Need Houston advice please
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Recent job offer and not enough time to really explore the area. Calling on Tx passporters past or present to please offer any advice on the area and the quality of life in Houston and/or surrounding area for myself, husband and my 11 yr old daughter. Thank you in advance!!!
Know the city itself is the size of Rhode Island as far as land mass. Lots of driving. Great entertainment opportunities, history, dining, shopping--malls and the Galleria. 2 Airports, diverse economy, zoo, public transportation, easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, etc.
We have family in Spring--north Houston and have been there several times--have enjoyed it always. You may miss the "seasons" like you have in Ohio.
My son graduated from Rice in Houston and has stayed in Texas. He went to law school at UT in Austin and really liked Austin, which has a college town intellectual focus to it.
I don't think he'll ever like it as much as New England but he has found some advantages. Overall, the cost of living is much cheaper. Houston is a big city but geographically spread out so to me it doesn't feel as big as it is. I have been impressed with the parks, restaurants and museums.
While it never gets as cold as NE he has had some cold weather and lately there have been days when it's colder in Houston than in the Northeast. Summers can be oppressive, but the city is air conditioned. My son can travel around the downtown area without going outside, although it may not be possible on weekends. On weekends there are always lots of things going on.
My impression is that there are lots of educational opportunities, including private and charter or specialty schools. My son's fiancee grew up in Houston and went to a public specialty school until high school. She has done very well and the Texas University system is top notch and reasonably priced.
The Houston medical center is the largest in the world, I think. While Bostonians may not agree, medical care is excellent and some of the best in the world.
Public transportation is not the best for a large city but is improving. I found traffic difficult at times, but I live in a rural state, which is smaller than just the city of Houston. I also have difficulty with the size of Texas. In the time it takes to get from Austin to Houston, I can travel 4 states away.
My son goes to a lot more sporting events in Houston. Baseball games are quite inexpensive and there seem to be lots of other events. DS and DF went to watch one of the Olympic marathon trials and also have gone to some basketball events for very little money.
Houston is also the hub for Continental Airlines and when he was in school, I could usually get in flight from IAH to Logan in the $200.00 round trip range. It was actually about the same price as flying DS2 between Boston and Rochester, NY.
I taught with HISD for a year, lived in the twin cities of Richmond/Rosenberg which bordered Houston to the west. I lived in Pecan Grove - at the time it was a really nice housing development (Charles Barkley lived in the gated section). I will say that Houston was HUGE...there are many areas of the city that we never explored. Mass transit was almost non existent, and they were just finishing the loop tollway that ran around the city.
I lived north of Houston (The Woodlands) for several years and loved it!! I also lived in Spring for a while and both of these communities were very nice. They were convenient enough to enjoy the entertainments offered in the city but they had more of a small town feel.
I was raised in Houston and still live here! We live in the southwestern suburbs (Sugar Land area).
So much I could say, so please fell free to PM me. But here are some initial thoughts:
The city is ringed by two highways that are like concentric circles. The outer circle is Beltway 8 and the inner circle is Loop 610. There are people who enjoy urban living to its greatest extent and believe that Houston ends outside of Loop 610 (that's an exaggeration, of course, but you get my drift). There are others who think that living in the 'burbs (i.e., outside the Beltway) is the only way to go (in the spirit of full disclosure, I'm one of these people).
Mass transit is probably the poorest I've seen in a major city. It is mostly buses and, to be frank, there is a pretty clear socioeconomic distinction between folks who ride the bus and those who don't (I know it is not this way in other cities). We have a light rail that is good for moving between downtown and the Texas Medical Center (about 7 miles away), but that's about it. They are currently working on expanding the light rail system, however. The vast majority of folks here drive their own cars, which is why traffic is a beast here. So those of us who live in the 'burbs, have to contend with long commutes if we work downtown. But that's the lifestyle tradeoff for bigger residential lots, nicer neighborhoods that don't cost a fortune, and a little more relaxed pace.
The weather here is hot in the summer. There's no two ways about it. Hot and humid. As in 95+ degrees and 90%+ humidity. Every day. People often joke that the 4 seasons in Houston are warm, warm, warm, and hot. To the extent that it gets "cold" here in the winter (which it didn't really do this year), it will typically drop into the 30s-40s for daytime highs for a few weeks in January and February. But because it's hot here most of the year, we are really good at air conditioning. Downtown Houston has underground tunnels running through it with shops and restaurants so that you never have to expose yourself to the brutal summer heat.
The public schools inside the Loop are not the consistently good (some schools are good, depending on where you live). One reason many folks choose the suburbs is that the public schools are generally better. There are many private school options (parochial and non-parochial), if that interests you and fits your budget.
We have amazing medical care. The Texas Medical Center is among the premier medical care complexes in the world. The major hospitals (there are 3 -- Memorial Hermann, Methodist, and St. Luke's) have established outpost hospitals in many suburban areas, giving quick, convenient access to quality medical care without the long drive into town.
Houston is huge. We are a great example of urban sprawl! We have 2 airports -- George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) on the north side of town and William P. Hobby (HOU) on the south side of town. HOU is primarily served by Southwest Airlines and does not currently handle international flights. Just this week, Southwest filed a petition to start making international flights to Mexico and the Caribbean, so that review and approval process is underway. Continental Airlines was based here and IAH was a major hub, but now that it has been gobbled up by United (based in Chicago), who knows what impact that will have on flight schedules, though I'd be surprised if it was anything major. United still has an entire terminal of the airport, so they're not going anywhere.
The major suburban areas are Sugar Land/Missouri City/Richmond-Rosenberg to the southwest, Katy to the west, Cypress to the northwest, Spring/The Woodlands to the north, and Pearland to the south.
The cost of living here is relatively low. Our days as an "oil town" are long gone. Our economy is quite diverse, meaning that we have been generally less hard hit by the recent recession than other areas.
We have world class theater, symphony, opera and ballet, as well as NFL, NBA, MLB and MLS teams and multiple fantastic concert venues.
Hope at least some of that was helpful!
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Yep Houston is HOT and Humid! Texas in general is HOT but Houston has the
humid thing more than say here in Dallas. Public transport in Texas is not like
major cities in the North and East. WeTexans like our cars and it's not strange
to drive say 30 minutes to a 'burb' for dinner.
Oh a plus side you are really close to Galvastan and can cruise with Disney anytime
you need a fix. No plane or long drive.
My DH lived there before we were married and travels there for business several
times a month.
Thanks for all the wonderful information. It has been very helpful. Flying up for a few days with the family to take a look around, check out the neighborhoods and see how the traffic flow might be from the north, northwest side. It will be a short trip, so we will try to see the points that will both be of interest for the move or that might influence the family as a whole that this is a great opportunity.
Location: Texas Baby!!!! Where Else would anyone wana live
I am about 5hours south of you, and enjoy going to Houston a lot. My childhood friend, whom has remained ever so close to me, lives off of I-10 in Katy, and just 5 minutes away from the Katy Mills Mall. I have been travelling up there on a yearly basis since 1993, and still find something new and interesting to see, do, visit, and explore when I go up there. Enjoy, and watch out for the heat this summer....it looks like it's going to be a scorcher (AGAIN). Don't forget your boots!!!!!