for Inclement Weather
Tragically, as we saw in August 2017 with Hurricane Harvey, Houston is prone to natural disasters. In particular, with its gulf coast location, Houston is vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding. In fact, Houston is among the top two percent of calamity-stricken parts of the United States. If moving to Houston is in your future, home insurance should be as well.
It might surprise you to learn that Texas does not collect a state income tax. Before you get too excited about this, though, you should know that the state isn't going to give up that tax revenue that easily. To make up for the lack of a state income tax, you'll find higher sales and property taxes. Whether or not this policy decision is a beneficial one for you is a hotly debated subject. Nevertheless, we thought you'd like to know.
Houston ranks fourth highest in fuel wasted due to traffic jams in the US, according to the Texas A&M Traffic Institute. Commute times are higher than the national average because the city is spread out over a large area. Combine that with a higher number of drivers on the road due to lack of public transportation and you've got a recipe for some real traffic. Make sure to have some podcasts on hand.
There you have it. Our guide to moving to Houston. If you were wondering what it's like living in Houston, hopefully we've given you a little better idea. If you decide to take the plunge and move to Houston, don't hesitate to reach out to your friends at Bellhops. We coordinate local and long distance moving services in Houston and we would love to help.
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