Once the classic Old West town, modern Laredo is now the largest and most active port of entry to the United States in the Rio Grande Valley. Numerous border-zone manufacturing plants have sprung up since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came about in the early 1990’s. The four border crossing bridges are busy with truck and container traffic to Nuevo Laredo in Mexico, and rail and air cargo carriers have extensive operations. The area is known for having a pro-business environment.
Laredo has a dominant Hispanic influence with a large middle class and a much larger working class, but many have low incomes and there is considerable poverty or near-poverty conditions in and especially outside the city. The Spanish-colonial city center has been reinvigorated following a commercial boom, and there are some minor league sports teams and some events of cultural interest but overall there is little to do.
At over 100 days per year above 90 degrees, the city is one of the hottest in the United States. The Cost of living is low, but the city’s constant bustle, lack of intellectual stimulation, poverty, high crime rate, and heat will try most anyone’s patience.
Laredo sits far enough west of the Gulf Coastal Plain to be in a zone of dry, rolling hills and plains, supporting scrub vegetation, small cacti, and oak trees. The climate is semiarid. Summers are hot with most days over 90 degrees, but with humidity lower than areas on the Gulf Coast. Most rain occurs in summer as thundershowers. Winters are mild and dry with many days in the 70’s and 80’s; evening lows dip below freezing occasionally.