Houston

What makes people choose Houston?

What makes Houston more desirable than other Texas cities like Dallas, Austin or San Antonio? H-Town is progressive and may be attracting almost as many millennials to its city as Austin. It’s also one of the most rapidly growing cities in the country, which isn’t just by happenstance. Perhaps the reason people move to Houston boils down to the fact that it is a well-rounded, desirable place to live. Ask any Houston resident—native or transplant—and they’ll beam with pride and explain just how much living in Houston has influenced their life for the better.

We’ve come up with some of the top reasons to move to Houston based on some of the city’s most advantageous pros. And just so you have a full picture, we’ll also be discussing some of the drawbacks if you decide to move here. Already made your decision to relocate to Houston? Skip ahead for some sound moving advice and resources.

    1. Living in Houston is more affordable than other large metropolitans.
    2. Figuring out where to live in Houston is simple.
    3. It is possible to buy a house in Houston on a modest income.
    4. The populations in Houston is booming thanks to the job market. 
    5. You can bring your car when you relocate to Houston.
    6. Students have access to all of Texas' top universities.
    7. The food in Houston is diverse and world famous. 
    8. And there's not shortage of places to work out. 
    9. There are thousands of things to do in Houston. 
    10. Being outside in Houston is enjoyable most of the year. 
    11. People in Houston stick together in tough times. 
    12. Moving to Houston is a breeze with the right resources.

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Why does U.S.News "Best Places to Live" report rank Austin #1 and Houston #30?

It's challenging to try and compare Houston to all other American cities, but comparing Houston to Austin is helpful, especially if Austin is 'the best' according to U.S. News and World Report. Creative professionals in Houston usually have some direct experience of Austin, so personal knowledge can come into play. 

HoustonAustinHere are some things to consider:

  1. Should Houston try and become more like Austin? 
  2. Are the differences in geography always going to hold Houston back? 
  3. Is the general American perception of Austin any more accurate than the perception of Houston? 
  4. Are there subtle differences between the way the general population sees these two cities and how creatives, entrepreneurs and innovators see the cities? 
  5. Has the popularity of Austin among employers (especially technology companies) created a momentum that forces Houston to fight back against a 'rising tide'? 
  6. Is Houston doing as much as it should to leverage its University communities? Does having two well-known but different schools (U of H and Rice) lead to a less focused image? 

Hacking the Data

U.S. News's Net Migration number is based on U.S. Census data, but the Desirability is based on an online survey. Their Quality of Life Index is has many components and sources, and you can read about it here: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/methodology 

U.S. News & World Report: How We Rank the Best Places to Live & Retire, 2019

Desirability Survey: Using SurveyMonkey, we polled approximately 2,500 people across the country to find out in which of the ranked metro areas they would most like to live. The metro areas were then ranked according to the percentage of the total votes they received.

By the way, Houston was 26th in Best Places to Retire, and Austin was 4th. For retirees, we get closer together. 


When Houston is transformed

Houston's continued population growth despite the oil bust is a source of amazement. Transformation happens. We plan, it happens, seldom the way we planned. The changes are hard to follow and comprehend, but the key is to keep trying. If we keep thinking that Houston is the same as it was, or is changing the way we intended, we'll definitely lose sight of the way it really is. 

Offcite: The Houston Transformation and the Hubris of I-10, 2016-Mar-9, an interview by Raj Mankad of Andrew Albers and Ernesto Alfaro

Our new mayor, Sylvester Turner, has recognized that. He has called attention to the history of our I-10 corridor. We had a problem. We said I-10 inadequately handled the traffic load it had. How did we solve it? The Texas Department of Transportation spent billions of dollars to create the widest highway in the world. And within 10 years of spending all that money, you have recreated the same problem. An even bigger traffic jam. The planning addressed the problem they had and not the problem of the future. You need to address future problems. Designers, traffic engineers, landscape architects, architects, public officials, and citizens who understand this can work together. We need to address the problems of today and the problems of tomorrow.

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Overgrown railroad trestles by Patrick Feller, nakrnsm on Flickr

Architect Richard Keating on Houston changes: more traffic on road, sidewalks

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Kirby Drive in 2000 from Bill Jacobus on Flickr


Looking for something else, I stumbled across this interview I missed last year. Architect Richard Keating arrived in Houston in 1976 and worked on the Wells Fargo Tower, BMC Software headquarters and other major buildings before leaving for Los Angeles during the 80's oil bust. He's returned to work on the Kirby Collection, and believes Houston has progressed. 

Houston Chronicle: Q&A: Architect draws on city culture, 2015-Oct-9 by Nancy Sarnoff

Q: What's changed about Houston since you lived here?

A: The people that have always come to Houston, from the pre-A/C days to the current times, those people aren't the same people who went to LA. People went to LA because of the beach. They came to Houston to work hard. So that's why you have Gerry Hines and these oil entrepreneurs. There's an entrepreneurial culture that comes from that history. Those things haven't changed.

I think the only thing I've noticed that has changed is the traffic, obviously it's getting worse. And there was no significant high-rise housing when I lived here. If it builds around the bayou, it'll be lovely. All of a sudden you have a walkable city.


Finding the values we share with our customers

In building our brands we don't have to rely solely on our own brand. Customers were originally attracted to our business by certain values, and if we remember those values, we can tap into bigger issues, or even bigger brands, to remind them why they love us. Here's an example. IStock_000020000438XSmall

Lightspeed: 4 Steps to Join the Shop Local Movement and Get Exposure in Your Community, 2015-Sep-22 by Zoe Sadler of Snap Retail

Use hashtags like #ShopLocal or #SupportLocal with your messages.

Tag your fellow businesses in posts to promote the sense of community. Encourage your neighbors to host an event with you (Sidewalk Sale? Meet and Greet? Girls Night Out?) As you promote on social media, mention their stores to start the party early.

Lastly, incorporate Shop Local messaging in your email campaigns. Just as you would thank customers in store, thank them virtually too!

The “Shop Local Movement” is based on small businesses reaching out to their communities, educating their neighbors and talking to their customers about the benefits of shopping at locally-owned stores rather than supporting big box stores.

Remember, your store creates a distinctive shopping experience that consumers will not find at a big box. Are you maximizing this opportunity? Now that you’re equipped with these 4 tips, go out and spread the Shop Local love today!


If you say Houston is 4th-largest, be prepared to be disappointed by our influence

Yesterday I was talking with some friends who were trying to raise publicity for a project and they tossed out the "4th largest city" meme with regard to Houston. 

When we are trying to be influential, we have to understand our status. Houston city limits may provide the meaningless 4th-largest designation, but in terms of influence, Houston is the 10th largest metropolis in America. As a metropolitan area, we are smaller than Dallas, WashingtonDC, Boston, SF and (OMG) Detroit. (Okay, we may be able to displace Detroit soon. But not Dallas, and certainly NOT Chicago.) 

Houston's weight in controlling the destiny of people is in tune with being TENTH-largest city. FOURTH-largest makes people outside Houston frown with confusion... 

JUST STOP. 4 million residents is NOT a big deal. We are NOT about to displace Chicago. That's BS, and if you try to defend this idea outside the city limits, you'll be recognized as a FOOL. 

Not-4th-but-10th

P.S. There is one way that "4th Largest" is not meaningless, and that's if you are Annise Parker. She can boast about managing the 4th largest city. But if you want to talk about the influence of Houston, you have to recognize it's only 10th largest U.S. metro area. City boundaries don't make that much difference. It's all about being a population center, and we're the 10th largest.