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Old 05-25-2007, 12:41 PM
 
1,008 posts, read 2,826,507 times
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Hello Everyone,

I'm considering moving to Houston and would like to get some honest info from the locals as to the overall quality of life in this city. I did a lot of research but everyone seems to have scattered views so it's been difficult to reach common ground. Then the magazines/travel journals/Houston web sites promote "tourist locations" etc., so I figure if anyone knows best it would be you, the locals, those that can give the real deal.

A little about myself: Presently residing in California with excellent weather year round, but am being forced to move due to the ENORMOUS cost of living, especially with housing/apartment rentals. I'm starting over in life, yeah we all have to go through it, one time or another, so this happens to be my time.

What I'm seeking: To finish my Degree in Business Administration/Marketing at a local community college and then transfer to a four year state school. Schools should be good, they don't need to be the best but good. I'd like to rent a studio or one bedroom, preference for the latter, in a decent neighborhood. An "artsy/bohemian" community in the "city" would be best as I can't stand the Suburbs, probably since I grew up in them. The more multi-cultural the better. Don't mind the hookers and the homeless as they are common with big city life. I DO mind gangs and areas known for heavy violence/ghetto. A strong economy and low cost of living w/ wide availability in low cost apartments is important. And the weather? Is it really as bad as people say? Ok, lie to me if you have to...lol

Anyhow, that's about it for now. Thanks for taking the time to read. I look forward to hearing you so that I can make a better decision. Right now, money is a real issue. So I'm split between Houston, Atlanta and Portland.

 
Old 05-25-2007, 12:59 PM
 
Location: Houston, TX
832 posts, read 2,728,892 times
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For artsy bohemian, check out the Montrose, MidTown, The Heights in Houston. As I type, the weather is 82 with 59% humidity. Winters are mild. Storms in the spring/summer are common. You can complete your studies at a local JC and transfer to University of Houston or Texas A&M in College Station ( a couple of hours North.)
 
Old 05-25-2007, 01:16 PM
 
Location: from houstoner to bostoner to new yorker;)
4,085 posts, read 8,523,528 times
Reputation: 1858
You'll get mixed reviews because some Houstonians have an inferiority complex. The city doesn't really have an established identity yet, but I think one is beginning to emerge. It's come a long way in the past 25-50 years and what it has been able to accomplish in that short of time is pretty great, IMO.

I've moved around a bit, but I always seem to come back here because I've found that what is available in other cities is available in Houston, usually in spades and for cheaper. I'm a cheapskate like that. Quality of life is great. There's a lot of variety here, something for everyone. Life in Houston is what you make it.

The city itself is Democratic and I think even the Republicans are more libertarian than conservative, with the exception of some of the more affluent areas. I think kinda like what you'll find on this board everyone is pretty live and let live. Nobody gets that "shook up" about anything around here. I think it's partly because it's in Texas and we're naturally friendly, but also because of the city's sprawling nature, lack of zoning, pro-business environment, and entrepreneurial spirit. Plenty of room for everyone. The unintended consequence of the lack of zoning has led to a haphazard look in some areas, but you can also sneak up on some interesting diversions quite unexpectedly in the most unlikely of places. Lots of hidden treasures here. This is one of the aspects of Houston I love the most.

I have a lot of friends who are natives who have moved over the years, mostly to New York. There aren't that many other cities they'd consider moving to permanently. Many miss Houston like the dickens and quite a few come back. I love it here, warts and all.
 
Old 05-25-2007, 01:39 PM
 
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I totally agree. You can't judge a city by what "outsiders" say or feed in to stereotypes. Some people say that Houston is extremely dangerous!! Well, I have never been there but can tell you after living in NY, Chicago and LA you can handle just about anything. Still it's important to know what areas present a "higher risk"

Ideal situation would be a 500-600sq ft apt. withing "walking distance" to a "good" community college in a decent area of the city. Somewhere that's walking distance to everything, like movie theaters, parks, cafe's. Artist communities with a multi-cultural mix are ideal. Your suggestions? What's the going rate for an apartment that size in a "down to earth" community?

How's the public transit system in Houston?

P.S. The Texans I've known have been very helpful and would go out of their way to help you in a heartbeat. I think Texas has a very bad rep for being a hardcore Republican state, show no mercy, pro war/Bush, capital punishment etc. I know many people who don't move to Texas as a result of the Bible belt image of intolerance. Anyhow, my motto is simple, respect everyone and be a good American.
 
Old 05-25-2007, 01:52 PM
 
1,008 posts, read 2,826,507 times
Reputation: 239
I'll definetely check out "Montrose, Mid-Town and the Heights"...Have you lived in those communities? How's the availability of good priced apartments?

My research indicates that "housing" costs and cost of living in Houston is lower than any metropolitan city in the U.S. But what about "apartments"? as I'm not looking to purchase a house, at least not yet, also heard property taxes are astronomical.
 
Old 05-25-2007, 04:08 PM
 
Location: Houston, TX
832 posts, read 2,728,892 times
Reputation: 195
I've done my urban living in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland. I live in a rather affluent suburb right now. Property taxes are high as far as a % but are on par in actuall $$$ (at least compared to California and the East Coast) because the property costs are so much lower.
 
Old 05-25-2007, 04:09 PM
 
Location: where nothin ever grows. no rain or rivers flow, TX
2,028 posts, read 5,756,684 times
Reputation: 421
you will get more studying done in houston personally i'm glad I spent my younger years somewhere else.
I like houston, dont get me wrong. I think its healthy to sleep early and places of entertainment not coming to you (you have to find them)
 
Old 05-25-2007, 05:42 PM
 
Location: from houstoner to bostoner to new yorker;)
4,085 posts, read 8,523,528 times
Reputation: 1858
Yeah, you will have to seek out your entertainment here. It won't be at your doorstep exactly, but it's not at all hard to find.

Those are the neighborhoods you'll want. You can try some other Inner Loop neighborhoods like Eastwood and the Museum District. You may even be able to find a relatively inexpensive garage apartment in Rice Village. Look for posts by modster. He's got more in-depth recommendations for Inner Loop neighborhoods.

If you're considering community colleges, you may want to look into the University of Houston-Downtown. It's an open-enrollment university conveniently located -where else?- downtown. They recently expanded the campus and added a very nice-looking new building, and it's on Main Street where the light rail line originates. There's a lot of revitalization happening in that area that's exciting to watch, but I digress. I've known people who have gone there for a couple semesters and later transferred into the main University of Houston campus (University Park in Third Ward, not that far away). There are other satellite UH campuses around Houston. For community colleges there's the Houston Community College System, but generally speaking I don't think the quality is as good as community colleges in California. This may depend on which campus you're on however. The Central campus in Midtown always struck me as somewhat scuzzy, but I haven't actually seen it in years so take that with a grain of salt. That may have changed. I don't know for sure, but I think North Harris Community College District and San Jacinto are superior community college systems to HCC. The only catch is that most of their campuses are in the suburbs.
 
Old 05-25-2007, 07:03 PM
 
1,008 posts, read 2,826,507 times
Reputation: 239
Yes, I agree, the system for higher education is very good in California. Right now I'm trying to finish my Business/Marketing degree and it's been very difficult to focus on with the cost of living influx. Here's the bottomline, apartments in California start at $900 and up. A decent one bedroom will run $1,200 per month. However, get this, community colleges cost $20 per unit, yes, you heard right, and they are quality with a strong cultural vibe.

Too be honest, I love California, there is so much culture here. The weather is excellent (year round), good schools, economy sucks but that's the norm all across the U.S., at least it seems that way. The big problem is RENT. If you can't afford a roof over your head then everything else falls apart, so affordable housing is priority. This is a major crisis in California and NY. You have all the ammenities that you can ask for but the cost of living does not equate to your work compensation. I'm not one to "city hop" so I want to settle down and live my life out in a city that's not going to squeeze my pocketbook dry.

Here's what I know so far, weather in Houston averages 70 degrees except for the summer where it can get up to 90 degrees w/relatively high humidity. (The humidity) stinks but I can cope. Property taxes are high (supposed 4%) but that's fine for now, since I'm not shooting for home purchase. No state sales tax! Good. Major Schools Rice and Univ of Houston. I'm leaning more towards Univ of Houston. Rice is just too expensive and I'm not in to the whole yuppie thing. So, what remains is certain key concerns..

The Public Transit system...Very important as I hate to drive.
Would like to find an Apartment near Univ of Houston Downtown.
How much would a one bedroom or studio run?
Blacks, Gays, Hispanics, Liberals, Republicans...blah, blah, blah, don't really care as I love all good people. Afterall, we're all trying to get through this life in one piece.

Anything other than Suburbs will do...I'm a big city person with a suburban temperment. In other words, I like close access to everything...laundry mats, movie theaters, (thrift stores)...please say yes??? Anything that's small and undiscovered. 2nd hand theaters, small cafe's...places where you can "talk" get to know people. I'm NOT in to the club/bar scene. It's too fake and boring. I'm at a point in my life where I really want to settle down and make a life for myself.

If I can find a one bedroom appartment for like $500-600 in a nice multiracial community (in the city), close to community college and ideally close to work I would be very happy. As mentioned before, I have no problems with prostitutes or homeless, but gangs/ghetto/projects I want to avoid at all costs. How would you describe Southwest Houston in comparison to Motnrose/MidTown area?

Please feel free to share your thoughts and recommendations, with regards to a location that would best suit my interests. Also, while we're talking about the economy, how much would you need to make per yr (median) in order to live somewhat comfortably in Houston? Figure living in the city, being budget conscious but not fanatical, and just being able to splurge once in a while. Thanks...
 
Old 05-25-2007, 07:46 PM
 
61 posts, read 253,595 times
Reputation: 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by BearBranch View Post
For artsy bohemian, check out the Montrose, MidTown, The Heights in Houston. As I type, the weather is 82 with 59% humidity. Winters are mild. Storms in the spring/summer are common. You can complete your studies at a local JC and transfer to University of Houston or Texas A&M in College Station ( a couple of hours North.)
Though I totally agree with first part of this statement about Montrose, Midtown, and the Heights, the second part of this statement is misleading. Though it is presently 82 and low humidity; this is a fluke

Bottomline, Houston is vey hot and humid. Lets not pretend otherwise. 95 and 95% humidity is quite normal here.

Also, throw in the Rice Village for some more culture and/or outtings.
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