Reviews & Comments
Houston, TXHouston -- Not What It Once Was
I've lived in Houston since the mid-'70s, apart from a five year stint in the early '80s and a four year stint in the 2010's. During those years Houston has changed from being an up-and-coming optimistic sunbelt employment mecca to being so huge that it has every major city urban problem to go with the perennially insufferable summers and giant cockroaches it has always had.
One redeeming thing about Houston is the relative openness of its business community. You don't have to be from here to succeed, unlike Dallas (dominated by Highland Park families) or San Antonio (Alamo Heights). Houston is a diverse basket of people from everywhere, and anyone can succeed on their merit. My Michigan-born wife hated Dallas, which felt closed off to "yankees", but she never got the same vibe in Houston. She felt right at home immediately.
Another great thing is that the cultural diversity here has resulted in some of the best restaurants anywhere in the world. You can get just about any kind of ethnic cooking in this city, and most of it really exceptional.
Houston also has everything a big city should have in terms of cultural events and sports.
But, the growth has gotten out of hand in recent years, leading to awful traffic congestion (poor mass transit system), escalating crime rates, poorer city services, and dismal public schools. What was once a very racially harmonious city (in the days of Barbara Jordan) is now on racial pins and needles like the rest of America.
40% of Houstonians now speak Spanish as their primary language. Probably 75% of those 40% are Mexican-Americans and also speak English and have pretty well assimilated into American society, but the other 25%, mostly illegals from Central America or Mexico, tend to stay in the shadows.
Now there are also huge populations of Vietnamese, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, and smatterings of Koreans, Iranians, Colombians and Venezuelans. Arguably Houston is one of the most diverse cities on the planet. On the whole, that is a good thing, but it brings its own challenges.
Overall, come to Houston because some big corporation pays you to live and to work here. That is what Houston is good for. While you are here you can enjoy the big city experience of a Chicago or a Philadelphia without the snow and the six months of no sunshine. But come August you will be wishing for a bit of snow.