- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Houston Guide (PDF)
New arrivals to Houston may find this former Western Frontier's urban sprawl overwhelming at first. For starters, it is the fourth-largest city in the US, and the wider metropolitan area has a population of close to 7 million people. That said, this Texan giant has much to offer its residents, with a good quality of life, plenty of job opportunities, a warm climate and endless things to see and do.
Living in Houston
The city has undergone a revitalisation in recent years that's engendered a buzz of innovative restaurants, quirky art galleries and a cultural consciousness that's transforming blighted neighbourhoods into attractive residential and entertainment areas. As a result, newcomers to Houston will find that the city is what they make of it.
Those coming to work can take comfort in an economic climate that's known for its enterprising spirit. The energy capital of Texas is home to several Fortune 500 companies and, aside from oil and gas, sectors like IT, business services, aerospace, medical and biotechnology attract workers from around the world.
Its extensive system of superhighways makes getting around effective but not always so efficient. Rush hour traffic is admittedly an issue. New arrivals are likely to need their own car since public transport is slow and doesn't extensively service the Greater Houston area.
Healthcare in Houston is excellent. Boasting one of the best medical centres in the world, Houston attracts people from around the country seeking medical treatment. It has been said by many locals and newcomers alike that, if they get sick, Houston is the place to be.
Cost of living in Houston
Although Houston is one of the USA's major capitals, it is far cheaper than the likes of New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. With almost everything being more affordable in Houston than other parts of America, newcomers will have more money to spend on enhancing their quality of life and lifestyle in the Texan capital.
Expat families and children
Houston's school system is large enough to satisfy even the most demanding parents. The city has plenty of public school options, including magnet and charter schools, as well as private and international schools for newcomers looking for an easier school transition.
Many newcomers are surprised to find that the city is bursting with greenery. With tree-lined streets, urban forests and manicured parklands in and around its neighbourhoods, families will certainly be able to find a spot to enjoy on a sunny day. What’s more, the city boasts plenty of entertainment options and numerous annual festivals for the whole family. Galveston Bay's beaches and lakes also aren't far away for those wanting to get out of the city for the day.
Climate in Houston
Some new arrivals may have trouble adjusting to the spiking humidity and high temperatures in Houston. Summer days can especially be sweltering. Luckily, there are plenty of places to cool off as air conditioning is available almost everywhere, and the mild winters make up for any weather-related discomfort in June, July and August.
As the city is what you make of it, those who make an effort to adjust and enjoy their new life in Houston will truly be able to make the most of the high standard of living it offers its residents.
►For more about the ups and downs of life in the city, read Pros and Cons of Moving to Houston.
"I loved the convenience of Houston. Even though it’s huge and everything is so spread out, you never had to go too far to find what you needed." Read more of Las's expat experiences in Houston.
"Houston has been great to us... The city has so much to offer and it is very affordable." Read more in Janice's Expat Arrivals interview.
Are you an expat living in Houston?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Houston. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.