We asked three Redfin real estate agents in Houston to tell us what it’s like to live in the biggest city in Texas. If you are thinking about moving to Houston and are curious what it’s like to live there, this list will give you a taste of life in H-town. If you’re a Houstonian, tell us which “signs” describe you the most, and which signs should have made the list!
1. You forget that, in other cities, it’s offensive to call a young woman “ma’am.”
“There’s plenty of Southern hospitality in Houston. You hear a lot of please and thank you, people greet each other in the street and you wave to people you know. It’s polite to say yes sir and yes ma’am,” said Tara Waggoner, a Redfin real estate agent in Houston.
2. But your Southern hospitality goes out the window when you’re driving.
“There’s definitely Southern hospitality here; people open doors and invite you in for iced tea and lemonade,” said Lee Rusk, a Redfin real estate agent in Houston. “But when you’re on the highway, it’s all about getting out of the way. The people who get into accidents are those who are not aggressive enough! Don’t get in the fast lane and do the speed limit; you’ll cause accidents.”
3. “In the Loop” is a literal statement for you.
“The city is separated based on the highways; there’s south/north of 45, or east/west of 59,” said Karen Martin, a Redfin real estate agent in Houston. “The ‘Inner Loop’ is a freeway called 610; people say you’re ‘inside the loop’ or ‘outside the loop.’ Inside the loop is the downtown area, with hip restaurants and activities. Real estate is more expensive there.”
4. You drive a truck or SUV everywhere, and it’s your baby.
“Unless you live inside the loop, you have to drive everywhere. There’s no rail system to the suburbs; just park and rides for buses,” Martin said. “A lot of people live outside the city and commute in. Trucks and SUVs are popular; it’s Texas!”
5. You don’t think it’s unusual for a skyscraper to be built next to a house.
“There are deed restrictions in Houston, but no zoning laws,” Martin said. “Someone can buy the house next to you and turn it into a business. You can have a bar next to a school. A client of mine was looking at an $800,000 townhome, and behind it was one of the most popular pubs in the Heights. But it will sell! The Heights, Westview; any place inside the loop is popular.”
6. You own a pair of cowboy boots even though you’ve never ridden a horse.
“You see people wearing cowboy boots everywhere in Houston,” Rusk said. “I own a pair of cowboy boots and I wear them even in the summer! Women wear them with dresses throughout the year.”
7. And you can’t wait to wear them at the next rodeo.
“The rodeo is a two- to three-week event, and they bring in major musical acts, from rock to hip-hop to country,” Rusk said. “It all starts with a barbecue cook-off, where people from all over come down and compete in barbecue contests. You can go and sample all of the food, so that’s one of the biggest nights. During the day they have a traditional livestock show and herding, but at night there are concerts and a carnival with rides for the kids.”
8. You don’t have a favorite restaurant, because you can’t pick just one.
“You can find any type of food in Houston, from sushi to tamales to crawfish,” Waggoner said. “There are so many good restaurants and famous chefs, it’s hard to pick a favorite!”
9. Hearing “The Breakfast Klub” doesn’t make you think of an ’80s movie.
“One popular place is called The Breakfast Klub,” Waggoner said. “Every time a celebrity comes in, they go there. Any day of the week there’s a line. It’s known for chicken and waffles.”
10. You swear your home-cooked barbecue is better than what you can get in a restaurant.
“Barbecue is huge in Houston,” Rusk said. “We will barbecue for any event, rain or shine. Smoked barbecue is popular, where you don’t put it directly over the fire but cook it through smoke. It takes longer, but when it’s done, there’s nothing like it. There are a lot of good barbecue restaurants like Killen’s Steak House and Pappas Bar-B-Q, but some of the best places are the small hole-in-the-wall ones; everyone has their favorite.”
11. You start your weekend with a happy hour on Friday and end it with a Sunday Funday.
“Happy hours are really big here, especially on Fridays,” Rusk said. “Sunday used to be when people didn’t do much of anything, but now they’ve transformed it into what they call ‘Sunday Funday.’ You start with mimosas at brunch, then go to a daytime party or barbecue, then it keeps going into the night. It’s the last day of the weekend where people can hang out.”
12. Home is where your heart is.
“Real estate is relatively inexpensive compared with other large cities, and there’s still a lot of land available,” Martin said. “You don’t see a lot of high-rise condo buildings. Everyone wants a yard with a pool and a large kitchen with granite countertops. There are a lot of suburbs around the city, and people like entertaining at home.”
13. It’s never a good hair day, and you’ve come to terms with that.
“It’s hot! In the summer it pushes 110, but then on top of that you have the humidity. You have to make sure you’re using the anti-frizz products,” Waggoner said. “But indoors, it’s the opposite. They say Houston is the coolest city in the world because the AC is running constantly.”
14. You prepare for a mosquito invasion after it rains.
“We have big mosquitoes; they are the size of bats! You know that three days after it rains, they’re going to be out biting,” Waggoner said. “The city will actually spray repellent out of trucks to keep them at bay.”
15. You have a story to tell about Hurricane Ike.
“We get hurricanes, but we’re far enough away from the coastline that we can see them coming and prepare for it,” Rusk said. “But Hurricane Ike was bad; a lot of people waited until the last minute to leave, and although it usually only takes two to three hours to get to Austin or Dallas, it was taking people 10 hours to get out. People ran out of gas, and the highways were congested. We didn’t have power for a few weeks after the storm.”
16. You know someone who works in the oil and gas industry.
“We have all the big oil companies like BP, Apache and Transocean,” Martin said. “Exxon is opening a big new headquarters in the Woodlands.They employ a lot of engineers, business executives, scientists, researchers, consultants and other related positions.”
17. You know people from all over the world.
“Many people relocate to Houston to work in the oil and gas industry, for the Port of Houston or for the medical center,” Martin said. “Fortunately all those job opportunities have kept our economy strong, and we rebounded a lot faster after the housing bubble. There’s new construction everywhere to keep up with the demand for homes, and existing homes are selling quickly.”
18. You’d much rather talk about sports than politics.
“People pay attention to national politics but don’t spend a lot of time talking about it,” Rusk said. “It’s not a big deal. We’re very open, very progressive. You have to be an open-minded person to live here, with all of the diversity in the city. On the other hand, people love to talk about sports, especially what’s going on with Houston teams.”
19. You schedule your weekend around home games.
“Houston has so many professional teams; there’s the Texans, the Rockets, the Astros, the Dynamo … everyone loves to root for the home team,” Martin said. “Football is huge in Texas. Friday Night Lights is a real thing! Pretty much everyone roots for the Texans, and they love to tailgate at the games. You’ll often see people with Texans flags on their cars.”
20. You know which big city is the best in Texas, and it’s not Dallas.
“Dallas and Houston have a bit of a rivalry going on,” Martin said. “It’s a constant competition: who has better restaurants, who has better nightlife, who has the better team.”
21. You have an opinion about what should be done with the Dome.
“The Astrodome is the first sports dome that was ever built,” Rusk said. “It is the ‘eighth wonder of the world.’ It isn’t being used anymore, but people don’t want it to be demolished because it is something that has been a landmark and a national icon for Houston. There have been a lot of different proposals for how to use it.”
22. You’re up to speed on the latest Beyoncé gossip.
“The number of Beyoncé fans here is insane,” Waggoner said. “She’s from Houston, so people have a connection to her. Her concerts always sell out, and everyone talks about her and what she’s wearing.”
23. You’ve had a date night in the Theater District.
“Houston’s Theater District has a lot of great venues, with opera, ballet and all sorts of shows,” Waggoner said. “There seems to always be a major production there.”
24. You know museums aren’t only for adults.
“The museum district is great for families,” Martin said. “There are 20 different museums all within a 10 to 12 block radius of each other. The Children’s Museum and Museum of Natural Science are fun for kids.”
25. You’ve avoided going to the Galleria because of traffic.
“The Galleria is a high-end mall with a lot of designer stores,” Martin said. “Everyone wants to go there when they visit, but it can be tough to get in and out of during rush hour. It can take you 25 minutes to go half a mile in that area.”
26. You really are a fan of all types of music and will see any outdoor show.
“All the big acts come to Houston and there’s a great live music scene,” Rusk said. “One thing that is really popular is outdoor concerts in venues like the Miller Outdoor Theater and Woodlands Pavilion. They start in the evening around sunset, when it’s not so hot. You’ll set up your section with a blanket and your ice chest and watch the show outside.”
For all the Houstonians out there, which “signs” did you like the best, and what did we miss? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or in the comments below. And if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Houston, be sure to get in touch with our local Redfin real estate agents, or check out what’s on the market on Redfin.com.