Author Topic: Calling All Houstonian Mustachians  (Read 1966 times)

Plebia

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Calling All Houstonian Mustachians
« on: February 25, 2016, 08:26:23 AM »
Hi there!

I have recently received an offer to join a startup business in Houston, which would be over a 1000 mile move. Job details aside, I am a bit concerned with the feasibility of living a Mustachian life in Houston, which I have heard is not very walkable/bikeable, has terrible public transport, and is generally not well-suited to a Mustachian lifestyle.

Any Mustachians currently living in Houston that can give me more information on the pros and cons of the area? Seems like all articles I've read are from a non-Mustachian perspective (Pros: Great Shopping!).

As some background on my current situation, I do not own a car, live less than a mile from work and bike frequently, and live in the Great Lakes region.

Any input is appreciated, thank you!

Lucky Girl

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Re: Calling All Houstonian Mustachians
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2016, 08:53:54 AM »
Hi Plebia,

I am not a current Houstonian, but as my birthplace and current home to my parents I would say I know it fairly well.  I would say a great deal will depend on the location of your new workplace, and its proximity to reasonable housing.  Houston is a sprawling metropolis, which means having a car can be considered essential.  However, there are pockets of the downtown area that are more bike and walking friendly. 

Houston Pros-
-Cheap real estate
-good biking weather 6-8 months of the year (depending on your heat/humidity tolerance)
-general low cost of living
-great ethnic neighborhoods
-great TexMex (ok, not a mustachian feature, but I grew up on Pappasito's and I miss it!)

Houston Cons-
-poor public transportation
-unbearable heat/humidity in summer
-good school districts are few/far between and rarely near good jobs

Check out the blog http://www.slowlysippingcoffee.com.  They are a couple raising two kids in Houston, who plan on getting out as soon as they hit their FI number.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Calling All Houstonian Mustachians
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2016, 08:55:36 AM »
The public transport is fairly effective from my understanding - they recently redid the bus system to try to be more useful, and some new light rail lines have gone in. Because of the lack of zoning, nearly all employment centers have housing very close by. Walking or biking to work can be difficult simply because you don't want to show up to to work covered in sweat; the climate will certainly be an adjustment for you. What part of town are the offices in?

I found that food was much less expensive in Houston than it is in the Northeast.

This is probably a great time to move to Houston and rent, because during the oil boom a lot of apartment complexes were started that are just now being completed, right when people are no longer moving to Houston.

Noodle

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Re: Calling All Houstonian Mustachians
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2016, 08:58:20 AM »
The answer is...it's complicated.

Houston can be incredibly unmustachian if you get yourself in the situation where you have to drive a lot to make your life work, like a lot of people who work and live far apart. It's also a climate that more or less requires air conditioning at least six months of the year, which means higher power bills. Between medical, energy, and all the banks and lawyers for the first two, there's a lot of money here, which means that for a certain percentage of the population, there is plenty of conspicuous consumption.

But you can also choose to make a Mustachian life here, especially if you find a way to live close to work. You can take advantage of the taco trucks, ethnic groceries, parks, libraries, free events, the fact that while the summers are miserable, the winters have really nice weather. You can also enjoy the trickle-down from all the wealth (buying gently used items, the fact that there is a lot of philanthropy that funds arts, parks, etc, the fancy restaurants that have great happy hours, etc). Houston doesn't necessarily present itself well to casual visitors, because the area doesn't have a lot of natural beauty, and the lack of zoning makes for a weird urban landscape--its best feature is the people. The city is incredibly diverse, and the people I have gotten to know here are generally very kind, generous, welcoming to outsiders, etc.

At one time, you could buy a home here and have access to a lot of big city amenities (museums, health care, parks) etc. along with pretty cheap housing. Those days are more or less over unless you have the tolerance to bet on a gentrifying neighborhood...I would say we are MCOL now. (Still nothing like Seattle, San Francisco, New York, etc). The Metro system just did a system-wide route redesign that is supposed to make the system much more usable, and I do know that some of the staff where I work use it. (A big issue that the city doesn't have much control over is that because of the climate, public transportation is unattractive to those with other options because a good part of the year you're going to be out in either withering heat or, potentially, torrential rain).

It would be tough to operate without any vehicle here, but I also came from a situation of having no car and have adapted to being a driver again. If you could get yourself into a situation of not having to drive much (like living and working inside the Loop), you could definitely get by with a cheap used car.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2016, 09:07:46 AM by Noodle »

ooeei

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Re: Calling All Houstonian Mustachians
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2016, 09:46:23 AM »
I currently live in NW Houston, and while I'll agree that some places could be Mustachian, it REALLY depends on the specific area and your personality.  Personally, I have about a 6 mile drive to work (15 minutes), girlfriend has about 10 miles (20-30 minutes).  This is coming from Austin where I biked 1/2 mile to work (but my girlfriend still drove ~15 miles then). 

There are a few apartments within a couple of miles of my workplace, but they're not ones I'd want to live in, and are about the same price as my current place, not to mention farther from my GF's job.  Biking in my area would be risky at best, I've seen people on bikes on the roadways around here maybe twice in the last year and a half I've lived here.  No bike lanes, small shoulders, nonexistent sidewalks.  It's not at all designed for biking.  Almost everyone here commutes 45++ minutes one way every day (8/10 people I asked at my office commute 50-75 minutes one way), so they get pretty pissed off if a person on a bike slows them down.  Not something I'm interested in trying to reform myself.  Add to that the crazy heat/humidity in the summer and the car exhaust, and biking is not something I'm interested in doing for transport to work in this area.  COULD I bike to work?  Yeah, if that was my main priority.  For me it's not worth it.  If I bought a house I could get a nice one closer to work and bike, but right now I'm not interested in doing that.  Even then, my girlfriend would still have to drive to her job.  Public transportation here is very limited.  I'm sure there are some people/locations it's perfect for, but they are definitely the minority.

Cost of living here is relatively low, so I'm told.  I've only lived in small town TX, here, and Austin.  There is a park and grocery store within walking distance of our apartment, which is nice.  The main driving issue is meeting up with people.  The average person commutes so far every day, it's going to be hard to convince anyone you get together with that it should be close to your house, so you'll probably have to drive at least a fair bit to get to meet ups.  For example, if you live within a half mile of work, make a work friend, and want to go do something with them, there's a decent chance they live 40 miles away.  They probably also don't want to go somewhere super close to work, and have some bar or restaurant they really like 20 miles away.  Whether that is an issue for you is for you to decide.  I frequently have family or friends who are "in Houston visiting" and want to get together, but finding somewhere halfway between us can result in a 45+ minute drive after work during rush hour just to get dinner.  It's pretty tough to tell someone you don't want to drive 30 minutes (what google maps says) to see them when they just came in from somewhere 4 hours away and want to see you.

Restaurants here are great, but again very spread out.  We don't eat out very much, but do occasionally when people visit.  There's a stellar Pho place about 2 miles from us, but again I wouldn't be comfortable biking there.  One problem is someone always knows of this "great ____ place" that they want you to go to with them, and it ends up being 25 miles away.  We go rarely and have people come over to our place for dinner often, but it's still tough to constantly turn people down, especially when they may be driving farther than us.

To sum up, I'd recommend coming here and checking out the specific area if at all possible before deciding.  At least figure out where it is and let us know so we can get a better idea for you. If you can spend a long weekend, and preferably a few weekdays in the area to see what it's like.  The culture here is so casual about driving long distances, socializing is difficult without long car trips.  If you work a typical 9-5, even worse. 
« Last Edit: February 25, 2016, 09:50:12 AM by ooeei »

slugline

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Re: Calling All Houstonian Mustachians
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2016, 08:16:48 PM »
There isn't "one monolithic Houston." The metro area is the size of Massachusetts and has everything from highly walk/bike-friendly urban neighborhoods to exurban car clown hell. Mustachian lifestyle is quite possible here but it all hinges on where your jobsite is located. The right choice of work/home arrangement can definitely enable a car-free or car-light lifestyle. Transit access is definitely better than it used to be, but the bar was set pretty low. Uber operates in Houston; Lyft does not.

Plebia

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Re: Calling All Houstonian Mustachians
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2016, 06:21:31 AM »
Thank you to all responders so far, it's been really helpful!

I would love to come down and check it out, unfortunately as this is going to be a start-up company they do not yet have offices settled. So once they do make those arrangements, should be in the next month or so, I'll be able to get a better idea of the neighborhood I'm trying for.