Getting Settled

Founded in 1836, Houston is 180 years old and one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Houston’s population now ranks fourth in the nation, with more than 2.2 million people living within the city limits and more than 6.5 million living within the metro area. Why the accelerated growth in a relatively short period of time? Why do so many people want to become Houstonians?

Part of the answer lies in Houston’s can-do entrepreneurial spirit. From the city’s very start as an oil capital, Houston has valued and cultivated risk takers and big dreamers. It’s no wonder this city has produced such extraordinary and influential tours de force as the Port of Houston (the nation’s second largest in total tonnage), the Texas Medical Center (the world’s largest medical complex and one of the most renowned) and the Johnson Space Center (home of the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration).

Although Houston is famous for its oil and natural gas, you might be surprised that of the more than 125,000 business establishments that reside here, only about 3,700 are tied to the energy industry. In fact, energy, despite its extensive influence, accounts for less than half of the diverse employment found in
Houston. Other notable industries are business services, medical and biotechnology, aviation and aerospace, information technology, and manufacturing. There is room for all kinds of talent here! Today, 26 of the Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in Houston, and more than half of the world’s 100 largest foreign-based corporations operate here.

Another factor in Houston’s success is its affordable cost of living, aided by the absence of city or state income tax. According to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index for 2014, Houston has the third lowest cost of living among the nation’s 20 most populous metropolitan
areas—far less than the national average. Likewise, in 2015 Forbes ranked Houston as the fastest-growing metro in America based on population and job growth. It’s easy to see why so many can afford to call Houston home.

Because Houston opens its arms to all newcomers—after all, “Texas” originates from the Caddo Indian word for “friend”—the city is home to an amazingly diverse population from many countries and to more than 90 different spoken languages. A true cultural mosaic, Houston boasts restaurants, shops, neighborhoods, and festivals that reflect its many international influences. Dynamic, prosperous, and always on the move, Houston prides itself on being on the cutting edge of new technologies and innovations in architecture, infrastructure, and design. It’s home to the world’s first air-conditioned domed stadium, to the NFL’s first football stadium with a retractable roof, and now the 12-acre Discovery Green, the multi-use, ecofriendly downtown park and event venue situated in the middle of the city’s soaring
skyscrapers. In fact, Houston was recently named one of the country’s top ten cities for green technology innovation.

With more than 366 municipal parks and an additional 200 green spaces, the city ranks third in the nation in green space. Luckily, getting around this beautiful city has never been more efficient, with a sophisticated highway system, a powerful airport trifecta covering public, private, and military air travel needs, and an ongoing effort to make transportation upgrades including light rail, bus rapid transit, commuter rail, and improved suburban bus services.

Whether you’re coming to visit or making Houston your permanent home, we think you’ll be delighted by what you find here in this bustling global hub. Read on and learn more about Houston’s history, neighborhoods, housing options, cultural scene, schools, health services, shopping, and so much more.