Houston is the country’s fourth-largest city, but for Chris Walter it still has that hometown feel, where everybody is very friendly and says hello. In his mind, moving to Houston should be an easy transition in a town with so much to offer!
After all, it’s not just the state-of-the-art museums or world-class performing arts centers that have elevated Houston to what locals dub the Culinary and Cultural Capital of the South.
“The people are super friendly. Southern hospitality is 100% a thing here,” said Walter, a regional manager who moved to Houston from New York less than a year ago.
It is a diverse city and the locals say it reflects in the restaurants. Houston is also called Space City, alas not for its many wonderful Houston Public Storage options, but because it is home to NASA's human space flight program. Though exciting and friendly, any new town might be a little daunting to a newcomer, so we’ve put together this guide with tips and tidbits to help you live like a local in no time after you move to Houston.
Living in Houston
Houston is among the best places to live and retire in the nation, “attracting new people from across the country and around the world,” according to a US News & World Report ranking. Cities are included based on cost of living, quality of life and the job market. Everyone we’ve talked to concurs.
It’s a place where there’s always something to do on the weekends, added Danielle LoPresti, a Public Storage area manager.
“Houston has a little bit of everything,” she said. “There’s great bars with outdoor seating and the music scene is really great. I love live music and the White Oak Music Hall is a great place to see an act.”
For a more family-friendly vibe, LoPresti suggests a picnic at Buffalo Bayou Park which offers a picturesque view of the city skyline. The winding, 160-acre green space is also a great spot to dust off the bike and take it for a ride. Or try one of the area food halls, with a mix of local artisan restaurants under one roof.
“They are a lot like food trucks but it’s more upscale and you don’t have to deal with the weather,” she said. “If you want a burger and your friend wants sushi, you can find it one place.”
The area’s 11 percent growth also has changed the local culture, making it more diverse and attracting more ethnic food, according to our team of experts. Lower home prices at $212,000 versus a national average of $306,000 contributed, according to Redfin.com, contributed to the growth. So did a business- and development-friendly culture. There are 22 companies on the Fortune 500 list calling the Energy Capital of the World home, and Houston’s unemployment rate was at 3.6 percent, according to latest figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission.
The city's growth helped Houston surpass Los Angeles and New York as the most ethnically diverse metropolitan city in the country in 2012, according to a report from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University.
More than 145 different languages are spoken here, according to an analysis of the U.S. Census data.
And as Houston’s acclaim and diversity grows, so does the quality of its cuisine. Internationally renowned chefs, including James Beard Award winners, have opened restaurants in the Bayou City.
Locals say the city’s restaurant scene features everything from unique fusion cuisine such as Vietnamese-Cajun or Korean barbecue.
Not exactly what comes to mind when you think of Texas food. Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of barbecue and steak eateries.
Walter said he has learned the difference between Tex-Mex and Mexican food (hint: it has to do with the ingredients), tried Vietnamese for the first time, and explored other cuisines. “The dining here is first-class,” he said.
As residents of other large cities can attest, prolonged low unemployment coupled with population growth can only lead to one thing, which brings us to the topic of traffic.
The south Texas metropolis is car-centric, and when Houstonians were asked about the biggest problem facing those living in the area, a majority choose traffic over issues such as the economy and crime, according to the Kinder Houston Area Survey from Rice University.
So keep in mind that as Houston continues to grow, so might the time you spend behind the wheel.
Exploring Houston Neighborhoods
With more than 2.3 million residents living across 650 sprawling square miles, Houston has a neighborhood for everyone, from the bachelor looking for his first studio apartment to the family of five settling into their forever home with all the amenities. And of course when you need a little extra room, Public Storage also has a lot of Houston storage space throughout the community. In fact, we’ve been expanding and improving our Houston storage options.
Locals say every neighborhood has its own hidden gems; you just got to dive in and explore.
Here’s just some areas you’ll want to keep in mind before you select your new neighborhood.
Living inside “The Loop” of the Interstate 610 beltway can offer some great benefits. You’ll be at the epicenter of activity, and can also cut down on your commute if your work takes you to the high rises of Downtown Houston. Another bonus: the area is home to pro sports teams like the Astros and Rockets. And there are some great local neighborhoods within this vast area.
Neighboring downtown, the area called Midtown Houston mainly accommodates those who prefer apartment and condo living. Our Midtown storage facility is the perfect place to tuck away extra furniture, bicycles, sports equipment or anything else you might need to store anywhere near downtown.
West of Midtown, the neighborhood known as Montrose is a four-square-mile artsy scene in the heart of the city where you can peruse art galleries, walk away with some unique thrift store finds, or lounge at one of the many local cafes. In the heart of the neighborhood, you’ll find Public Storage’s Neartown - Montrose facility where we offer everything from climate controlled units to parking spaces for RVs.
And heading just southwest of downtown you’ll find the Museum District, which rivals those in other major cities, boasting 19 cultural institutions all within blocks of one another. Our storage units on Main Street near the medical center are a very close option to that area.
If you’re looking for something with eclectic nightlife, then East Downtown, also known as EaDo, might be your spot. While it was once mostly industrial buildings and home of the city’s former Chinatown, this vibrant neighborhood is one of the fastest-growing areas in the city.
Those with a family may want to look in the greater Houston area in suburbs like Spring Branch, Richmond, or Humble. Here you’ll have the best options for schools. Luckily for you, we have two options in Humble that make it convenient to store away belongings. Our Humble storage units on Atascocita Road are perfect for storage recreation essentials or old office furniture. About six miles away is our Humble storage units on Sam Houston Parkway which features a mix of indoor, climate controlled storage units.
For luxury homes, your options include Highland Village and Memorial Park, to name a few.
No matter what neighborhood you chose, you won’t regret it, Walter said.
Prior to his move, he came on an exploratory visit to see the schools and neighborhoods. When he told people he was moving to Houston, many often told him: “Welcome home!”
Walter said he was happy to trade shoveling snow from his driveway for the 75-degree sunny Florida-esque climate he encountered in H-town in February.
“The weather is phenomenal — it’s like being on vacation,” he said. While summers here can be brutal, Walter said there’s no shortage of pools throughout city facilities to help.
On the bright side, one of the draws to living in the Energy Capital of the World: Your paychecks stretch a little further. Living costs are 26.3% below the top 20 metro average, according to the folks at Visit Houston.
No matter where you choose to settle down, you’ll likely have some nearby open space — Houston has nearly 53,000 acres of total park space.
“I would give Houston an A. It’s a growing city that embraces young families,” Walter said.
Choosing Houston Movers
If you’re looking to move in Houston, first verify you’re dealing with a company licensed in the state of Texas, says John Esparza, executive director of Southwest Movers Association, the largest moving association in the state.
With a click of your mouse, you can authenticate this information by simply logging onto to the website of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles or choosing a company recommended by the Southwest Movers Association. The association also has a handy guide of things to keep in mind during the various phases of your move.
As you prepare, research moving companies that can best suit your needs. You’ll also want to be very clear about the kind of items that will need to be moved, as well as the ones that need to be addressed with extra care.
Selecting the cheapest quote doesn’t always translate to the best deal. A moving company with experience and quality customer service can come at a cost.
“When you’re dealing with a mover, if the price is too good to be true, then it probably is,” says Esparza, who has heard nightmare stories from people who’ve had their items damaged or lost by inexperienced movers.
Here’s another red flag. If the moving company doesn’t offer to give you an estimate, then you’re probably dealing with a carrier that you’ll not be happy with at the end of the day.
It’s key to plan ahead, especially during moving season, which Esparza said begins in April, and by June is “going and blowing and doesn’t hit the brakes,” until mid-September or October.
When moving to a large city like Houston, Esparza proposes you take the time and talk to your movers for their advice and recommendations.
“They’ve been in every neighborhood, and they are really a strong resource,” he said. “They are going to give it to you straight up. It’s always good to have someone local that could share with you some insight about what’s happening in the neighborhood.”
You’ve chosen a company, now it’s time to learn how to develop the best moving checklist from none other than Public Storage and a Marine sergeant. Make sure you also know how to pack your cardboards boxes like an expert with these pro moving tricks from blog!
We also can’t forget our pets during this whole process. Be prepared with our fur-friendly moving tips to make it easier on the whole family.
We hope you enjoy your move to Houston. Just be sure to get out of your car and explore the area!