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Houston
  • $700   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $974   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1395   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  southwest US)

61% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
urban sprawl, traffic, flooding, heatwaves, humidity, mosquitoes, swamps
parkland, shopping, symphonies, museums, restaurants, nature preserves, local professional sports teams, fresh seafood 6
Devil's Crossroads (aka traffic), gentrifying rapidly, habla espanol, trinity gardens, young rich professionals, good bar scene, still hood, trap trail, moms with cadillacs, south park mexican listeners, little mexico, huge old rich houses, doctors, gay friendly, and here is where you go for breakfast tacos are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Houston roommate rundown:

Houston is the most populated city in Texas (about 2.3 million) over a sprawling metropolitan area. It's one of the nation's largest metros geographically. It's more than twice the size of Rhode Island.

So large in large part because their real estate development SPRAWLED. Many say Houston's lack of zoning kept it affordable, with a low cost of living for a large city in Texas - lower than both Dallas and Austin.

However, it also keeps spreading out (and out, and out again), virtually ensuring Houstonians remain automobile dependent. Much was built on forests, marshes, and swamps, with mostly flat terrain and four bayous passing through. Houston now has over 650 square miles of developed gulf coastal plain and prairie, some now prone to flooding.

Most Houstonians feel their highway system makes driving around Houston relatively easy, except for construction (somewhere, always) and rush hour (7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.). During rush hour, traffic often crawls to a halt.

Other than a few limited areas near downtown, Houston isn't friendly to pedestrians and bicycles. However, a number of non-profits are working on changing that. You can bicycle in Houston on 160 miles of dedicated bikeway, so far. Which is not enough to bicycle through any meaningful percentage of Houston . . . right now. But stay tuned.

Houston also has a reputation as hot and dangerous. Both the weather and the Houstonians.

The reference to crime could be described as both deserved and undeserved. While their violent crime rate is high, it concentrates a lot in neighborhoods known for gang activity. Generally, it's best to be aware where you are at all times, don't explore areas new to you all by yourself after dark, and stay out of deserted areas entirely.

But with regard to the weather? Entirely deserved.

Well. The weather in Houston from October to April is usually pleasant. Other months locals just shake their heads at heat-exhausted newcomers. "No, it's NOT a dry heat."

It's often extremely hot, but with a thick and enveloping humidity. It exceeds 90F most days from June to September. Until you're used to it or perhaps forever, limit your time outside in the summer between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., protect your skin (clothing/sunscreen/hat/all of the above) when you are outside, and hydrate at all times. Consider heatstroke an ongoing threat.

So you and your roommates will need a car to leave your immediate Houston neighborhood, almost always. And it must be air-conditioned. You need air conditioning indoors most places during the day as well. These things are all true most of the year. Newbies to Houston: Don't even argue or you might just die.

You also need to beware of hurricanes, flooding, and mosquitoes.

But hey, Houston also distinguishes itself with over 70,000 acres of dedicated parkland, for a grand total of 337 parks. Not even going to list all, but even 25% would be way more park than you could manage to explore anytime soon. You move to Houston? You're set for parks! (but go on a cooler day)

There's also the Big Thicket. That's the name given to over 100,000 acres of heavily forested Houston/Southeast Texas, recognized as containing several of its own ecosystems plus incredibly high animal and plant diversity. Some say it's the most biologically diverse area in the world! It's also now recognized as its own biosphere and national preserve. You and your roommates probably don't require the Big Thicket for anything practical, but you should probably go look. Just to experience it.

Because how many get a Big Thicket as interesting as all that? Near(ish) where you live inside a real city, even?

Only Houstonians. Everyone else can visit, but the Big Thicket belongs to Houston.

The rest of the Houston roommate lowdown:

  • 50 miles inland from the Gulf Coast
  • Houston is predominantly Hispanic or Latino, and also home to a number of large immigrant Asian communities.
  • mild winters, intense summer heat and humidity, foggy year-round, frequent thunderstorms, hurricanes possible
  • Houston currently has excessive ozone levels, or smog, which means some air pollution.
  • both oil and international immigration have continued to bring Houston new citizens, now the 5th largest metro area
  • Houston is a worldwide leader in oil, natural gas, medical research, and aerospace and aviation
  • growing in tech startups including renewable energy
  • over 50% occupied by renters
  • Houston's extensive and rapid real estate development over a lot of flat terrain has led to flooding of the prairie land, which can become overwhelmed during storms, even with Houston's extensive drainage system. Houston has experienced significant property loss from floods during storms.
  • Houston is the third most Christian metro area by % of population, with about 75% of Houstonians self-reporting Christian affiliation, second to Dallas. Lakewood Church has been reported as the country's largest Christian megachurch, with approximately 40,000 weekly.
  • Houston sports a team for every major professional league except hockey. Houston Astros (baseball), Houston Texans (football), Houston Rockets (basketball), Houston Sabercats (rugby), and Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash (men and women's soccer). There are also several enthusiastically supported college teams, some golf tournaments, a Motocross, a Grand Prix, and IndyCar Series, and an Art Car Parade.
  • Long known for excellent Tex-Mex, Cajun, BBQ, and Texas steakhouses, Houston now offers almost every ethnic restaurant option, many ranging from fine dining to food truck. Houston is also known for fresh produce and Gulf seafood, in particular crawfish and oysters from Galveston Bay.
  • home to University of Houston, Houston Baptist University, Houston Christian University, Prairie View A & M University, Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, Texas Southern University, University of Texas Health Science Center, and the University of Saint Thomas
  • Houston's Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world. It represents dozens of non-profit medical organizations and employs almost 75,000 people in virtually all health science capacities.
  • no state or local income tax in Houston, but the combined state, county, and city sales tax is 8.25%
  • Houston is hot and humid and built on swampland. That means serious mosquitoes. Outdoor parties with food mean you need insect repellent.
  • Have a disaster plan and share disaster supplies with your roommates. Does your home have a disaster preparedness kit if you encounter severe weather there? If your home floods and cell service goes down, where will you meet? Do you have go bags?



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Houston's:

  • Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo: World's largest annual livestock exhibition and rodeo show. 20 days in March.
  • Houston Galleria: Largest mall in Texas, 9th largest in the United States. Almost 400 stores and 2 hotels.
  • Museum District: 19 museums, most are free for you and your roommates on Thursdays
  • Houston Theater District: 17-block area with 9 major performance arts organizations and 6 performance halls - also an entertainment complex with restaurants, billiards, bars, movie screens, and live music
  • Downtown Houston Tunnel System: Largest underground pedestrian tunnel system in the US, 7 miles of air-conditioned tunnel, linking offices plus various downtown shops and restaurants, walk to all before resurfacing
  • Art Car Parade: Annual event for "rolling art." Quite a few different vehicles have been spotted, including 2-wheelers and human-powered, but probably most loved for classic cars and highly modified, creatively decorated lowriders
  • Space Center Houston: Visitor center for NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
  • Hermann Park: 440 acres of pedal boats, nature trails, sculpture gardens and the Houston Zoo
  • Smither Park: Mosaics from more than 300 folk artists working with various broken objects - you and your roommates are invited to walk around and enjoy a picnic - park continues expanding as more artists contribute!
  • Rothko Chapel: Part chapel, with interior walls featuring the art of American Abstract painter Mark Rothko, and all work of art. Windowless building designed as a place of worship or meditation for any denomination or religious tradition. Since 1971.
  • Houston hip hop: While Houston hasn't been as celebrated for its music scene as Austin, it holds its own with Southern and Southern Texas styles such as blues, country, dubstep and Tejano. Houston has also pioneered its own choppily remixed hip hop style, now claiming itself as the birthplace of many successful Houston hip hop artists, including Destiny's Child and Megan Thee Stallion.


Here's the city of Houston's official .gov for residents, with links to most city services.





Notes

1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.


2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.


3.   From zumper.com.


4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.


5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.


6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.


7.   From hoodmaps.com: a collaborative map where residents use tags describing social situations you're likely to find. Other users can thumb up or down, so the largest tags have been thumbed up the most.