Houston Texas here we maybe come

(37 Posts)
lolaflores Tue 04-Jun-13 18:20:21

Would really love to hear from any lovely MNers in Houston. There is a move afoot, possibly end June/early July for myself, DH and DD2 (6) for 6 weeks.. Have been looking at things in general but DH tells me the office he will be based in is in Memorial.
What is that like? Is it really expensive? Where is nice, safe and not too expensive?
Do you like it? Would you think it is a good place for a longer visit than 6 weeks? this visit is a sort of taster.
looking forward to hearing from you all..

AndreaDawn Tue 04-Jun-13 22:11:35

Head for "The Woodlands", lovely place, clean and safe and just heaven to live in. We lived in this area for 8 years and can't wait to move back. Texas is very different to other states, they have their own set of rules! The people are lovely and very friendly and it is a very Christian place, most people go to church at least 3 times a week and the kids all do Church group activities. I hope you can drive tho as this is necessary, public transport hardly exists unless down town, and you wouldn't want to ride it anyway! Have fun, I think you may want to stay smile

Woodlands is at least an hour commute from Memorial (it's waaaaay north past the airport). It's an Exxon campus so pretty much everyone there works for Exxon.

We are Brits living in Singapore, moving to Houston this July (long term). We visited at Easter (with 2 DDs) for 3 weeks and stayed at Gables West serviced apartments at 2800 Kirby Drive so very central and not far from Memorial. You will need a car and probably do a chauffeur service for your DH as public transport isn't really an option.

Weather will be hot (pool at serviced apt!), plenty to do, great kids museum, natural history museum, zoo, aquarium, lots of parks, go to a basketball game, you'll have a great time.

lolaflores Wed 05-Jun-13 07:39:10

OK. we are going to be in serviced apartments for this visit. as far as I know. Pool is a must. company paying obviously for the domestic side of things.

We are not deeply religious. but happy to join in groups etc. We are in a particularly strange suburb of London. Its oddness makes me often wonder if we are living in an open psychiatric unit...seriously. The high street feels very unsafe and downright strange alot of the time. Anything other than this for a period of time would feel like heaven. I think DH secretly hopes we will stay. We shall see.
I wann go to a dude ranch and take my DD riding and get outdoors at the weekends. I hear Galveston is nice for the beach but opinioin is divided.
Keep my updated butterflies on your plans. we might dovetail. Do you know where you will be based from July?

We'll be in West U near Rice Village from end of July (bought a house there at Easter, as you do!)

Galveston is OK, it's a bit like a western-style pleasure beach, decent places to eat, small aquarium, some fairground rides, miniature train. Drive isn't very picturesque but it's only an hour or so, nice to get some sea air for a day though. Heard Austin is a great trip too, and obviously the space centre but haven't done them yet.

We're pretty pleased to move to Houston, this is quite interesting

lolaflores Wed 05-Jun-13 08:36:25

that was a great read. DH spent 6 months there soon after we met and I spent new year 2001 with him. we went to galveston and san antonio. The place appealed to me somehow. I am Irish so we are natural movers, just put us down somewhere and we have a pub in 10 minutes. Though i hate that ex pat paddy shtich. very excited at the prospect. loads of hoops to flip through here before we get any firm decisions but fingers crossed.
How is life in Singapore? I was threatened with it once but that [passed over us.

My best friend in Singapore is Irish so the pub comment made me lol - she says the same thing.

Singapore has been good to us for 5 years (third posting so about 8 years in total). DD2 was born here, safe place for kids, plenty of opportunity to do anything. Prices are crazy though and it's a bit claustrophobic if you don't get out from time to time - good location to explore Asia though. No complaints from me, we've made a good life here but it's time to move on. Looking forward to the kids having a more normal less spoiled childhood (visiting playparks rather than multi million $ aquariums (aquaria?!) at weekends, running round with a garden hose rather than comparing friends' pools etc). Time to get back to normality ... or as close to it as Houston can offer grin

Keep in touch and let us know how your trip goes - pm me if you're there when we are. DD1 is 8 and DD2 is nearly 5.

lolaflores Wed 05-Jun-13 10:30:22

DD2 is 6. I shall let you know our plans as they bear fruit. if at all. DH's manager is a bit of a moon gazer but i think he will have to give him a swerve if he wants anything to happen this year.

Are you going to work? I haven't been back to work since dd2 was born. dd1 was 20 yesterday which is a whole other conversation.

Thanks for all your input. really appreciated.
speak soon

Lola

Ooooh, lucky you! We lived in West U for three years - such a good time. Buy loads of shoes for me at DSW please!! There is a lot to get used to, culturally, hopefully those on long assignments will have cultural integration sessions etc, but all in all, it's a very easy life in Texas.

Now I'm reminiscing about MW dry cleaners - they collect and return your clothes....

lolaflores Wed 05-Jun-13 11:05:51

Please to ask what is DSW? If only people could understand where I am living at the moment, Houston seems like Mars?! Good to hear so many positive stories and opinions.

Oh yes, I know DSW wink They ship overseas you know....

Hoping to work as DH is on an L1 visa but he travels a huge amount and I'm not sure how to cope with the childcare gap between end of school and end of work. I retrained last year as a swim coach teaching pre-schoolers which works well in Singapore (lots of private pools) and I had my own business so worked my own hours but the season for private pools in Texas is limited ... and wages for employed swim coaches are at student levels so not sure. Otherwise it's back to the office for me....

Where on earth are you living at the moment?! Sounds dire...

DSW = Design Shoe warehouse. Sigh. Heaven.

lolaflores Wed 05-Jun-13 12:21:56

Harrow and Wealdstone, North West London.
A very very grimey gritty suburb. not quite hackney or tower hamlets. but...jesus there are days.
Its great for getting into town great connections. but it is almost like you are having to put up with an appalling quality of life just for the privildge of living in London. When I see what we could buy in Houston for this teeny little terraced house it makes me gasp. honestly....so

Bue Wed 05-Jun-13 21:51:56

My mother's friends moved to Houston in the 90s. Their new neighbours came over to introduce themselves and one of their first questions was "And where will you be worshipping?"

I love that story grin

How fortuitous! We are moving there mid Julyish! Another about turn from our company. Our conditions aren't that great, but we shall suck it up for a year or 2. We will be working in Galleria.

I've heard from colleagues Katy and Sugarland are nice suburban places to live and certainly houses of decent size are cheap enough, schools seem to be well rated. A previous colleague lived in the heights and recommended Travis Elementary as somewhere to consider for elementary.

I shall lurk further on your thread for ideas.

lolaflores Thu 06-Jun-13 07:39:31

thanks HerRoyal, lets spread the ideas around.

Bue they may be less than impressed when I tell them i am catholic. not sure how that might go down.

Catholic will be fine, don't worry! Sugerland is a bit Stepford-ish, all the houses look the same etc. Katy better IMO, especially since they expanded Katy freeway. (They pronounce Katy 'Kay-dee', it took me ages to realise its the same place as 'Katy' on the map blush).

butterflies if I may ask? Did you have a credit rating in the US to buy? Presuming you have a mortgage?

We are thinking about buying something, and would have a 20% deposit for sub 300k house. But are trying to work out if it's worth it, when factoring in buying/selling fees. We'd probably be there 2 years. We were looking more expensive, but figured it definitely wouldn't be worth it considering the fees, and we don't want to clean out all of our savings. We actually want to come out with a little extra at the end of it. Other possibility is to keep it and rent it out when we leave. Reason for this is company pay a housing allowance, so we might as well use it to line our pocket rather than a landlord.

What were the closing fees like? % wise. Was it a quick process? Did you come up against any issues?

lolaflores Thu 06-Jun-13 15:54:49

Sugarland sounds like a thriller title. we visited Katy Mall , and I saw the biggest cowboy boot and hat shop in the world. i mean HUGE. i secretly want cowboy boots.

monsterchild Thu 06-Jun-13 16:01:07

Most Americans pronounce T as D when the letter is not starting the word and is followed by a vowel sound. Just so's you know...

ie, butter is pronounced budder, etc.

Oh, and the word Butte is pronounced bute, not butt!

answers Thu 06-Jun-13 21:14:49

We lived in Texas for about 4.5 years and loved it .... visa ran out which is why we came home... we bought a property out there.... houses don't gain much in price as there is so much land to build on ... estate agents fees were 6% when we sold so bear that in mind as you won't make that type of profit in 2 years.... lots of people rent and it is not expensive to get a good size house...
All the best ... Houston is very humid though compared to further north in Texas ... I am very envious of your move .. would go back in an instant!!

We have no US credit rating and no debt anywhere. We needed 3 recent debts that show we are good at making payments. We came up with 2 credit cards and a recently paid off car loan, none of which are in the US. Our bank accepted these and we were able to buy the house - we needed our visas and social security numbers to close the deal.

The Houston market is crazy, our house was on the market for 12 days and had 3 asking price offers. We wanted to look at 12 houses that were on the market but by the next day our realtors said that only 3 were left. Speak to a bank (we are with Wells Fargo) and make sure that you can act quickly when you see the one you want. HAR is a good website - only look for active properties as everything that is "pending" etc is as good as sold.

Katy is nice, schools are OK, have British friends there who have been there for 12 years. I don't know about Sugarland. Bear in mind that both are an hour commute from Katy to Memorial / Galleria though.

AndreaDawn Fri 07-Jun-13 21:25:31

An hours commute is nothing in the greater Houston area and is the norm! The thing about the Woodlands is, the ISD (Independant School district) is one of the highest rated in the state of Texas and has phenomenal teachers and faculty at every school! Yes, there are a lot of Exon employees living there but so what? They have social groups and they welcome anyone, a great way of making instant friends! Believe me, I lived there 8 years, having a great suburb to live in that is safe with great schools is worth an hours commute, I know people who commute further!
Having no credit history can be a problem, especially if you are planning on getting a vehicle if you can't pay cash for it. Best thing to do is to keep your UK credit cards, you can use them there and try and build up a history ASAP. You can do this with say Orchard Bank, but you basically buy your credit card and pay yourself back! Once you have this going for a while the credit card offers will come flying in. House buying is easy and usually quite quick if you are either "pre qualified" (i.e mortgage already in place) or a cash buyer.

lolaflores Sat 08-Jun-13 10:08:41

This is a gold mine of information

wentshopping Tue 11-Jun-13 03:52:17

Hi Lola, I live in Memorial, kids go to Spring Branch isd schools - which are very good.
Also, just up the road is a huge catholic church, so a lot of catholics in our neighbourhood.
HerRoyal - the biggest costs with selling a house are the realtors fees - paid by the seller - it's 6% of the house price - and is split between the realtor acting for the seller and the one acting for the buyer. Closing costs are less than this. I recently sold my house (on market for 1 day) and I could pull out the figures for you if you like. I am currently in a rented house while my new house gets built.
The further east you go along Memorial Drive, the more expensive things are - so maybe if your DH is working at Shell or BP you would be at the more reasonable end. Lots of serviced apartments on Eldridge with pools. Are you here for just 6 weeks as a recce visit?
And my particular love here - drive-thru banks - ho getting out of the car to go to the atm smile

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