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Old 01-17-2009, 07:19 AM
 
53 posts, read 101,445 times
Reputation: 42

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I have never been to Houston, but I will surely make a trip before making the decision to move. I was looking for a world class city with a good mixture of people in terms of demographics - similar to Toronto, a large population and many companies (for jobs). The cold winters are something I could do without though. I hope Houston is the right choice. I have 3 questions.

1) Why do people consider Houston to be ugly? Having gone through the forum topics, some people refer to Houston as ugly. Any reason for that? From the images on google images, it seems like a nice green city...but then again, pictures don't necessarily tell the entire truth.

2) How often do you guys get hurricanes and how bad are they really? I know the media tends to blow things out of proportion at times.

3) I visited Las Vegas this past summer and the heat at 40 degrees celsius (104 fahrenheit) was somewhat bearable for short periods of time outside..but it was dry heat, and generally we went outside in the evenings to keep cool. I know Houston gets near those temperatures, but is it to the extent that you would spend many of their days indoors? This is pretty much what most of us do from Mid November to March in Toronto because it's cold. I personally love the outdoors and debating if I'll be spending 5 out of the 12 months indoors.
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:45 AM
 
Location: from houstoner to bostoner to new yorker to new jerseyite ;)
4,085 posts, read 11,220,884 times
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1) It's ugly off the freeways. There's no zoning so in some cases there are dilapidated buildings across the street from 400K houses. This is not true of all neighborhoods nor the newer, trendier suburbs. Sugar Land, for example, has very strict zoning. But the extremely wide surface streets and frontage roads littered with billboards and strip malls are probably the main reasons Houston is considered ugly today. In the past, I think it was considered ugly because when people thought about Houston they thought about the more heavily industrial east side where the refineries are. But Houston has some very nice areas, both in the city and in the suburbs, once you exit the freeways and start driving around the surface streets and exploring.

2) We had Ike last year and the last one before that was Alicia in 1983. Most of the city evacuated in 2005 for Rita because it came only a few weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans and people panicked, but Houston escaped major damage. The evacuation was itself a disaster, and more people actually died evacuating than would have died staying behind and sheltering in place. (Because of its path, Rita did wreak havoc on SE Texas and even parts of NE Texas along the Sabine River.) Bay Area Houston and the Galveston area to the southeast of the city are most susceptible to hurricanes, however much of the city is low-lying and there are lots of waterways, so Houston could take on serious damage if there were a hurricane strong enough. Whether you can live with having to deal with hurricanes (the season runs from June-November) is a call you have to make for yourself. I don't mind hurricanes because you have ample warning and time to prepare to evacuate, unlike with say, earthquakes.

3) Yes, it is to that extent. We don't exactly hole up during the summer, though. (Well, some of us do. ILNC, I'm looking at you. ) People drive everywhere here, and air-conditioning is readily available, so you end up going from your A/C car to your A/C destination. And you learn to get stuff done early in the mornings or later in the evenings so as not to be out in the heat of the day. But really, it's not the heat that gets you, it's the humidity!
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Old 01-17-2009, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
10,425 posts, read 43,516,050 times
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First thing I think of is since you said "move here" I assume you will be working and living here. Are you prepared to give up health care? If your real real lucky your employer will offer it but you will still pay out the azz. Texas has more uninsured residents then any other state. The good news is Texas has just about the best health care in the world. Just that no one can afford it.

I dont worry about hurricanes but Im an hour above Houston. Hurricane Rita blew the rocks (rip rap is the proper name) off the dam and my 93,000 lake dropped 4' in one day. After hurricane damage they just keep on rebuilding using the same method that didn't withstand the wind the first time. Some day they will figure out how to build properly so high winds have little to no affect on structures. Your only worry might be if your right on the Gulf water.

I dont think Houston is ugly. It's a big city and one could say all cities are ugly if you try and compare it with a nice residential neighborhood. By nice or ugly I might define as newer or older. Houston is not old like that cess pool New York City. Houston is on the newer modern side. But who says you have to live near that? There are so many nice residential areas all around Houston. You can take a thousand suggestions from us but in the end you have to be here to explore on your own.

Have you got the immigration thing in order? I moved to Canada (British Columbia) for one year about a dozen years ago and I know what I had to go through to enter and it got much harder to migrate since.

But as far as the weather you will enjoy the winters here. Summers can get uncomfortable but not has bad as people say. Where I moved from I saw high one teens to 120 degrees for 3 consectutive months during the summer. Rarely dropped below 100 during the night. So these summers are not so bad.

Good luck with the move.
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Old 01-17-2009, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Houston
129 posts, read 329,171 times
Reputation: 66
I've been to Toronto, its a wonderful city. Houston is comparable to Toronto only in how big it is and the skyscrapers, but that's where the similarities end. Somebody said something about health care earlier..it can be very very expensive. Though its expensive, but if you have the money you are arguably in the worlds best city to receive medical care.

Houston is Ugly to people not used to sprawl. The billboards along the freeways can be an eyesore. If you get off the freeways you will actually SEE Houston. Houston is a very different and a very new type of urban city. Houston has multiple skylines so that makes is look extra big. Don't expect a hustle and bustle type of city. Though the city is HUGE the lifestyle is quite different from Toronto. People like LOVE their cars too much here that's why we have a mediocre transit system (though it is in the process expanding big time), you'll see cars that seem like they have no tires...just riding on the wheels. its ridiculous to what extent people here go to for their cars.

Hurricanes are overhyped here for sure, they're just not as common as people think. You will absolutely HATE the heat once you arrive. Whenever my family from Chicago and Toronto come down they almost always find the heat as their number 1 problem with Houston.

Houston has its negatives but it definitely has that "Only in Houston" factor to it. Houston is a unique city...just gotta explore. Hope you enjoy your stay in H-town a.k.a. Space City a.k.a. Bayou City a.k.a. Clutch City (side note: T-mac is garbage)...we love our nicknames. best of luck.
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Old 01-17-2009, 01:05 PM
 
53 posts, read 101,445 times
Reputation: 42
Thanks everyone for your feedback. I think I will have to do some more exploring and will have to come down in order to see if it's where I might fit in.

Healthcare is definitely an issue, regardless where you go in the US. We're spoiled as Canadians. I will have to make sure everything is covered by insurance. Being healthy and under the age of 30, I don't foresee myself using healthcare services any more than I do in Canada (which is the occasional visit to the family doctor once a year or two years), but things do happen which are beyond your control and precautionary measures do need to be taken.

Again, haven't yet decided for sure if it's where I want to be...but will find out more on the city and hopefully I'll visit over a weekend and see if it's where I wan to live.
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Old 01-19-2009, 01:59 PM
 
169 posts, read 710,763 times
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If you don't have dual citizenship, coming and living down here can be problematic. It is hard for Canadians to emmigrate here because of a bilateral agreement to stop the 'brain drain'. You will most likely need an employer to sponsor you, and the entire process takes years.

I love it in Houston. It is no more spread out than Toronto, however it doesn't really have a park-and-walk-around downtown like TO. Just like TO, it has a china town (or 2 or 3), an Indian area, a "Younge St." area, a Mississauga like area, etc. Public transportation here is far less organized and far less used by the masses. You will drive most places you want to go.

Comparing the two, you will get a ton more house for your money, the cost of living is far cheaper, and you will have more of your paycheck to spend. With a few exceptions, I feel safer in Hou than in TO. I had my car broken into 2x in TO (once at a mall and another at my house), but I've not had any problems like that here. Cars cost a fraction of the price here. Groceries and clothing are substantially cheaper.

As far as weather, in TO - you are inside for most of the winter, running from heated building to heated building. In Hou, you run from A/C to A/C during the summer. If you are skiiers and really craving the snow - flights are always very cheap from here to Colorado. Bugs are not usually bad in Hou. The only thing I don't like are fire ants - and so we put down stuff in our yard to kill them. I've been here for 11 yrs and have never seen a snake or a poisonous spider. My DH has seen a couple of snakes and an aligator our on the bayou, but for most people - you'd have to go looking for that. Mosquitoes are just the same here. Some parts of town get them thick - the way Wasaga Beach does, others don't seem to get a lot. The nicest part of living in Texas is enjoying the winters - absolutely beautiful!

As far as your questions, Hou is not ugly. I think it looks a lot like TO in fact. I don't live in a barrio though, so I don't see a lot of the poverty areas in my neck of the woods.

In 11 yrs, I've seen 2 hurricanes and 1 bad tropical storm. The tropical storm caused the most amount of damage. Either way, not a big deal. Just don't buy a house in an area of town that floods. Our neighbourhood only lost power for a few hours during the last storm.

Houston does not have a dry heat, they have a muggy heat (like TO) - but they also get the gulf breezes. I spent a year in Dallas (dry), and then moved here, and it is no contest. Houston weather is much more tolerable. If you are living in a small apartment, then Hou summers could suck, but if you are living in a house and have access to swiming pools, nature trails, tennis courts, etc. then you will have a fine ol' time. My hubby cycles 50+ miles most days, and he just does it early on the really hot days. You just adapt.
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Old 01-19-2009, 02:13 PM
 
1 posts, read 5,124 times
Reputation: 10
Default Transplant myself & dating canadian

Well the heat will probably keep you in during July and August or in the pool. Economy is fantastic, always work to be had if you want to. Crime is not good in city, but nobody lives in the city. Far N.W and S.E. are good. Don"t let people trick you into living downtown or inner city villages that are surround by crime implouding on them. LIve in outer towns like Clearlake, Tomball,Cypress, Sugarland, Atascacita. Not very green and HOuston likes to claim to have a lot to do, but they have nothing. However CLearlake, Nasa, Galveston, Conroe, Brazos bend all are great and 30-60 minutes from downtown and closer if you live out there.
People can't drive and freak out if a raindrop hits there windshield let alon icy conditions. BUT REALLY ITS A GOOD PLACE TO LIVE ON THE OUTSKIRTS AND MONEY IS GOOD SO YOU CAN ENJOY THE SURROUNDING ACTIVITIES. Cruise ships leave out of galveston, tubing or rafting down guadalupe river. Boating on Lake Conroe and Nightlife everywhere.
Houston Independent school district is the worst. so stay out of it to live also. Remember follow a delinquent home and you find a bigger delinquent.



Quote:
Originally Posted by rx81 View Post
I have never been to Houston, but I will surely make a trip before making the decision to move. I was looking for a world class city with a good mixture of people in terms of demographics - similar to Toronto, a large population and many companies (for jobs). The cold winters are something I could do without though. I hope Houston is the right choice. I have 3 questions.

1) Why do people consider Houston to be ugly? Having gone through the forum topics, some people refer to Houston as ugly. Any reason for that? From the images on google images, it seems like a nice green city...but then again, pictures don't necessarily tell the entire truth.

2) How often do you guys get hurricanes and how bad are they really? I know the media tends to blow things out of proportion at times.

3) I visited Las Vegas this past summer and the heat at 40 degrees celsius (104 fahrenheit) was somewhat bearable for short periods of time outside..but it was dry heat, and generally we went outside in the evenings to keep cool. I know Houston gets near those temperatures, but is it to the extent that you would spend many of their days indoors? This is pretty much what most of us do from Mid November to March in Toronto because it's cold. I personally love the outdoors and debating if I'll be spending 5 out of the 12 months indoors.
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Old 01-19-2009, 09:11 PM
 
134 posts, read 286,146 times
Reputation: 83
I think it totally depends on your perspective. If you are looking for anything like the "city," urban feeling of Toronto I would basically forget what legfixr is saying; you will HATE the suburbs here and, honestly, you probably won't like the city in general. It's a VERY sprawling place. I know Calgary gets a bad rap in Canada for being this sprawling mess of a city. Well, take Calgary, drop the decent public transit, mountains and beautiful scenery and multiple the sprawl by at least three-fold and you have Houston.

As far as the general ugliness of the place...I personally think generally Houston is an ugly city but it is really about personal choice. The areas in and around the highway are absolutely obnoxiously ugly (giant billboards, strip malls, parking lots, giant inflatable things on top of buildings, etc). Unlike many cities, Houston doesn't seem to do anything to damper the visuals of the highway. If anything, they seem to make it worse.

Once you get off the highways, it is hit or miss. Personally I find the burbs here pretty bland but I guess you could say that about all suburbs in the US. Parts in and around River Oaks and around Rice University are pretty nice but after visiting friends over the holidays in other cities you start to figure out that they are just typical of nice, upper-end neighborhoods. I suspect part of the reason they seem so nice in Houston is because so many parts of the rest of the city are so ugly.

The economy is fairly strong here (comparable to Alberta) but what with oil prices in a nosedive, I suspect the pain is going to hit Houston this coming year. But, for now, it is in better shape than other cities in the US.

Keep in mind that one of the big reasons people move to Houston is so they can buy a big house and have children. Culture, walkable neighborhoods, transit, entertainment, unique neighborhoods, etc. all fall behind the search for the big house and the big yard for the kids. The city has historically catered almost exclusively to this demographic which is part of the reason, for example, the city lacks things like transit, unique neighborhoods, etc. By all means visit the city. There are positives here, especially if you have decent job prospects. But keep in mind that if you are not of the mind for the big house in the burbs for the family, this might not be the city for you.

And ps...Houston's Chinatown is really nothing like your traditional Chinatowns in other cities. It is basically a bunch of strip malls. Again...ugliness.
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Old 01-20-2009, 05:43 AM
 
114 posts, read 150,664 times
Reputation: 56
Just my 2 cents in the matter---we have lived in London (UK), Barcelona, Seattle, Miami, Boston, and on and on, and right now we are in houston for one more month, and as others have said, Houston is not a pretty place; don't get me wrong, there are a couple of nice areas with beautiful homes in the city, but overall, if I had to choose, I would not choose Houston as a place to move and live in permanently. I just had a friend visit me this past weekend from Seattle, and his comment was, 'how come all these places have all these metal bars and fencing around them?' I hadn't noticed that myself, but that could be another reason as to why this city ain't the prettiest; the people however, are very nice and polite.
By the way, here is a nice article that was in the news last november and that could maybe answer my friend's question....

Thousands of inmates admit they're in the U.S. illegally, but even those convicted of violent crimes are often released right back onto Houston's streets
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/6115223.html
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Old 01-21-2009, 08:59 AM
 
53 posts, read 101,445 times
Reputation: 42
Mirjaja, actually I think under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), I just need a TN Visa to work, which takes a whole 5 minutes to get at the border if I have a letter of offer for work. I don't think it would be a problem for me to transfer over the Houston office of the company where I work already. Sponsorship is mainly for countries outside of North America.

I am in the suburbs of Toronto in Mississauga. I personally like the look and feel of a new area which is spread out and yes the main reason I'm considering Houston is the cheaper cost of living as opposed to Toronto. The lower income taxes go a long way and I'd be able to afford a cardboard box here in Toronto for 350-400k and you get a heck of a lot more in Houston for that money. For someone who's ready to settle down and start a family, I think I could probably do it a little more comfortably in Houston as opposed to Toronto.

In my research, it seems Houston is one of the few US cities that haven't had as big of an impact by the economic conditions. If the ugliness is just the billboards etc. on the side of the highways with strip malls and balloons, I really don't care for that. We have plenty of those in Toronto as well. As long as they're not all over residential areas, I really don't mind.

Thanks for all your input.
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