Lifestyle and Shopping in Houston

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Expats moving to Houston will find oil barons living a lifestyle as large and boisterous as their offshore drilling rigs; but they’ll also come across quiet curators of a well-rounded, culturally rich existence.

It’s fair to say that the lifestyle in Houston is whatever you make of it, a statement that can only be applied to the most impressive and the most developed metropolises.

Lifestyle in Houston - enjoying Discovery GreenWith its mild winters and hot summers, Houston is a city that places sports and recreation firmly atop a pedestal. For those who’d rather safely relegate themselves to voyeur status, there are countless professional teams to follow and support, but for the expat who places a high priority on the great outdoors, Houston is, arguably, the best American big city to live in.

Local government has spent an obscene amount of time and money on the beautification and maintenance of public space, and the result is 350 well-kept parks, 200 green spaces and over 100 miles (160km) of bike and walking trails. As a result, chances are it won’t be long before expats pinpoint their favourite patch of greenery, and make activities under a big Texan sky part of their daily lives.

That said, for every fitness enthusiast, there’s a resident whose lifestyle revolves around something of far greater weight – their stomachs. For many, eating is a sport in itself, an impassioned activity that takes hard work and discipline.

At one point, the New York Times cited that Houstonians dined out more often than any other population in the country. New restaurants are popping up everywhere in Houston, and even if eating out doesn’t suit the bank balance, expats may just as well find themselves joining the masses that migrate to the local Farmer’s Markets on the weekends for home-grown produce and homemade fare.

In line with the burgeoning emphasis on life’s great tastes, those living in Houston have also developed a cultural conscience. Art galleries are occupying former factory space, downtown Houston is enjoying an architectural breath of fresh air, and the performing arts companies in the city are among the nation’s best. The newfound creative spirit in the city is contagious, and expats will likely find themselves incorporating at least some part of it into their routines.

Shopping in Houston

Shopping in Houston is top-notch, as it should be in a city that plays host to over 20 Fortune 500 companies. People have money to spend here, and if even you’re somebody that doesn’t, you can take advantage of the antique markets, outlet malls and seasonal sales.

Though there’s nothing akin to Madison Avenue or Oxford Street in Houston, there is the seventh biggest mall in America, The Shopping in Houston - the Galleria mallGalleria, and a number of “shopfront neighbourhoods”.

Burberry, Christian Dior, Gucci and all the most pretentious designer labels can be found in the Galleria, along with all the recognisable department stores (Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, etc.); the home décor regulars (IKEA, Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma, etc.); and the odd high-end specialty boutique. Memorial City is another well-known one-stop shopping centre, though it’s not nearly as ritzy and upmarket.

For expats who prefer a shopping experience with slightly more character, the downtown pavilions can be a nice change of pace, and the areas of Post Oak, Highland Village and Uptown Park also offer a healthy assortment of aisle-cruising options.

Those with an itch for something a little more eclectic should spend some time antique-hunting in the Museum District, where you can also find a smattering of galleries peddling the work of local artists.

And if you’re keen to make a day out of it, Katy Mills Outlet Mall on Interstate 10 is a hotspot for low-cost shopping options that are slightly out of season, or that have ended up as surplus. Nike, Nine West, GAP and Tommy Hilfiger are all outlet residents.

Similarly, the Antique Center of Texas is located just outside the city and boasts 150 dealer spaces, affording patient shoppers the opportunity to go home with something special, and one-of-a-kind.

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