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Possible move to Houston but worried about gun crime

(29 Posts)
Cannaeshoveyergranny Tue 24-Jan-17 11:49:45

There's a strong possibility that my husband is going to be offered a secondment to Houston which would probably last two years. It's a great opportunity career wise and I could cope with being away from family and friends, but find that I'm fixating on gun crime in the US and I'm not sure if I'm being over the top or not.

So anyone in the US - does it impact you at all, do you find yourself worrying about school shootings or similar, or does gun control not really enter your head as you're going about your daily life? I am from a small town, very low crime rate so I'm struggling to imagine life in a big city full stop never mind one where anybody can carry a gun.

Any thoughts/experience would be welcome!

MollyHuaCha Tue 24-Jan-17 11:52:07

The same issue has put me off going to the USA.

strongswans Tue 24-Jan-17 12:25:30

Sorry no experience however I agree with pp, the same puts me off travelling to the U.S .

RayofFuckingSunshine Tue 24-Jan-17 12:32:32

I'm just going to sit here and wait for replies. My husbands work has an office in Houston and we are tossing up going over for a while but I have very similar reservations to you OP

juneau Tue 24-Jan-17 12:39:53

Okay, well I don't know Houston, so I can't give you specifics about the city or what it's like to live there. However, the majority of gun crime in America is focused among the poorer sections of the population and certain (generally poor and run-down) neighbourhoods where there are drugs and gangs and other kinds of crime as well. These are not the kind of neighbourhoods that you're likely to visit, let alone move to.

My experience of living in America (six years) and travelling there (I've visited 25 out of 50 states), is that you don't encounter this side of life unless you're very unlucky. So do your research and choose your neighbourhood wisely and please try not to worry too much about guns. I know you're thinking of moving to Texas and it's certainly one of the more right-wing and gun-friendly states. You may even see people carrying a gun in a holster at their waist (not sure if Texas has 'open carry' laws or not), but the chances of you being endangered by someone's firearm are very small (although not as small as if you stay in the UK).

EagleIsland Tue 24-Jan-17 16:18:15

I live in New England so I will give you my experience. I am English, lived here coming up 3 years. I find crime a lot lower than the U.K. I feel that I can leave my home and car unlocked without worrying. Gun crime is not something I think of at all.

However about 50% of the people I know own guns. We live in a area where hunting is popular, so the guns people have are mostly hunting rifles and shotguns.

We own guns too. My wife and I both have our concealed carry permits.

Gun crime only really happens in the dodgy parts of town.

EagleIsland Tue 24-Jan-17 16:20:55

Texas is like Maine and is open carry....my wife's uncle is a police officer. His experience is that people who open carry or have a concealed carry permit are more likely to be law abiding citizens than those who don't carry a gun at all.

HerRoyalNotness Tue 24-Jan-17 16:21:48

Yes I worry about it, but only allow myself a few minutes and then push it out of my mind.

Depending on where your DH office is, katy to the west is a nice small town with an excellent school district and safe enough. There is a British school out here, newly built, if the company is paying for private.

Geraldthegiraffe Tue 24-Jan-17 16:23:09

Oooh I like Houston.

Ancienchateau Tue 24-Jan-17 16:37:51

I don't really know about the gun crime but I imagine it's probably not as visible or likely to impact on your daily life as you imagine. (Though definitely something I would think about too.) I do however have a friend who moved to Houston with husband's job and she absolutely hated it. She's from New York originally. Yes I know it's only one person's experience but thought I'd throw it in.

EagleIsland Tue 24-Jan-17 16:45:24

Ancienchateau

Interesting, there is a difference in culture between the North and South. I can emagine there would be a big difference going from NY to TX. NY is a very anti gun state, but has more crime than TX

Vagndidit Tue 24-Jan-17 16:55:33

imlived in Texas for 8 years prior to moving to the UK. Gun crime itself never worried me (frankly, most US cities have violent areas that are prone to gun crime and gang violence) but I found the gun culture rather unsettling. MInd you, I grew up in a very liberal minded family in the Northeast US.

Luckily, we managed to "escape" Texas when my child was very young, but other friends who are still there live with the reality of guns as an everyday part of their landscape. Imagine having to ask if guns are kept in the home when arranging playdates for your preschooler...?

I do like America and are anxious to eventually move back, but it certainly won't be to any place in Texas, let alone the American South.

BradleyPooper Tue 24-Jan-17 23:52:06

I've lived in Houston for just over 3.5 years, we are British but moved here from Singapore and are seasoned expats.

The gun crime does not concern me on a daily basis at all. I know that most drivers are armed so I'm a careful driver and don't cut anyone up (I wouldn't anyway). I avoid a certain supermarket that allows open carry - I don't need to see an assault rifle while I'm picking up groceries - but friends who shop there tell me they've never seen a gun there. I've not seen a gun outside the range except on a police officer's belt and I know expats who have been here 15+ years who say the same. My dcs are at the British school and I know their friends' parents don't own guns, although I have friends with kids at local schools who ask about gun safety at home before playdates.

Life here is super easy. Everything is available and easy to get. Healthcare is probably the best on the planet - the medical center here offers treatments for illness like cancer that is available nowhere else. You can get a medical appointment at the drop of a hat. The system is very flawed but if you're lucky to have insurance it works well.

We have fantastic restaurants, great concerts, we're hosting the superbowl next month and we have the biggest rodeo in the world with 21 shows over 21 days in March - I have tickets for Alicia Keys, Meghan Trainor, U2 and Rick Astley coming up in the next few months. Kids can do anything, mine swim and do robotics, there's all kind of sports and activities and a feel that anything is possible.

Houston is the 4th biggest city in the US (soon to be 3rd) and is bigger than greater London. We live in a fab residential area with a village that you can actually walk round, it's one of the oldest parts of Houston with lots of charm. The suburbs (Katy, Cinco Ranch, Lakes on Eldridge etc) are well served with chain stores and chain restaurants but feel suburban.

Houston does have problems, there's a lot of homelessness with people begging at red lights, crime is high and you'll see daily reports of shootings but it's also a big place and we don't venture into areas with high crime.

How old are your dcs and where will your husband work? His office location will determine your neighborhood, an hour or more commute by car isn't unusual, traffic is crazy. Some people do an early day ie in the office by 6.30am and leaving at 3pm to avoid getting stuck in traffic.

Feel free to ask any questions you want.

Cannaeshoveyergranny Wed 25-Jan-17 11:00:11

Thank you so much for your replies, I really appreciate it.

BradleyPooper there are lots of things in your post that really interest me - having never lived in a big city, this would be an opportunity to experience something different for a couple of years and gigs, events, lots of stuff for the kids etc is a big part of that.

My other half would be working in Baytown so I'm not sure which suburbs would be suitable in terms of commuting to there, perhaps Katy/Cinco Ranch would be a bit far? I think he knows a couple of people who have worked there in the past and lived in the Clear Lake area.

Our children are 7 and 4 and I don't know if we'd want to go down the British school or local school route. We're in Scotland and presumably the British school follows the English curriculum so not sure that attending the British school would be crucial anyway.

Thank you for your thoughts and experiences regarding gun control. I suspect if I could get past worrying about it, this could be a really great chance for us, for lots of reasons. I know the risk of something happening is low, and we're probably more likely to be in a car accident for example, so I think it's a case of me getting past that fear and I need to work out whether I can do that.

Vagndidit - when you say you "escaped" Texas, what were you glad to escape from? Is that in terms of gun control, or more to it than that?

Thanks all!

GinIsIn Wed 25-Jan-17 11:15:10

We lived there for quite a long time. There's no denying there are a lot of guns, however the holders of those guns are far more likely to have a gun license which means they are a lot more accountable.

Inner-city Houston can be high crime and high homelessness but it's simply not where the expat community live.

There are some lovely, lovely suburbs that offer an incredible standard of living and as long as you can keep quiet about religion and politics, Texans are incredibly warm, friendly and polite.

I would be happy to move my family back.

BradleyPooper Wed 25-Jan-17 19:43:19

Baytown is 60 miles from Katy and the British School, which are west of Houston. You might want to look at residential areas with good schools on the south east side of Houston such as Pearland, League City and Friendswood. Baytown is not a place you'd want to live in. Kemah and Seabrook are both nice and coastal but flooding can be an issue - check on previous flood records if you decide to look there. Flood insurance is recommended for the whole of greater Houston anyway as it's built on a swamp and floods a couple of times a year.

bummymummy77 Wed 25-Jan-17 19:48:29

Where I am (Maine) a LOT of people have guns. Not many of our friends though, maybe just a couple, we're pretty strongly anti gun altogether as most of the people we hang around with.

I worry way less about crime and violent crime here than I would in the UK. The violence and bully in he UK for young people especially means I wouldn't move back with ds. We don't lock our front door even when we go on holiday and I can't remember the last time I took the keys out of the ignition.

EagleIsland Wed 25-Jan-17 19:53:31

bummymummy77

We must live about 40 mins south of you. I feel the same, house never locked. Car never locked. Its so safe compared with the U.K.!

ARumWithAView Wed 25-Jan-17 20:00:49

I lived in California, not Texas, but one aspect of gun crime which surprised/depressed me was how its prevalence changes your interactions with the police. Things are a lot tenser when they have to assume there's a reasonable chance anyone could have a weapon; if you're pulled over, for example, you need to keep your hands visible, avoid rummaging around for anything until asked, and not exit the vehicle. An Italian friend of mine was handcuffed and nearly got arrested for doing the latter (and he was just stepping out the car in a 'hello, officers, what seems to be the problem' manner, definitely not doing a runner!). There's a strong racial aspect to it, too.

Pallisers Wed 25-Jan-17 20:04:16

I've lived in US more than 20 years, travelled all over the US and have never seen a gun except on a policeman or soldier. I've also not been the victim of a crime (well someone tried to scam my credit card in a hotel in Miami once), don't know anyone who has had their car or house broken into, and regularly go to bed forgetting to lock the door. Police are incredibly responsive and engaged with the community.

I'm in Massachusetts which has fairly strong gun control. I wouldn't want to live in Texas myself but for a couple of years it could be really great. DH's cousin and her husband (both Irish) and kids lived there for about 7 years and they made lifelong friends and loved it.

bummymummy77 Wed 25-Jan-17 20:07:12

Eagle- did you say before you're south of Portland? We're on an island by Camden, about 1 hour and 50 away north of Portland.

I love how safe I feel here, there's very rarely and violent crime.

Pallisers Wed 25-Jan-17 20:07:29

if you're pulled over, for example, you need to keep your hands visible, avoid rummaging around for anything until asked, and not exit the vehicle. An Italian friend of mine was handcuffed and nearly got arrested for doing the latter (and he was just stepping out the car in a 'hello, officers, what seems to be the problem' manner, definitely not doing a runner!). There's a strong racial aspect to it, too.

This is true.
Definitely a strong racial aspect. I have been stopped 3 times in my 20 years - each time I was in the wrong - speeding/didn't have an inspection sticker/did an illegal left turn. In each case they smiled at me and gave me a warning after a bit of a chat (and my profuse apologies). If I were an african american young man instead of an Irish woman, I suspect each interaction would have been very different.

BradleyPooper Wed 25-Jan-17 21:33:08

In Houston you can join the 200 club. Donate to the fallen police charity every year and you get a sticker for your car. If you get pulled over for speeding (a little), they are much more lenient and you normally get off with a chat.

OutandIn Wed 25-Jan-17 21:36:10

I know a couple of Scottish familes who live in Katy - they have a fab lifestyle and are very happy

HerRoyalNotness Wed 25-Jan-17 22:22:05

Katy would be too far for a commute to Baytown. A friend that just left worked in Baytown but lived in The Heights, which is a fantastic area, not sure on schools there as they only had a toddler. Still the commute was long

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