Kids in Houston
The city is incredibly child-friendly, both in terms of the infrastructure in place to support families and the activities on hand to entertain the little ones.
Expat parents in Houston
Despite being the fourth-largest city in the country, Houston offers expat parents many of the perks of a smaller, suburban community.
Housing and living costs are below the national average, and even families with a single breadwinner can often afford a more spacious home and better quality of life than they're used to.
Most expats with families look for accommodation outside the city centre. And whether they settle into an exclusive neighbourhood like River Oaks, a planned community like Sugar Land or the villages of Woodlands, most have little trouble finding a safe neighbourhood that suits them.
But it's important that expat parents evaluate the educational landscape of an area before they move. Attendance at public schools in Houston is based on catchment zones, so they'll want to choose accordingly since some school districts perform better than others.
Furthermore, traffic can be treacherous in this ever-expanding metropolis. Being stuck in congestion with young children on a day-to-day basis can be frustrating, so parents will want to choose an area with easy-to-reach amenities that's close to work and school.
Parents can also take comfort in the exemplary standards healthcare in Houston. The Texas Medical Center (TMC) contains multiple nationally-ranking institutions, and the Texas Children’s Hospital is internationally renowned. The city's medical professionals are top-notch and expats only have to ensure they find appropriate health insurance to cover what can be high fees.
Expat kids in Houston
With its hot summers and mild winters, kids in Houston can spend most of the year exhausting themselves outside. And there's plenty to do indoors if the summer heat gets unbearable.
One of the best things about living in the suburbs of Houston is that expat kids are likely to find playmates aplenty. Children can make friends fast, and more sociable kids often spend time playing games in their neighbours' yards and houses.
Parents can also sign up sporty children for one of the city's numerous youth athletic leagues. Nearly every sport is represented in some way, and teams are organised through churches, community centres and formal leagues – a fantastic way to introduce children to potential friends.
For indoor pursuits, the legendary Space Center Houston and Children’s Museum of Houston are popular attractions. Both offer kids interactive, exciting and educational experiences. Even parents get a bit giddy at the opportunity to touch a moon rock or guiding their children through a simulated grocery store experience at the Children’s Museum.
Houston also houses IMAX theatres, the George Observatory and 10 professional sports teams, including the Houston Astros (MLB baseball) and the Houston Texans (NFL football).
And even if expats tire of this routine, there's always some sort of event in Houston to look forward to like the Livestock Show and Rodeo or the Renaissance Festival.
Not to mention, the freshwater lakes of Galveston Bay are less than 50 miles (80 km) away. Families can escape from the city's push and pull, rent a boat and spend the day water-skiing, tubing or just relaxing on the water.