Houston sits on Buffalo Bayou in East Texas. It’s hot, humid, and prone to occasional hurricanes. Houston is also enormous. It’s the largest city in Texas, and the fourth largest in the US. The metro area is an economic growth engine with a rapidly expanding population. 34,000 new residents moved to Houston between 2011 and 2012. The only city with faster growth that year was New York City. Why are so many people moving to Houston, Texas?
Jobs In Houston
People don’t move to Houston for the weather. They go for jobs. People moving here find a strong job market. There were more jobs created in Houston in the first half of 2013 than in any other city, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Houston suburbs Sugar Land and League City currently have rock-bottom unemployment rates.
It helps that Houston is the energy capital of Texas. Dozens of energy companies are headquartered here. The city leads the way in both the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas have boomed in Texas, and Houston has reaped the benefits. It’s also an innovator in finding and utilizing renewable energy systems. That means that Houston has a steady stream of new energy jobs and will continue to do so for the near future. Houston has also seen strong growth in manufacturing, technology, and business services. It has a massive, deep-water international port, one of the busiest in the world. Texas fared well throughout the recession, and Houston did especially well. It has moved forward and been extremely successful in bouncing back and capitalizing on the recovery.
Low Cost of Living
Housing costs are lower than in many other US cities. The housing market hasn’t seen the price hikes that other places have seen. The stable and relatively affordable housing market makes living in Houston an attractive proposition for many first time buyers. And it makes moving to Houston a good idea for those looking to take advantage of the ongoing employment boom. The median list price for a home in Houston is currently around $199,000.
No personal state income tax, coupled with Texas having the lowest yearly tax bill per household in America, helps to make those pay checks go further. This lower tax bill, coupled with the lower cost of living and housing makes Houston much more attractive than places such as California, where wages are on average higher, but where taxes living costs are higher to match.
Houston is home to three major professional sports teams. The NBA Championship winning Rockets play at the Toyota Center downtown. The Astros play baseball at Minute Maid Park. And the Texans have replaced the Oilers as Houston’s home-town NFL football team.
Except for New York, no other city in America is home to more Fortune 500 company headquarters. Twenty-two such companies are based in Houston, including Phillips 66, ConocoPhillips, Sysco, Halliburton, Apache, Marathon Oil, Waste Management, Baker Hughes, Kinder Morgan, and FMC Technologies. It’s a hotbed for employment and future career prospects.
Houston has a hands-off social policy. ‘We won’t help you, but we won’t stand in your way either’ is how you might phrase the city’s approach to personal freedom. From city rules to business regulation, this is how it works across the board. For instance, there has been a strong opposition to a law banning texting while driving. Zoning laws are lax here. That’s reflected in the interesting, and sometimes out-of-place, architecture throughout the city. There is a sense of personal freedom in Houston.
Food Critic Pete Wells wrote that Houston has become “one of the country’s most exciting places to eat.” Places like Uchi, and critically lauded restaurants like Oxheart and Underbelly prove he isn’t wrong. There are many other places springing up to provide sustenance and eating opportunities to the growing population. Vietnamese, Mexican, and Tex-Mex are popular. Since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, there’s been a growing Cajun presence in the city. Many Cajun restaurants were opened by Louisianans who chose to stay in Houston after the storm.
Arts & Culture
Houston boasts many huge and magnificent art installations and exhibits. The museum district offers nineteen different art museums all within walking distance. Highlights include the Museum of Fine Arts, which houses several unique and priceless collections. It also displays traveling exhibits. The district includes the famous Rothko Chapel, designed by Mark Rothko. He spent several years creating the works of art that are now on display there.
Houston welcomes people in from many cultures and races. Since 2000, more than 400,000 non-US born citizens have moved to the city. There are about the same number of Hispanics and Anglos. The Asian population is large and quickly increasing. Houston is a true melting pot, and a place for anyone who has the drive and desire, can do well for themselves, regardless of creed or color.
Parks & Green Space
Many are under the illusion that Houston is a concrete wasteland of skyscrapers and oil derricks. Over 50,000 acres of parkland exist across Houston. Out of America’s ten most populated cities, Houston has the largest amount of green space. People moving to Houston will appreciate the sheer amount of outdoor space available to them. It’s somewhere they can escape from the hustle and bustle of this giant city.
A good reason to move to Houston is the education potential. The Greater Houston area has fourteen major institutions of higher learning, including Rice University and the University of Houston. There are also many colleges and schools, and the education level in the city is among the highest in the state. People moving to Houston with young children, or who plan to start a family, have many choices in terms of their children’s education.
Houston has a lot to offer. Affordable real estate, culture, a strong economy, and a diverse population continue to draw new residents. It’s a great choice for new residents or visitors who want to experience Texas in a big city setting.