I don’t think that’s true at all! Quentin Crisp, one of my favorite authors, puts it this way:
“The first thing that I noticed as I resumed my meandering course through the Lower East Side of Manhattan is how dilapidated New York seems after the newness of other cities – especially Houston. There the streets are wide, straight, smooth, and absolutely free of litter, and the buildings all look as though they were erected yesterday.”
I suppose it really comes down to what you mean by “dirty.” There’s not a lot of litter. The buildings are constantly being renovated. (Unless you’re in a bad area, like the ghetto, but…then you’re in a bad area. What do you expect?) There is pollution, but I think it’s somewhat exaggerated. We’re at a geographical disadvantage as far as that goes, because – just like in LA – the pollution blows in from other places and gets stuck because we’re a low-lying area.
And yes, I think it’s an AMAZING place to raise children. I was raised in Houston myself, so I would know. There’s the Children’s Museum, which has constantly changing exhibits. I used to go every other weekend, and I never got bored of it. There is a LOT of park space in Houston as well, which people don’t really talk about. Hermann Park is probably the biggest. It’s right next to the Houston Zoo, which was also a blast for me growing up. There’s a little train that goes through the park, a huge pond, a duck habitat that you can walk through, and an outdoor theatre that has TONS of kid-friendly shows throughout the summer. For free. There’s the Houston Museum of Natural Science which always has really awesome stuff. There’s the Cockerel Butterfly Center, which is a giant two or three story butterfly habitat. There are lots of kid-friendly festivals. (In fact, there’s even a Children’s Festival, or at least there used to be.) The public libraries are amazing, and they always have story time and HUGE selections of children’s books. There is so much to do in Houston if you’re a little kid.
Also, the cost of living is really low compared to other cities. It’s the fourth largest city in the U.S. and, according to one of my Yankee friends, you can get twice as big of a house here for half the money as you could if you were in NYC or somewhere similar.
I have lived in Houston for most of my life, I cannot give you much of a comparison to any other city. But, I enjoy Houston very much… I guess I’m not exactly sure what you mean by dirty! If you are talking about Air Pollution, I can honestly say that the air could be cleaner down here. Beyond that I love this city, but like I said I don’t have much to compare it with, yet! I recommend you also check out VirtualTourist.com it’s a good site to learn more about a city from other people just like this website but has alot more info. Attatched is a picture I took of Downtown Houston recently while strolling through a nearby park.
The single thing that I have heard the most about Houston is ‘I wouldn’t raise my kids here’, of course one man’s trash is another man’s treasure as they say…so really in the end you have to take everything into consideration and make your own decision. It certainly isn’t as ‘financial’ and ‘pretentious’ as some people view Dallas, but many people consider that one of its positive aspects. I personally far prefer Dallas, and after living in Houston for 5 months, decided that it wasn’t the place for me.
Many of the individuals that I talked to while there, when I was really considering moving there permanently, said that it took 3-4 years before they really felt like they loved Houston, it is one of those ‘learned loves’.
One other thing to consider is…Houston is very diverse…when you say Houston, do you mean downtown Houston, or do you mean one of the outlying areas…or even further north like Spring or Woodlands. The latter are actually quite charming in my opinion, but are only an option if you don’t have to go to Houston itself that often. I can’t imagine living in Woodlands and driving to downtown everyday for work. The traffic in Houston is horrid.
All in all, there is a lot of culture and diversity in Houston. It is true, downtown Houston is absolutely disgusting. I lived in a ‘nice’ area of downtown, and every morning was greeted with very aggressive bums that go so far as to grab your arm demanding money from you. But again, some people see this as a pragmatic view of reality, and appreciate the diversity that Houston makes visible to their kids.
There are some other charming areas, including The Heights etc, but the houses are older, thus requiring quite a bit of upkeep. Also, don’t listen to people that tell you that the cost of living is very cheap, if you live within the loop, you will be paying an arm and a leg for real estate. Housing is exponentially cheaper once you get outside of the loop, but if you take into account the age of the properties, what you are getting, the condition, the schools, the location etc…the cost of living is NOT cheap.
In summation, there is a lot of culture here, the different sections of downtown are actually big tourist attractions. Lots of sports, lots of museums, lots of things to do…but honestly, if you think about it, there is nothing more here than you would find in any metropolitan area. In fact, if you go look at reviews of other areas, people always cite the exact same things about their particular area, and how good it is for kids…‘there are lots of museums, amusement parks, etc etc’…so I would take that with a grain of salt.
Again, all personal opinion, and I can’t stress to you enough the need for you to go yourself, and really experience all that Houston has to offer before you make your decision. It is definitely a personal decision, and your perception is the key variable.
I loved growing up in Houston, and everyone I grew up with will tell you the same. You certainly will not pay an “arm and a leg” to live inside the loop. Also, downtown has experienced some major renovation in the past few years, and I think it’s quite nice. It is a driving city, but I like that, and the traffic is not as bad as other places I’ve lived (Los Angeles, Boston).
This being said, there is a huge difference in culture between the city and suburbs.
People who like diversity, culture, the arts, and a “cosmopolitan” feel will love Houston. It is a place where (in my experience) conservatives and liberals coexist happily.
If you want a conservative, sheltered environment for your kids and a small-town lifestyle with the benefits of being connected to a larger metropolitan area, you will probably prefer the suburbs. Since Dallas is a more conservative city, it makes sense that a preference for Dallas tends to be correlated with a preference for the suburbs of Houston.
This is a personal choice, but the city itself shouldn’t be written off because it’s different than the latter preference. Different strokes for different folks.
Other things I like are the green space, the WONDERFUL restaurants, and the great museum and theater districts.
And about kids, the one thing I really appreciated about growing up in Houston (at least compared to Los Angeles) is that the children grow up with a cultured mind and cosmopolitan experiences, while still getting the benefit of a neighborhood, family-oriented upbringing. Another city I would recommend for this is Austin, and certain parts of Dallas.
There’s no way I’d raise a family in Houston. It’s polluted, it’s hot and humid as hell, and people are stuck in their cars because you need the AC – and it’s a good thing too, because there are no sidewalks anywhere in the damned place. Everything is far apart, so Houston is ground zero for the ‘make your SUV your living room’ trend.
Sorry Houstonites, but it is #1 on the list of places I never, ever want to see again.
If you’re settled on the south, I’d take Kansas City or Austin over Houston.
I must point out that this isn’t entirely true, as I walk around constantly in Houston. On sidewalks. Even in August. I enjoy the heat, and every time I leave for some place less humid, my body just can’t take it.
Of course, I’d freeze to death in Ottawa. Different strokes for different folks I suppose. ;]
i would say the best play to raise kids in houston would be the west side, towards katy, because you get the luxury of raising kids in some really great neighborhoods and the close drive to the inner city, houston has MANY places for kids when it comes to entertainment and educational experiences such as the AQUARIUM,MOODYGARDENS, SPACECENTERHOUSTON, all of the MUSEUMDISTRICT where the zoo and the MILLEROUTDOORTHEATRE is. they are all so wonderful for kids! a side note, not many people know this but houston has a wonderful market place for great shopping UNDERNEATH Downtown Houston! it is literally underground and is great for window shopping and showing the family a GREAT time! plus all the vintage stores really enhance houston’s texan culture
New York City
Houston is definately not a dirty city, especially for being such a large metropolitan area. I don’t think there is a lot of trash, areas are constantly being renovated, but air pollution is high due to all the cars. Houston is extremely spread out, so some places are better than others.
The suburbs are vary spacious, green, and well planned. The fact that you can have an affordable home with a yard in a safe neighborhood makes it a great place to raise kids.
I would have to say that, like any other city, Houston can be as good or as bad a place to raise children as you make it.
There are tons of family-oriented things to do in and around town and your children would definitely grow up being exposed to other cultures… Events like the International Festival and Rodeo have children’s areas, we have a Children’s Museum, The Museum of Natural Sciences, The Musuem of Fine Arts, The Museum of Modern Art, The Menil Collection and teh Rothco Chapel.
Admission to the Museums of Fine Arts and Modern Arts is free on Thursdays, The Menil Collection and Rothco Chapel are always free. I’ve never been to the Children’s Museum, but I’m sure it’s not very expensive. All of the Museums get together and have Museum District Day every summer, with lots of events at the museums and free admission for everyone. Independent art projects in Houston Include the Orange Show of Houston, which helps people see art in everyday things and make art out of unusual objects and the Art Car Museum, which shows mainly art cars, but also art made of other things. The Annual Houston Art Car Parade is one of the biggest in the world. The Blaffer Gallery, a small, Gallery-Style Museum on the campus of the University of Houston, attracts world-renowned artists and their works and admission is always free. There is also a wonderful Zoo in Houston and we have an extremely active theatre district as well as a Symphony, an Opera, and a Ballet.
Living within the city limits of Houston is iffy, as some neighborhoods, like the 3rd and 5th wards are definitely not good places to raise children, but areas like Memorial, West University or River Oaks are. Also, you need to be careful which schools your children would attend.
In HISD, most of the schools aren’t that great, but there are some excellent and affordable private schools in town. Once you get into the more suburban areas (outside the loop) the schools get better. Katy, Klein and Friendswood all have excellent public schools and are fairly close to Houston itself.
Oh yeah… Humidity is a natural moisturizer, no one who lives in Houston looks their age. I’m 21 and I get carded for R rated movies. No one ever believes my parents when they tell them I’m the youngest as opposed to the oldest. All of my friends’ parents look a lot younger than they are too. Just a bonus to the Bayou City I guess.
my sister and i were both born and raised in houston and are both very good kids if i can say that without sounding conceited. i am about to graduate college with a 3.9 gpa and my sister just got accepted to ut. i really feel it has to do with the education we got at jersey village high school. jersey village is a great city to live in, just northwest of downtown (bout 20 mins) so its not trafficky and i VERY rarely hear of any type of crime. i hope to eventually go back and raise my family there because i know what quality of life houston has to offer.
Agreed with the answers about Houston’s diversity. This is a HUGE city, so the answer is that while some parts are dirty and not family friendly, there are many other parts that are. We moved here because it’s a lot easier to get a good job, buy a house and have a nice (read: middle-class) lifestyle here than in Southern California. We love the Bay Area of Houston, and it’s got so much of what we loved on the West Coast.
Someone suggested that if you live in the loop you’ll pay an arm and a leg. That is very VERY subjective and based on the lower overall cost of housing in the South and in Texas. Even the loop is cheap by East Coast, West Coast and most urban cities standards. Houston is one of the only cities that you can afford a house on a lower middle class salary (such as being a policeman, teacher, nurse).
I recommend you check out this website, too – http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/index.php – don’t be dissuaded by the name, it’s not just about architecture, but about culture and neighborhoods.
Dirty no. Its a great place to raise your family. Every place in Houston is different. You’ll gain alot of cultural experience here. There are numerous things to do here, and the people are friendly.
My only complaint about Houston is we don’t have four seasons. Everything is not 24 hrs, the public school systems suck, in most areas.
Houston is dirty, but what big city isn’t? I’m from Houston and now living in Vermont. We would NEVER raise children up here. The people are rude and the small town thing is driving us nuts. Who wants to bring children into a world where there’s one view, one race, and nothing to experience?
Houston is a great place to raise a family. I should know – I was raised there. :) Oh – and the weather is awesome down there. Don’t knock the heat and humidity until you’ve lived somewhere where NEGATIVE 30 degrees is a normal February temperature.
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