The most populous city in Texas, Houston is a sprawling home to over two million people. It is home to NASA's Johnson Space Center and the Texas Medical Center, the world's largest concentration of healthcare and research institutions. The city is also a major international player in the energy industry, and was ranked third in the nation on Forbes' "Best Places for Businesses and Careers" list.
If you are considering or planning a move to this expansive and diverse city, the following guide will provide you with plenty of information to make your transition an easy one.
Houston has a humid subtropical climate, with intensely hot and sticky summers and mild winters. While not officially a part of Texas' Tornado Alley, spring thunderstorms do occasionally cause twisters to appear in the city.
The city experiences approximately 99 days a year with temperatures above 90 degrees, with the humidity causing a heat index even greater than the actual temperature. Winds in the summer are light, and the afternoons are often hit by scattered thunder showers.
Snowfall is very rare in the city, but rain is common. Houston receives about 50 inches of rainfall a year, which can sometimes cause flooding.
Downtown Houston is the city's hub for business, entertainment, and theatre. Nine performing arts companies, six performance halls and four professional sport teams call the neighborhood home, as well as an abundance of diverse eateries, clubs, and bars. Main Street is the place to be for a good time, with over 70 nightspots to choose from.
Montrose is the city's most offbeat community, with a diverse demographic and a variety of charmingly eccentric businesses. Tattoo parlors, antique shops, vintage boutiques and junk stores represent the neighborhood's bohemian quality. Sidewalk cafes, coffeehouses, and fine restaurants are abundant. The neighborhood has a large homosexual population, which is represented by a number of gay bars and clubs located in the region.
River Oaks is the city's center for shopping--any retail addict will enjoy spending a day at the River Oaks Shopping Center. The plaza is the oldest shopping area in the state, and features 38 stores and 15 restaurants. You'll find chain businesses such as Ann Taylor and Gap, as well as higher-end boutiques to satisfy any shopping desire.
Registering Your Car
Upon your arrival in Texas, you will have to update your registration within 30 days to avoid being charged a penalty. You will first need to have your vehicle inspected, at any certified Texas Department of Public Safety inspection station. Be sure to bring proof of Texas auto insurance. You are required to have coverage of $30,000 per injured person, up to a total of $60,000 for everyone injured in an accident, and $25,000 for property damage in the state. To get your plates and registration, you will need proof you own the vehicle (such as a title or previous registration), your proof of insurance, and inspection papers. Non-resident college students attending school in the state and active members of the U.S. Armed Forces are not required to register their vehicles in Texas.
The Texas DMV does not issue driver's licenses. You will have to transfer your license at the Department of Public Safety, no more than 90 days after you move to the state.
Seventeen school districts serve the city, the largest being Houston Independent School District. It's the largest public school system in the state of Texas, educating over 200,000 students in its facilities. The city is also home to about 300 private schools.
There are many notable colleges located in the city, including The University of Houston, a Tier One research university, The University of Houston-Clear Lake, the University of Houston-Downtown, and one of the largest historically black colleges in the country, Texas Southern University.
Houston's economy is mostly based on the energy industry, specifically oil. The city is known as a world capital of the oil and gas industry, with over 5,000 energy firms (seventeen of which are Fortune 500 companies) operating in the area. The city is a leading force in nearly every aspect of the industry--exploration, production, transmission, marketing, service, supply, offshore drilling, and technology. The area accounts for 31 percent of all U.S. jobs in oil and gas extraction. If you are looking for work in the energy sector, Houston is the prime location for you.
Other major sources of employment in the city are the manufacture of petrochemicals, aerospace, and biomedical research. The unemployment rate in Houston is 7.5 percent, less than the national average of 8.6 percent.
Living Costs in the City
The cost of living in Houston is just below the national average. Housing is fairly affordable, falling eight percent below the rate of the average American city. The rent for the standard one-bedroom apartment in Houston is about $1,200 a month, and $1,400 for a two-bedroom. The average home in the city is listed at about $107,000.
Other typical costs in the city are reasonable as well. Utility costs are ten percent lower than average, and healthcare is five percent lower. Groceries are the most affordable, falling below the mean at 16 percent less than the average city.
Houston Moving Resources
There are many moving and storage companies located in Houston that are waiting to help you relocate to your new home. Be sure to do your research and obtain estimates from several different services before choosing one for hire. You can compare online quotes from many different moving companies and other services to aid you in your move, whether you are coming from the next city or overseas. Visit the following pages here at Movers.com to get fast quotes for the following services:
If you are wondering how you will get around this vast city, The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, otherwise known as the METRO, provides bus and light rail service to Houston and most of Harris County.
The METRO light rail is a 7.5 mile line with 16 stations, running from UH-Down to Fannin South. Along the route are some of the city's major points of interest, such as the University of Houston-Downtown, Houston's restaurant district near Preston Station, the Museum District, and the Reliant Astrodome. Park and ride is available at the Fannin South Station, for a $3 fee per day or $40 a month.
METRO also provides local, commuter and express bus service, as well as shuttle service to the Texas Medical Center and Downtown Houston.
Culture and Contemporary Life
Downtown Houston is the city's entertainment center, with a plethora of pubs, clubs, restaurants, shopping and theatre. Bayou Place is a 130,000 square-foot megaplex loaded with dining, lounges, bars and live shows. There's ROCBAR, the city's largest rock nightclub, the legendary Hard Rock Cafe, and the Angelika Film Theatre, an indie-flick cinema that serves food and wine.
The Museum District offers education and culture with a variety of institutions. Eighteen venues are located in the region such as The Houston Museum of Natural Science, the unique Art Car Museum (a collection of uniquely-designed automobiles), the Contemporary Arts Museum, and the Health Museum.
Dining options in the city are diverse and represented by its varied ethnic culture. Enjoy dishes exotically-prepared with local ingredients at Houston's famous eateries Oxheart and Down House, authentic Italian at the intimate date-night spot Vinoteca Poscol, deliciously spicy Eastern cuisine at Veng Thai, hearty Southern-style cooking at Underbelly, exotic Indian fare at the Himalayan House and smoky brisket and sweet and tangy ribs at Gatlin's BBQ.
Houston Relocation Tips
- Houston is a huge city. If you are relocating for work, be sure to research housing in neighborhoods nearby so you will have a manageable commute.
- Pick up a copy of the Houston Press, a free weekly newspaper with a calendar of events, theatre reviews and nightlife information to help you settle in and find things to do in your new city.
- Houston has a subtropical climate, with very high temperatures and high humidity in the summer months. Be prepared for high energy bills for air-conditioning your home.
- Feel free to downsize before your move by donating all of your old winter clothes, hats, scarves, and snow boots. You won't be needing them in a city with 50-degree weather in January!
- Get moving quotes from several movers in the city before choosing one to hire. You can start today right here at Movers.com.