Thursday, May 29, 2008

Houston #1 Best City to Live, Work, and Play - Kiplinger 2008

Just caught this story on HAIF before heading to sleep. Kiplinger has selected Houston as it's overall #1 Best City to Live, Work, and Play for 2008 based on factors like population growth, percentage of workforce in the creative class, income growth, job growth and cost of living. What makes it even more impressive is that we're by far the largest metro in their top 10. These lists usually end up almost exclusively with medium-sized metros like Austin (#6) that have fewer of the typical mega-metro problems (pollution, weak urban schools, crime, traffic congestion, etc.).
In our search for the ten best cities in which to live and work, we sought places with strong economies and abundant jobs, plus reasonable living costs and plenty of fun things to do. When we ran the numbers, some of the places that popped up made us do a double take at first (like maybe Houston?). But we think our formula highlights places destined for future success.
From their profile of Houston:
Population: 5,542,048
Population Growth Since 2000: 14.9%
Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 31.3%
Cost-of-Living Index: 88.1 (100 being national average)
Median Household Income: $50,250
Income Growth Since 2000: 13.1%

It's the city of big plans and no rules, beat-the-heat tunnels and loop-the-loop highways, world-class museums and wiry cowboys, humidity that demands an ice-cold martini and the biggest damn liquor store on the planet. How could you not love Houston? (Have I not been saying this for years? ;-)

You can hardly afford not to. Back with a roar after the oil bust of the 1980s, Houston has reclaimed its title as energy capital of the U.S. and added aerospace, technology and medical companies to the mix, generating more than 100,000 jobs in 2007. Not only does the Houston metro area lead the nation in job growth, but also its cost of living stands well below the national average. Housing prices run half those of other metro areas its size.

(more here, and here's their video tour of Houston)
Of course, there seems to be some unwritten rule that a national profile of Houston must mention either Sugar Land or The Woodlands. This one went with Sugar Land as their suburban alternative to the city core.

As I mentioned in my post earlier today, it's nice to see Houston finally getting the recognition it deserves.

Update: KUHF story.

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9 Comments:

At 9:56 AM, May 30, 2008, Anonymous John said...

Well, yay us!

I always chuckle at those Sugar Land/Woodlands mentions, but that's probably because I think living in central Houston is one of America's great unrecognized urban experiences, whereas the burbs are pretty much like the ones everywhere else, but with crappier air.

But - it is germane. One thing that makes a metro area healthy is different kinds of residential options, for different people or for people at different stages of life, so it helps Houston to have those kinds of alternatives for those who treasure long commutes :).

 
At 9:51 PM, May 30, 2008, Anonymous common_sense said...

I think overall Houston is a nice place to live. The suburbs, well I have no real use for them and they don't seem any different from any other sprawl city. But the inner loop is a nice area, with a good collection of unique neighborhoods and a set of cultural amenities rivaling similar sized cities.

That all being said, I think Houston's biggest problem is its pathetically poor transportation infrastructure. It's not surprising given the area's attitude toward planning. But the system is rather embarrassing for a city of Houston's size. I think many in the city still think Houston is some kind of Western cowboy town rather than the 4th largest city in the country.

 
At 10:16 PM, May 30, 2008, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I assume you mean rail transit, with 2012 being the next big expansion. Our freeway network is often acknowledged as one of the best in the country.

 
At 7:44 AM, May 31, 2008, Anonymous common_sense said...

While the lack of rail transport is the most glaring example of the generally poor transportation infrastructure in Houston (and has been touched on many, many times), there are others.

The number of bike lanes in the city are close to nonexistent. Given the general density of the inner loop area, this would be a perfect alternative (and a cleaner and healthier one at that).

I've commented before on the generally poor facilities for pedestrians. Sidewalks, even in the inner loop, sometimes end for no apparent reason. Many, many neighborhoods lack them. And there are simply too few safe crosswalks. Even in Midtown residents are forced to cross large streets where cars travel at high rates of speed without crosswalks. Right at Smith Street in front of the Chevron has got to be one of the most dangerous intersections in the whole area and no light, no crosswalk.

These are some relatively cheap ways the city could improve the infrastructure for residents in the city. Instead, it often seems that everything is catered toward commuters from the burbs.

 
At 12:26 PM, May 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The number of bike lanes in the city are close to nonexistent. Given the general density of the inner loop area, this would be a perfect alternative (and a cleaner and healthier one at that).The inner loop area also has MANY alternatives through streets that aren't as busy. I use them frequently.

I've commented before on the generally poor facilities for pedestrians. Sidewalks, even in the inner loop, sometimes end for no apparent reason. Many, many neighborhoods lack them. And there are simply too few safe crosswalks. Even in Midtown residents are forced to cross large streets where cars travel at high rates of speed without crosswalks. Right at Smith Street in front of the Chevron has got to be one of the most dangerous intersections in the whole area and no light, no crosswalk.Earlier this year, the National Organization on Disability named Houston as the most accessible city in the country for people with disabilities.

These are some relatively cheap ways the city could improve the infrastructure for residents in the city. Instead, it often seems that everything is catered toward commuters from the burbs.Do you realize that even inner loop residents require roads? You can't blame it on commuters from the burbs.

 
At 2:00 PM, May 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

High "rates of speed"? *Chuckle.

 
At 1:37 AM, June 01, 2008, Blogger Michael said...


Earlier this year, the National Organization on Disability named Houston as the most accessible city in the country for people with disabilities.


From the article at:
National Organization on Disability


"Houston is being recognized for their exemplary efforts, which include: the Parks Advisory Review Committee, which works ensure that people with disabilities have access to parks and recreational opportunities; the ADA Taxicab Committee, working to ensure the accessibility of taxis and for-hire transportation; an inclusive process to install pedestrian traffic signals; the Persons with Disabilities Business Enterprise Program, promoting entrepreneurship among people with disabilities; the Business Partnership Breakfast, to promote the business case for employing people with disabilities in city businesses; a comprehensive emergency management plan for citizens with disabilities, and a strong, coordinated effort to ensure access to parking for people with disabilities."


This doesn't really seem to contradict the fact that Houston has issues with crosswalks, sidewalks, and bikeways. These are generally pretty low-cost things that the city could do a better job with. But don't take my word for it:

Take Christof's


Do you realize that even inner loop residents require roads? You can't blame it on commuters from the burbs.


I think you are missing the point - there is very little in the way of road expansion that will help the inner loop. Expand Kirby? That's going nicely - and that project is just to make the car lanes wider, which will do little to raise overall capacity. What else you got? At some point, a big city needs to acknowledge that it needs heavy investment in transit - there is simply no alternative.

 
At 11:47 PM, June 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5.5 million of people in 2008 !!! I think there is a mistake, or correct me if I am wrong to clearify this number...
The U.S. Census Bureau projected for 2006 a Houston population of 2.14 million.I will appreciate your back comments.

 
At 5:16 PM, September 17, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5.5 million is probably correct if one is referring to the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

 

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