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7 Most Surprising Things I Learned When I Moved To Houston Texas From Ohio!

There are some unexpected things that come with any move, GOOD & BAD. Here’s 7 SURPRISING things I learned when I moved to Houston from Ohio!

I Moved To Houston Texas 10 Years Ago

Hi, guys! My husband and I moved to Houston about 11 years ago, after living for a short time in Cairo, Egypt. My husband was working in oil and gas there. Expat life wasn’t my thing though.

So, Houston, an oil city, was the logical choice for us when we decided to move to the US. Since I’m originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, I was definitely ready to get back to America.

Image of someone at an Egyptian tourist site.
After living in Egypt for a year, we were excited to be moving to Houston!

Houston has been a GREAT city to start a family in. We live in the western suburbs of Houston with lots of greenspace, wildlife, shops, restaurants, and good schools around us.

Of course, Houston is pretty similar to Cincinnati in most ways. But there have been a few things that surprised me when comparing Houston to Ohio.

Now, I want to say, all cities have pros and cons. And, everyone’s opinion will be different. This is just what I’ve noticed and none of the negatives are in anyway big enough to make us want to leave.

Image of kids at Johnson Space Center for a post about 7 Surprising things I learned when I moved to Houston Texas from Cincinnati Ohio.
My little Texans at Johnson Space Center. You might also like the 16 Best Perennials For Zone 9: Easy Colorful Flowers And Landscaping Plants.

So, please don’t be offended. We LOVE Houston! And, we LOVE Texas! Let’s get started with the things that surprised me about moving to Houston Texas from Ohio!

7 Surprising Things I Learned When I Moved To Houston TX

1. There Aren’t Any Cowboys

Texas is full of cowboys, right?! Welp, Houston isn’t! I thought I’d see cowboys everywhere when I moved here, but that only happens when the Houston Rodeo is in town.

Houston is the 4th largest city in the US & growing! Most of the Houston-area cattle ranches from 50 years ago have been turned into planned communities with walking trails, lakes and manicured lawns.

If you want to see cowboys, head to one of the smaller cities in west Texas or Fort Worth, Texas. In Fort Worth, you can still see a cattle drive twice a day through the city streets at the Fort Worth Stockyards.

Houston Rodeo image.
The only time I see cowboys in Houston is when the Rodeo is going on. The Houston Rodeo lasts around 3 weeks every February. It’s kind of like a State Fair and a great event for families!

Recently, I watched a movie called Vengeance set in west Texas. The “real cowboys” in that movie funnily described Dallas as “not Texas” and Houston as “another country.

When you compare Houston to life in west Texas, I can see why that line is in the movie. No one that moves to Houston would recognize it as anything like Texas cowboy life from the old westerns.

2. The Traffic Here Is CRAZY!

I think I-10 has about 12 lanes through most of west Houston. And, they’re still packed. Traffic here is CRAZY. I know, I know, everyone thinks their commutes are crazy.

I thought commuting was bad when I lived in Orlando and Cincinnati. BUT, Houston traffic is it’s own brand of crazy. And, the drivers are more aggressive when compared to Ohio.

When we moved to Houston TX all of our friends told us to find a house near work. It’s good advice, whenever possible here. But, we decided we wanted a big yard. So, we got BIG commutes too.

DIY Bat Box - 4 chamber nursery
We opted for a house with a big yard in the outside suburbs of Houston. Check out how we build fences in How to Set Wooden Fence Posts in Concrete.

Luckily, I’ve worked from home for 10 years now and my husband mostly works from home. So, it’s not a big deal anymore.

3. Zero Income Tax, But High Property Taxes

Another big shocker about living in Houston, or anywhere in Texas, is the way the taxes work here. Growing up, I always heard that Texas didn’t charge income tax so you get to keep more of your money.

That’s not exactly true!

Although Texas doesn’t charge income tax, it does charge HUGE property taxes and most of the major roads are toll roads. So, when you add it up, Texas doesn’t charge less taxes.

Property taxes in Texas are easily 3x higher than anywhere else I’ve lived. See more of my house in 18 BIG Pros & Cons: Should You Paint a Brick House White.

4. Houston Has A Great International Food Scene

I’m a BIG FAN of variety when it comes to food. So is my husband. Luckily, Houston’s huge international population means that you can find food from dozens of countries all over Houston.

Even in the suburbs, you can find so much variety in our restaurant scene!

Within 5 miles of my house, I can find all of the American favorites plus Korean, French, Turkish, Greek, Vietnamese, Brazilian, Columbian, German, Lebanese, Jamaican, South African and SO MUCH MORE.

Image of kitchen cabinets full of food to stock up on for a hurricane.
Speaking of food and Houston, check out my tips for the Best Supplies & Food To Stock Up On Before A Hurricane or the 4 Best Ways to Store Water for Emergency.

5. Everyone Hides Inside During The Summer

Growing up in Ohio, we spent our summers outside in the pool, grilling out, going to Reds games, boating, visiting the Zoo or Kings Island, gardening, and just playing in our yards.

That is NOT AT ALL what we do in Texas. We do all of those things in the spring and fall in Texas. That’s when the weather in Houston is more like a Cincinnati summer.

Most people hide indoors during the HOT, HOT Houston summers. Seriously, it’s generally between 94 and 101 F on most summer days here. And SUPER HUMID. The feels like temp can be 108 most days.

Large inground pool behind a white brick house.
Without having to heat our pool, we can usually swim from the beginning of May to the end of September. With heat or just using the hot tub, we can swim year round!

And, I swear 90 degrees in Houston feels hotter than 90 In Cincinnati. I think it’s because we’re just a lot closer to the equator. So, the sun is baking us just a bit faster here. 🙂

Here’s another weird thing! When we’re not in the AC, of course we still swim during the summer. But, strangely enough, many people here have CHILLERS on their pools instead of heaters.

I never even knew those existed until I moved here. Chillers cool pools down so you don’t feel like you’re swimming in a hot tub of water.

Wooden swing set made with pressure treated lumber posts. Moved To Houston Texas.
Swinging during Houston winters is the norm. Check out how cheap & easy it was to build this swing set in How To Build A Swing Frame From 4×4’s.

6. HOA’s Are Everywhere, But Necessary

Another huge shocker I discovered when I moved to Houston is that MOST neighborhoods have an HOA. It seemed strange at first, since Texas is known for it’s small government ways.

BUT, Houston doesn’t restrict what can be built on most lots. So, unless you want a gas station or a high-rise next to your house, you need HOA restrictions to protect you.

Just be sure to read the HOA rules carefully before you buy a house. You want to be sure to pick a neighborhood with HOA rules you can handle.

Neighborhood in Houston with a lake and sidewalks. Moved To Houston TX.
One of the best things I found when I moved to Houston, Texas is that most of the planned communities in Houston have great walking trails, playgrounds, and big retention ponds.

7. Great For Family Life, But It Can Be Boring

Last but not least, I hate to say Houston is somewhat boring. Especially when we have out of town visitors.

In Cincinnati we had tons of big, great museums, beautiful all-weather hiking trails, rolling hills, caves and waterfalls, treetop ziplines, Kings Island, Coney Island, and boating and fun river restaurants.

We had one of the countries oldest zoos (with cool Art Deco buildings) and Hocking Hills and Amish country were nearby. Those are all great day trips for visitors or just family fun on a weekend.

Ziplining in Ohio.
Rolling hills and tons of tall trees make ziplines in Ohio a fun family activity in the wild.

Don’t get me wrong, Houston is GREAT for raising kids. The schools are good and the neighborhoods have nice small walking trails and playgrounds. But, it’s lacking in bigger fun, touristy fun.

Houston doesn’t have a theme park, the beach has brown water and blah sand, outdoor dining is hard to find (due to high humidity), and some of the museums and the zoo seem small for such a big city.

Hiking trails are mostly in neighborhoods. There are a few State Parks but the mosquitos, alligators, and flat land make them less attractive.

And, I’m sorry, but I can’t get used to watching baseball indoors. It’s just not the same. BUT, we do have Johnson Space Center. Which is amazing and totally worth the drive!!

Image of kids at Johnson Space Center for a post about 7 Surprising things I learned when I moved to Houston Texas from Cincinnati Ohio.
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That’s it for the most surprising things I learned when I moved to Houston TX. Check Out 50 Pros And Cons of Moving To Houston, Texas to see more.

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That’s it for this list of surprising things I learned when I moved to Houston TX. Click the links above for more from this site!