The Houston Lifestyle

"From cowboys to cappuccino...Houston is the real Texas."

 
Size:
While Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States, there is still a unique, small town atmosphere that distinguishes many of its neighborhoods and communities.  A  recent national  survey ranked Houston the fifth most helpful city of the 36 cities polled. 
   
Many smaller  cities and master-planned communities located throughout the area foster a community spirit and bond that makes them among the most desirable places to live in the nation.
   
Yet Houston can offer such "big city" attributes as world class arts and culture and an international business center. For its size, Houston is an amazingly affordable place to live.
   
Traffic:
In the early 1980s Houston's freeways were frequently congested, but after a concerted effort by government and private and public entities, Houston has become the only major American city to actually improve its mobility. Hundreds of miles of freeways and toll-ways have been built in Houston in the past 10 years. When the 104.2 mile transit way system is complete, Houston will have more miles of high occupancy vehicle lanes than any other U.S. city.
 
The Sam Houston Parkway and the Hardy Toll Road, completed in the early 1990s have significantly  contributed to Houston's improved mobility.
 
Houstonians average close to 280,000 passenger trips per weekday on METRO buses, some 60 million per year. In 1993, METRO's fleet of 1,289 vehicles ranked ninth in size nationally, versus 20th in 1984.
 
The weather:
While the adjectives "hot and humid" are often used to describe Houston's weather, its temperature seldom reaches 100 degrees F and only about 96 days of 90 degrees F or more. The annual average relative humidity at noon is 60 percent.
 
The annual average precipitation is 46.07 inches and Houston averages 58 percent in July. Houston's climate allows residents to enjoy year-round outdoor sports and recreational activity.
 
Culture:
Houston is home to the world's largest rodeo and livestock show that attracts 1.5 million visitors from all over the world each year. Many of the nation's top country and western musicians have Houston roots.
 
Houston also has a dynamic arts community that receives wide support throughout the region. Houston is home to the internationally acclaimed Houston Symphony that presents a full season of subscription concerts in Jones Hall, free concerts in Miller Theater and concerts on tour. Houston Grand Opera, one of the nation's five largest opera companies, kis recognized throughout the world for the balance between contemporary works and classics in its standard repertoire. Founded in 1955, Houston Ballet presents a season of local and touring performances. Theater Under The Stars offers lavish musicals in free summer productions and in a winter subscription season.
 
Live dramatic and musical theater have developed a committed following in Houston. The Alley Theater is one of the country's three oldest resident theaters and Stages Repertory Theater offers Southwestern and world premieres, experimental productions of classic works and revivals of American Masterpieces. Houston is home to a host of notable no equity professional companies. Museums with rare and unique collections abound in Houston, including the Museum of Fine Arts that displays more than 27,000 works from antiquity to the present and The Menil Collection that houses a highly acclaimed privately assembled collection of some 10,000 art objects.
 
Cost of Living:
The ACCRA Cost of Living Index shows that Houston's overall after-taxes living costs are 5 percent below the nationwide average, largely due to housing costs that are 17 percent below the average.
 
In the context of the 23 metropolitan areas with more than 1.7 million  population that participated in the Fourth Quarter 2001 ACCRA survey, Houston's cost-of-living advantage is even more pronounced. Excluding ultra-expensive New York City and San Francisco, Houston's housing costs are 33 percent below the average for the remaining 21 large metro areas, and its overall costs are 15 percent below the average for this group.
 
Houston has the lowest housing prices among the 23 large metros. Houston's grocery prices are 16 percent below the major-metro average; its utility casts are 3 percent below the average; its transportation costs are 5 percent below the average ; its health care costs are 10 percent below the average; and its costs for miscellaneous goods and services are 8 percent below the average.