Relocating to Houston?
Choosing where to live in a large city like Houston can be difficult, but we are here to help!
With a dynamic multi-lingual population, two international airports and a top ranked sea port, Houston attracts newcomers from around the globe who bring with them a worldly view of business, opportunity and lifestyle.
“We Love Houston.” The 28-foot welcoming sign says it all. Open and friendly Houstonians embody a boisterous spirit of growth and optimism – a can-do attitude – and celebrate individuality and quirky creativity.
Houston, the city with no limits, is America’s most diverse city. Whatever their backgrounds, newcomers from around the nation and the world come to Houston in huge numbers. Houston’s status as the Energy Capital of the World remains unrivaled. The city is home to more than 3,700 energy related firms, including 40 of the nation’s 145 publicly traded oil and gas exploration and production companies.
Despite the slowdown in the energy industry over the past couple of years, optimism has crept back into the markets as the price of oil has slowly improved; consensus is building that the Houston economy may also have seen the worst of this drilling downturn and that better times are just ahead, according to the University of Houston Bauer Institute for Regional Forecasting. That’s largely because Houston has worked hard to diversify its economic base since the hard oil crash of the 1980s, with healthcare and other recession-resistant industries now accounting for a larger share of the regional economy. In fact, Houston has more Fortune 500 company headquarters than any U.S. city other than Chicago and New York.
Houston’s Texas Medical Center is the largest in the world, employing more than 106,000 people and welcoming 8 million patient visits each year. The Port of Houston is the nation’s top seaport by many measures, and ranks as one of the busiest ports in the world by cargo tonnage. NASA’s Johnson Space Center adds to Houston’s economic diversity, and the city has consular offices from 92 countries. Due to Houston’s sheer enormity – the 8,929-square-mile metro area is larger than the state of New Jersey – most of its growth takes place outside of the 610 Loop, the innermost of the three highway rings around Houston. But inside 610, the living is good and getting better.
WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT LIVING IN HOUSTON?
Today, Houston is experiencing a renaissance the likes of which it hasn’t seen since John and Augustus Allen founded the city at the confluence of Buffalo and White Oak Bayous in 1836. Known as Allen’s Landing, and sometimes called Houston’s Plymouth Rock, this spot provided a natural turning basin for the first Port of Houston.
Like much of Central Houston, the area surrounding Allen’s Landing declined dramatically throughout the second half of the 20th century, as Houston’s booming Like much of Central Houston, the area surrounding Allen’s Landing declined dramatically throughout the second half of the 20th century, as Houston’s booming postwar growth focused almost exclusively on the suburbs. Today, however, Allen’s Landing has made a rousing comeback, thanks to a $4.6 million revitalization that added a terraced lawn, a concert wharf and new public art. The historic Sunset Coffee Building at Allen’s Landing is being renovated and transformed into a recreational and cultural center.
The rebound of Allen’s Landing mirrors the revitalization that’s taking place in many other parts of Central Houston. As newcomers and longtime residents alike seek to experience the convenience and cultural richness of city living, long-forgotten or simply sleepy neighborhoods in all directions from Downtown are waking up and offering new living opportunities that are as diverse as Houston itself. These include urban lofts in converted warehouses, gleaming new mid-rise and high-rise buildings, renovated historic bungalows and cottages, and new townhomes and singlefamily residences.
Living in central Houston means easy access to Houston’s rich cultural scene. The Theatre District in Downtown Houston has the largest concentration of seats outside of New York. This 17-block district is home to nine performing arts organizations that wow audiences in venues including Jones Hall, the Hobby Center, the Wortham Theater Center and the Alley Theater. Overall, Houston has more than 500 arts organizations – most of them in Central Houston.
Just southwest of downtown, in the pedestrian-friendly Museum District, more than 8.7 million visitors explore the 19 museums that make up the tree-lined, culture-filled neighborhood each year. Within a 1.5-mile radius of the iconic Mecom Fountain, are such famous institutions as the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and more more specialized museums such as the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, the Holocaust Museum, and the Asia Society Texas Center.
For sports fans, all of Houston’s professional teams are rooted in the central city. The Astros baseball team play downtown at Minute Maid Park, built around the historic Union Station railroad depot. Also downtown, the Rockets play basketball at Toyota Center, next to the incredibly popular Discovery Green, which has quickly become Houston’s own people-filled version of Central Park. On the exciting east side of Downtown, BBVA Compass Stadium is home to the Houston Dynamo soccer team. Reliant Stadium, home to the Houston Texans football team, is just inside the 610 Loop.
After decades of mainly being a 9-to-5 destination for office workers, Downtown Houston is fast transforming itself into a 24/7 place where people live, work and play. More than a dozen new residential towers are sprouting up all over downtown, and a host of new hotels opened in time to welcome fans to Houston for Superbowl LI. The largest of these, the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis, is one of many new towers ringing Discovery Green and it features a Texas-shaped lazy river.
For Downtown entertainment, Green Street Houston is home to the House of Blues, the Lucky Strike bowling alley, a growing array of stores and restaurants, and a new luxury hotel (Hotel Alessandra) opening in Fall 2017. Bayou Place, Houston’s original downtown entertainment complex - offers movies at Sundance Cinemas, concerts at Bayou Music Center, and a variety of restaurants.
The 16-acre site of the Downtown Post Office was sold in 2015, and a top local developer is transforming it into a mixed-use complex called Post HTX with private event space and residential, office, retail and restaurant spaces.
Meanwhile, more options include movies and concerts at historic Market Square Park, and amusements at The Downtown Aquarium.
It‘s well known that Houstonians eat out more than residents of any other city, and with 11,000 eateries to choose from, who could blame them? Central Houston is home to many of the nation’s most acclaimed new restaurants, including Oxheart in the Warehouse District, Reef in Midtown, and Hugo’s, Uchi and Underbelly in Montrose. In a city where more than 90 languages are spoken, great ethnic food is everywhere, from the many Vietnamese restaurants along Milam Street in Midtown, to the original Ninfa’s Mexican restaurant on the recently-beautified Navigation Boulevard.
Central Houston is a shopper’s paradise that includes funky fashion boutiques in Montrose, antiques stores in the Heights, and a large cluster of art galleries and home decor stores along Kirby and Richmond. Westheimer is the undisputed champion of Houston’s shopping streets, crowned by The Galleria, Texas’ largest shopping center with 400 fine stores and restaurants, and over 30 million shoppers every year. Located right outside the 610 Loop, The Galleria has everything from Neiman-Marcus, Gucci and Saks Fifth Avenue for uber-luxury, to Macy’s for moderately priced fashion. Just inside the Loop on Westheimer, Highland Village has everything from Pottery Barn to Williams-Sonoma.
At Westheimer and Kirby, West Ave is an example of several large mixed-use developments coming onboard in Central Houston. West Ave has shopping and dining on its lower floors, including big draws like Tootsies for fashion, and restaurants including Pondicherry and Eddie V’s. On top of it all are 400 apartments.
Another new mixed-use complex, the River Oaks District, has opened on the site of a former car lot on Westheimer, between The Galleria and Highland Village. The vision is to offer an urban experience with high-end retail, street-side cafes, office space, a cinema and 279 residential units. Just inside the Beltway at I-10 West, City Centre is another growing concentration of retail, office, residential and entertainment with a walkable urban feel.
As Central Houston continues to improve, so does its offering of schools. Houston has more than 40 colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. Rice University is consistently hailed as one of the nation’s finest, and the University of Houston has earned Tier One status, placing it in the same league as the University of Texas and Texas A&M University for advanced research.
One of the most exciting announcements of 2015 was that the University of Texas had purchased a 332-acre site to create a major new campus about less than 4 miles from the Texas Medical Center. UT officials describe the new campus as “a game changer” for Houston and UT, and “an intellectual hub for the entire UT system.”
Many Central Houston schools are worldclass, from HISD gems such as HSPVA, Carnegie Vanguard, and the High School for Health Professions, to sought-after neighborhood elementary schools and private schools.
While still not nearly as bad as in other cities, traffic congestion in Central Houston and throughout the metro region has increased as the population continues to grow. However, local and state governments are taking major steps to make sure that roadways keep pace with growth.
After its recent major expansion, which included the nation’s first managed toll lanes for solo drivers, the Katy Freeway (I-10 West) continues to offer one of the area’s smoother commutes.
That’s great news for the many Central Houston residents in The Heights, Spring Branch and other areas who work in the Energy Corridor along the Katy Freeway, starting a few miles outside of the Sam Houston Tollway.
A major widening of U.S. 290 North starting at Loop 610 is on schedule for completion by the end of 2017, and a major rebuilding of I-45 is in the planning stages. The I-45 project will include a much-needed redesign of the congested portion that winds through Downtown Houston.
Central Houston residents are enjoying a growing number of options for getting around without cars. A decade ago, Houston’s first light rail line opened along Main Street, taking riders through Downtown, Midtown, the Museum District, the Medical Center and to NRG Stadium. Known as the Red Line, this popular rail line also created a catalyst for new development along the way, especially in Midtown, which has boomed with new midrise residential buildings, townhomes eateries and arts centers.
The original Red Line was extended north from Downtown to Northline Mall, passing through several quickly redeveloping areas such as North Main Street, the Near Northside and Lindale Park. The Red Line also extends south from Downtown, through the Museum District and Texas Medical Center to reach its terminus at NRG Park. Today, Metro Rail is a popular network with the Green Line, which runs from the Theatre District, through Downtown and Houston’s redeveloping East End, stopping at the Magnolia Park Transit Center. The Purple Line extends from Downtown through the rapidly gentrifying Third Ward, also connecting the University of Houston and beautiful MacGregor Park.
Bike trails are an increasingly popular way to get around in Houston. The frequently used Heights trail opened a few years ago, and a new Downtown connection links it to East End trails. The trail has also been expanded to the west, connecting it to Timbergrove and other hot neighborhoods along White Oak Bayou.
Resoundingly supported by voters in a 2012 bond election, the Bayou Greenways 2020 project provides $215 million for 150 miles of continuous parks and trails along Houston’s bayous. The first results are visible in the beautifully landscaped and popular Buffalo Bayou Park, stretching along Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive, from Downtown to Shepherd Drive.
Houston has plenty of parks off the bayous. Hermann Park, between Downtown and the Medical Center is home to the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theater and Japanese Gardens, which recently celebrated its 100th birthday with new public art and the McGovern Centennial Gardens. A new master plan is also underway to renovate and improve Memorial Park.
If Central Houston sounds like a great place to live, it is because it is – there have never been so many options in so many areas. Our next chapter introduces you to many of them.