Although most of our country is still feeling the sting of the recession that began with the financial crisis of 2007, you’d be hard pressed to convince any Houstonian of that fact.
Corporations are relocating here, companies are struggling to find enough qualified employees to fill all vacant positions and the housing market is showing no signs of slowing down.
In 2013 alone, over 35,000 individuals moved here. It would seem that the Bayou City has figured out a recipe that works and thousands of people are flocking here every single month to take advantage of our bustling city.
“What’s our secret,” many people want to know?
Houston has never been known as a popular travel destination like some other places in the US. We have our venues but this city has never been known as being one the most exciting places on the planet. Our cultural arts scene isn’t bad but doesn’t hold a candle to other places like Chicago or New York City.
What is Houston doing different than other places in the country?
It turns out that albeit not being the “entertainment capital of the world,” our city does have many other desirable qualities that make it a highly attractive place to live. We might gripe about a lot of things but at the end of the day, there are five qualities that make Houston one of the best places to be right now.
Low Cost of Living
This is a city where you can really stretch your paycheck. Ever heard the saying “it’s not how much you make, its how much you spend?” Well, that especially holds true here. Across the board our average cost of living is much lower than other parts of the country.
Almost everything costs less here than other places including gas, food and housing. Most visitors are shocked by how much lower things are here than where they live.
There are some large metropolitan areas, like Los Angeles, where $100,000 barely affords you a middle class lifestyle if you want to live in a decent neighborhood. A family with a household income of $60,000 can do quite nicely here.
Thriving Energy Industry
Energy is one of the most recession proof industries right now. The world as a whole is consuming energy at historic levels and the global demand it is expected to grow in 2014.
Almost every major national and international energy company makes Houston their first or secondary headquarters. It’s safe to say that you have a solid “backbone” when your top ten major employers include a lineup of ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, BP, CITGO, ExxonMobil and Shell.
What’s more, behind the major oil & gas companies that everyone is familiar with, there are hundreds of other smaller companies just like them who make their home here.
Economic growth is fueled by job creation and there is a lot of that happening here. A qualified person, especially one with any sort of engineering background, would have no problem finding a well-paying job right now. In fact, because the current employee pool is not keeping up with the current demand, companies are relocating individuals from other parts of the country to fill those empty seats.
Low Taxes Foster Positive Business Environment
Some other places in the country are known for having high taxes. States like California, New York and New Jersey are notorious for this.
In many cities on the East Coast, individuals are forced to pay a state income tax, city tax and sales tax. That is on top of whatever federal taxes they are obligated to pay.
And, we haven’t even begun talking about what property taxes are in many parts of the US…
Most Houstonians would be shocked if there were to see the total amount of taxes bellow the federal level many other people have to pay every year.
Texas has no state income tax. Houston has no city tax. The property taxes in the area are low compared to the rest of the nation. The only major tax we have to pay, once you get bellow the federal level, are sales taxes.
A single person or a family will save literally thousands of dollars by moving here. A friend of mine who works for Chase got transferred to Houston last year and increased his yearly income by $10,000 just because he didn’t have to pay state and city taxes any longer.
Houston, like most of the southeastern states, experiences morbidly humid summers. I really do not know how anyone could live here if A/C was never invented. The combination of high heat and high humidly feels like it’s going to suffocate you certain times of the year.
That being said, our weather isn’t that bad. If you think we have it bad, try talking with someone who lived in Michigan. Extreme cold isn’t any more pleasant and their winters can last for five months.
The population as a whole prefers warmer climates. If given the choice, most people will choose a hot day over a blizzard. Why do you think that millions of New York retirees have been flocking to Florida over the past twenty years?
We might find the weather here uncomfortable at times but Houston, as well as most of Texas, has weather that most people are comfortable living in. From November to March, Houston has exceptional weather with monthly averages in the high 60s, 70s and low 80s.
World Class Medical Center Medical Center
Despite being snubbed in the hospital rankings a year ago, we have some of the best hospitals in the world. People come from all over the planet to get treatment here. Our Medical Center gets approximately 160,000 daily visitors per day and over seven million patients every year.
You might not be aware of this but some of the brightest medical students come here every year to finish their PhDs or work on special research projects. Many of them end up making Houston their home. This means that our city is pulling some of the brightest minds from all over the world.
Research institutes, like Methodist Hospital, are able to get many different grants that allow them to bring into tons of fresh new talent every single year. Every city desires to attract highly specialized and educated people but we do it better than most.
Say what you want, but Houston is a city that has done a lot of things right. We might have to work on our higher than average obesity rate but we’ve figured out what it takes to keep an economy moving along.
This has always been a place where a person could make a decent living if he had a good head on his shoulders. Houstonians like people who can get the job done and it looks like that attitude it paying huge dividends.