There’s more to Houston than meets the eye.  H-Town offers more than the stereotypical cowboys, cattle, and oil wells. While many small towns across the Lone Star state are home to those things, Texas cities like Austin, Dallas and Houston are more urbane and sophisticated.  If you are planning a move to Houston, you may already be aware of its diversity and thriving economy, but here are five unique facts that you may not know about the Bayou City.

1. More than a Boom Town – Houston is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Houston’s population now ranks fourth in the nation, with more than 2.3 million people living within the city limits and nearly 6.8 million living within the metro area. There are many factors that contribute to the rapid growth, but part of the answer lies in Houston’s entrepreneurial spirit: Houston has always valued and cultivated risk-takers and go-getters. It’s no wonder this city has produced such impressive achievements as the Port of Houston (the nation’s second-largest in total tonnage), the Texas Medical Center (the world’s largest, most renowned medical complex) and the Johnson Space Center (home of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

Although Houston is known for oil and natural gas, only about 3,700 Houston business establishments are tied to the energy industry. Other notable industries are business services, medical and biotechnology, aviation and aerospace, information technology, and manufacturing.  Twenty of the Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in Houston, and more than half of the world’s 100 largest foreign-based corporations operate here.

2. Houston is Full of Energy…Literally! – In some cities, residents rely on one energy provider or their local utility to power their homes. Due to the competitive energy market, Houston residents can choose the energy company that fits their lifestyle, taking advantage of competitive rates, service and rewards. Direct Energy offers customers a wide choice of plan options, as well as great customer support and rewards programs. After reviewing the various plans available, we found that no electric provider in Texas offers more free weekend hours than Direct Energy.*  With Free Power Weekends, you won’t be charged for the electricity you use from Friday at 6 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. If you are doing household chores, entertaining friends – or even moving – scheduling these activities over the weekend can save you money!

3. Never a Dull Moment– There is so much to do and see in Houston and its surrounding areas. The city is internationally recognized for its arts and entertainment, shopping, sports, dining and world-class attractions and events. Best of all, there are numerous budget-friendly (or free) things to do, like attending free concerts at the Miller Outdoor Theater or strolling around Discovery Green.

Art and Entertainment Houston’s renowned Museum District lies just south of downtown and is a dynamic testament to the city’s commitment to the visual arts.  There are 20 museums to choose from, all within a 12-block radius, including The Children’s Museum and Museum of Natural Science. Houston’s theater district, home to nine performing arts organizations in a 17-block area, has the second-highest concentration of theater seating of any city in the nation, according to city officials.

Shopping- Houston is indeed a shopping mecca. It’s home to a Project Runway-winner and more than a dozen distinct shopping areas, with retailers that range from vintage to high-end designer. For luxury shopping, Galleria is Houston’s main destination, followed by the newly established River Oaks District. Locals can also shop at chic boutiques and shopping centers near their neighborhoods. Bargain hunters frequent Harwin Drive or one of the outlet malls located just outside the Houston city limits, like Houston Premium Outlet.  Houston’s antique retailers and thrift stores have an endless array of wares celebrating bygone eras.

Sports- Houston is a sports town where fans can cheer for professional and collegiate teams year-round. In addition to having five championship-winning, professional sports teams and four state-of-the art sports arenas, Houston has hosted numerous major sporting events, such as three Super Bowls and three NBA All-Star games.  Other annual professional sporting events include the Shell Houston Open and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, an event that attracts nearly 2 million visitors during this 20-day extravaganza.

Dining – Houston is a paradise for foodies.  The restaurant scene is just as diverse as its population.  With 10,000 restaurants representing cuisine from more than 70 countries and American regions, Houston’s restaurant scene is as ethnically diverse as its more than 6 million residents. From Mediterranean to Indian, Greek, Sushi, and of course Tex-Mex and BBQ! With such a vast and varied assortment of eateries to choose from, many Houstonians rely on word of mouth to make their selections.  Prices range from high-end restaurants to food trucks. Plus, with major food events like the World’s Champion Bar-B-Que Festival and The Original Greek Festival, there are culinary events year-round to satisfy cuisine cravings from around the world.

Places to Play – Houston is home to diverse ecosystems for us to explore with more than 366 municipal parks and an additional 200 green spaces. Numerous bayous run through Houston and even through residents’ backyards, prompting the nickname “Bayou City.” Whether you want to enjoy outdoor recreational activities, dog parks or fine dining al fresco, be sure to check out Memorial Park, Buffalo Bayou Park or Hermann Park Conservancy, which are all located within the city limits.

4. Houston is HOT, HOT, HOT – Air conditioning in your car and home is a must year-round. Houston has a subtropical climate that is known for blazing summers, mild winters and perpetual humidity. This means Houstonians can enjoy patio weather as early as January. If you are moving to Houston, take advantage of the competitive energy market to save money and keep your home cool with ab electricity plan that gives over 100 days of free power!  Enjoy Free Power Weekends from Friday at 6 p.m. to Sunday at 11:59 p.m., every weekend for 12 months.

So, are you ready to move to Houston? If you’re still on the fence, one additional thing to know about the Bayou city is that it’s residents are unbelievably kind, welcoming and happy to help newcomers at a moment’s notice. With approximately 259 people moving to the city each day, Houston is experiencing tremendous growth and is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

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The Relocation Guide

Powered by Direct Energy, the Relocation Guide provides helpful tips, resources, and information for your move to Houston or Dallas. Both cities are home to unique opportunities and cultures, so we’ve collected and curated recommendations to ensure a stress-free relocation. Read more here.