Here’s the most surprising PROS and CONS about moving to Houston, Texas from a Midwesterner who’s lived in the Houston suburbs for 10 years.
Is Moving To Houston, Texas A Good Idea?
Thinking about a move to Houston??? Hopefully I can help you decide whether or not to make the move. And, tell you a little about what life is like in the Houston suburbs.
Here’s a little look at what you’ll find on this list.
Table of contents
- Is Moving To Houston, Texas A Good Idea?
- Pros And Cons Of Moving To Houston, Texas
Now, let’s get started!
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Pros And Cons Of Moving To Houston, Texas
Houston Home Ownership Differences
Here’s a few of the differences I noticed about being a homeowner in Houston, compared to other cities.
1. Home Prices Are Cheap, For a Large City
Houston is the 4th largest city in the United States. But, compared to the 3 bigger cities (New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago), Houston home prices are pretty cheap.
In fact, according to this page on Houston.org, Houston housing costs are almost 90% below the average of the most populous U.S. metros.
2. Sprinklers & Big Flower Bed & Vegetable Garden Differences
Because of the extreme heat and powerful direct sunlight, almost everyone has a sprinkler system keeping their lawn and plants alive during the summer.
So, that adds a little extra cost and maintenance to life in Houston. And, even with those sprinklers, you’ll still need heat and sun tolerant Zone 9 plants. My favorite plants in Cincinnati don’t last long in Houston.
And, even the best home gardener will need to relearn growing schedules and best practices for vegetable gardens in Houston. Again, it seems like growing veggies was easier in Cincinnati.
3. No State Income Tax But You Might Not Save Money?
Did you know that Texas doesn’t charge income tax? The state uses that fact as incentive to get people to move here. And, I thought it sounded great when I lived in Ohio.
BUT, after moving to Houston, I realized the state and local governments make up for it by charging more than I paid in Ohio for Property Tax and Sales Tax. They also have Toll roads everywhere.
And, the Houston metro area charges a somewhat pricey MUD tax in some neighborhoods. So, overall, you might not pay less tax in Houston, unless you moved from one of the highest taxed cities.
4. No Zoning Laws
One weird thing about moving to Houston is their zoning laws, or actually the lack of zoning laws. That means Houston doesn’t restrict lots to just business or just homes.
So, if you buy a house outside of a neighborhood with HOA rules, you might end up with a McDonalds or Walmart next door, one day. You can read about that more on this Rice University website.
5. No Building Permits Required In Some Counties
I live in a county, next to Houston’s main county, that doesn’t require building permits. That means that NO ONE is making sure that your home is being built properly. So, always get a home inspection before you buy!
6. Flooding And Flood Insurance
The SAME DAY that we moved into our Houston home, the yard and field around it flooded. That was pretty scary. Until then I didn’t understand that Houston homes had that kind of risk of flooding.
Asking about flooding issues never occurred to me, as someone that grew up in a city without flooding issues. Luckily, our house has never flooded. But, it’s been close.
When moving to Houston, ask tons of questions about flooding history before buying a house. And, definitely get Flood Insurance.
Unexpected Positives About Moving To Houston
7. Great Planned Communities For Families
There’s also a BIG selection of beautiful planned communities in the suburbs around Houston.
In most price ranges, you can find a great neighborhood with mini playgrounds, pools, walking tracks, community events, sidewalks, nice-looking retention ponds, and pretty landscaping.
8. My Kids Are Growing Up In A Diverse School
Houston has a very diverse population of not just Americans of different races, but also a large International population that has moved here for big industry jobs, like the oil industry.
That means, my boys have diverse friendships, classrooms, and sports groups. I like to think knowing so many different types of people as kids will mean that their generation will get along better together.
9. Restaurants And Stores Selling Food From All Around The World
While we’re speaking about Houston’s diversity, let’s talk about the HUGE variety of food you can find here. From authentic British fish and chips to fantastic Indian curry’s, you can find almost every type of food here.
10. Houston Is A Continually Growing City
Since Houston still has a fast growing population base, you can find nice areas to live where everything is basically new and well-maintained. There are new schools, roads, water pipes, gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, churches, etc.
Having lived in older, neglected sections of cities in the past, I prefer living in areas that are still attracting businesses, government money, and growth.
11. Great Hospitals And Specialized Treatment Centers
I didn’t realize it before I moved here, but Houston really has great hospitals, Cancer treatment centers, and Children’s hospitals.
12. It’s Sunny Most Of The Year
According to yearly forecast data, a sunny day includes full sun and partly sunny days. That puts Houston at over 200 sunny days a year. BUT, I think that’s an underestimate.
Houston is a humid, subtropical climate. So, we get sudden afternoon humidity showers in the summer, like Orlando. The whole day will be sunny, except a 30 minute shower. Those days should count as sunny too, IMO.
Unexpected Negatives About Moving To Houston
13. Saharan Dust!
That’s right, the Sahara that’s way, way over in northern Africa has huge dust storms that blow all the way over here. I didn’t realize when I moved here that this was a thing.
But, I always have dust all over my car, driveway, and yard from Saharan dust. Check out this post on the 12 Best Reasons To Pressure Wash Your Driveway And Walkways to see my dirty driveway.
The good news is, that Saharan dust, when it’s over the Atlantic, is key to preventing hurricanes from forming. So, it’s a negative and a positive for Houston.
14. Fire Ants, Mosquitos & Large Cockroaches
Another big negative is the constant mosquito problem. We can even have them in the winter, if the weather is mild and a bit rainy. I was eaten alive by mosquitos when I first moved here.
I severely underestimated the warnings locals gave me about Houston mosquitos. The fire ants and large cockroaches here are annoying too. You have to treat for both every year, to keep them under control.
15. Schools Can Overfill Faster Than They Are Built
We live in what is supposedly the fastest growing school district in the entire state of Texas. So, our school district is struggling to build new schools as quickly as the developers build new neighborhoods.
So, our pretty highly rated elementary school has added a few hundred more students in just 3 years. We’ll hopefully get new schools and level out soon.
16. Less Cincinnati Chili, Philly Cheesesteaks, and Good Rye Bread
Growing up in Cincinnati, we had tons of great Deli-style restaurants, German Rye Bread, Cincinnati Chili, and incredible Philly Cheesesteaks. But, those things aren’t as easy to find here.
Food is always a little different in every city. So, don’t expect to have all of your local favorites when you move here. But, don’t worry, we have TONS of great alternatives here.
17. Private Pools Might Need Chillers
Here’s a shocker for a girl from Cincinnati, many Houston pools have chillers instead of heaters. That’s because smaller pools can heat up fast under the strong Texas sun.
18. No Amusement Park
And, another shocker for a girl from Cincinnati is the lack of an Amusement Park in Houston. I grew up near Kings Island in Cincinnati. I even worked there as a teen.
You’d think that the 4th largest city in the U.S. would have an amusement park. But, I guess the threat of Hurricanes and that crazy summer humidity and heat would make spending your summer at one harder.
19. Bad Drivers
Houston seems to have more bad drivers and road rage than I remember from Cincinnati. But, hey, maybe everywhere has gotten worse. Who knows?
Working In Houston
20. Being The Forth Largest US City Means Possible Long Commutes & Traffic
The bigger the city, the bigger the commute between the suburbs and downtown areas. So, try to find a job before you buy a house, to reduce the commute.
Because most people have an hour long commute here. And, the traffic is CRAZY.
21. Lots Of Job Opportunities For Professionals and Blue Collar
The good thing about a big city is that there are almost always job openings in every field.
22. Toll Roads
Toll roads are annoying. I didn’t grow up with them and I don’t like them. Definite negative and a total nuisance.
23. You Need A Car
You’ll definitely need a car to get anywhere good around here.
24. No State Income Tax
One possible positive about moving to Houston, Texas is the lack of a state income tax. It can be a big savings, depending on where you are moving from. Check out #3 on this list to see how it might not be a savings for some.
25. Many White Collar Jobs Allow Some Work From Home
Like many cities, Houston white collar employers seem to have embraced at least partial, if not full-time work from home.
Houston Weather “Issues”
26. Crazy Humidity 8 Months A Year
It’s humid most of the year. I’m not kidding, it’s almost always humid from April through November. And, probably half of the days from December through March, unless we’re having an unusually cold winter.
27. 90 in Houston Feels Like 110
When I lived in Cincinnati, I assumed that 90 degree heat in Cincinnati felt the same as 90-degree heat anywhere. I was wrong!
Houston is humid and technically closer to the sun, so 90 here feels like your skin is boiling. Shade is your best friend in the summer.
28. Winter Is Mostly Mild, Sunny, And Nice
The good news is that winter is mostly mild, sunny, and overall pretty nice. I love that I can go for long walks at 8 in the morning on most winter days, without a jacket.
29. We Hide Indoors Or In Shady Areas During The Summer
And, in case you haven’t guessed this based on what I’ve already said about Houston summers, we spend summers indoors here.
In Cincinnati, we spent summer days outside. In Houston, it’s way too hot. You hide indoors or in a pool during the summer here.
30. Dropping Below Freezing Can Be Really Bad!
Houston homes aren’t built for cold weather. So, the rare days that we have freeze can be scary. You have to prep your home to prevent pipes from freezing and leaking, inside and outside the home.
One last warning about moving to Houston, we have the occasional Hurricane move through. So, you might need to evacuate or prep your home for dangerous winds and rain every 5 years, or so.
Houston’s Unique Environment
32. Nice Breeze Most Of The Year
Houston might be hot and humid most of the year, but we do have a nice breeze most of the year. I’m guessing it’s because we are so close to the beach. That breeze makes the heat easier to handle, as long as you’re standing in a shaded spot.
33. Close To The Beach, But The Water Isn’t Blue
A downside to moving to Houston is the beach. That’s right, I said the beach. The water on the western side of the Gulf Of Mexico is brown. And, not at all pretty.
The silt from the Mississippi River makes it brown. So, the closest nice beaches are way down in Mexico or over towards the Florida panhandle.
34. Drainage Ditches & Retention Ponds
Houston has a history of flooding. So, builder’s and city planners have to put large drainage ditches and retention ponds everywhere. The ponds can be pretty, when done well.
But, the ditches can mean that you won’t have sidewalks in your neighborhood. And, if you have a car accident near one, you can crash into a ditch pretty easily.
35. Gators, Poisonous Snakes, Wild Hogs, Coyotes, & Bobcats
I saw a lot more alligators when I lived in Florida, but we still have the occasional alligator in the retention ponds here.
And, Houston also has poisonous snakes, fire ants, and wild hogs causing problems. You’ve been warned! But, don’t worry too much, they mostly are just annoyances that you get used to dealing with.
36. It’s Flat, Flat, Flat Here
I grew up surrounded by pretty, tree-covered rolling hills, just north of the Appalachian mountain range. For me, it’s hard to get used to how FLAT Houston is.
You can literally see for miles from the top of highway overpasses. I miss my pretty hills.
37. Big Variety Of Birds And Butterflies
We always have a bunch of hummingbirds in our yard during the warmer months.
You can see a pretty big variety of, what I would call, exotic birds in all of those retention ponds in the neighborhoods. Houston also has a lot of large birds of prey, including the occasional Bald Eagle.
Family Fun In Houston
38. Lots Of Parks And Walking Trails
Every morning, after I drop my boys off at school, I get some sort of work out in. Half of the time, it’s a 45-minute walk on one of the MANY walking trails in my area.
There are tons of local parks and neighborhood walking trails all over Houston. Most of them have pretty retention ponds, lots of birds and turtles, and great landscaping. I’m a big fan of Houston’s walking trails.
39. Houston Rodeo Is Kinda Like A Giant State Fair, But In February
If you’re a fan of a big State Fair, Houston has something similar. In February the Houston Rodeo is a huge deal with nightly concerts, agricultural and livestock events, fun fair food, and fair rides.
40. Great Sports Teams And Stadiums
Sports fans can attend professional basketball, football, soccer, and baseball in Houston.
41. Water Parks
And, being a super hot city, we’ve got a few fun water parks to choose from nearby.
“Houston we have a problem”. You can visit NASA in Houston for tours and interactive educational experiences. They’ve done a great job on the exhibits here.
I will say, having lived in Orlando too, that NASA’s JFK location at Cocoa Beach is bigger and has more exhibits. But the Houston location is still great.
43. People Keep Their Pools Open All Year
Every year, in Cincinnati, everyone has to shutdown and cover their pools and inground hot tubs. Well, in Houston, NO ONE shuts down their pools. It’s easier to just keep them open.
That means most people can swim or enjoy their hot tubs year round, when the weather is warm.
More Advantages Of Moving To Houston
44. Friendly People
And, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m from the Midwest where most people smile and are pretty friendly. And, I’m happy to report that most people in Houston are generally nice too.
Or, at least they don’t give you dirty or weird looks when you smile and say “good morning” or whatever. Which is the way strangers always reacted when I smiled at them while living in Los Angeles. Yikes.
45. International Airport
Having an International Airport nearby makes travel easier. You can basically get most places nonstop and for less money than most smaller, regional airports.
46. Fly To Most US Cities In Under 3 Hours
Another great positive about moving to Houston, Texas is that it’s central to most of the US. So, I can get to Florida, Colorado, Yellowstone, California, and back to Cincinnati in less that 3 hours, no problem.
47. Houston Has A Cruise Port!
If you are a fan of cruising, we love being able to drive to the cruise port instead of flying. And, every year, the Galveston cruise port seems to get bigger with more cruising options. It’s so convenient!
48. Golf ALL YEAR
Golfers LOVE that the weather in Houston is perfect for year round golfing. Just be prepared for a 6 AM tee time during the hottest months of the year.
49. Cheaper Flights To Mexico & Caribbean
You can also get pretty great prices on flights to Mexico and the Caribbean. On top of that, you can fly to the most popular destinations in those places in less than 2 hours. Yea!
50. Fast Amazon Delivery
Last but not least, Houston is a huge city. So, Amazon has distribution centers here. That means that I can order something from Amazon today and I’ll likely get it tomorrow.
Sometimes I get it the SAME DAY that I order it. That’s another huge convenience for someone that hates going to the stores (like me).
That’s it for my big list of the surprising pros and cons about moving to Houston, Texas. Now, here’s a few more popular posts you might like.
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