If you're thinking about relocating to Houston, Texas, or if you've already started the process to make it your new home, you may be surprised at all it has to offer. Yes, it's a big city with everything you'd expect from a metropolis, but its remarkable diversity makes it a place where you can endlessly discover neighborhoods and authentic cultures that make it feel like a collection of smaller, unique towns.
To help you begin or finalize your plans for your move, our expert Houston movers, leveraging over a century of experience, offer this Houston city guide with everything you need to know about this great Texas city and its many personalities.
Information for New Houston Residents
Whether you're new to Texas or just to Houston, the following links will be handy for getting set up:
- The Texas Department of Public Safety provides complete information on how to apply for a Texas driver’s license on its website, including a list of the documents you'll need to qualify for a Texas driver’s license.
- You can get electric service started with one of several companies in Houston. A single company, Centerpoint Energy, owns the electrical infrastructure, but other companies sell electric power to citizens. The Power to Choose website can help you compare plans and prices from various providers.
- The Houston Public Works website lets you start water utility service online, pay your water bill, report a leak, and more.
- You can check out these two sources for information on registering as a voter in Houston: the Harris County Election Administrator's website and VoteTexas.Gov.
- For your internet service, take a look at CNET's comparison of Houston internet providers, including their monthly price ranges, equipment costs, and speeds.
- Enter your new address on the Houston Solid Waste Department Services website to find your trash and recycling pickup schedules.
- Ready Houston provides access to local and national information on emergency/disaster preparedness.
- Resources and support for veterans, active-duty military members, and others are available from the Houston Mayor's Office of Veterans and Military Affairs.
Houston's Early History
Two New Yorkers were among the first to grab the opportunity to buy land from the Galveston Land Company in the area that became Houston. Brothers John and Augustus Allen subdivided the 6,642-acre purchase they made in 1832 with the goal of establishing a speculative city on the banks of Buffalo Bayou.
Somehow, despite its collection of taverns and lean-tos that served as shops in the muddy town, Houston began to grow. In 1837, the Texas Congress named the town the state capital, and railcars and steamboats with goods and people followed. Once funds were allocated to deepen the bayou, the Houston Ship Channel was created, leading to the establishment of the bustling Port of Houston.
Oil came next, changing the city's future forever. Houston helped meet America's fast-growing need for gas and oil with derricks, refineries, and the ship channel. It was just past the turn of the 20th century when large oil companies arrived and set the stage for what would be known as the "World's Energy Capital." Exxon, Gulf Oil Corporation, and Texaco were just three of the 40 oil companies that opened offices here. Later, World War II saw Houston play an important role in manufacturing steel, producing oil, and building ships.
Through the following decades, Houston drew entrepreneurs and investors who would make lasting contributions to the city and the state. Examples include M.D. Anderson, a cotton broker who bequeathed his fortune in 1939 to a foundation that would build hospitals and lead to the creation of a new cancer treatment center at the University of Texas that would be named for him.
You can read more about Houston's fascinating history and growing importance to America's success at the Visit Houston website.
"Subtropical" may not be the first term that comes to mind for a Texas city, but Houston's climate is classified as just that. This means you should be prepared for hot, humid summers with about 100 days of temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike cities much farther inland, such as Austin and Dallas, Houston's center is only 45 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, which accounts for the muggy conditions in warmer months.
Here's the good weather news: Winter is mild, with plenty of sunny days and average lows in the forties.
Due to its proximity to the coast, hurricanes and tropical storms aren't uncommon here, and some have been severe. If you haven't ever had to prepare for potentially dangerous tropical weather, it's easy to find information on hurricane preparedness. Check out this thorough hurricane preparedness checklist from HoustonTX.gov to ensure you have a plan in place if a storm is forecast to affect Houston.
Some parts of Houston are prone to flooding. If you haven't settled on an exact location, this flood mapping tool from the Harris County Flood Control District can tell you which flood-prone areas you may want to avoid.
With more than 600 square miles in Houston proper and the suburbs that reach beyond, there's likely to be a neighborhood fitting your lifestyle. These are just some of the notable neighborhoods and suburbs in and around the Houston metro area:
Like any urban center, downtown Houston has a concentration of restaurants, bars, theaters, concert venues, and much more. This district is popular with young professionals who want a walkable neighborhood and a home close to their workplaces. You'll be just steps from the incredible Houston Theater District and professional sports venues.
As you might expect, condos and townhouses top the list of housing types, but there are some single-family homes as well.
As one of the neighborhoods inside "the Loop"—the area around downtown contained by Interstate 610—River Oaks is just minutes from the city's center. If you want to live in one of Houston's most affluent and historic neighborhoods, this one fits the bill. Century-old estates surrounded by lush gardens draw wealthier Houstonians, while top-notch dining, clubs, and shopping attract visitors. Known for its luxury living, home prices here can be well into the millions.
Houston Heights is another neighborhood established more than 100 years ago, but it's much more affordable than River Oaks. Every description of this neighborhood includes the word "walkable," and there are plenty of spots for a stroll. Restaurants, bars, art, antiques, and events are just steps away for residents.
Parks and trees surround charming Charleston-style and Victorian homes, which are all just minutes from downtown.
Think Austin is the only artsy, eclectic place to live in Texas? You may not have heard of Montrose, which made at least one list of the country's hippest neighborhoods in 2018.
Perhaps no other four-square-mile section of Houston packs in more nightlife, food, art, culture, and just plain eccentricity than Montrose. Described by various sources as vibrant, flamboyant, and even strange, one thing is certain: Montrose is one of the city's most creative spots.
Montrose was rated the "Best Neighborhood for Young Professionals in Houston" by Niche in 2022, so of course you'll find stylish condos and townhomes along with traditional single-family homes.
West University Place
This neighborhood inside the I-610 "loop" is convenient to everything downtown offers but still maintains a small-town vibe. It's popular with families due to its schools being a walk or bike ride away and its proximity to museums, parks, and the Houston Zoo. It has parks, such as Levy Park, where kids can play on its big lawn, check out the observation deck, visit the community garden, or climb the rock wall.
All these attractions and amenities—plus beautiful homes on tree-lined streets—make West University Place housing relatively expensive compared to other parts of Houston.
More than just a neighborhood, The Woodlands is a master-planned community with more than 28,000 acres. It's approximately 30 miles north of downtown Houston and comprises several residential "villages." Over 2,000 businesses are part of The Woodlands, as are hundreds of miles of biking and hiking trails, golf courses, and gathering spots.
All types of housing are available in this competitive real estate market, where the median listing price is in the upper $500,000s as of 2023.
As another master-planning community in the Houston area, Kingwood has 25 villages with mostly single-family homes, but there are also condos and apartment rentals. Greenbelts run through the community, connecting shopping districts, parks, schools, and biking and hiking trails. Kingwood has approximately 65,000 residents. The community includes a commercial center, neighborhood pools, and other services in most villages. Median home values hover in the upper $200,000s.
Great schools, a low crime rate, and plenty of kid-friendly activities attract families to Garden Oaks. It's an easy 10- to 15-minute commute to downtown, so residents enjoy the best of small-town and urban living here.
There are fewer than 1,500 homes in Garden Oaks, making it a close-knit community with charming bungalows and other types of housing that date back to the 1940s. It's experiencing something of a building boom, however, with newer (and more expensive) housing available. The values of older homes are rising as Garden Oaks becomes more popular.
This neighborhood is one of the relatively more affordable areas that surround downtown Houston. Townhouses are everywhere, with condos coming in second.
Whatever type of housing you choose, you'll be able to walk to several METRORail stations and plenty of restaurants, bars, museums, and shopping centers. Nightlife is active here, pulling in residents from across the city who come for the live music venues and clubs. If a quiet outdoor yoga class or a walk through one of the neighborhood's many parks is more your speed, you'll like living here.
Homes on expansive wooded lots with an easy commute to downtown Houston have made Memorial Park a residential destination for affluent families. Smaller cottage-style homes built in the 1960s are steadily being replaced by large new Mediterranean and Georgian houses. You can expect to pay top dollar to live in this neighborhood and its wealthy communities.
In addition to its many parks with amenities, such as trails, swimming pools, tennis courts, and baseball fields, Memorial Park (one of the nation's largest urban parks) is also near the George Bush Park and Bear Creek Pioneers Park nature preserves.
Like so many areas of Houston, Cypress is known for its outdoor spaces and activities and well-established master-planned communities. It also has the fourth-largest school district in Texas, the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District, also known as Cy-Fair.
Cypress has gained a reputation as having a pro-business climate, which draws a wide variety of companies to the city. Taxes are low, regulations are not particularly restrictive, and the workforce is highly educated, so you'll find everything from startups to some of the best-known Fortune 500 companies with a presence here.
If you're moving to the Houston area for a career in its aerospace industry, a home in Clear Lake will put you right where you work. The Johnson Space Center is here, along with the headquarters of major corporations, such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
Homes are available at a wide range of prices. The median home sale price is in the $300,000s, and your housing choices include condos, townhomes, older single-family homes, and more.
Just 20 miles from downtown, Sugar Land is known for having some of the top schools in the area. Compared to Houston, the city has a smaller population, less traffic, and lower crime. It's been lauded in several "best places to live" lists for its clean air, green spaces, and a citizenry that's involved in protecting its quality of life.
Living here is a bit more expensive than in Houston's metro area, but you can still find affordable homes. There's a high demand for houses in Sugar Land's many master-planned communities, where prices are higher.
Things to Do in and Around Houston
Need a destination for a day of fun or entertainment in Houston? You won't have to look (or drive) far. Here are just some of the Houston attractions worth your time:
- The Houston Museum District
- Houston Zoo
- Space Center Houston
- The Houston Museum of Natural Science
- Children's Museum Houston
- Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
- Buffalo Bayou Park
- Houston Museum of African American Culture
- Gerald D. Hines Waterfall Park
- Lone Star Flight Museum
- Downtown Aquarium
- Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
- Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden
- Military Museum of Texas
- Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
- Budweiser Brewery Experience
In addition to these destinations, you'll find all types of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in Houston. There are hundreds of green spaces, miles of hiking and biking trails, and more than 300 parks overseen by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.
You can also explore the outdoors at state parks and a national forest in the Houston Area. These include:
- The 5,000-acre Brazos Bend State Park
- The 2,013-acre Galveston Island Park
- The 163,037-acre Sam Houston National Forest
- The 1,200-acre San Jacinto Battleground State Historical Park
- The 2,800-acre Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center
- The 473-acre Stephen F. Austin State Park
How to Get Around in Houston
You'll need a car to navigate this sprawling city unless you want to rely on the METRO. This public transportation service covers the city, some of the surrounding cities, and most unincorporated areas of Harris County. You can also take advantage of ride-share services, such as Uber and Lyft.
Houston has one of the nation's largest airport systems, which includes Bush Intercontinental Airport and the domestic William P. Hobby Airport.
Houston Schools, Colleges, and Universities
There are more than 100 higher-education institutions in Houston, including technical and trade schools, community colleges, and colleges and universities.
Here are just a few that draw students in from around the country:
- Lone Star College
- Houston Christian University
- Baylor College of Medicine
- Prairie View A&M University
- Rice University
- Sam Houston State University
- Texas Southern University
- University of Houston
- University of Texas Health Science Center
The Houston Independent School District is the area's largest at the elementary and high school levels. Houston has many more independent school districts and a diverse range of private and charter schools.
Sports in Houston
Texas is a sports-crazy place, and Houston is one reason why. The area's collegiate teams have massive fan bases, cheering for the Rice University Owls, Houston Baptist University Huskies, San Jacinto College Gators, Texas Southern University Tigers, and the University of Houston Cougars.
Love professional sports? Houston has your ticket with these teams:
- Houston Astros (Major League Baseball)
- Houston Texas (National Football League)
- Houston Rockets (National Basketball Association)
- Houston Dynamo (Major League Soccer)
- Houston Dash (National Women's Soccer League)
- Houston SaberCats (Major League Rugby)
If you're not one to sit in the stands, you can participate in a wide range of sports in Houston. Take part in one of the 500-plus softball teams, 30 flag football teams, or 175 basketball teams.
Annual Events in Houston
A month doesn't go by without an event that brings Houstonians together. Here are some of the most popular annual events to put on your calendar:
- Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
- Houston Restaurant Weeks
- Bayou City Art Festival
- Art Car Weekend
- Worldfest Houston International Film Festival
- San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Re-Enactment
- Houston Water Lantern Festival
- Houston's Official July 4th Festival
- Texas Renaissance Festival
- Wings Over Houston Air Show
- Uptown Tree Lighting Ceremony
- Christmas Candlelight Tour
- Texas Bowl Game
Arts, Food, and Entertainment
Houston is one of America's most diverse cities, and its diversity is reflected throughout its food, art, and cultural offerings. But there's more: It's also a quintessential Texan city where its western heritage is often front and center. Altogether, these influences add up to a vibrant, ever-changing city inviting you to explore all it has to offer.
Houston Restaurants and Bars
According to Visit Houston, more than 70 countries and American regions are represented by 10,000 restaurants, many of which are getting national attention. Food & Wine dubbed Houston the "newest capital of great food" a few years ago.
Whatever you're in the mood for, you'll find it in Houston's restaurant scene. Mexican, Italian, Japanese, seafood, Vietnamese, fusion, Cajun, French, Korean, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and, of course, barbecue—it's all here for you to discover. From food trucks to fine dining, there's something for every budget.
As for nightlife, Houston doesn't slow down. Many bars are clustered in nightlife districts in Midtown, Montrose, downtown, and other spots. In just one evening, you can go from sports pubs and honky tonks to wine bars and dance clubs.
Houston Arts and Culture
Houston houses ballet, symphony, opera, and theater companies, offering performances throughout the year. You'll find many of these companies in the 17-block Theatre District.
When it's time for an art break, head to Houston's Museum District. You can walk between more than a dozen arts institutions in the district, including galleries and performing arts venues.
Shopping in Houston
Whatever your definition is of "retail therapy," this city delivers it. As you'd expect from one of the largest cities in the country, Houston has it all when it comes to shopping. You'll find everything from hip vintage clothing and antique shops to the world's most well-known fashion, jewelry, and home furnishings brands.
Mark these shopping areas down for a visit:
- You may need a few days to get to all of the 375-plus stores at The Galleria, which gives even New York's high-end Fifth Avenue shopping a run for its money. The best-known retailers are here, plus dozens of restaurants, hotels, and even an ice rink.
- Spend a sunny day at the open-air Uptown Park shopping center's cafes, shops, and boutiques. There are 50 stops here to get a bite or a great deal on goods from local artisans or international brands.
- Want to stroll along sidewalks lined with palm trees while you browse the goods from retail giants such as Restoration Hardware and Cole Haan? Highland Village, established more than a half-century ago, is your destination.
- Dating back to 1927, River Oaks Shopping Center is the place for Art Deco charm in a fashionable neighborhood. More than 75 stores and a dozen restaurants cater to sophisticated clientele searching for upscale finds.
Count on Our Houston Moving Company
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Ready to make your move? Get in touch for your free moving estimate.
FAQ About Moving to Houston, Texas
While it may be tempting to go with the lowest price you can find, there's much more to consider before you do business with any moving company in Houston. First, you want to ensure that the movers you choose are properly licensed and insured. Look for licenses from the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.
Take the time to check out reviews from the company's customers. These could be personal recommendations from people you know or reviews you find online. Also, ask Houston moving companies how they arrive at their estimates and whether there are any fees or costs not included in their quotes.
Lastly, look for experience. Well-established moving companies will have years of experience helping customers move in Houston. For more information, read our guide to choosing local movers, which includes good tips for long-distance moves as well.
According to recent numbers, Houston is less expensive than other large cities such as New York and Atlanta, with an average cost of living 4.5% below the national average. Houston is experiencing rising rent costs, similar to most other areas of the country. Home prices are also rising, with a median price in the $300,000 range for a single-family home.
Dozens of Fortune 500 companies operate in Houston, so job opportunities aren't limited to gas and oil businesses. Houston is also home to NASA's famous Johnson Space Center and the world's largest medical campus, the Texas Medical Center. U.S. job growth reports show the city may gain tens of thousands of jobs annually in the coming years in healthcare, energy, government, and construction.