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Relocating to USA

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Relocating to USA

Postby bijin » Mon, 15 Jan 2007 2:37 pm

My husband (Australian) working in Singapore for >7 years, I'm a Singaporean (live and bred here) with a young daughter 8 months old. Thinking of relocating to Houston, Texas.

Not sure whether is this the right place to ask for advise or not?

Need advise or experience on the living conditions, education for my daughter, security issue etc. Looking forward to any feedbacks.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 15 Jan 2007 3:25 pm

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Postby Strong Eagle » Tue, 16 Jan 2007 10:26 am

I lived in Houston from 1966 until I moved to Singapore in 2004. I raised kids there.

Houston is an OK place to live. On the plus side, Houston is close to various recreational activities (1 to 2 hour drive). Compared to other large cities the crime rate is OK. Housing is relatively cheap.

On the negative side Houston is a very large spread out city. A car is a must and everyone drives everywhere. Without zoning growth is relatively uncontrolled. Traffic can be bad but not nearly as bad as other cities. Pollution is low, although there are high ozone days.

Houston is on the gulf coast and is very humid, like Singapore. Summers are very hot with temperatures reaching 95 to 102 on a daily basis. Winters are generally mild, snow is very rare.

Houston has a first class symphony, ballet, and opera. There are a huge number of restaurants. But Houston doesn't have any attractions that other major US cities do.

Houston is a city that works. Its primary industries are petrochemical and medical. Unemployment is very low and technical and professional people are in strong demand. If you want good jobs, relatively low cost of living, and an OK night scene, then Houston is hard to beat.

Schools are questionable and vary. People in the Houston Independent School District tend to send their kids to private schools if at all possible (although there are a few very good schools). Professionals opt to live in the suburbs and commute to work in order to be in better school districts.

Here is how I feel about Houston. I would rather live in Singapore than Houston, and I would rather live in Houston that Kuala Lumpur. In terms of living in big US cities, Houston is probably one of the better but if it were not for family I would opt for a smaller city, perhaps Austin, or perhaps in the Carolinas.

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Postby ChicagoMike » Tue, 16 Jan 2007 1:49 pm

since i spent only several months in houston (working on projects), i cannot contribute too much. but I fully agree with what Strong Eagle said. especially the part about houston being very spread-out and un-planned. you NEED a car (meaning: one car for each adult family memeber) to exist / have a life in Houston. it is extremely rare to be able to walk to a grocers from your house (unless you live in one of the few high-rise condo areas).

other things about Houston (and Texas in general) that I noted:
- religeon is an important aspect of social life. It is very common for people to talk openly about what church they go to, and it is common to ask you about your practices (what church do you go to?) very early in the conversation (this was much more the case in Dallas, in my experience).
- there is essentially no public transportation. Yes, there are busses; but they are so infrequent and the city so spread out, that it is essentially worthless (unless you are desperate).
- summer weather can be brutal. I get the sense that it is worse than singapore, since Houston has comparatively less tree / vegitation density (and those huge parking lots feel like open furnaces).
- the lack of zoned planning is just strange. any type of building (restaurant, school, housing complex, gun shop) could be right next to any other type.
- flash floods. when it rains, it floods. i was told this is because the ground is mostly hard rock, so the rain cannot absorb into the ground. maybe i just had bad luck, but within 6 months, i experienced 2 rounds of flooding.
- gun culture. the vast majority of gun owners are law-obiding, nice people who like their guns for sport or cultural connection. but Texas allows for concieled carrying of handguns (is this still the case?); and you will see "check your gun" signs in some businesses. these signs are (more often than not) not a joke.
- sales taxes are high (because there is no Texas state income tax).

still, houston is alright. the people have their own ways, but they are generally very nice people.

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Postby Makan24-7 » Wed, 24 Jan 2007 3:07 pm

StrongEagle and ChicagoMike have basically spelt out the major points about Houston from an American's perspective.

Let me offer you a local's perspective. I'm Malaysian but have lived in the US for some years. I've been to Dallas and Houston a fair share in that time and lived in large and small US cities in that time.

If you are very comfortable living like a local in a large Asian city like Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai or KL, then US cities like Houston will take some getting used to cos the convenience that Asians growing up in SG or HKG are non-existent except in NYC, SF and to a much lesser extent, Chicago. No more mamak or hawker stalls especially late night places to walk out to late at night at 3am when yr tummy growls.

On the upside, Houston has quite a large Asian community and getting local stuff like belacan and kangkung to cook local delicacies isn't that difficult. Haha, even getting the latest Mando-Pop or Canto-Pop albums or TVB or Korean dramas are easy but be prepared to pay more than 10x what you are getting now in SG.

Then again, one going abroad must be able to be as open-minded to change as possible. I'm just telling you what you'll need to get used to having come from this part of the world.

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Postby luckytweety » Sun, 13 May 2007 11:58 pm


I think if you like big cities, Houston is pretty cool! You can choose to stay in Sugarland... Well, it is a bit outside Houston, but I personally like the area there...

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