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Local Love! Houston Edition

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Considering a move to Houston? See what locals have to say about what makes their city great.

Ironically for the Energy Capital of the World, the most energetic feature of Houston, TX, might be its dynamic style and character. Alive with personality and rich in diversity, Houston is an eclectic mix of culture, booming business, and world-class attractions that make it a one-of-a-kind city. With a healthy economy, scenic surroundings, and residents full of hometown pride, it’s no wonder that Houston is a desirable transplant destination.

Being home to 25 companies on the Fortune 500 and a variety of up-and-coming neighborhoods, there’s never been a better time to buy a home in Houston, TX. With the city’s low unemployment rate of 3.7% and an influx of transplants, several Houston neighborhoods such as Northside Village and Greater East End are seeing gentrification. But even with rising real estate prices, Houston’s average listing price of $435,541 and median rent of $1,650 make Houston an affordable place to buy or rent.

Many times, the biggest factor for homebuyers is the surrounding amenities. For families looking for green space, Houston’s Memorial Park offers nearly 1,500 acres in the heart of the city, as well as a public golf course, tennis courts, and trails. For those who want a premier gastronomical experience, Houston is home to many award-winning eateries and bars that won’t disappoint even the most particular tastes.

Now with 2.3 million residents, Houston is the fourth-largest city in the country and continuing to grow. As with any city this large, there’s a lot to learn about living here. Sometimes the best way to learn about a new city is to hear from the locals themselves. Check out what Houstonians had to say about living in their city!

What is your city’s source of pride?

“Our friendly, entrepreneurial spirit.” — Clifford Pugh, Editor-in-Chief of CultureMap

“There are so many things to be proud of in Houston! Our sense of community, our focus on the arts, and the vitality of business in the city are top for me.” — Laura Umansky of Laura U Interior Design

“Our quality of life! It encompasses the countless great things that all add up to us making Houston THE place to live, work, play, and prosper.” — Bill Baldwin, Broker/Owner of Boulevard Realty

“Diverse culture and amazing food! There are so many cultures represented in our city, and with it comes exciting food. New food trends add a twist or fusion to cultural favorites, making it unlike any other!” — Monica Pak of Coreanos

If you’re a transplant, what brought you to Houston? If you’re a native, why do you stay?

“I stay because of the quality of life, which specifically is composed of our outstanding dining scene (it seems like James Beard award-winning restaurants are just the norm these days!), parks and green space (our ‘Central Park’ is called Memorial Park and is actually twice the size of New York’s … and growing!), and our arts and culture scene … just to name a few. More importantly, the city has some key visionary leaders in both the public and private sector who are actively investing in the future of the city.” — Bill Baldwin, Broker/Owner of Boulevard Realty

“I was born in Chicago, grew up in Houston, and then went away for school at the University of Notre Dame (#GoIrish). I interned in California, studied abroad in Chile, and have been to all 50 states. Before graduation, I got a job offer with the opportunity to move to any city I wanted in the U.S. … and I decided to move back to Texas. Was it the low cost of living and the lack of income tax that influenced my decision? Or maybe the freedom to go for a run outdoors every day of the year? Or the luxury of enjoying quality tacos for every meal? Whatever the reason, I’m pretty stoked to call Houston my home. I’m so proud to be a Houstonian and know that the city is full of never-ending adventures.” — Anastasia Hansen of It’s Not Hou It’s Me

What sets Houston apart from other Texas metros?

“Houston is truly an international city, and the diversity here is fantastic. I think the openness of our social and business communities sets us apart. I have always felt more support from my peers in the design industry than competition.”— Laura Umansky of Laura U Interior Design

“Houston is the fourth-largest city in the U.S. It has a vibrant arts and theater scene, professional sports teams for every fan, a neighborhood for every lifestyle, and the best restaurants in the country! Plus, it’s an hour away from the beach and has a huge international airport for those who love to travel!” — Anastasia Hansen of It’s Not Hou It’s Me

“I would have to stick to the diverse culture and great food scene. Houston is really doing some great things!” — Monica Pak of Coreanos

“Houston is a very international, world-class city that can still be very laid-back. Life here has a comfortable vibe to it.” — Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs

What makes you a true Houstonian?

“I have enjoyed living in Houston for 15 years, started my own businesses here, and I am now raising my family here. Sometimes I feel like we live in our own little city within the city, because we live, work, and send the kids to school within a 2-mile radius. But I think what makes me a true Houstonian [is that] like most people living here, we have deep roots in our little section of the city, but these roots spread all over through our client base and our community involvement.”— Laura Umansky of Laura U Interior Design

“Interestingly enough, I think one of the things that makes you a true Houstonian is the feeling of exhilaration and excitement that you’ll never know all there is to know about our expansive and diverse city. The desire to constantly explore. We all have the neighborhoods where we’ve spent years of our lives, grown up, and raised our own children, but there are always going to be parts unknown to us that we can come to learn and embrace.” — Bill Baldwin, Broker/Owner of Boulevard Realty

We know that Houston is known for its oil, but are there emerging industries drawing more people into town?

“The medical field — the Texas Medical Center is [the] largest in the world — and emerging biotech and computer technology industries. Also, there is a thriving arts scene.” — Clifford Pugh, Editor-in-Chief of CultureMap

“Houston is home to the best medical center in the world. It’s also an emerging tech hub — Amazon just created thousands of jobs here. We hosted the NCAA Final Four in 2016 and are hosting the 2017 Super Bowl. We also host the world’s largest rodeo each year at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is a month of concerts, cook-offs, and carnivals.” — Anastasia Hansen of It’s Not Hou It’s Me

“For sure, the food scene in Houston is growing and is attracting more national restaurants.” — Monica Pak of Coreanos

“Our medical center is a global leader. We have a very exciting hospitality industry with wonderful restaurants at every price point.” — Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs

What is Houston’s best-kept secret?

“Its incredible diversity. It looks like what all of the USA will look like in 20 years — with a mix of Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern — people from all over the world. And its mix of arts and culture — it is one of only a handful of U.S. cities that has a world-class ballet, opera, symphony, and theater companies.” — Clifford Pugh, Editor-in-Chief of CultureMap

“While lots of people talk about our great food and good prices, we also have really great service. It’s excellent across the board at nearly any restaurant you choose. Whenever I travel, I really miss the level of service in Houston.” — Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs

What advice would you give to those moving to Houston?

“Find a walkable neighborhood like Rice Village, the Heights, or near the newly developed Buffalo Bayou Park. While you will definitely need your car here, you will enjoy being able to walk to restaurants and shops and connect with your neighbors.”— Laura Umansky of Laura U Interior Design

“It’s going to be hot in the summertime. There’s just no way around it. We manage, and you just get used to it, honestly. The rest of the year is wonderful, though. There is also the traffic, but also many ways to avoid it, from transit and biking options to focusing your real estate search near your place of employment and seeing what kind of lifestyle there is to adapt to locally. Chances are, you’ll fall in love with it.” — Bill Baldwin, Broker/Owner of Boulevard Realty

Forget any preconceived notions and come with an open mind. You might not like the city when you first arrive, but within a few months, you will be hooked. I know so many people who planned to come for a year or so and never left. And those who have left for such cities as Boston and San Francisco miss Houston terribly. Compared to those cities, Houston is incredibly affordable and the dining scene is spectacular.” — Clifford Pugh, Editor-in-Chief of CultureMap

“Hurry up and buy a house now, and when oil prices come back up, so will housing prices.” — Michel Lamy of Shoot2Sell

What, in your opinion, is the most up-and-coming neighborhood in your city?

“We’re a growing city, so the pace of redevelopment and revitalization is lightning speed. Definitely the Near Northside and the East End, both given their names in relation to Downtown. Currently, the Museum District and Third Ward are experiencing that rapid revitalization and are truly exciting places to live right now.” — Bill Baldwin, Broker/Owner of Boulevard Realty

“Rice Military (because I live there!) but the Heights, Midtown, and EaDo are also fun, edgy places to live and play. Anything within the Loop (aka 610) is a great place to be. You’re a 10-minute ride away from everything!” — Anastasia Hansen of It’s Not Hou It’s Me

“Cypress, TX.” — Michel Lamy of Shoot2Sell

“I love historic renovation, and because Houston is a fairly new city, we don’t have a lot of old buildings. I am really excited about the work that is going on downtown and in the adjacent areas. Some warehouses are being turned into lofts, and businesses are buying others to create workspaces. I am working with a client right now who bought an old soda bottling factory that he will use as his new office and leased office space.” — Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs

Where can you find the best barbecue in Houston?

“I am not a barbecue connoisseur, if you can believe it! Being from Central Texas, we go to Luling City Market, and I know there is one here on Richmond Avenue.”— Laura Umansky of Laura U Interior Design

“I will get myself into trouble with this question if I answer the wrong way! There are simply too many places to name and they all have their own allegiances. It’s not uncommon to find one-hour-plus long lines at newer places like Killen’s BBQ in Pearland, Jackson Street BBQ in Downtown, and Gatlin’s BBQ in Oak Forest. Then there are Houston institutions that we all know as go-tos for a solid plate of barbecue at the grill-savvy iterations of beloved local chains like Goode Company and Pappas BBQ. Sorry if I sound diplomatic, this is just the reality of barbecue in a city like Houston!” — Bill Baldwin, Broker/Owner of Boulevard Realty

“Blood Bros. BBQ, hands down. They do pop-ups around town and it’s worth catching them!” — Monica Pak of Coreanos

“Wow, that’s hard to say. I always enjoy Goode Company and it’s a fun place to take out-of-towners because in the heart of the city, you can eat peanuts, throw the shells on the floor, and drink a beer, all while you are waiting to order!” — Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs

What’s your favorite weekend activity in or around Houston?

“Hang out in the park between the Menil Collection and the Rothko Chapel. A cross section of millennials and young Houstonians frequent the park, bring picnic lunches, and engage in such activities as throwing Frisbees and doing handstands.” — Clifford Pugh, Editor-in-Chief of CultureMap

“On weekends, we head to my family’s ranch in Central Texas, visit Hermann Park and the Zoo, or just hang out and relax in Rice Village, near our home.”— Laura Umansky of Laura U Interior Design

“The city’s greenways are becoming increasingly connected, meaning that in the near future, Houstonians will be able to stroll, bike, jog, or even canoe throughout all corners of the city. We have connectivity plans like Bayou Greenways 2020 and the Houston Bike Plan that are widely supported and will result in a city with dedicated parks and green space infrastructure around its best natural features. As those continue to come together, my favorite activity is to explore the city on bike!” — Bill Baldwin, Broker/Owner of Boulevard Realty

“Weekends for me are synonymous with brunch! I absolutely love trying out new places and have actually been trying out different ones each Sunday for the past two years — still haven’t run out of places to try. Some favorites include Tiny Boxwoods, J. Black’s, and Café Brasil (all for very different reasons).” — Anastasia Hansen of It’s Not Hou It’s Me

Have you been to Houston, TX? Share why you love the city in the comments below!

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