Moving to Houston, TX
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Thinking about moving to Houston?
Check out our guide below for everything you need to know about moving to and living in Houston, Texas!
Navigation Jump Links
- Houston At-a-glance
- What it’s like to live in Houston
- Economy and job outlook in Houston
- Real estate in Houston
- The top neighborhoods in Houston
- How to get around in Houston
- School and education snapshot
- Weather and climate in Houston
- 10 can’t miss things to do in Houston
You’re not alone. H-Town attracts nearly 250 new residents every day. The metropolitan area landed at number three in the nation in terms of population growth year over year as of July 1, 2020. It’s the home of Beyoncé, the NASA Astronaut Corps, and more Fortune 500 company headquarters than anywhere in the U.S. except New York.
Houston has no shortage of world-famous events. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo takes place every March, and is the largest livestock show and rodeo in the world. Each Spring, residents line the streets for The Art Car Parade. Twice a year, thousands flock to The Bayou City Art Festival, one of the top art festivals in the nation. Other popular events include the Hermann Park Kite Festival, the Discovery Green Scream on the Green and Frostival!
Houston’s neighborhoods are as diverse as its population. From charming houses in Montrose to modern condos in The Heights, you’ll always have a place to call home. Not sure where to start? Read our guide to top Houston neighborhoods, then consult our list of best Houston realtors to help make your search easy.
The Most Culturally Diverse Metro in the U.S.
Houston boasts the most racially and ethnically diverse large metro area in the U.S. (yes, even more than New York!). Couple that with a tradition of southern charm, and you’ve got yourself some of the most friendly and interesting neighbors anywhere. More than 145 languages are spoken throughout the Houston area, and it has the second-largest Hispanic and third-largest Mexican population in the U.S. In addition, over 500 cultural, visual and performing arts organizations call Houston home, 90 of which are devoted to multicultural and minority arts.
With more than 11,000 restaurants, Houston is a food city like no other. It’s where southern comfort joints have lines out the door, and combinations like “Viet-Cajun” exist. It’s where generations of southern cooking tradition coexists with culinary experimentation. Where barbecue melts your heart before it melts in your mouth, and you’d drive 40 minutes for the burger you’ve been craving because it’s just that good.
And because Houston is massive and diverse, its nightlife lives up to the challenge. From upscale cocktail lounges to divey honky-tonks to quiet jazz bars to booming dance clubs, it’s just a matter of asking yourself how you want the night to end. Due to Houston’s vast geography, most residents do nights out in their respective pockets. Midtown, Heights and Montrose are popular districts for both a night on the town or grabbing a casual drink with friends.
You might consider combining sports with a night out as the Astros, Rockets, Dynamo and Dash (men and women’s pro soccer teams) all play in stadiums downtown. The Texans play at NRG Stadium. Head to Rice and the University of Houston for even more games to watch.
Houston is the Energy Capital of the World
Houston’s stellar economy has landed it on countless Top 10 lists over the past decade—and there are no signs of that changing anytime soon.
Major employers include the Texas Medical Center (the largest medical center in the world), dozens of Fortune 500 company headquarters (including Philips, Sysco, Apache, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and many more), and a wide range of aeronautics and technology companies. And with more than 4,600 energy firms calling it home, Houston is unofficially known as “The Energy Capital of the World.”
Unemployment rate: 4.6% (as of August 2022)
Average weekly wages for all industries: $1,111 (as of May 2021)
Affordable Housing and a Reasonable Cost of Living
You may be surprised to know that Houston is not only the most populous city in Texas (with 2.3 million residents calling it home) but it’s also the fourth most populous city in the country. It’s true when they say everything is bigger in Texas!
One major advantage of moving to Houston is that residents aren’t subject to a state income tax. The advantages don’t stop there. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,304. And the median home price in Houston clocks in at a very reasonable $267,000. Combine that with an average annual salary of $64,000 and you’ve got an affordable city to reside in. In fact, at 19.4 percent below the national average, Houston ranks as the second lowest housing cost of the top 20 most populous cities in the U.S.
Plus, with a lower cost of living compared with the national average, you can expect everything from groceries, entertainment and restaurants to cost less when living in Houston.
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Houston Neighborhoods: A Vibrant, Welcoming Spot to Call Home
Whether you’re looking for arts and culture or a kid-friendly neighborhood, Houston is a vibrant, welcoming city with a lot of options. If you’re considering moving to Houston, these are some of the best places to live in:
Downtown: If you’re a city dweller at heart who loves to be at the center of all the action, downtown is where it’s at. It’s an attractive area for young professionals to empty nesters alike because of its close proximity to work, play, and plenty of green spaces.
Midtown: This neighborhood just south of downtown provides plenty of charm and character. Plus, it’s highly walkable which means recent college graduates and young professionals flock to the area for its affordable cost of living and never-ending nightlife.
Montrose: Is art and culture more of your neighborhood match? You’ll love the eclectic Montrose area with an artsy vibe, character-infused nightlife and trendy coffee shops. And as an added bonus, it’s an LGBTQ-friendly community.
Second Ward: Dog-friendly young professionals love the Second Ward for it’s endless park options and space for outdoor activities like running, biking, and throwing a frisbee. You’ll also find Second Ward is brimming with culture and diverse cuisine opportunities.
West University Place: Locals know it as West U, but West University Place is the ideal neighborhood for those looking for family-friendly living options. You’ll find adorable oak-lined streets, safe parks to frequent and another charming neighborhood (Rice Village) to make friends in nearby.
You Can Always Count on Congested Traffic in Houston
Houston is known for its terrible traffic. And countless Houston-area drivers all agree: they’re sitting in traffic longer than they want to. Because Texas – and the Houston area in general – is growing like crazy, that means commuters are spending an average of 27 minutes in the car on their daily drive into the city for work. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute ranks Houston as the third most congested city in the U.S. behind New York City and Boston. More options and a better transportation system is necessary as more people move to Texas.
There is one bright spot, however. Houston drivers are wasting less time in traffic than they used to. Because of the pandemic, drivers are now averaging 49 hours a year in traffic down from 76 hours pre-Covid.
Distinguished School Districts and Prominent Universities
A good quality of life and educational opportunities go hand-in-hand in Houston. According to the City of Houston’s website, “Houston is a city known to be rich with distinguished school districts and prominent colleges and universities.” And as a result, Houston educators and community residents come together to create a high-quality educational environment that uniquely serves the needs of a diverse population. Houston also boasts more than 40 colleges, universities and institutions, offering career choices to suit a wide variety of interests.
Hot Oppressive Summers, Mild Winters and Never-Ending Humidity
You can thank Houston’s subtropical climate for its blazing summers, mild winters and perpetual humidity. Houstonians enjoy stable temperatures starting from late September to early May, which means good patio weather can appear as early as January.
Flooding is the most common form of severe weather. Due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, Houston may also be affected by hurricanes or tropical storms. Approximately seven major hurricanes (category three or higher) have passed through Houston and Galveston over the past 100 years.
Summer average (June – Aug): 89 ℉ high, 75 ℉ low
Winter average (Dec – Feb): 70 ℉ high, 47 ℉ low
10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Houston
Sprawling outdoor spaces, a mind-boggling collection of museums and a brimming restaurant scene, these are the 10 can’t miss things to do in Houston:
- You have to visit the Space Center Houston, which is one of the finest space museums on the planet.
- Buffalo Bayou Partnership is a significant natural resource and with hundreds of acres of parkland and running trails, it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the area’s beauty.
- Houston has the second-largest Indochinese population in the U.S. (after Los Angeles), so head to Chinatown for authentic and delicious delights.
- Take a picture at the infamous “Houston is Inspired” mural, a photographic must in the city.
- Visit the San Jacinto Monument, which is the tallest war memorial in the nation, standing 15 feet higher than the Washington Monument.
- Toss one back and visit the Beer Can House, one of H-Town’s quirkiest sites. Retired upholsterer John Milkovisch inspired the idea after he and his friends downed some 50,000 beers to illuminate (or is it alluminate?) the outside of his house.
- Catch an Astros game at Minute Maid Park, which has a retractable roof and can keep baseball fans comfortable in any weather.
- Try Ninfa’s Original, which serves incredible Mexican food and the best margaritas in town. Legend has it that the fajita originated at Ninfa’s and they’re still serving the original recipe to this day.
- Take your pick at any of the 150 museums in Houston, including the National Museum of Funeral History (yes, that’s a thing), the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science, to name a few.
- Plan a day trip to Galveston with its 32 miles of beaches and evocative historic district full of Victorian architecture. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Houston!