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Help/Advice/Tips - Moving to Houston

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Old 02-16-2014, 08:35 PM   #1
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Default Help/Advice/Tips - Moving to Houston

Hi guys. After months and months of searching, I was offered a one year long job in Houston and I'm super excited for it.

I'm from south Asia and have been living in countries here all my life. I had a couple of questions that I was hoping someone here could help me with since I've never been to the US. I have googled a lot of this but I wanted help from actual people and a place that I trust

Please feel free to be as vague or detailed as possible, any help whatsoever would be greatly appreciated.

1) Is the weather really hot? What kind of clothes would I require?
2) How is the public transportation system in terms of crowd, price, reliability, etc? Would I be seriously handicapped without a car? Are cabs very expensive?
3) How expensive would it be to rent a flat? I will be working just outside what I am told is the west side of the 'inner loop', so I want to find accommodation somewhere not too far from there.
4) Are there women's only gyms easily available? I'm really conscious about going to the gym, even more so if I'm completely alone in a place and obviously foreign.
5) What's the crime rate like? I'm a mid-20s girl who will be living and travelling alone. Is there anything in particular I should be cautious of?
6) I've heard that Texas is a bit conservative. Will I be able to fit in ok? I speak fluent English, but my looks and accent are very obviously foreign. I'm just worried that I'll stick out like a sore thumb.

I'm still a bit overwhelmed by the news, so that's all the questions I can think of so far, but I will put up more.

Again, please feel free to answer any of these questions, and give any additional advice or tips if you can think of any. I'm excited, but I'm super nervous as well.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:38 PM   #2
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congratulations on the job!! I don't have any advice about Houston, as I've lived in Alaska all my life...but welcome anyhow
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:19 PM   #3
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Haha, thanks. I'm really excited about it
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:33 PM   #4
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I've never lived in Houston, but I have family in various parts of Texas, so I (hope/think) I can help some:

1) Weather is definitely hot in the summer. Honestly, even now it might be pretty warm for some. Tomorrow the high is 75 degrees F. (ooo I'm jealous as I deal with snow!)
The clothes you wear will depend on your job and what you do in your free time.

2) I didn't even know Houston had a metro until I looked it up. It's pretty limited and I'm not sure where your work is.
http://www.ridemetro.org/SchedulesMaps/RailSched.aspx
For a taxi in Houston, the initial charge is $2.75 and an additional $2.20 per mile.

3) Do you have any connections at work where you could find a roommate? Would you want to? A 1 bedroom apartment could run $1200-1600 per month. I looked on craigslist to see estimates.

4) there are women's only gyms, but I'm not sure how easily available they will be if you don't have a car.

5) Houston is a big city so there is crime, but I guess compared to what?
I think as long as you're aware of your surroundings and not wandering around by yourself late at night, you should be fine. I don't know of particular areas to avoid.

6) Houston is a big city, so I think you'll be fine in terms of diversity. You aren't moving out to the middle of nowhere.

Hope that helped some?
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Old 02-17-2014, 09:42 AM   #5
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I don't have a lot of advice for you but I have a friend from South Asia who lived in Houston for a long time. She loved it there. And while I won't say that you will encounter no racism or prejudice (there is no place in the world that is free of this, unfortunately) I will tell you that she had a comfortable life there and lots of friends of different ethnic backgrounds.

There is an area in the near suburbs of Houston, the towns called Stafford and Sugar Land, that have large South Asian immigrant populations. When I visited my friend I joked that it was my visit to Karachi, not Houston. But that was what I was interested in seeing and doing when I was there. My friend always managed to strike a balance, spend time in the desi communities when she wanted to and in the wider Houston culture at large when she wanted to.

Good luck.
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Old 02-17-2014, 08:41 PM   #6
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I've lived in Houston all my life -- I'll try to answer your questions. PM me if you need anything else.

1) Is the weather really hot? What kind of clothes would I require?
Yes, it's Hot in the summer which lasts from about May to October. (can be over 100 in July, Aug, Sep) We've had a very cool winter this year, though. You can get by with lighter weight work clothes, but have a long sleeve or jacket for the office. It can be cold inside with the air conditioning. It's also very humid - some people have trouble adjusting to it. It's bad for your hair, but wonderful for your skin!

2) How is the public transportation system in terms of crowd, price, reliability, etc? Would I be seriously handicapped without a car? Are cabs very expensive?
Public transportation (buses & very limited light rail) stinks for the most part. I wouldn't depend on it. This is BIG city and it's not unusual to drive 15-30 miles for an errand, meal or visit with a friend (which could take an hour or more depending on traffic.) It's not a walkable city. The drivers do not respect anyone not in a vehicle, and several bicyclists have been killed on the roads lately. Cabs are expensive and you won't find them "on the street" like in NYC. You have to call and schedule, then wait for a cab to come pick you up.

3) How expensive would it be to rent a flat? I will be working just outside what I am told is the west side of the 'inner loop', so I want to find accommodation somewhere not too far from there.
The area you describe is called the "Galleria Area" - I work there, but live a little farther outside "the loop." It's the most expensive area for flats and apartments. The prices someone quoted above are average. Yes, a roommate would be helpful.

4) Are there women's only gyms easily available? I'm really conscious about going to the gym, even more so if I'm completely alone in a place and obviously foreign.
I don't know of any women-only gyms. I work out at my church, and other churches have gyms which are usually a safe environment. There are private studios for exercise classes in the Galleria Area and also a YMCA. Your employer may have work-out facilities, too.

5) What's the crime rate like? I'm a mid-20s girl who will be living and travelling alone. Is there anything in particular I should be cautious of?

Houston is the 4th largest city in the US -- there's a lot of crime. Pay more $ for an apartment in a good area with good security - that's piece of mind. Watch out for being alone after dark in the Galleria area - it's a magnet for crime due to high-end shopping, dining, etc. Just use common sense.

6) I've heard that Texas is a bit conservative. Will I be able to fit in ok? I speak fluent English, but my looks and accent are very obviously foreign. I'm just worried that I'll stick out like a sore thumb.

In the Galleria area, you will fit right in. There are a lot of internationals there. Actually, in the city as a whole. It's nothing to hear half a dozen languages spoken while out running errands. Yes, Texas is largely conservative, but we're also "the friendly state." You'll like it here!
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:09 PM   #7
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I have lived in Houston or in an adjoining county for over 30 years.

Quote:
1) Is the weather really hot? What kind of clothes would I require?
Yes, it is really hot except in winter. Although winter here is warmer than most places. It is 74 degrees today, but was in the 30s a couple of weeks ago.

In the summers, it is often in the 90s or over 100 and is high humidity. Bear in mind though that everywhere has AC inside so you don't have to wear, say, sleeveless clothes inside an office. In general lightweight clothes though. Not heavy clothes.


Quote:
2) How is the public transportation system in terms of crowd, price, reliability, etc? Would I be seriously handicapped without a car? Are cabs very expensive?
You would be seriously handicapped without a car. Public transportation is very limited and doesn't go many places and can be hard to be compatible with a regular job. I haven't taken a cab in a long time (mostly just to an airport occasionally). Cabs aren't real commonly taken except as an occasional thing.

Quote:
3) How expensive would it be to rent a flat? I will be working just outside what I am told is the west side of the 'inner loop', so I want to find accommodation somewhere not too far from there.
West of the loop is, indeed, the Galleria area. It tends to be a little expensive. I lived there for many years. It is an expensive area. You could save some through having a roommate or living a little bit outside that area. There is a reason that lots of people commute to the area.

Quote:
4) Are there women's only gyms easily available? I'm really conscious about going to the gym, even more so if I'm completely alone in a place and obviously foreign.
I haven't seen a lot of women's only gyms. There might be some. There are a number of gyms near the Galleria area and there is a YMCA near there.

Quote:
5) What's the crime rate like? I'm a mid-20s girl who will be living and travelling alone. Is there anything in particular I should be cautious of?
I never felt that unsafe in the Houston area (in the nicer parts of it). That said, I would certainly be cautious late at night. For example, if you are working late and parking in a parking garage you might ask security to escort you to your car. Keep your car locked, park where it is well lit, lock your doors, that kind of thing.

Quote:
6) I've heard that Texas is a bit conservative. Will I be able to fit in ok? I speak fluent English, but my looks and accent are very obviously foreign. I'm just worried that I'll stick out like a sore thumb.
Houston is a very large city. It has a very high Asian population (from all areas). I don't think you will have any problem. You definitely won't stick out like a sore thumb.
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Old 02-18-2014, 01:27 AM   #8
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Thanks so much for all the replies. It's been a big help. I'm getting pretty concerned about how I'll travel since I won't be earning anywhere near enough to get a car, so I'll have to figure it out. But it's really helpful to know about it before I land up there
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:09 PM   #9
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I do have one friend who doesn't drive due to some health issues. She just recently married, but for years before that, she took the bus and walked everywhere ... or convinced me to give her a ride! So, it's possible. It's just not easy. It would be easiest if you lived close to where you'll work, or at least made sure you'd be on a bus line. Buses do run to the galleria area from all parts of town - check it out.
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:43 AM   #10
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Haha, thanks. That gives me a bit of hope
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Old 03-18-2014, 07:56 AM   #11
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Hey guys, I have one more question if anyone can help.

Having seen all the replies and spoken to several people, I think buying a used car would be the smartest thing to do. The problem is that I know pretty much nothing about cars (apart from how to drive them), so I'm not sure what to look for.

I'm not fussy about make, model or anything, I just need something cheap that'll get me from point A to B everyday. I was hoping someone might know how much I should anticipate spending on it, because honestly I only have a couple thousand dollars to spend on it. Is that realistic?
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:11 AM   #12
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Sorry, can't help you with car stuff. I'm clueless, too! I'd suggest befriending someone when you get here who may know a lot about cars and can help you. There are a lot of local used car dealers, and now, people buy cars on the internet. One reputable dealership that I've heard of is Car Max. I test drove there once, but didn't buy. There wasn't a lot of pressure and the cars are supposed to be guaranteed. There are several locations in Houston.

I had to buy "brand new" the last time I needed a car. I couldn't find anyone to go with me to check out a used car, so I had no choice. Needless to say, I paid for that car for a LONG time and I'll drive it until it dies! I do think you're smart to consider a vehicle, though. It's really a necessity here. You'll see!
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