Houston, Texas is a great city to raise a family, enter the job market, and get a lot of bang for your buck. And that’s why we’re breaking down exactly what it’s like to live there, which neighborhoods you should check out, and all the moving tips you’d need in this guide. Are you thinking about making the move down south? Well giddy up, we’re ready to go!
Table of Contents:
- Why is Everyone Moving to Houston?
- What’s it Like Living in Houston?
- Where is the Best Place to Live in Houston?
- Things to Do in Houston
- Moving to Houston FAQs
- Fun Facts About Houston
Why is Everyone Moving to Houston?
There are several reasons why there seems to be a mass migration to Houston. Number one being the cost of living. Houston has affordable housing and an incredible job market, so you can live like a king. Plus, it’s a great place to raise a family with all of its top educational institutions and well-regarded public schools. If you’re here reading this guide, we’re willing to bet you’re interested in learning what it’s really like in the Lone Star State, so read on to see more.
What’s it Like Living in Houston?
Houston is known for its heat, its sports and its southern hospitality, but if you want the inside scoop on what it’s really like to live here, we have you covered.
Transit Options in the Houston Metropolitan Area
Houston is an hour away from Houston...or so it seems. Because Houston is such a large and sprawling city, a car is the most convenient way to get around. Unfortunately, it seems that traffic can pop up anywhere, at any time, and for no particular reason at all. If you live near your place of employment, the traffic won't affect you as much. If that's not an option, it's best to queue up your favorite playlist or podcast and settle in for the drive. While the toll roads can help, oftentimes you'll find yourself paying to get somewhere just 5 minutes faster.
Houston Public Transit Options: Metro Lines, Bus Lines & More!
Here’s a few helpful links when trying to determine how best to get around Houston.
- Use this color-coded guide of the Houston Freeway System when you’re behind the wheel yourself.
- Or try checking the schedules and routes for the Houston Metro Rail, Bus, Park and Ride if you don’t own a car.
- Another great resource is the Houston Transtar Traffic Map -- complete with updates on incidents, road closures, and construction so you can choose your route accordingly.
- And finally, Waze is a widely-used app that uses GPS navigation software to warn you of accidents ahead of you. It steers you away from traffic jams and offers alternative routes. And even better, it allows for users to report their current traffic and road conditions, so you can see what you're driving into.
Walking in Houston: Is Houston a Walkable City?
Unfortunately, Houston’s walkability is a little subpar. As we’ve established, it’s a huge city that covers a lot of area—making it somewhat difficult if you’re hoping to walk from Point A to Point B. Not to mention, it can be pretty hot in the summertime—and who wants to walk in 100-degree weather? However, there are neighborhoods and pockets of the city that have restaurants, grocery stores, and coffee shops within walking distance to homes and apartment complexes. So, if that’s important to you, be sure to check the surroundings of the places you’re hoping to live.
Houston Freeways & What to Expect When Driving in Houston
There are several freeways in Houston: 45, 59, 610, the beltway—the list goes on. This color-coded guide will be your best friend when you first move to the city. We suggest taking a few Sunday afternoons to drive around, get off and on the freeways, and see how they all interact with each other. Soon enough, you’ll know which ones go where and what roads to avoid during peak traffic hours. The morning rush and evening commute are no joke in H-town, so be prepared to add several minutes to your drive during those times.
Houston Weather, Temperature, Seasons & Climate
As you might expect, Houston’s weather is hot. But, with that being said, we do still experience all four seasons—just without the super cold temperatures often associated with cooler months. Our summer highs reach the low 100s and our winter lows stay close to the low 40s (usually). These are the extremes, so you can expect a warmer-than-average temperate climate if you were to move down south.
Houston Utilities: Navigating the Deregulated Electricity Market
Houston is part of the deregulated electricity market, meaning you have the power to choose your electricity provider. Luckily, Energy Ogre can do the hard work of finding you the best Houston electricity rates, so you can just kick back and enjoy some much-appreciated A/C. If you’re wondering how the Texas electricity market works, we’ve broken it down in great detail, so you can familiarize yourself with exactly what our grid is all about.
Working in Houston: Biggest Companies & Best Employers to Work For
There are so many fun places to work in Houston, so if you’re relocating for a job, you’re in for a treat. And if there were other incentives to move to Texas that brought you here—then you’ll be thrilled to explore all the companies in Houston—and the benefits each one provides. Here’s a quick list of the biggest companies in the Houston Energy Corridor:
- Shell Oil Company
- Phillips 66
- EOG Resources
These are among some of the largest companies in Houston, but there are also start-up opportunities, consulting firms, and social service jobs, too. With a huge variety of industry success, you’ll find a job you love in no time. Here’s just a few more of the largest companies in Houston:
- Memorial Hermann Health System
- United Airlines
Where is the Best Place to Live in Houston?
Houston is a huge city with so many different neighborhoods. To say one place is the “best” wouldn’t do justice to so many areas. Whether it’s school districts, job commute, or housing prices—there are several factors that will inform which area is the best place for you to live. Check out our resources for living downtown or the suburbs and decide for yourself. We promise you’ll love wherever you end up.
Map of Houston & Houston Suburbs
Check out this map which shows not only the inner loop of Houston, but the surrounding neighborhoods where so many people choose to live.
How to Choose a Place to Live in Houston Suburbs
First, ask yourself what brought you here? Did you relocate for a job? Are you moving to escape harsh winters elsewhere? Are you ready to start a family and want more space? Whether it’s the few zoning barriers, low cost of living, big job and migration growth, or overall love for the city—Houston's population is steadily growing. See the resources below to check school districts, crime maps, and more.
Best School Districts in Houston Map
If you’re moving to Houston and you’ve got kiddos to think about, it makes sense that you’ll need to compare private schools in Houston to the surrounding public schools. There are so many Houston high schools, primary schools—even universities, so be sure to check out the public schools and private schools near your desired area.
Houston, Texas Crime Heat Map
Safety is a top priority for many residents, including families with children, elderly individuals, or those who must commute to work or school. If you’ve wondered whether or not Houston is a safe place to live, you’ll love this Houston Crime Heat Map. It’ll help you determine the safest areas to live in Houston, so you can choose to buy or rent accordingly.
Top Housing Websites for Houston Renters
As far as renting goes, Houston has several options. Whether you want an apartment complex, a garage apartment, a duplex, or something else entirely, Houston has some of the best areas to rent. There’s the Houston neighborhoods guide, AreaVibes, which provides a helpful breakdown of the many diverse neighborhoods in Houston and gives them a livability score based on amenities, cost of living, schools, etc. Or you can always use Apartments.com. It has an easy-to-use interface with a default map view and a unique tool that allows you to identify exact search borders. They have an extensive list of filters to sort by and icons that summarize each listing's included amenities. Some listings even include a 3D Tour! Plus, with its strict price parameters, you’ll never have to ask why rent is so high in Houston!
|Average Monthly Rent
$724 per month
East Little York - Homestead
$773 per month
Houston Suburban Heights
$773 per month
Golfcrest - Bellfort - Reveille
$816 per month
$848 per month
Mid West Houston
$1,201 per month
Greater Third Ward
$1,970 per month
Neartown - Montrose
$2,132 per month
Online Resources & Tips for Buying or Building a Home in Houston
Houston and its surrounding suburbs are rapidly growing—and building your dream home might be easier than you think! Check out these resources to determine whether buying or building is right for you.
|Average House Cost
East Little York - Homestead
Houston Suburban Heights
Golfcrest - Bellfort - Reveille
Mid West Houston
Greater Third Ward
Neartown - Montrose
River Oaks Area
Don’t forget, the city doesn’t have many zoning laws, so you see a plot of land just know, it could be yours!
Houston New Home Checklist
With moving comes the joy of making sure you have all the necessities to get your home operating smoothly. Knowing which providers service your area is half the battle. For the sake of making your life easier, we've gathered some information below when it comes to Houston utility companies, how to get your water, and who provides gas to Houston:
Water - For most Houstonians, water service is managed by the City of Houston. If you live in a suburb of Houston or a surrounding area, then your service might be offered by the area's Municipal Utility District.
Gas - CenterPoint Energy is the gas provider in Houston. You can visit their website or call them at (713) 659-2111 to set up service.
Cable/Satellite TV - While most households have opted to cut the cord when it comes to television, embracing the emergence of streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, some still love the plethora of channels and DVR offered through cable/satellite companies. Houston is serviced by Comcast, ATT Uverse/DirecTV, and Dish Network.
Internet - There are 20 different internet providers in Houston. You'll have your pick of options and be able to compare prices easily!
Electricity - Texas has a deregulated electricity energy market, meaning you can purchase electricity from any of the hundreds of companies offering competitive pricing in the open market. The problem is that it can get confusing really fast. While the government created the website PowerToChoose.org for consumers to compare electricity prices, the process still has its downsides. If you decide you'd rather not shop on your own, you can sign up for Energy Ogre and let us manage your electricity contracts! We are paid only by our members, so our sole priority is you!
Downtown Houston & Inner Loop Neighborhoods
Now that you’ve got a handle on Houston's electric providers and utility companies, it’s time to discuss the best neighborhoods in Houston. If you want a “city experience,” the inner loop is among the best places to live in Houston simply due to its proximity to restaurants, bars, theaters and more. Because there are a lot of nice areas in Houston, it’ll likely come down to preference. So, check out our breakdown of each area and hopefully you find one that works for your needs!
Downtown & Inner Loop Houston: Where to Live & What to Do
The best Houston neighborhoods in the inner loop are the Heights, Montrose, West U, Bellaire, Memorial, River Oaks—as you can see, the list is extensive, and each area offers its own unique flair. If you’re interested in going to exhibits and catching shows, we recommend living near the museum district. If you like to spend your time shopping, River Oaks or West U are both close to major shopping districts. Check out this newcomer’s guide to see which neighborhoods align with your interests best.
Affordable Houston Neighborhoods for Students & Young Adults
There are so many universities in or near Houston, TX – and that’s just one of the reasons young people might be moving to Houston with no job. They want to go to school! And if that’s the case, you’ll want affordable places to live in Houston, Texas—and we have you covered. First, check with your school to see if they offer any on-campus living as that will be your cheapest option. Otherwise, you’ll want to look for listings near Rice University, U of H, St. Thomas University, Texas Southern University, HBU—there's so many. Just remember, the cheapest area may not be the safest, so be sure to check the crime map before signing a lease!
The Best Houston Neighborhoods for Young Professionals
If you’re a young professional with a slightly larger home budget, you’re in the right city. Unlike college students, you’ll likely find more options closer to a fun nightlife scene with nearby restaurants and culture spots. One thing you may not find is a place close to your job. Most booming industry centers aren’t in areas you’d necessarily want to live. But that helps create a better work-life balance, right? Check out places in Washington-Heights, Montrose, and the Heights if your budget can afford it.
Safe, Family-Friendly Neighborhoods in Houston
For those looking for something quieter, culturally and educationally engaging, and safe enough to raise a family—we know the place. Memorial, the Heights, and the museum district are all among the best places to live in Houston, Texas for families who want to stay in the loop. These areas are not only known for their top-performing school districts, but they’re close to parks, activities, and they’re safe.
Safe & Affordable Low-Income Housing Options in Houston
At the end of the day, our budget is what dictates where we live. If you need Houston rental assistance or want more info on low-income apartments in Houston, check out this Harris County program. Since its launch in 2021, it’s provided more than $290 million in rental assistance—so it may be a good resource for anyone in need of help.
Houston Suburbs & Small Towns
Once you leave the inner loop of Houston, you’ll realize you’re surrounded by some of the best Houston suburbs. These are great areas for families, people wanting more space, or anyone hoping to spend a little less on a monthly rent or mortgage. See our breakdown of each Houston suburb below.
Southwest Houston: Fort Bend County Towns & Neighborhoods
Home to some of Houston’s most popular suburbs, Fort Bend County is a great option for raising a family. Specifically in Sugar Land which has become one of the most affluent and fastest-growing communities in the state of Texas. Now Sugar Land is home to some of the finest master-planned communities and has plenty of commerce to boot. Sugar Land is headquarters to Imperial Sugar, and at one point, Imperial’s main sugar refinery was once located within the city. Sounds cool, right? Learn more about Fort Bend County neighborhoods here.
Clear Lake Greater Bay Area Cities & Neighborhoods
If you want close access to water, the Bay Area is one of Houston’s best neighborhoods. You’ve got the Kemah boardwalk which is situated right on Clear Creek and Galveston Bay. You’ve got Clear Lake with its marinas and boat ramps. Or you’ve got Friendswood, Webster, or League City where you’re only a 20-minute drive from Galveston beach. Whether you have kids or not, this is a fun place to live if you like to spend time on the water!
Neighborhoods & Towns in North Houston, Texas’ Woodlands
Did someone say North Houston Golf Courses? Because that’s what you’ll find in this suburb of Houston. Kingwood and the Woodlands are known for its golf courses—and the several amenities that come along with it. And let’s not ignore that CBS News ranked the Woodlands as the #1 place to live in 2022. With incredible school districts, access to Houston’s inner loop, and reliable home prices—North Houston is among Houston’s best neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods & Top Places to Live in West Houston
Katy, Spring Branch, and Memorial are all “suburbs” of Houston that feel so close, you’re practically within the loop. This offers a huge appeal to a lot of younger people who still want to be close to the action, but don’t necessarily want to pay inner-loop prices. Check out the housing opportunities to see if there’s a neighborhood, building or complex that’s right for you.
Things to Do in Houston
Whether you love finding new coffee shops on weekend outings or are always looking for live music from local bands, you need resources. When you are moving to Houston, you'll be thrilled and relieved to know that there is always something going on, and you're always invited! Use these resources to help you find your next activity:
- Food Maps: Houstonians eat out more than residents of any other city. It's no wonder with thousands of restaurants to choose from. Eater provides several food maps ranging from Where to Dine and Drink in Downtown Houston to 15 Iconic Houston Dishes to Try Before You Die. So, you may want to get a gym membership or have a great workout routine when moving to Houston because it's way too easy to pack on the pounds.
- 365 Things to Do in Houston: This site offers tips and ideas for enjoying all of the many events around the city. They have weekend guides available to help you plan ahead and also offer discounts on tickets to plays, musicals, and concerts in the area.
- Trip Advisor: Not only will Trip Advisor grant you their amazing suggestions for things to do in the city, but you'll also get great reviews from people that have already done them, plus links to get tickets and more. Moving to Houston just got easier because of sites like these!
- AroundMe App: This awesome app is easy to use and extremely helpful for finding just about anything, anywhere! Search by category (banks, coffee shops, gas stations, hospitals, movie theatres, restaurants, etc.), specific location, type of business or just browse what businesses are around you. It's a great app to help you get to know your new neighborhood, but also convenient to have for road trips and traveling, as well.
Arts & Culture in Houston: Museums, Music & More
As far as the art and culture scene goes, Houston is the place to be. It’s internationally recognized as a performing and visual arts mecca. Whether you want to go to the ballet, the symphony, the theater or the museum, Houston has a plethora of options for you to explore. Check out this resource to see a schedule of what’s happening in the months to come!
Houston’s Multicultural Food: Texas Specialties, Local Cuisines & More
Long before Houston was established as a city, indigenous populations like the Karankawa and the Akokisa lived off the land, eating the same staples Texans eat today. Crops like corn, beans, squash, peppers, and pecans were cultivated and eaten alongside venison, cattle, bison, and catfish. Now, hundreds of years later, Texans continue to enjoy those same ingredients in dishes like fried catfish, chili, barbecue, and pecan pie, alongside a diverse range of immigrant food from around the world. Get a taste of what Houston has to offer by exploring some of its restaurants!
Tex-Mex: Houston’s Signature Cuisine
Texas used to be a Mexican state, and for hundreds of years, Texan and Mexican culture developed alongside each other from similar indigenous roots and the same Spanish colonization. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, some of your favorite “Mexican” dishes may have been invented in Texas! Texans adopted a similar cuisine to Mexicans based off maize and tortillas, leading to the inventions of chili con carne, burritos, nachos, fajitas—and the ever-so-popular combo plates.
Don’t miss the original Ninfa’s on Navigation or El Tiempo at any of their locations! These Tex-Mex joints are city staples you don’t want to miss.
Southern Comfort: Soul Food in Texas
Long after Texas was colonized by Spain and the United States, Americans from the deep south migrated to cities across Texas, including a rich community of freshly liberated Black American families seeking safety, community, and opportunity in Houston. These southerners brought with them regional soul foods from all over the South, including most notably Cajun food from the neighboring Louisiana bayou. Collectively known as “Southern Comfort Food”, these culturally mixed food traditions have roots as far as French Canada and West Africa, and include classic dishes such as crawfish etouffee, barbecue, smothered oxtail, fried chicken, black-eyed peas, cornbread, collard greens, and peach cobbler.
To get a taste yourself, check out The Greasy Spoon, Esther’s Cajun Café, and the Breakfast Klub!
Houston: Preserving Immigrant Culture Through Food
In the past century or so, Houston has seen an influx of immigration due to its diverse population and range of opportunities. In fact, almost 1 in 4 Texas residents were born outside of the United States! Foreign nationalities most represented in Houston include Central American, Vietnamese, Indian, Nigerian, Chinese, Filipino, and Caribbean communities, and they’ve brought with them international food traditions that are hard to come by in the U.S.!
Drive down Bellaire Boulevard and you’ll be heading straight to Houston’s Chinatown. Check out the food, drinks—and the reflexology spas!
Contribute to Texas History by Participating in Local Politics
One of the best parts of moving to a new city is taking advantage of all the new opportunities—and that includes voting. Use your voice and vote as the newest member of Houston’s increasingly diverse community to help build a better community for future Houstonians. Register to vote here.
Hiking, Biking, Fishing & More at Houston’s State Parks
Would you believe Houston is home to 11 stunning state parks? Not only that, but we have the bayou, bike trails, and walking paths right in the middle of downtown! Whether you want woodlands, lakes, prairies or bayous—Houston offers access to nature like no other city.
Sports Fans Love Houston
Calling all sports fans! From the Houston Astros to the Houston Rockets, we’re so proud of our professional sports team. Not to mention, Houston teams offer year-round competition and action for loyal fans. Check out what’s going on this season—just be sure you don’t miss Dollar-Dog Night at Minute Maid Park!
Moving to Houston FAQs
You’ve just learned a lot about Houston, but these quick questions might clear up anything we left out:
- What time zone is Houston in?
- Central Time Zone (CST).
- What county is Houston, Texas in?
- Harris County.
- How big is Houston?
- It’s 665 square miles with a metro-area population of 6,603,000.
- Is Houston a safe place to live?
- Like any major city, there are pockets that experience more crime than others.
- Is Houston a happy city?
- Houston’s a good place to live with its reasonable cost of living and major job opportunities.
- Is Houston an expensive city?
- The cost of living in Houston is estimated at $911 per person (per month) without rent.
- How far is Dallas from Houston?
- It’s about 240 miles away—or a 4-and-a-half-hour car ride.
- Does it snow in Houston?
- Not usually. Trace amounts may fall each winter, but there are no true “white” Christmases.
Fun Facts About Houston
Finally, let’s end with a few fun facts!
- Houston is where Beyonce and NASA call home.
- "The Loop" is interstate 610. This freeway is frequently mentioned as a landmark - where places are either inside or outside of "The Loop."
- There's an underground tunnel system downtown that covers a whopping 95 city blocks!
- "Houston" was the first word spoken on the moon, by Neil Armstrong.
- The Houston Museum of Fine Arts is the largest art museum in Lone Star State.
- The Astrodome was the first multi-use domed stadium in the world.
- Thousands of bats fly out of the Waugh Drive Bridge every summer evening. It's quite a sight. (And quite a smell, too.)
- The annual Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is a big deal and the largest rodeo in the world. Get your boots ready!
If you choose to move to Houston, be prepared for good food, good people and hot weather. Finding the lowest electricity rate will save you a lot of money each year, so as soon as you’ve picked your new place, contact Energy Ogre to help set up your electricity plan. At least that’s one thing taken care of! With this extensive Houston guide, we know you’ll figure everything else out, too.