Texas is known for many things. The Lone Star state is reputed for good barbecue, hot weather, and Southern hospitality. But is Houston worthy of “Everything is Bigger” motto? In a state as big as Texas, not every city can be a winner, and Houston just might be not it.
Hurricanes and tropical storms aren’t just an occurrence in Houston, they’re the norm. I knew several people when I lived in Houston whose houses had flooded more than once during hurricanes.
The streets are designed to drain away from the water, which helps with flooding houses, but will make you stay put during rainstorms. If you move to Houston, be prepared to be stranded at three in the afternoon because the streets have turned into rivers, the sky is pitch black, and there is lightning so bad the thunder will shake you.
It’s not so bad if you’re trying to feel like a character in a gothic novel, but if you like not having knee-deep water in their front yard, or evacuating their house in a canoe, the storms may just chase you right out.
2. Palmetto Bugs
Before living in Houston, I naively believed cockroaches were native to dumpsters, trash heaps, and other waste piles. I was wrong. They live in the ever-abundant palm fronds, earning the name “palmetto bugs”.
Cutesy name or not, roaches the size of candy bars run rampant, not just outside, but in every building in Houston. They come to shelter from the cold, and once they arrive, they have no intention of leaving. Some cockroaches can even fly, meaning the horror is airborne.
Cockroaches are infamous for being hard to kill and a spreader of disease, making them an especially unwelcome house guest that Houston has shown a bit too much southern hospitality to. I’ve never thought of myself as someone opposed to Mother Nature, but when it comes to giant flying roaches, it’s a no from me.
Nothing beats the Texas heat! Houston is hot nearly all year round. It’s not so bad in the fall and spring when the weather is warm enough for swimming and picnicking, but in the summer, you’ll wish you were never born.
Temperatures in Houston tend to stay constant, so the night does not offer very much of a reprieve from the blistering sun. Sunburns are inevitable, and some days will taunt you by being perfectly clear and beautiful, but too hot to spend time outside.
Once, I left butter on the windowsill to soften in the bright, beautiful sunlight, and all of it melted. Keep your pets and plants inside, and hope that your house doesn’t spontaneously combust.
If the heat doesn’t get you, the humidity will. The air will sometimes get so humid, that everything you touch feels damp. Food will never keep, the heat and humidity will melt anything you try to keep into a puddle.
Don’t keep candy in your pocket, or chocolate in your car. Exercising outside will leave you looking like someone sprayed you with a fire hose. One thing that annoyed me especially was the fact that nothing dried. There was no point in putting washed dishes on a drying rack because they would never dry.
The humidity can also make you ignore dehydration, so make sure you’re drinking lots of water in this damp soup of a city, and be prepared to feel sticky 200% of the time.
5. Stuff Doesn’t Grow
You would think, with all that sunshine and water, Houston would have a flourishing variety of flora to go with it, right? Well, you would be wrong. The soil in Houston is sandy, rocky, and does not contain very many nutrients, so only a few kinds of plants can actually grow.
What does grow tends to not be very colorful, and edible plants are scarce. If you want to grow something nonnative, be prepared to water it constantly, and keep it indoors for much of the summer. If you come to Houston, forget the flower garden. You can try some palm trees, but then, those come full of palmetto bugs.
Texas has a reputation for being a small town, country sort of place, but Houston is the exception. Always growing, swallowing other areas, Houston is very much a full-blooded city, with very urban outskirts.
Cowboys and Texas are often linked, but in Houston, the closest thing to a real cowboy you’ll come across is a cowboy hat. If you like crowded, conformed cities with little open space, Houston might just be the place for you.
The only positive aspect I can think of about the dense city streets is the food, which tends to flourish in crowded places with lots of different people offering different dishes. For some small-town good humor, however, cross this off the list.
Houston floods in Biblical proportions. Schools have been canceled due to water leaking in, and hospitals have had to evacuate patients because the first floor was slowly turning into a swimming pool.
If you must live in Houston, live on a hill, and make sure you have good flood insurance. You may also want to invest in a pair of very high rubber boots. Stepping in a puddle that soaks your entire shoes is a surefire way to ruin any day. The worst is when the rainwater gets into your high rubber boots. On second thought, you may just want to get a nice wetsuit.
Many scientists consider mosquitos to be the most dangerous animal in the world, and I have to agree. Mosquitos are big spreaders of diseases like malaria and will breed in water supplies.
Their bites leave welts that itch for weeks, and they will attack any bare piece of skin they come across. I hope you weren’t planning on rolling up your pants an inch above your socks, because that’s a surefire way to get a ring of mosquito bites on your ankles, til you look like a chicken pox victim.
The heat will drive you to wear shorter clothes, and the mosquitos will make you want to wrap your entire body in plastic. The best way to avoid constant attacks is to use copious amounts of bug spray. The smell is bothersome to the mosquitos, but unfortunately, it is just as bothersome to humans.
9. Fire Ants
I can’t talk about biting insects without bringing up the infamous fire ants. Ants are often used as a metaphor for determination and endurance, and fire ants are no exception.
They can nest anywhere, and even survive the constant floods by linking together to make a raft of floating ants. The best thing about this ant raft is that it will break up when it hits any solid surface, which means if you’re unlucky enough to bump into one during a flood, you could find yourself covered in biting ants.
Their bites leave a small welt that resembles a pimple, which will itch for days or weeks. After stepping in an anthill while wearing sandals, I ended up with ant bites in between my toes. Not fun.
Let’s take a break from insects to discuss another biting animal – alligators. While not as common as in other parts of the US, like Florida, alligators do call Houston home!
Alligators are not picky, about their home or their food. They will happily nest in your neighborhood fishing pond and snap at any small dogs that come near it. There are no species that pose a threat to alligators, except humans, of course, so alligator populations are free to spread.
Never go into a body of water without checking for wildlife! Move to Houston if you want to share your backyard with the toothy smiles of these giant reptiles.
11. Lack of Tourism Options
A city as big as Houston should at least have lots of cool stuff to do, right? Nope. There is little in the way of fun or unique thing to do in Houston.
There are the basic parks and museums, but there are no landmarks, and nowhere you would specifically visit Houston to see. There are beaches, but none are really tourist destinations, being rather small, dirty, and unexciting. Unless you love sitting in humid air and watching hurricanes, there just isn’t much in Houston to see
Surey Houston can’t be that different from other big cities in the US, right? Well, if you’re talking about traffic, you would be correct. It can take hours to get anywhere because of the busy streets in Houston.
The large size of the city means that everything is distanced, as well, so you be trying to drive further distances than normal.
You may think that’s not so bad now, but sitting in traffic in Texas will break you down slowly and surely. Just don’t plan on getting anywhere on time, and you’ll be fine!
13. Ugly Scenery
While you’re sitting in traffic, you can admire the beautiful scenery, right? Except there is no beautiful scenery to be found. Houston is flat, sandy, and little grows. There are no mountains, hills, or waterfalls to beautify this bland city.
Urbanization is in part to blame as well, there isn’t a lot of wildlife beyond the bugs to look at. Houston is a rough place to live, for animals and plants as well as people, so the flora and fauna are built for survival, not aesthetic. This leads to a tough-as-nails, uninspiring landscape. You may as well put away your watercolors now and reconsider moving here.
Crime in Houston is much higher than in the rest of Texas, with your chance of being a victim of violent crime 1 in 78 in Houston and only 1 in 222.
Crime tends to be higher in cities, and Houston is just another example of urban decay. Homicides in Houston are high, and only getting higher.
When I lived in Houston, my parents’ car was broken into in broad daylight, and the radio was ripped out. Keep your doors locked, and think about investing in a security system. You might choose to stay out of Houston just to stay safe, and I wouldn’t blame you.
Thought the weather complaints were over? Nope, Houston also catches the occasional tornado. Once, I had to drive out an hour to help people lift whole trees off of their houses. There was fiberglass, wood, and broken windows everywhere.
When I was cleaning up, I noticed that brick houses tended to be in much better shape than wooden ones. Some were even undamaged. I guess the third little pig was right, brick will keep you safe!
These twisters might leave you alone, or they might destroy your entire house. Just hope that you’re not in it when the roof falls in.
16. Public Transportation
Public transportation anywhere is crappy, but in Houston, it’s crappy enough you might get a train to yourself since nobody else wants to ride. The prices have gone up since Covid, making it far too pricey to get around the city.
This can be especially hard for carless residents since the city is so big it takes forever to get anywhere. We all love transportation that’s expensive and takes forever, don’t we? If you do, Houston is the place for you. You can ride on the bus by yourself, and enjoy your me-time. You’ll have a lot of it.
17. Stress rate
With all of that on their plate, is it any wonder residents of Houston live in one of the most stressed cities in America? Recent studies show that in Houston, the grass just isn’t greener. Financial stress, and the high rate of violent crime, can make anybody tense.
Stress affects everybody, but in Houston, you might be worse off. You could think about taking up yoga, or you could just never come here. If you have the chance, give Houston a wide berth! and if you’re already here, good luck. One of the only things harder than living in Houston is getting out of it.
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