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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Houston here she comes!

Uploaded: Jun 12, 2015
It is immediately obvious whether the person to whom I'm speaking has ever been to Houston when I mention that our soon-to-be-college-graduate daughter is moving there for a job. Folks that have lived in Houston or visited for longer than an overnight business trip are actually pretty enthusiastic. Those with less knowledge or personal experience in the city, not so much. They give me this incredulous look that says it all. "Houston, really?"
I admit, when I first heard the news I made the same kind of face. I didn't have anything against Houston, in fact, other than watching the Apollo launches as a child, I had never given Houston more than a few moments' consideration, but now Houston is front and center in our lives!
The first challenge of having our daughter move there is that it is the only major metropolitan area in the US where we don't know anybody. Not a single third cousin, business associate, or former college roommate settled in Houston. So, we made a point of telling everyone we know that she has accepted a job there in hopes of finding someone who knew someone in Houston.
In the end, it was our youngest daughter who hit the jackpot by sharing the news of her big sister's plans with her swim team carpool. The mom driving that day had not just one, but two, very friendly friends in Houston who both immediately responded to an email introduction with recommendations for livable neighborhoods, great restaurants, and offers to meet for a meal or a tour. Eureka!
A few weeks ago my daughter and I met in Houston to scour the city for an affordable apartment in a walk-able neighborhood. To our surprise, we found a number of apartments that met her requirements, and her apartment will be the envy of her friends living in San Francisco in apartments half the size and twice the price. Did we mention she has a pool, too?
We also ate amazing food, drove by a lot of museums we intend to return to, walked along the bayou, shopped at an authentic upscale Middle Eastern market, and on a balmy evening stumbled upon the Houston Opera's performance in the park of The Magic Flute. The luckiest thing about our trip, though, was that we flew home before the freeways were submerged under 14 feet of water. Torrential rains swept through the Houston only hours after we departed causing flash flooding, deaths, and extensive damage. We were assured by the locals that this happens only once every 10 years. Hopefully she will be back in California before then!
What is it worth to you?


Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Jun 13, 2015 at 7:55 am

"Houston, it's a launch! " Or soon to be one! Congratulations to all!!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thank, LJ!

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 14, 2015 at 9:14 pm

As a former Houston resident (and Midwesterner and East Coaster) here's my take. People are VERY friendly. Real estate is affordable. There is lots of culture, museums, restaurants, etc. I think at some point, Houston had more restaurants per capita than any other US city. The minuses - the weather is absolutely horrible (humid or humid). Again, the weather is absolutely horrible (and I grew up in the humid midwest). The weather in Houston is nice for literally about 3 weeks in February. The bugs are huge and people are very chauvinistic. I think its a very hard place to be a female. That said, its probably great training for working almost anywhere else!

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 14, 2015 at 9:18 pm

Some advice - if/when she moves from Texas, most people will assume an amazing amount of negative things if you tell them you lived in Texas, unless its Austin. Lived in Houston for 4 years then moved to Boston. Even the Texas plates were an issue. Texas has a definite reputation in the rest of the US.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 15, 2015 at 10:40 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear palo alto parent,
Thanks for reading and commenting, and your assessment of life in (and after) Houston. The weather and insects will be a challenge although she won't miss the arctic blasts of wind in Chicago. It sounds like Houston would never have existed had air-conditioning not been invented!
She hasn't come to terms yet with relinquishing her California driver's license for a Texas ID! We haven't broached the subject of the Texas plates. One challenge at a time!

Posted by Agenda, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 15, 2015 at 4:42 pm

"and her apartment will be the envy of her friends living in San Francisco in apartments half the size "

Then they will realize that this,apartment is in Houston!!!! Besides the stifling heat and humidity, you have a terrible crime rate in Houston.
Then of course, Houston is in Texas-- with all the gun crazies and the total lack of concern for women's reproductive rights ( check out stories about laws designed to deny women a right to choose). Plus the oppressive nature of the born agains that are found in every nook and cranny of Texas.
I am sure her friends will pay the extra rent and say thanks god we do not have to live in texas

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 16, 2015 at 7:07 am

Very few people walk in Houston. There's a reason why it is consistently rated the fattest city in the U.S.

Web Link

Posted by Laura, a resident of another community,
on Jun 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Congratulations to her and the excitement of starting her first job! It's great that she will be able to live affordably, and perhaps even save money -- something that young people starting out in the Bay Area are challenged with these days. Those of us who are lucky enough to live here (but came from other wonderful areas of the US) know that it's healthy to explore other parts of our country. Texas may have its challenges (at least they have water now), but the Bay Area isn't without some serious ones as well. And like most large cities, the crime rate in Houston is certainly bad in some neighborhoods, but no worse than most large cities -- no Texas cities made the top 50.

Countdown to the Top 50 Most Dangerous Cities 2015
50 Jackson, MI
49 Gary, IN
48 Springfield, MO
47 Gadsden, AL
46 Miami, FL
45 Hartford, CT
44 Niagara Falls, NY
43 East Palo Alto, CA
42 East Point, GA
41 Brockton, MA
40 Stockton, CA
39 Indianapolis, IN
38 Chelsea, MA
37 Kansas City, MO
36 New Haven, CT
35 Tulsa, OK
34 Lake Worth, FL
33 Daytona Beach, FL
32 Compton, CA
31 Buffalo, NY
30 Newark, NJ
29 Washington, DC
28 Atlanta, GA
27 Trenton, NJ
26 Birmingham, AL
25 Bridgeton, NJ
24 Jackson, TN
23 Milwaukee, WI
22 Fort Pierce, FL
21 Spartanburg, SC
20 Rockford, IL
19 Little Rock, AR
18 Baltimore, MD
17 Homestead, FL
16 Cleveland, OH
15 Newburgh, NY
14 St. Louis, MO
13 Harvey, IL
12 Myrtle Beach, SC
11 Alexandria, LA
10 Memphis, TN
9 Wilmington, DE
8 Atlantic City, NJ
7 Flint, MI
6 Bessemer, AL
5 Oakland, CA
4 Saginaw, MI
3 Detroit, MI
2 Chester, PA
1 Camden, NJ

Web Link

Posted by six of one, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 16, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Well, Laura if you look at the website you linked to, you will see that Houston is the 68th worst city for crime
If you click on Houston in that list you get:

Web Link

You will see that Houston has a crime index of 4 (100 is the best) meaning that Houston is safer than 4% of the cities in the US
National median crime index is 3.8 (means your chances of being a victim of crime) In texas you have a 1 in 245 chance of being a crime victim. In houston it is 1 in 95 (or a crime index of 10.5).

Houston is a sinkhole of crime, but if you have a large apartment with low rent, I guess you will just have to be careful. I also wonder how much her elctric bill will be, since she will be blasting her AC day and night

Posted by Peggy and John, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 26, 2015 at 10:41 am

Congratulations to your daughter! Forbes Magazine recently placed Houston as the "Number One City for Young Professionals." And that's not all! The EPA has recognized Houston as the "Number One Municipal Purchaser of Green Power" which compliments Houston's electric vehicle fleet and urban rail system. Houston is a world leader in climate initiatives and was recently celebrated at the US Conference of Mayors for its renewable energy policies, recycling programs, and non-polluting transportation, including its extensive use of bicycles. Houston's mission is to become the most livable, equitable, and sustainable place in the nation and it is quickly becoming the model of an enjoyable urban experience that is much more than sustainable.
Houston is a setting worthy of young energy and excitement and the perfect location for your daughter's newest adventure. We are thrilled for her and grateful for your excellent blog!

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