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Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Old May 22nd 2012, 9:05 am
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Default Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Hello! I hope some of you lovely people can help me. My husband has just had a job offer in Houston. We live in the UK and have never lived abroad before, we're trying to figure out if it will be worth the move, so I really appreciate any help.

We have 2 children ages 4 and 6. So I guess my questions are as follows:

What's Houston like? Do you like living there and why?

Recommendations for nice, upscale, SAFE areas to live with a family. Hubby will be working at Baylor College of Medicine. Don't mind a reasonable commute for a really nice area.

Is around $1700 a reasonable amount to budget for rent??

Buy or lease cars - how does it work?

I am a self employed HR consultant - I am assuming I won't be able to work?

My son is due to start school in September here in the Uk, is it the same in US? How easy / hard is it to get a school place?

I guess that will do to start with...thanks so much for any help.

Helen
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Old May 22nd 2012, 9:46 am
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Originally Posted by Parisangel View Post
Hello! I hope some of you lovely people can help me. My husband has just had a job offer in Houston. We live in the UK and have never lived abroad before, we're trying to figure out if it will be worth the move, so I really appreciate any help.
Hi and welcome to BE

Originally Posted by Parisangel View Post
We have 2 children ages 4 and 6. So I guess my questions are as follows:

What's Houston like? Do you like living there and why?

Recommendations for nice, upscale, SAFE areas to live with a family. Hubby will be working at Baylor College of Medicine. Don't mind a reasonable commute for a really nice area.

Is around $1700 a reasonable amount to budget for rent??
There have been quite a few threads about Houston, if you use the search facility, you should find some easily enough. I don't know the area myself, but what I read on here is that choosing an area is likely to be based mostly on the commute time to work!

Originally Posted by Parisangel View Post

I am a self employed HR consultant - I am assuming I won't be able to work?
Whether you can work or not will depend on the visa that your husband will be getting.
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Old May 22nd 2012, 11:36 am
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

There are no places, more or less, in the schools. It doesn't work that way. You go to the school in your neighborhood, which means you have to pay particular attention to the exact address and which school that feeds into.

This might help:

http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Educat...s_in_school%3F
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Old May 22nd 2012, 11:56 am
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Take a look at www.city-data.com
and www.greatschools.org
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Old May 22nd 2012, 12:34 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Welcome to BE Helen

Originally Posted by Parisangel View Post
What's Houston like? Do you like living there and why?
We do - it's nice to have a summer! Where are you coming from in the UK. There is certainly lots to do around here though. I'm sure my wife, Weeze, will be along to elaborate further.

Originally Posted by Parisangel View Post
Recommendations for nice, upscale, SAFE areas to live with a family. Hubby will be working at Baylor College of Medicine. Don't mind a reasonable commute for a really nice area.

Is around $1700 a reasonable amount to budget for rent??
Those two are mutually exclusive. For nice, upscale, short commute, etc. try double to triple that kind of rent. Really. Check www.har.com - we were shocked when we moved here. We live in Katy, and I have a 20 mile each way commute. It's nice, safe, pool, etc., but still expensive. I don't know the med centre area, or good commuting routes, well but I would imagine you're looking at West University, Sugarland, Pearland, etc. as options.

Originally Posted by Parisangel View Post
Buy or lease cars - how does it work?
Both are possible. VWs scheme was being praised recently for leasing, and there is the AIG Travelguard scheme. You have to work within a special scheme, as you won't have credit to get "normal" deals. We opted for straight up buying, but that requires a large lump of cash for 2 cars, even in the 2nd hand market. My impression is that used cars are much more expensive than the UK here.

Originally Posted by Parisangel View Post
I am a self employed HR consultant - I am assuming I won't be able to work?
I wouldn't rule it out - especially with a bigger company, as long as you have a university qualification on it. Oil companies are generally in need of people. However, you may have to be prepared to get little to zero holiday when you start out. It won't be straightforward would be my guess, but I came here on an intra-company transfer so I haven't been exposed to what it is like here.

I also can't comment on schooling as our eldest is pre-kindergarten.

There are lots of threads about Houston though, so there should be some pretty useful info out there.

Mr Weeze

Last edited by Mr Weeze; May 22nd 2012 at 12:35 pm. Reason: typo
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Old May 22nd 2012, 1:32 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

If you can afford to do it Houston is nice. I was shocked at how expensive a lot of the kids activities are. There are free things you can do. Your neighborhood might have splash pads, play parks etc. The local libraries do some free activities. Some of the things I looked at doing with my 3 1/2 year old were $25/half hour with a joining fee as well.
I'd be worried about that rent. Check HAR.com as someone else has mentioned. I like Houston life, but I don't think I'd like it as much in a not so nice area without pool access etc.
You'll be looking at Kindergarden for your youngest. Someone else has already given the school guide website. As a generalization, schools in the loop and within Houston ISD are not as well rated as the burbs.
There are lots of fun things, zoo, museums etc

Last edited by Weeze; May 22nd 2012 at 1:55 pm.
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Old May 22nd 2012, 2:21 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Originally Posted by Parisangel View Post
I am assuming I won't be able to work?
That'll depend on the specific visa your husband gets.

Ian
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Old May 22nd 2012, 2:36 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Originally Posted by Parisangel View Post
Hello! I hope some of you lovely people can help me. My husband has just had a job offer in Houston. We live in the UK and have never lived abroad before, we're trying to figure out if it will be worth the move, so I really appreciate any help.

We have 2 children ages 4 and 6. So I guess my questions are as follows:

What's Houston like? Do you like living there and why?

Recommendations for nice, upscale, SAFE areas to live with a family. Hubby will be working at Baylor College of Medicine. Don't mind a reasonable commute for a really nice area.

Is around $1700 a reasonable amount to budget for rent??

Buy or lease cars - how does it work?

I am a self employed HR consultant - I am assuming I won't be able to work?

My son is due to start school in September here in the Uk, is it the same in US? How easy / hard is it to get a school place?

I guess that will do to start with...thanks so much for any help.

Helen
We moved from Scotland (almost) 4 years ago and have just got our Greencards and plan to stay long term. First and foremost Houston is huge!!! - in 4 years hubby has put over 70,000 miles on his car and I have about 26,000 on mine. We love the blue skies almost all year long - I had no idea how much that can improve how you feel every day. There is lots to do year round - sports, theatre, swimming, cinema, classes, concerts, whatever you like to do. We moved with our son who was nine and he likes school here much more than he did in the UK, the kids here are much more polite and less 'nasty' to one another, even now at 13 (but that could just be luck).

Where to live will be very dependent on hubby's commute as traffic is probably one our only complaints about living here. For the medical centre Sugarland, Pearland (that's where we live) are good suggestions. You may pay a bit more for rent, depending on where you decide to live. Don't make the mistake in thinking Houston is a 'cheap' place to live. We find that we are about the same month to month as we were in the UK albeit we get more bang for our buck - bigger house, nicer cars, eat out more.

We bought cars rather than lease, only because we never thought it was a good deal to lease but I know lots of folk do lease.

You 'may' be able to work depending on hubby's visa. For example my husband was an L1A Visa and as his spouse I got an L2. If I had then applied for an EAD I could have worked, I just chose not to .

As someone else said you don't have to worry about 'places' at school, your children will go to whichever school your home is zoned to - we have been very lucky with my sons schools so far.

This is our first time living abroad too and I can remember what a big decision it was to move, but we are so glad we took the plunge. Even if we had moved back it would have been a great experience and who knows if the chance would have ever come up again.

If you have any questions just ask or fire me a PM. Also check out city-data.com in the Houston forum for more specific information.
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Old May 22nd 2012, 2:50 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Welcome to BE and good luck!


You've already been pointed in the direction of city-data and of previous threads, which will give you loads of info.

The wiki here also has a good bit of advice over what the visa's mean to you as well as things to look into for a relocation package.

As for cars, just like anywhere else, you drop money, you either get a lease or you buy it. The DMV for the state will go over the costs involved in plating, registering, inspecting and anything else like licenses. Quite a few threads going over the idea of buy v lease, as well as giving info on who best to help when not having any US credit history.
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Old May 22nd 2012, 3:16 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Welcome! Most of the salient points have been covered already. You can rent for $1,700/month in a house (I did), but you won't find them at that price in good school areas. As schools are zoned here, that's the best place to start if you have a general idea of location. West U is great, but prohibitively expensive (you'd need a household income of >$250k to live there imo). I don't know the south and east of Houston that well

If your visa will allow you to work, I think you'll find work easily enough although you may have to spend some time looking at the slightly different systems over here for HR. The visa will be the limitation though.

I like it here. My wife's a Houstonian and so has family here which makes it easier for us. We live out in the 'burbs and love it. I have a 25 mile commute to work but it's worth it for me to be in a good school district and in a decent house with space rather than cramped up somewhere with not-so-good schools inside the loop.

You will do a lot of driving. I bought a new car 2 months ago and already have done over 4k miles on it. You'll do 10k miles a year without breaking a sweat on your main family car, everything is very spread out.

Good luck to you!
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Old May 22nd 2012, 4:01 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Wow, thanks for all the info, most disheartening news on the rental prices though! I saw and liked the look of Katy though not sure what kind of commute that would mean!

Thanks again, keep the info coming!!
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Old May 22nd 2012, 4:06 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Originally Posted by Parisangel View Post
Thanks again, keep the info coming!!
Be sure to let us know what visa your husband is getting, as soon as you know. That will help us to help you.

Rene
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Old May 22nd 2012, 4:22 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

It's a H1B Visa I believe! Are rents are high in Katy? thanks
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Old May 22nd 2012, 4:42 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

Currently there are 247 homes for lease in the Katy market area. It is a pretty big area. Rents range from 975-6,000 a month. You mentioned 1,700 a month, and that will get you a VERY nice home in Katy.
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Old May 22nd 2012, 5:11 pm
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Default Re: Possible move to Houston, Texas - please help!

It depends what you are looking for. I think rents are high everywhere near Houston. It's unlikely to get you a pool. If you are in cinco ranch that wouldn't matter as you can use all the area pools. I was suprised how little you got for your money when we viewed properties. We pay a lot more than that, but we have a 4 bed with pool. We struggled to find somewhere to lease with our dog and had to up our budget.
Your commute would depend on how near the freeways you were as Kafy is massive. The best bet would be to try and get a trip out here with a realtor to show you some areas and give you an idea of housing. We found the descriptions on HAR very misleading as they double counted and in one case triple counted rooms.
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