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Old 05-29-2007, 02:16 PM
 
1,008 posts, read 3,732,526 times
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I'm looking to make a big move at the end of this year to wither Portland or Houston and need your help. I'm a Californian who's lived in Chicago as well as have seen many people on this board compare the two cities, stating that they are "very similar." Now, I can speak for Chicago but can't for Houston. So I figure if you can give me an idea of how Houston ties in to Chicago I can get a better feel for what life in Houston is actually like.

I'm trying to picture how Chicago's social/liberal scene ties in to a southern conservative bible belt state? Apparently, nearly everyone seems to have the same impression of Texans, that they are wonderful people, very nice and all BUT madly conservative about every social issue and thus as a result Texas has very strict laws, harsh sentencing and has the highest prison population in the U.S. This is what people are telling me and it's frightening because I believe Texas, especially Houston deserves a chance. You're made to feel that unless you're a hardcore conservative you don't belong in Texas because Texas is about living "according to scripture"...because George Bush said so....LOL

Seriously though here are some facts:

Chicago- More expensive than Houston but nothing like CA or NY.
Unbeatable culture of entertainment, architecture, music and dining.
Excellent Transportation system ... bus/rail round the clock.
Impossible to be bored and cost of living is moderate.
Economy could be better but it's making a comeback.
Racism? Yes, certain areas, mainly in the burbs but still uncommon.
Heart of Chicago-Melting pot of race and cultures. People get along.

Houston-Much lower cost of living.
Spread out as opposed to Chicago everything is built up. No urban sprawl.
Houston-stronger economy
Both cities offer a variety in employment, maybe a bit more in Chicago.
Houston- long way to go with the public transit system.

Personally, I don't see how these two cities compare other than the fact that they're both very large. Chicago is a hub fro immigrants as well. So you have people from all over the globe that immigrated to this city. Not sure where Houston stands. It seems that the social, political and economic climate as well as cost of living is very different between the cities.

I loved Chicago when I lived there and if Houston has strong similarities then it would make my choice between Portland easier. Only I don't understand where people are coming up with the two cities as being near identical.

Your thoughts?
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Old 05-29-2007, 02:24 PM
 
Location: Phoenix metro
20,005 posts, read 69,434,810 times
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Really, the only things I saw in Houston that reminded me of Chicago was pro sports teams and the population stats. Downtown Houston is ok, nice light rail system, but nothing compared to Chicago. I really cant compare the two areas because I didnt spend any time in Houston's burbs for comparison. I do however love Chicago's burbs, theyre my fave.
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Old 05-29-2007, 02:39 PM
 
Location: In God
3,073 posts, read 10,771,034 times
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While it stands the highest and is the most noticeable, downtown Houston isn't at all the highlight of the city. Um, Supernova, I wasn't aware that Houston's economy was stronger than Chicago's. ? While New York and Chicago has a lot of their attractions in the downtown area, it's more spread out with Houston. Downtown is pretty but a bad representation of the city.
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Old 05-29-2007, 03:26 PM
 
1,008 posts, read 3,732,526 times
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That's exactly my point. What's the comparison everyone makes as being the "most comparable city" to Houston. Houston is spread out and Chicago is not.
In Chicago you have "pockets" neighborhoods that are "distinctly different" and have a culture all to themselves. Yeah Houston's economy is at 2.63% new jobs while Chicago's dropped but that's how it is in most cities, though I think Chicago I doing a bit better than CA and NY. But let's really look at these two cities and analyze WHY people feel that they're similar.

I'm getting the impression that they are anything but that. Chicago's downtown is beautiful but the real culture and entertainment is in the "small communities" Downtown..Is for those with MONEY. How about everything else about the two cities?
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Old 05-29-2007, 04:05 PM
 
Location: Phoenix metro
20,005 posts, read 69,434,810 times
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I dont know how spread out Houston is, I didnt get to see it all. Chicago is spread out in a HUGE area, probably a good 60 miles from the lakefront to the edge of the booming western burbs and from Gary up to the northern suburbs is probably another good 60 miles Id imagine...

Chicago itself is staying strong, economy wise. Some jobs have been lost due to relocation to the suburbs or out of country. The suburbs seem to be 100% AOK, lots of new businesses and corporations setting up shop. We're in a good spot in the country, centrally located, with hundreds of railways and 2 airports, hence the business attraction.
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Old 05-29-2007, 04:33 PM
 
609 posts, read 2,722,676 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supernova7 View Post
That's exactly my point. What's the comparison everyone makes as being the "most comparable city" to Houston. Houston is spread out and Chicago is not.
In Chicago you have "pockets" neighborhoods that are "distinctly different" and have a culture all to themselves. Yeah Houston's economy is at 2.63% new jobs while Chicago's dropped but that's how it is in most cities, though I think Chicago I doing a bit better than CA and NY. But let's really look at these two cities and analyze WHY people feel that they're similar.

I'm getting the impression that they are anything but that. Chicago's downtown is beautiful but the real culture and entertainment is in the "small communities" Downtown..Is for those with MONEY. How about everything else about the two cities?
This goes back to my argument of the traditional northern cities with urban cores and the sunbelt cities (Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, LA). These cities are designed differently. Not as dense, not as compact. THese cities rely on freeways rather than rail. It depends on what you want. Houston is great for its low cost of living, buying large houses. Population wise, it's the 4th largest city in the country in a just barely above 2 million people, but the 6th largest MSA in the country in at 5.5 million.
Atlanta just clears 5 million people in its metro, but only has 480,000 people in the city limits. DFW has 6.04 million with Dallas proper having roughly 1 million.

Chicago proper in at 2.8 million, but metro Chicago raises up to 8-9 million.

But at the end of the day, it comes to preferences, do you like the urban core, walking city? or do you like the low cost of living, nicer weather, great freeway infrastructure, and the convenience of strip malls?

The sunbelt cities are nice b/c of weather and b/c people prefer that type of living as opposed to the cities like NY, Chicago, Philly, Boston, Wash DC...the traditionally built cities.

There's positives to both....personally I prefer the sunbelt. I just plainly do not like subzero temps or extended winters. I'm originally from the Midwest...been there done that....now in DFW for 4 years and quite happy. Both DFW and Houston have one of the strongest economies in the country. Cost of living compared to our northern cities with similar populations are hands down cheaper. Both cities have 20+ Fortune 500 companies headquartered here. Both have great air access...DFW is the world headquarters of both Southwest and American. Houston is the world headquarters of Continental, the number 1 rated legacy carrier.
Both are adding roughly 1 million per decade to their MSA's...Houston should overtake Philly by the end of the decade, and DFW will continue to inch up and close the gap between Chicago MSA and DFW MSA.

I do like Chicago...of the traditional northern cities, I probably rate Chicago the best (if weather is not a factor). This would include DC, NYC, Boston, SF, Philly, Detroit, St. Louis, Seattle, Cleveland. CHicago is clean, and if you like the walkable high dense urban core, then Chicago is a nice place.

But for sunbelt cities, all of them are nice....I do prefer Texas though...so DFW and Houston are up there...
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Old 05-29-2007, 04:44 PM
 
766 posts, read 2,270,570 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve-o View Post
I dont know how spread out Houston is, I didnt get to see it all. Chicago is spread out in a HUGE area, probably a good 60 miles from the lakefront to the edge of the booming western burbs and from Gary up to the northern suburbs is probably another good 60 miles Id imagine...

Chicago itself is staying strong, economy wise. Some jobs have been lost due to relocation to the suburbs or out of country. The suburbs seem to be 100% AOK, lots of new businesses and corporations setting up shop. We're in a good spot in the country, centrally located, with hundreds of railways and 2 airports, hence the business attraction.
Houston has more of a boom-and-bust type of economy. When the energy industry is on an uptick, as it is now, then Houston's growth is extremely fast. On the other hand, hiring will slow down considerably if the energy industry is in a down-cycle. Chicago has a diversified economy, meaning that it won't have the boom periods that you'll see in Texas with energy or California with tech but the down periods aren't as pronounced.

All in all, though, I don't see how Houston is really comparable to Chicago. Atlanta, Charlotte and even Dallas (although I'm sure Houston natives don't want to hear that) are much more applicable comparisons as decentralized Sunbelt cities. I've always thought that Chicago is more comparable to East Coast cities than even other Midwestern cities, much less those in the Sunbelt.
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Old 05-29-2007, 05:02 PM
 
Location: In God
3,073 posts, read 10,771,034 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank the Tank View Post
Houston has more of a boom-and-bust type of economy. When the energy industry is on an uptick, as it is now, then Houston's growth is extremely fast. On the other hand, hiring will slow down considerably if the energy industry is in a down-cycle. Chicago has a diversified economy, meaning that it won't have the boom periods that you'll see in Texas with energy or California with tech but the down periods aren't as pronounced.
Not quite. Houston is a major medical city. As a matter of fact, the medical center is the city's leading employer, plus, an entire skyline is due to that area of business. No offense, but this idea going around that Houston is primarily a oil/energy city needs to be put to rest.

Really, the only areas that I see Houston and Chicago comparable are...

Population size
Huge skyline
International melting pot
Very large city proper
Exclusive lifestyle
Thriving black culture (which is probably the most recognizable)
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Old 05-29-2007, 06:06 PM
 
609 posts, read 2,722,676 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpope409 View Post
Not quite. Houston is a major medical city. As a matter of fact, the medical center is the city's leading employer, plus, an entire skyline is due to that area of business. No offense, but this idea going around that Houston is primarily a oil/energy city needs to be put to rest.

Really, the only areas that I see Houston and Chicago comparable are...

Population size
Huge skyline
International melting pot
Very large city proper
Exclusive lifestyle
Thriving black culture (which is probably the most recognizable)

I agree, Houston has learned to diversify its economy. The medical center is the largest in the country. It's home to household names such as Baylor and MD Anderson. UT Houston is upping its reputation as well. Houston has the 3rd largest skyline in the country behind Chicago and NYC. It has 2 mllion in its proper limits as opposed to Chicago's 2.8 million. Though the Chicago MSA is considerably bigger...twice that of Houston's.
Both cities are culturally diverse.

I do believe Houston flies under the radar more than Chicago as Chicago has more international name recognition, its skyline is 5 times the size of Houston despite Houston's #3 ranking.....which means there are only 2 cities in the US that among the top 10 largest skylines in the world: NYC and Chicago, it's an "Alpha" world city as opposed to Houston's "gamma" ranking.

On the international scale, Chicago, LA, NYC are the "Big 3".

Having said all that, I do believe Houston is on the rise, it's elevating its status as each year goes by, and will be a major player in the future along with some of the other sunbelt cities. Proof of the rise of the sunbelt came when Atlanta was chosen for the Olympics. Over the next decades, you're going to hear a lot more of names like Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Phoenix....their growth is phenomenol...and as the northern cities continue to stagnate as a whole....you're going to continued elevation of status of these cities. It wasnt long ago when household names at the turn of the 20th century was St. Louis (formerly America's 4th largest city), Philadelphia, etc.

So I do foresee that the 21st century will be the continued rise of the Sunbelt. As in previous posts, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas are adding roughly a million people per decade...some argue it's due to immigration, but I will argue also that a large percentage of that is coming at the expense of the Northern municipalities.

Reasoning: jobs, low cost of living, nice winters, tolerable summers ever since air conditioning became available wide spread, more free market oriented economies, more modern structures. America's preferences are changing.

Now I'm not saying that chicago isnt growing, it's bucking the trend obviously...but just not as fast as the sunbelt as a relative rate. Chicago's MSA is now up to 9.5 million people. It's not small. It's huge. Only LA and NYC have more....but then again, LA is more of a sunbelt city rather than a traditional northern city...and thus Chicago, be it smaller than LA has more the traditional city feel to it. But with DFW and Houston at 6.03 and 5.5 million and climbing at its fast rate, it's conceivable over the next half century that it will catch Chicago, and surpass. I do not believe DFW or Houston will catch LA or NYC anytime soon though.

Anyway, food for thought.
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Old 05-29-2007, 06:58 PM
 
Location: Houston, TX
832 posts, read 3,557,878 times
Reputation: 210
..and the majority of Houston's economy is not oil/energy related.
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