Tell me about living in Houston.

I have job possibility brewing up in Sugar Land, and want to know what living in the area would be like.

Just how bad are the summers? I’ve been in New Orleans in July, is it comparable to that?

How’s traffic? Around here, driving generally takes about twice as long as you’d expect just by looking at the distance.

How’s public transportation? The Bay Area has a bunch of separate transit systems with limited overlap, so it can be a huge pain in the ass if you’re going very far.

What’s the housing market look like? Prices are bound to be cheaper than here, but how much? Is there a lot of new development, or is it mostly older houses? Do they tend to have large or small lots? (San Francisco houses, for instance, have tiny lots.) Are there a lot of those ugly 50s tract houses all over the place? Are prices crashing like they are here?

What’s the state of the high tech industry? Here, there are a crapload of jobs, but an even bigger crapload of skilled people, so competition is stiff. If I ended up getting this job but losing it in a year or two, what are my chances of getting something else in the area?

What’s there to do for fun? Museums, concerts, game stores, restaurants, funky neighborhoods, natural sights, whatever.

Perhaps most importantly, will I, a long-haired, half-Filipino, atheist, fairly leftist Democrat, Bay Area native, and my wife, an agnostic Jew and even more leftist Democrat, suffer from fatal culture shock?

Only one word truly describes the summer weather in Houston. Brutal. I live in the Bay Area and barely lasted a week in Houston on a work assignment. Stepping off the plane in July you are instantly drenched in sweat (no joke). If you have ever been to the South in the summer you have a good idea what it’s like.

It may not actually be in Hell but you can see it from there… but the housing prices are quite reasonble in comparison to where you live now!

Summers are hot and sticky, but if you’ve spent time in New Orleans you probably know what to expect.

Traffic can be pretty bad during rush hour if you’re going along a popular path. However, if you’re living in Sugarland then you can probably find a place to live nearby and not have to worry about it. During non-peak hours it’s not too bad.

Public transportation sucks, we have buses and one segment of light rail with more to come. But, it’s an uphill battle.

Housing prices are much, much cheaper than the bay area. The prices didn’t rise at the same rate as elsewhere which means they haven’t dropped as much. There are a ton of new development plus old homes. Lots tend to be decently sized, depending upon the neighborhood. Check out the HAR website to see what’s available.

I’ve never had a problem getting a job in software, Houston’s broadened it’s economy a lot since the oil crash of the 80’s.

There’s not much in the way of natural sights, for hiking you’ll need to drive an hour or two west, the beach is about an hour to the east, but Galveston doesn’t compare to the west coast. We have very nice museums and theaters, you should be able to find something you like. Houston is restaurant city and very international, name the food and you’ll find it.

It’s not as conservative as west Texas but not as liberal as Austin. However Tom Delay was the represenative for Sugarland. You’ll probably find the inner loop area more liberal than the suburbs.

I live in Houston. I’ve been here for two and a half years. Before that, just for reference’s sake, I lived in Utah for almost ten years. I grew up in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.

I will echo those who said the summers here are brutal. They really are. I spent two years in Ecuador, and the heat and humidity there, right on the fricking equator, had nothing on Houston in July.

Traffic pretty much blows nuts, but if you’re coming from the Bay Area, you’ve probably seen worse. Public transportation does not have a good reputation here, but the rail that serves the downtown area is pretty nice - I’ve used it to get to concerts and such.

However, it’s lovely out right now. 60, mild and breezy. And it never gets really, really cold.

I had some misconceptions of Houston before I moved here that were quickly dispelled. I think I was expecting the big cowboy hat, tumbleweed, Western vibe. Houston feels more Southern to me. 90% of the cowboy hats I see around town are on Mexicans.

Housing is very reasonable compared to Utah and the East Coast, and gas is still under $3 a gallon if you pick your station well.

There are some nice museums and art galleries here (I work in the Museum District, so I see them often).

Bear in mind Sugar Land is a little bit out of Houston proper. It’s a good bit more suburbia.

Never been to New Orleans, but that’s probably pretty close. About the same temp, almost as humid sometimes.

Traffic is unreal. It’s just ungodly. When the NFL was looking to put an expansion team there, my vote was for “the Houston Gridlock.”

It was close to nonexistant when I was there, but they have light rail now, so it may have improved somewhat.

Not sure about prices, but as far as housing it really runs the gamut, from stately Victorian homes with huge yards to boxy new lofts with no yards. In Sugar Land I’m going to guess it’s more new development, but I could be wrong on that.

Have to leave that for someone else,

I used to live in Montrose, which is historically the gay part of town. It was pretty funky, cool shops and the like. I spent a lot of time in Rice village nearby, especially in a little beer and wine pub (mostly beer) called the Gingerman. Both are close to Hermann Park, which has the Houston Zoo. Hermann Park is in the Museum District, which has oodles of museums. One of the most popular is the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which has the Cockrell Burrefly Center. It’s a big three story glass terraruim you can walk through that’s filled with tropical plants and butterflies. Everyone I know who’s been says it’s stunning. There’s lot’s more stuff, but I’ll have to think on it.

If you were moving inside the loop to Houston, I’d say you would likely be pleasantly suprised, but the 'burbs can be more conservative. You might have heard of Sugar Land’s previous Represntative, Tom DeLay.

If you move here, I would be honored to welcome you and your wife (if she wants to come along) to Houston with a round at the Ginger Man. It’s one of my two favorite bars in town, The Flying Saucer being the other.

By the way, feel free to PM me or respond in-thread if you have any more questions. I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton of stuff.

Incidentally, I’m a half-Asian, atheist, fairly left-leaning eastern Yankee, and I’ve never been treated anything but cordially by 99.9% of the people I’ve met here. Which is not to say these people don’t love them some Jeebus (you should see fricking Lakewood Church!), but that there’s still a big-city, cosmopolitan spirit here.

I’m constantly amused that the place I used to go see Ronnie James Dio and Ozzy Osbourne during high school is now a church.

Sugar Land is part of the greater Houston metropolitan area, but is pretty far from the actual city of Houston. (Obligatory Wikipedia article. And the city’s Official site.)

Our heat & humidity are legendary, but our winters are very mild. No earthquakes, & Sugar Land is far enough from the Gulf to avoid the worst hurricane destruction.

There is no public transportation in Sugar Land, The former Rep Tom DeLay was agin’ it; but modern Sugar Landers are interested. (Living just north of downtown & working just south, I commute to work via bus & light rail.)

In Sugar Land, most of the housing is probably newer than the 50’s tract housing–with larger lots. Closer in, there’s more variety.

I haven’t had to look for a job in years, but hear they can be had. However, they might be in other areas than Sugar Land. (We’ve got a huge Medical Center. And there’s NASA.)

Most of the “fun” stuff is closer to downtown. There are Big artistic ventures (opera, ballet, symphony, theater) & little ones (installation art in condemned warehouses, etc.) So you’ll have to drive. The terrain is pretty flat–not many natural wonders. Get in your car on the weekend & check out the Hill Country! And the Gulf is not far–although it’s hardly the Pacific!

Houston is amazingly diverse. Although Sugar Land is less economically varied, you can visit the Ashtalakshmi Temple. And there are Democrats, too.

Were you there between 1999-2003? If you were, it’s almost a certainty that we saw each other at the Ginger Man or Flying Saucer at some time or another, especially the G-Man.

If you live near downtown and work in Sugarland, you’ll be running opposite of the major traffic flow for the most part. Primary means of transport in Houston is your own vehicle. Freeway system is being expanded constantly, although hwy 59 from Sugarland to downtown may almost be out of that cycle for a little while. The major freeways system was expanded without adding any type of commuter rail system.

Housing prices will have you tap dancing as compared to the Bay Area. Sugarland is very similar to the area I live in the NW burbs. Lots of 3,000 sq ft brick two story homes in the $200k price range. Price doesn’t vary much between new and 20 year old. Property taxes will typically be in the $4k range. Also, speaking of taxes, Texas does not have a state income tax.

Restaurants are good all over the city. Of course there is a wealth of Tex-Mex places but a wide variety of others as well. I call this area a melding point between the Cajun, Mexican & Texas Cowboy cuisines. Southeast Texas geographically is much more akin to Louisiana than it is Western Texas.

If you do choose to live in Sugarland, the general population is pretty diverse. Manly composed of engineering and other white collar professionals.

If you like outdoor activities, there is good fishing available from the shore south of Galveston or out on Galveston Bay if you have a boat.

Nah, I didn’t get here until September 2005. :slight_smile:

I moved here in 76 when I was nine from Kentucky. I expected sagebrush and cactus. Houston is pine trees and air conditioning.

I really like Houston b/c it’s the place I feel is my home.

But, as you’re thinking of Sugarland, you’re thinking of the Houston Area.

Downtown Houston is where you go for museums etc and there are some good fun ones. Lots of fun funky areas like Rice Village and the Westheimer area. Also the oldest Art Car Parade, which is crazy fun.

And Houston AREA brings even more–and I’ll address that first. There is not much in the way of public transportation if you are used to the Bay Area. There is the downtown rail and park and ride and some metro bus service. You will HAVE to own a car.

Except for a few little enclaves, race really isn’t a that huge a deal. This isn’t a cowtown anymore and there are all kinds of people here. Racial/religious issues do crop up, but they do in any large city.

Harris County is a big Republican County, so you will have to deal with that on your own terms. There are plenty of Democrats and liberals and you just deal with who you meet. I’m a moderate, but in one of the bluest counties in the bluest states, and working in a very country suburb of Houston–I’m practically a damn Commie or something. I roll with it–find things with agree with, learn to hush when there is no point in starting a fight.

The summers are rough. The winters are great. Spring and Fall (Storm and Hurricane season can get a bit hairy.)
I like this place and though there are things I don’t like about it, of course. I feel like I’m home when I get here.

I like the people here in the Houston Metro Area a lot.

My 11 cents :slight_smile:
Ps: Houston also has some cool small museums–I recommend The Funeral Museum out on the Northside (off of FM 1960)

Go Here

I really like the in town areas with the big live oaks and older homes. The suburbs are pretty bland but you do get quite a bang for your buck.
Summer is really awful. Like New Orleans without a breeze. And it lasts so long…and NEVER cools off…no cool fronts…not at night…NEVER! Thankfully a/c is everywhere. Spring/winter/fall are nice tho.
The population has gotten very diverse…people from all over the world now, but you still run across the “good ol’ boy” texan now and then (especially in politics).
Overall, an ok place…but none of the magic the bay area has.

Moving from the Bay Area to Houston (Sugarland) could well be one of the greatest mistakes you make in your life.

I moved from Del Mar to Dallas (Plano) and lived there for 5 VERY LONG years.
Got out last summer and if I never go back it will be too soon.

Think very hard before you do this.

I don’t have a lot to add except that I used to live in New Orleans and have been to Houston several times. I have also been to San Francisco. Houston and New Orleans are probably the two hottest cities in terms of personal comfort in the U.S. They are to summer what northern Minnesota is to winter. You can’t ever truly get used to it but you can embrace the challenge and, as stated, everything is air conditioned. If you despise high heat and humidity, it may not be a good place for you.

Houston is the 4th biggest city in the U.S. and it has every group and everything else. However, I can’t think of many similarities between Houston and San Francisco other than they are both under the rule of the U.S. Constitution. Because it is such a huge, sprawling city, your best bet is to microfocus on a particular area that suits your desires. There will be parts that you hate and parts that you take to like a duck to water. Houston is huge geographically unlike San Francisco so you need to take personal logistics into account as well.

I lived in Houston between '92 and '94. I’m sure some things have changed, but I’m sure lots has stayed the same.
[ul]
[li]Houston may be the worst offender ever concerning urban sprawl. It seems to slowly encompass outlying towns like an amoeba. Last time I was there ('05, I think), it took 45 minutes to drive from one end to the other. On the highway. Doing 55 minimum the whole way.[/li][li]Housing was pretty cheap; in (or near) the loop, there are lots of gated complexes. There were very few actual houses in the areas I lived; I think you need to hit the outskirts to find them.[/li][li]IIRC, Houston is one of the few places in the country that has mixed zoning. Which is just strange if you’re not used to it.[/li][li]The restaurants are incredible. Really great food of all types. In fact, my wife is there this week for a conference out in Clear Lake – she’s gonna bring back a dozen or so rolls from The Black Eyed Pea (chain throughout the South). I wish she could pack a Whataburger back for me. Oh, and there was this place, Charlie’s I think, that we used to head to on Sunday morning to work off a hangover – Huevos Rancheros, many glasses of water, many cups of coffee, and a bloody Mary.[/li][li]Titty bars…ahemGentlemens clubs galore. When I was there, it had the highest number per capita in the country. But they’re not just dives; rather, they’re really well kept and I often didn’t realize they were there (until pointed out to me).[/li][li]Pretty excellent regular bars too – Gingerbread (already mentioned), The Black Lab, and Sherlock’s were my favorites. Sometimes, we’d head to the nearby “icehouse” for cheap Shiners and cheap pool.[/li][li]I arrived in the middle of August on a motorcycle. It’s not a joke to say that when you step outside, you’re immediately drenched in sweat.[/li][li]No public transportation to speak of (back then). Neat thing about the roads, though – hop on the nearest highway and it’ll get you within a few blocks of your destination. And I’ve never seen so many shiny cars (and trucks…can’t forget the trucks!); it was incredibly rare to see a vehicle with rust spots (except my roommate’s…he was from NY), and comparably rare to see a car wash that wasn’t churning. Of course, I’ve never lived in SoCal, so maybe that’s comparable.[/li][li]The museums are excellent. Rice University has a well-deserved reputation for excellence. The Arboreum was a neat place to go for a day of relaxation.[/li][li]The people are incredibly pleasant, at least from the perspective of someone coming from NJ. Of course, everyone outside of NJ is incredibly pleasant from that perspective.[/li][li]That said, people can be pretty messed up also. The Rockets won the NBA Championship when I was there – driving home on Westheimer Ave. that night sometime after 9pm, some idiots were hootin-and-hollerin, shooting their guns into the air from their pickups. No doubt the drive-thru alcohol stores (since made illegal, I believe) were a contributing factor.[/li][li]ROACHES! I’ve only been one place with a comparable roach population – Hawaii. They’re inescapable.[/li][/ul]
So, that’s my stream of consciousness memories. I hope that it provided some sort of gestalt and that you can gain some tidbit of useful info from it.

This is very TRUE and due to the near lack of public transportation this will mean driving. If you live in the Sugar Land area - no problem. If you decide to live in any other part of town, you will need to drive. From the Eastern Houston burbs, this would be a VERY LONG commute, without even considering normal traffic congestion or construction.

Living in the Montrose or Rice Univ area would be an OK commute as you would be opposite of primary traffic flow. You will find the housing costs in those areas are much higher than Sugar Land but you would be closer to much of the arts entertainment Houston has to offer. So basically, your choice - live close to work in fairly affordable housing and drive in to town for entertainment OR live close to entertainment in more expensive housing and face a 20 mile commute to work every day.

It’s a job possibility, certainly nothing close to a job offer yet. Part of the purpose of this thread is to gauge how juicy such an offer would have to be, and consequently how much I should get mt hopes up. I’d appreciate if you could elaborate on why you feel it was such a huge mistake.

Yes, this is literally true. The part of Houston I live in is full of “villages”: little incorporated towns that were once outliers of Houston, but are now completely engulfed by it. For example, Bunker Hill Village, TX and Spring Valley, TX are like little bubbles (wealthy ones at that!) that are bordered by Houston on all four sides. Which is confusing because they have their own police departments!

Houston sprawls because, unlike New York or San Francisco or most of the other largest cities in America, it isn’t directly bordered by water. Houston sprawls because it can.

I lived there between '01 and '03 and worked in Sugarland. I chose to live in rice village, nice place and the finest purveyor of beer (the Gingerman) is located there along with an excellent French bakery.
The commute out to sugarland was not bad, as others have mentioned, it was against traffic rather than with the traffic.
Good museums, theater, great symphony orchestra, and Downtown is pretty cool now.
If you like out doors stuff, well it is a bit of a hike, we would often go to some pretty good mountain biking ranches , a few hours out between Austin and Houston. Inside the city you are looking at indoor activities, there are some squash courts, gyms and a few indoor rock walls and the aforementioned Gingerman.
There is a flood of franchise restaurants in a box, but there are also some excellent independent outfits, well worth digging up.
It does take a while to find things and places as they are not centrally located and tend to be a bit spread out.
I actually quite liked the place in the end.
What is the Industry that you are working in? There is a fair bit of high end engineering and fabrication work plus high end electronics associated with the oil, gas and energy businesses.
Cheers
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