You may know how this goes. The kids are happy and settled, they’ve got lots of good friends. So do you. They are thriving at the school that took forever to get them into. You like your job. Your spouse may have a great job too. You can get around the local grocery store with your eyes shut. You don’t need a sat nav to get around – you even know the shortcuts. You are a true local! Life is pretty good! Then straight from the sky comes the news “I’ve been offered a job in Houston”. You may live out of state or you may be moving from outside the US but either way a move to Houston can incite different reactions from “Yeah – bring on the sunshine!” to “Gulp – it’s scary big city, where do we even start?”. The heady mix of trepidation and excitement is very normal.

Here are some common misgivings on Houston and some counter positives you may find suprising.


It’s HOT

Yes. It is hot. Eyeball melting, frizzy hair, sweaty hot. But only in the summer months May through September. But those balmy summer evenings where the sun goes down against a hazy orange and pink sky whilst you sip your cold beer at an outdoor cafe? Priceless. And Houston Spring and Fall are quite simply the best with warm, sunny, blue sky days perfect for playing outside, picnics at Brazos Bend State Park or that cycle along the Bayou. As for Winter? What winter? Yes, we get the odd cold spell but no sooner have we dragged out the sweaters and UGGS, it’s time to put the shorts back on as temps naturally revert to “pretty nice!”.


It’s HUMID

Yes. It’s humid but again this is only an issue in the peak summer months and the upside is a “glowy” complextion, zero dry skin, a boost for those of us with “thin” hair and temperatures that never get Death Valley kind of hot. Humidity is a temperature moderator believe it or not!


The TRAFFIC is TERRIBLE!

Yes, the traffic is terrible. But that depends on where you come from. For those of you from say, Aberdeen, you’ll notice the traffic and sigh with some despair but for those of you from say, Bangkok, you’ll be wondering what all the fuss is about and say “This is traffic? You ain’t seen traffic!”. Traffic in Houston is VERY predictable. We love going to work and coming home at the same time. So if you can be the teeniest bit flexble with your commute you’ll easily shave time off your journey. Add to that, more than one road leads to Rome. There are usually multiple different routes from A to B so by using the free app WAZE, you can avoid the busiest roads.


The CRIME! The GUNS!

Houston is the 4th largest metro area in the US. We are 8 million and counting. We have a third of our city living below the poverty line and some of the richest people in the nation living not too far away from some of the poorest. So yes, we have crime. This is a big city and big city precautions are a must. Our law also allows people to carry around a gun. All I can say to this is that I’ve lived here since 2003 and have yet to see or hear a gun go off. There are many wonderful neighborhoods in Houston and each has its own hub of amenities so you will most likely NOT stray too far off the beaten track and will live an uneventful life crimewise. Don’t be complacent but don’t worry either. Having a relocation specialist show you different neighborhoods and advise you how you can research crime is a huge benefit and can put your mind at rest on this one.


SCHOOLING WORRIES

This is a biggie. When we move, we want to make 150% sure that the school(s) we place our kids into are GREAT and they will be happy. Fear not. Houston is SO big it is brimming with amazing schools for every kind of child. We have international schools, country specific schools, religeous, state and private. Again a relocation specialist can provide you with some options and help you narrow the list down. But you should be excited about the schooling here because there are some excellent options. If your child is under 11, it’s considered by educators OK to move them through different country curriculums. Yes, different countries move at different paces but your child CAN attend an American state school (free!!) and not be scarred for life in terms of never being able to integrate back into their home country. After age 11, educators regard this as more tricky and advise sticking to one curriculum. We say that because you don’t HAVE to live in any specific area because of a certain school. If you have littlies, you have more options.


HOUSING WORRIES

Even on small budgets, there is a lovely home or apartment in Houston for you. The quality of housing is one of the aspects of life here that people enjoy. What you may find however is that you WILL compromise. If you have a certain budget and want the big house with the pool and yard, then you may have to live in the suburbs and face the dreaded commute and give up city living. A good relocation realtor can help you identify your various Houston living options depending on work location, lifestyle preference and commute tolerance. And the compromise can be worth it. Some of you just will not commute. You’d hate it, so a townhome closer to the city may be the better soloution for your family. Or vice versa.

To reasure you further, Houston has been voted by Travel and Leisure as one of the top destinations in the WORLD for expats.

Go Houston!


MAKING NEW FRIENDS WORRIES

It’s hard rocking up to some place new and starting over. We’ve all been there. But be reassured that Houston leads the nation in diversity and has more people from different backgrounds living here than any other US city. Houston has also been voted as one of the friendliest cities in the US. There are loads of expats and people from out of state here. Wherever you live you will find mom groups, coffee mornings, work related networking groups, sports groups. You name it. Or start a group yourself! I started an expat coffee group which now has 200 members and it’s been a source of new friendships. Bottom line, Houston is a friendly place but you DO have to get out there and make the most of it.


Isn’t Houston UGLY?

I know. Houston is not a tourist destination. We will never be Honolulu. And that drive from the airport into downtown on the 45 or 59? Urgh!! You’ll be looking at each other and wondering what you’ve done? But don’t worry! You will be amazed at Houston once you start peeling back the layers of the onion. Once you get off those freeways and start getting inside actual neighborhoods, most people are very surprised by how lovely it is. If you can get yourself up high and look down, Houston can look like a forest there are so many trees. So many trees we have our own city arborists. When you first arrive you will be scrutinizing the surroundings but what’s great about Houston is the LIFE we have here. The Monday to Friday life. It’s actually a pretty good one.



Are you excited about coming to Houston yet? You should be. Yes, it will be different to your old life but different can be good. Different can be an adventure. Different will mean you grow as a person and a family.


We look forward to saying Hello.


The author Fiona Gilmour is a relocation and destination services specialist based in her favorite city in the world, Houston Texas. She is originally from Scotland and has moved 12 times in 15 years on 4 continents. For more information about moving to Houston please contact Fiona on 713 870 8532. fionagilmour@kw.com or www.fionagilmour.com