Hopefully more recent Houstonites will jump in. I lived there from 1995 to 1997.
Houston was (back then) an incredibly cheap place to live. I was a teacher making nothing but I lived near The Galleria, West Main Street, and in Montrose. All really affordable places (except Galleria, we just found an average apartment complex nearby).
Traffic was, and currently, God-awful. There is now a light-rail system between downtown and the Medical Center. I used to go 610-59-10 to work, against traffic, and really didn’t have too many problems. The schlubs heading into the city, though, were stacked six lanes deep. The heat and the highways make it a real challenge, I’d say (I last drove in the city this spring).
I worked in the inner city, but the neighborhoods can change drastically in a few blocks. We used to joke about the zoning in the city - church, strip club, school, all within the same block! I think there’s new laws in effect. Downtown and the area around Post Oak are glass high-rises, but there are tons of strip malls and concrete monstrosities. There are flyovers and highway infrastructure everywhere. When I visited LA, a lot of the communities reminded me of Houston in this respect.
Lots of things to do in the arts - tons of museums, nice parks near the Medical Center (Hermann and others). You’ll have no problem connecting with people - tons of clubs, bars, and happy hour specials (this is how I lived when I had no cash). If you can stand the heat and a little compromised air quality doesn’t bug you too much, it’s a good place to live. Good sports teams (well, excluding the Texans) to follow as well. You’re close to Galveston, which is a romantic beach town away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.