Reviews & Comments
Houston, TXThink Long and Hard Before You Come Here
1. 2/5 stars = Not For Me (applies, but somewhat harsh)
2. 3/5 stars = Just Ok (fairly accurate, but at times, Houston dips into 2/5 and even 1/5 territory, so I can't really give it 3 stars)
3. 4/5 stars = Great (no way, does not apply to Houston)
I have lived outside of the U.S. and also on the West Coast, Northeast and Midwest. I have had short stints in the South, but never in Texas or Houston. I am definitely a transplant here and prior to arriving to Houston I put it inside some big Texas box that equaled conservative politics, cowboys, big trucks, frankly Caucasian, and fairly rural; a fairy tale notion of what would be here. Of course, I knew it would not match that, but boy was I in for an eye opener.
To sum it up, if you have a choice in the matter, and are educated, medium to high income, and have a family, I do not recommend moving to Houston. Let me unequivocally say that as someone who is not white, this is definitely not a racial thing either; it's a matter of your station in life. Nor do I recommend you move your company to this place, or its headquarters...in case my review makes a difference to you.
I live in the city of Houston proper, and besides the balmy to chilly winter weather, which is fantastic, there is nothing here that is better than other places I have lived in and in general, everything is either a wash, or worse.
1. Look at the demographics of this place on wikipedia before you come here and also pull up a crime map. Look up the school quality on great schools niche.com; it's awful, just completely awful. If you knew nothing about Houston except it's demographics you would guess that it is a city in Latin America.
On the news the other night it was stated that a majority of children in Houston live under the poverty line. This is a heavily minority-majority city, where it often feels like you are a foreigner in your own country. There are areas where you see more mosques than churches; places where it feels more like a city in the U.A.E. than the U.S.
Other areas have everything written in Spanish; with stray dogs, no sidewalks, burglar bars everywhere, trash...it's filthy and looks horrid.
Most of this city is like that. There are a few pockets of prosperity and growth, but Houston is the first place in the U.S. where it seems like a large portion of the population lives in wood shacks from the 20s and 30s.
2. Traffic is horrendous; horrible, and will never be fixed in Houston. Texas until the 60s to 70s was a developing country compared to the north-east, a rural backwater striving to catch up...and it did, but it had a third world mentality when it came to new development.
That mentality was to build big highways, with these massive frontage roads, eschew commuter trains, forget the metro, and rely on good old car culture on steroids to propel us from dirt roads and shotgun-shack homes to over air conditioned malls and massive interstates.
So the redneck southern Democrats turned Republicans and their ilk consistently voted against heavy rail mass transit and for these mega highways. Unfortunately, the day of reckoning has come.
There is no more right of way to purchase, the highways are already 8 to 10 lanes, buses will never work except to help the terminally poor get around, and now we are stuck in extreme gridlock.
To compound the situation, pre-50's developing world Texas had neighborhoods with no sidewalks, roads that were really just one lane, and open ditches for drainage. Houston did not invest in large boulevards and avenues like the traditional urban centers of America in the North. Instead, you have these pitifully under-designed neighborhood roads dumping into mega-highways with the obvious result of the highways being over-utilized even for local trips.
There is a small, but growing light rail system. However, in true red-state fashion, it was attacked from the get go and barely got off the ground. It also only serves downtown and the medical center...and will only expand east, which is not where most of Houston's population growth is.
Bottom line, Houston (4th largest city in U.S.) and unincorporated Harris County (fifth largest city U.S.) are in a chasm and will never dig themselves out when it comes to urban mass transit. The voters shot down rapid transit in the 70s and now it's too late to make a meaningful, proper, heavy rail transit system.
3. The main reason I bothered writing this review is to shoot down a couple of myths about Houston. The first one being that it is cheap.
Houston is only cheap if you come here from a third world country with a high school degree and are happy living in a shack with air conditioning and a dead end job. There are thousands of under 100K and under 50K homes for you to buy; you can get yourself a stupid truck; eat cheap street food; buy cheap gas; and never worry about heating your home. You're happy because it never gets really cold, everyone speaks your language, and while to me Houston is awful to you it's pretty good compared to back home.
IF you want your kids to go to an outstanding school, in a neighborhood that makes you feel good living there you have two options.
One, commute for at least one hour each way from a far flung suburb or exurb to your job where the school district is better than Houston; though not necessarily much better; and not necessarily much safer. (safety wise you will sh** your pants if you look up videos of assault robberies in the suburbs around here)
That commute will involve a toll-road, lots of gasoline, and wear and tear on your nerves and car.
Or two, if you can afford it, live in the city in a good neighborhood but then those proper homes cost 500K+, just like everywhere else in America, and you might still need to send your kids to private school.
So really, you're not saving any money by coming to live here.
4. Let's also dispel the notion of Southern hospitality and friendliness. Look, the people here are fine face to face; with ups and downs, but nothing better or worse than anywhere else.
The problem is that you're not really in "the South" culturally; this is more like Bogota, Colombia, or a really impoverished version of Dubai.
So, when you are driving, which will be very frequent, you will run into two kinds of driver.
One, the bona-fide, white, Texan redneck, with a massive pickup truck that will tailgate you, harass you, stress you, and that you wish you could blow up with an RPG. He's everywhere, he has punisher signs on his vehicle, he's an ignoramus and an idiot.
Two, the much more frequent, third world immigrant who knows no rules and drives like he is back home. You'll see Ahmed's wife in a hijab cross four lanes of traffic and not bat an eye as she causes accidents; or the many Vietnamese people that drive around here like they're on a scooter in Vietnam.
The one thing these two groups have in common is their low IQ and ubiquitous use of the smartphone while texting and driving.
Either way, I don't want to drive around these people, hang out with these people, or live around them or their kids. If they are so ignorant and back-a**-ward driving how are they like in their off-car life?
In the end, Houston is a dystopia. I look at it as the ugly, potential future for the rest of America. A minority-majority place that resembles nothing of the America I grew up in; full of people from the third world with backward mentalities, married with an equally retrograde, Texan cowboy mentality which works for a poor developing state in the 1930s but falls to pieces in this urban-suburban mess that is Houston and greater Harris County.
So, do yourself a favor. If you want that zero percent state income tax; you're sick of the Democrats that are actively ruining your home state or city; and you want to move to warm Texas...pick somewhere else. Austin, San Antonio, suburbs of Dallas aren't too bad; there are choices.
I was forced to come here for work. But, if you have a choice between Houston and somewhere else, think long and hard before you decide to come here. On the outside I tell everyone I am fine with it here; but inside and on the internet, I am telling you that armed-robberies, awful schools, and a place that looks like a third world country are not my thing.