Working in Houston
With more than two million people living within the city and well over five million in the associated metropolitan area, Houston is comfortably the fourth largest city in the United States. Nearly one in five Houstonians was born outside the United States, making it a diverse international city. Learn more about the City of Houston and its culture in the "Why Houston" brochure (PDF).
Houston has about 5,000 restaurants and offers every imaginable cuisine. You may know that we do steaks and BBQ pretty well, and also seafood (Houston is less than 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico). Somewhat predictably, you can also get excellent Tex-Mex and Mexican food. If these options fail to satisfy, you are free to experiment with reckless abandon. Tired of Ethiopian, try Eritrean. If you had Lithuanian last week, Lapland is only a few latitudes away. In Houston you can dine from pole to pole, on the equator and on any tropic in between.
One of the reasons for all this variety in heading out is a climate that attracts and keeps people. The average yearly temperature is 68 °F with it being at least partly sunny 56% of the year. There is a yearly average of less than 50 inches of precipitation and snow is rare. There have been only 13 measurable snowfalls since 1940 and on average there are only 18 days a year of freezing temperatures.
Cost of Living
If moderate, sunny weather isn't your thing, there’s always the cost of living to consider. According to the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, among the 26 largest metropolitan areas participating, the Houston metro area has an overall cost of living 24% below the average. And if you remove the population criterion, Houston’s cost of living is still 13% below the average of all participating urban areas.
Let's assume that you've moved to Houston, you're living on a fraction of your previous expenses and you are deeply involved in one of the most productive medical environments in the world; it is now fair to ask, "What do my friends do?" With more than 17,000 business establishments, there are, yet again, many options. Houston's economy is based on a broad spectrum of world-class service provision including:
- The energy industry including from exploration to production
- Medical research and health care delivery
- High technology including computers, aerospace, environmental engineering, etc.
This economic diversification results in a local economy that has proven largely stable in the face of short-term trends, so much so that 26 companies on the 2008 Fortune 500 list have made their headquarters here and many of the world's largest foreign-based corporations have a presence here as well. Having mentioned the aerospace industry, it should not go unnoticed that Houston is home to NASA's Johnson Space Center and, being the location of mission control, 'Houston' was the first word broadcast from the moon.
Work being covered, let's push a little on the previous question and ask, "What do my friends do for fun?" We'll start with sports. We've got:
- The Houston Astros, 2005 Major League Baseball National League Champions
- The Houston Rockets, two-time National Basketball Association Champions
- The Houston Texans, established in 2002 as Houston's National Football League team.
- The Houston Aeros, 2003 American Hockey League Champions
- The Houston Energy, three-time Women's Professional Football League Champions
- The Houston Dynamo, winner of the Major League Soccer Cup in 2006 and 2007
- The Houston Comets, four-time Women's National Basketball Association champions
And, if you're into the big games, 2004's Super Bowl XXXVIII was in Houston, followed five months later by Major League Baseball's 2004 All Star Game and, in 2005, the World Series. Moving forward, Houston's Reliant Stadium will be the site of the 2011 NCAA Final Four.
For residents with a different set of aesthetic values, Houston is one of only a very few American cities with permanent companies in all of the major performing arts: ballet, opera, orchestra and theater. Downtown's 17-block Theater District houses these companies and several other major performing arts organizations which together offer nearly 13,000 seats. In addition, there are smaller venues scattered about the Warehouse District, Rice Village, the Heights and the Montrose area, just to name a few. These venues are usually run by small non-profit companies which specialize in new and original work. There are also two large outdoor amphitheaters; the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands, a master-planned community just north of town, and the Miller Outdoor Theatre, located in Hermann Park, walking distance from Houston's nearly inexhaustible Museum District.
Moving from the Performing Arts to the Fine Arts, the Museum District takes center-stage. There are 18 museums including the increasingly famous Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), which, with more than 56,000 works, is the largest collection in the Southwest. Other museums in the area include the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, the Children's Museum of Houston, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Holocaust Museum and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Moving out of the Museum District and onto more playful ground, you can visit the Art Car Museum and the Orange Show Foundation, folk art collections which really must be seen to be believed.
Don’t forget that Houston is home to the world’s largest Livestock Show and Rodeo. Nearly two million visitors come every year to see some of the most talented ropers and wranglers the West has to offer, as well as some of the world’s most talented entertainers ranging from George Strait to Houston native Beyonce to the Jonas Brothers.
The Jonas Brothers may not be where your interests lie, but if you’ve got children this is a big deal. Of course, if you’ve got children, another big selling point is Houston’s educational opportunities. There are 10 school districts in the Houston area and 67 public schools. The largest of these is the Houston Independent School District (HISD) which is the seventh-largest public school district in the U.S. Included in this number are several magnate schools with specially designed curricula in the fine arts, law enforcement, health professions, and a Vanguard program among others.
If you’re done with high school and want to stay close to your new home, Houston has exceptional higher education opportunities. There are over sixty colleges, universities and degree-granting institutions. Here are some of the highlights. Rice University, considered the “Harvard of the South,” is renowned for its science and engineering programs. The University of Houston System and the Houston Community College System both have multiple campuses spanning the distant regions of the city. The wide variety of major institutions includes the University of St. Thomas, Houston Baptist University, the North Harris Montgomery Community College District, and Texas Southern University. There are also several academic health science institutions, including Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the University of Texas Medical branch at Galveston and, of course, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.