Houston, TX, United States of America Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Houston, TX, United States of America

Houston, TX, United States of America 03/28/06

Background:

1. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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2. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Educator.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Any U.S. Carrier can fly into one of the 2 major airports.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Average for the U.S.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Everything you need is here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Just about every ethnic food you can name is represeted as well as all the

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Safe and everywhere.

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3. What English-language religious services are available locally?

All available.

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4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

All available.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English for the most part and in some parts of town, knowing spanish doesn't hurt.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

No more than other U.S city.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The metro buses are fairly reliable and a new light rail was added downtown (one line only)

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

While trucks and SUV's are everywhere, a small car is to your advantage in the downtown area.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

DSL US$30 - $40 a month

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Very good vets available.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

With the right visas

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual in public, Business casual at work.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Most of the time moderate but in the summertime the smog can get pretty oppressive (Texans love their cars).

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The usual associated with a major U.S. city.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Very good hospital system, especially for Cancer and heart care

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very hot and muggy in summer (over 100 degrees F) while the spring and fall are nice. Very mild winters.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There is a solid mix of Public schools and Private schools. Each has its merits and weaknesses. The Texas Education Agency does a pretty job of reporting on the academic successes/failures of the schools.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Variety of cultures in smaller communities throughout the town.

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2. Morale among expats:

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

See the comments in the dining section.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes to all of the above catagories.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Very good in the right sections. The gay/lesbian community is very active in the Montrose section.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No more than in any other city in the U.S.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Plenty. Wide variety of sporting events (Pro Football, Pro Baseball, Pro Soccer, Pro Basketball, Minor league Hockey, College sports), Art Festivals, Museums, a very good zoo, an excellent ballet group, independent theatre etc. You are never bored if you are willing to explore.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

The Rodeo is fun and trips to Galveston Beach can use it up as well.

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9. Can you save money?

If you eat Ramen noodles, otherwise, probably not.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Snow skis.

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3. But don't forget your:

Shorts.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Reality Bites was filmed in Houston.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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