Reviews & Comments
Houston, TXLived there for 35 years. Lived it, loved it.
I lived in H-town for 35 great years. Work took me away, and I miss it terribly.
It's not the prettiest place you'll ever see, nor the most enjoyable summers.
However, when you take a moment to look at the character of its citizenry, you'll see something pretty impressive, and dare I say, beautiful. For a huge city, the people were pretty darn congenial. You can get into a conversation just riding the elevator, no joke. There's a likable optimism in the populace.
You can have Ethiopian food for breakfast, English for lunch and Albanian for dinner, if you wish. With 4K plus restaurants....yeah, we like to eat well.
I do believe more people in Houston are non-native (like me), than those that were from there. I never had a bad time or heard someone moaning that "we had a great town until other people moved here" nonsense.
It's a welcoming city, that strongly believes in creating entrepreneurs. The Medical Center is one of the best on the planet. LBJ and Ben Taub (with a 24 hour trauma center) are publicly supported hospitals, for those without means. The city citizens abundantly support the creative arts. The Hobby Center, Jones Hall, The Wortham, on and on. Talk about sports teams and venues?! H-town has got you covered! Good gosh, where should I start? Every popular musical act shows up in Houston. If you're into retro acts from the past, there are smaller theaters where they perform. True, Houston could do more to push local music talent. That's a valid critique, I feel.
Economics: The availability of well paying jobs is still alive and well there. Sure, if you want to live inside the 610 loop, you are going to PAY for that convenience. No doubts about that. Think of any major American cities, dear reader, and ask if you can still buy a terrific home for 200K? Try that in NYC. In Houston, you can!
In summation, once you get past brutally hot summers, traffic and the flat terrain; you'll find a welcoming smile, good jobs, great after work life and awesome people.
McAllen, TXA mixed bag, but ultimately falls short.
On transfer here for two years now.
Pros: Daytime traffic is pretty decent, when using Interstate 2. Home prices are cheaper, when compared to the national average. You can still buy a good house for 150-200K. If you like Mexican food, this is a good spot. The hospital care system is adequate (except for the VA). Since you have a choice in Texas for electrical providers, your utilities will be somewhat reasonable. The area is served by most of the national bigbox stores. There are some interesting local wildlife refuges. South Padre Island is an hour to the east, and can be interesting and fun, especially if you like to drink a lot.
Cons: The economy isn't really all that good. It's like a mix 25/75, meaning 25 percent have decent paying jobs. The 75 percent seem to be struggling... badly. Crime is excessively high, for this size of population. Aforementioned Interstate 2 is a dragstrip at night, and downright dangerous. If you want to drive at night, you're taking your life in your hands. State or local police do nothing about this lawlessness. The cultural arts is nearly non-existent. In McAllen and many surrounding towns like Pharr, Donna, Alamo...their downtown looks pretty rundown. Mostly businesses like pawn shops and quick cash money lenders, etc. Taking on a tour of seedy and seamy enterprises, you'll be more than satisfied. That takes me to what seems to be the norm in business practices. When purchasing a home or car, bring a rep from a NYC lawfirm with you. When reading over the contract ...beware of "add ons" that were NEVER mentioned in negotiations. I'd never encountered such nonsense and outright chicanery, in any large metropolitan area I've lived in.
July, August and September are brutal, due to the extreme heat.
You'll run into the people who live here just for the winter. They're easy to spot. They're usually old, grouchy, poorly dressed and intoxicated. My wife says they look like Jimmy Buffet's badly injured stunt double (!).
My family finds this place arduously boring, due to the lack of clean and safe family venues. (How many times can you go to Chuck E. Cheese's??????).
Overall: McAllen et al, would make for a good week of vacation, but not to live. In a week, you'll have seen it all. To live here, it's not all that.