Expats moving to Houston may find this former Western Frontier's urban sprawl overwhelming. For starters, it is the second-largest city in the USA, and the wider metropolitan area has a population of more than 7 million people.
The city's newfound cultural conscience has engendered a buzz of innovative restaurants, quirky art galleries and a downtown revitalisation that's transforming blighted neighbourhoods into attractive residential and entertainment areas.
As a result, expats living in Houston will find that the city is what they make of it. Those coming to work and save can take comfort in an economic climate that's known for its enterprising spirit. The energy capital of Texas is home to several Fortune 500 companies and, aside from oil and gas, sectors like IT, business services, aerospace, medical and biotechnology attract workers from around the world.
Whether they're moving to Houston with kids or relocating on their own, expats will enjoy the relatively low cost of living, affordable accommodation and the well-maintained infrastructure. Healthcare in Houston is excellent, boasting one of the best medical centres in the world. In addition, the city's school system is large enough to satisfy even the most demanding parents.
Its extensive system of superhighways makes getting around effective but not always so efficient. Rush hour traffic is admittedly an issue. Expats are likely to need their own car since public transport is slow and doesn't service the Greater Houston area comprehensively.
Expats may also have trouble adjusting to the spiking humidity and high temperatures. Summer days can especially be sweltering. Luckily, there are plenty of places to cool off as air conditioning is available almost everywhere, and the mild winters make up for any weather-related discomfort in June, July and August.
Not to mention, many expats are surprised to find that the city is actually bursting with greenery, with tree-lined streets, urban forests and manicured parklands in and around its neighbourhoods.
What’s more, expats will stay entertained with numerous annual festivals, professional sports teams, music and theatre performances. Galveston Bay's beaches and lakes aren't far away. Even expats who are used to living in a more cosmopolitan city get over the initial growing pains of relocating to Houston quite quickly.