Updated 5 months ago

New York City and L.A. are often considered America’s melting pots, but Houston should join that list. The booming economy, affordable cost of living, and quality of life have made it one of the country’s fastest-growing cities. With many international businesses and over 90 countries represented, there is a thriving expat community. And lucky for you, most of the issues that plague larger cities — such as soaring housing costs and crime — are not a big concern in Houston.

There are a few things house-hunting expats will want to keep in mind when searching for a place to live in the Houston area. Hurricane Harvey struck the region in August 2017, resulting in a significant amount of damage. Many homes were destroyed, so expats should be patient in their search while buildings are being assessed and repaired. Additionally, the sprawl (Houston covers over 1500 km²), humidity, and lack of sufficient public transportation mean that having a car is a must in Houston.

For general advice on searching for a home and signing a lease in the United States, see the article Accommodation in the USA.

Neighborhoods in Houston

Central Houston is surrounded by the Interstate 610, also known as “the loop”. This term is an important and common reference for directions. For instance, the city’s cultural institutions are located inside the loop and many of the larger homes are outside of the loop. To help you decide which is best for you, consider factors such as walkability, a good school district, and your budget. A few of Houston's most popular neighborhoods are listed below.

West University Place is an inner loop neighborhood located near the Museum District, Rice University, and downtown Houston. It is popular among young professionals and young families. While this area can be pricey, nearby Bellaire offers a similar feel with more affordable housing.

Eastwood is located in the more industrial East End of Houston and is full of moderately priced single-family homes. The new Metro Rail, which connects the area to downtown, adds to its appeal to the young professional crowd.

The Memorial Villages are a collection of six communities and probably the most exclusive area of Houston. Homes are large and conveniently located in the downtown area and the Energy Corridor. Additionally, the public schools there are some of the best in the city.

Linkwood is on Houston’s southwest side and just outside the loop. It’s full of small housing developments which have maintained their original charm and close-knit community feel.

The Woodlands is a large community on the northern edge of Houston and is its own mini-city. It is home to several corporate campuses and businesses, shopping malls and restaurants, and lots of parks, walking paths, and green spaces. It is a popular place for families.

Accommodation and cost of living

Like many urban areas, accommodation size will shrink and costs will increase as you get closer to the center, and Houston is no different. In Houston’s urban center, many people live in apartments or townhomes. However, single-family homes are also common options. Depending on the neighborhood, monthly rent for an 85m² (900 ft²) apartment averages from USD 1650 to USD 1250. A smaller apartment of about 45m² (480 ft²) averages between USD 850 and USD 1440.

Generally, a Houston apartment lease will include charges such as water, gas, trash service, and building maintenance. If you choose to lease a house, it’s at the discretion of the owner if these services are included or not. Due to the hot and humid summers, the majority of Houston accommodations will have air conditioning. They also normally include major appliances such as a refrigerator and stove/oven. At least one parking space is generally included, Houston being a driving city.

Life in Houston

Whether you love music, museums, or simply the arts, expats in Houston will be able to enjoy year-round events. The city is home to both theater and museum districts, as well as a thriving music scene. Sports lovers will be happy to learn that the city is home to professional teams in baseball (Astros), football (Texans), and basketball (Rockets). Houston is also conveniently located near several other interesting cities, ideal for a long weekend getaway or a road trip adventure. Austin, Dallas, and New Orleans (Louisiana) are all about five hours drive from Houston.

Houston has a humid subtropical climate meaning that fall, winter, and spring temperatures are mild. The summer months, from June to August, bring heat and intense humidity. Average high temperatures are between 30-32°C and humidity usually goes above 90 percent. Thankfully, air conditioning is the norm in all public buildings, businesses, and restaurants.

 Important: Houston regularly suffers from tropical storms and hurricanes. Most common from July through October, not all of these storms bring massive damage. Severe weather or evacuations are announced via all media channels including emergency broadcasts over TV, radio, and SMS messages to local numbers. is a government page with information on hurricanes and preparedness.

 Useful Links: housing in Houston
Houston Chronicle housing ads
Craigslist - Houston housing
Houston crime map
Free attractions in the Houston area
Ready - Government information on hurricanes

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.