Moving Guide: Houston or Bust!
If you’re moving to Houston, you’ve probably done some research online and have talked to a few friends or acquaintances that currently live there or have previously lived there. Through your research, you’ve probably learned that Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States behind New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago (according to 2010 Census information). So if you’re moving to Houston, you’re not alone. Oil and gas jobs are drawing in residents to Greater Houston by the hundreds. In 2013 and 2012, more people moved to Harris County than to any other county in the U.S. That has a lot to do with the fact that Houston is the country’s #1 city for job creation. According to the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston has recovered 230% of jobs as of March 2013.
If you’re among the hundreds of new or soon-to-be Houstonians, first, we want to say ‘Welcome’, and second, here is some advice and useful tips to know before moving to Houston.
Expect Traffic (and construction)
Here in Houston the highways and tollways are king. Commuters have travel options including local buses, the light rail, and Park & Ride buses; however, about half of Houstonians choose to commute alone in their vehicles. With the abundance of personal vehicles in Houston and the steady growth of the population, the amount of cars on the roadways is bound to affect your daily life by adding to your commute time.
The City of Houston’s freeway system includes 575+ miles of highways in the metro area. To keep up with the city’s growth demands, highways are often under construction. To give some perspective, according to Wikipedia, Interstate 45 has been in a continuous state of construction, in one portion or another, almost since its very first segment was opened in 1948.
Houston’s freeway structure includes multiple loops around the city and surrounding areas. State Highway 99, also known as the Grand Parkway, is the third outer loop of Greater Houston. The loop will be 170 miles long and is divided into 11 separate segments for construction and funding purposes. The first segment was completed in 1994 and the final segment is currently scheduled to be completed in 2020 not including segment A, which is still pending approval and funding. Read more about the Grand Parkway here.
If you’re interested in how Houston’s traffic ranks among other metros in the world, checkout Inrix Traffic Scorecard. This website provides an analysis of traffic congestion across the world including interactive charts and maps. Additionally, it appears that Houston is working on its traffic issues with other creative ideas including approving $100 million in bonds to be used for the construction of bicycle interstates.
Decide Where to Live By Deciding What Cultural Flair Suits Your Personality
In addition to being the 4th largest city in the U.S., Houston is also one of the most diverse cities in the United States. Houston’s population is so diverse it has one of the highest concentrations of consulates in the United States, and there are roughly 90 languages spoken in Houston. Houston’s diverse population creates areas within the city with cultural flair including two Chinatowns, a colorful arts and music scene, and several cultural festivals each year.
Each neighborhood in Greater Houston each comes with its own way of life. For example, if you’re a foodie or socialite and would like easy access to great bars and restaurants, take a look at Montrose when you’re house or apartment hunting. If you’re interested in living in a historic home or district that is well known for live music, the Heights might be perfect for you. If you choose to live downtown or near the Medical Center, these are very popular areas, so be prepared to have limited space. Most residents in these areas choose to rent storage in Houston so that they have additional space to store their belongings. Maybe the downtown area is too fast-paced for you but you still want a quick commute, check out Memorial City. If you’re a family that needs a bigger house and good schools, look to the suburbs of Greater Houston like Spring, The Woodlands, Cypress, and Katy.
Fun Activities for Everyone
Houston often gets a bad reputation for its humidity, traffic, and smog, but don’t be deceived! There are so many good things about the city; you just have to know where to look. If you’re interested in art and theater, this is the town for you! Just take a look at the Houston Theatre District, which houses the Alley Theater, the Houston Ballet, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and many more fun things to experience! If you’re a museum buff, check out the Houston Museum District. Here you can visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, and many more. Shoppers will be thrilled with the Galleria Mall. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the 300+ parks in Houston. There truly is something for everyone in Houston.
Houston is a great place to live. Hopefully this quick guide has you excited about your move and has given you lots of ideas about how to begin exploring all that Houston has to offer.