If you are moving to Houston, there is plenty to research. What municipal services do you need to secure? Which cable provider is most reliable? Where are the best coffee shops? It used to be that you had to be on site to scope out your new location, but digital technology enables you to see the sights and gain the knowledge you need without having to travel.
Take advantage of technology. Prior to your relocation, go online and find out these six important things.
Statistics About Your New Community
Whether you are living in Houston, Texas, or a nearby community like Katy, online databases provide a wealth of information about the area. City-Data.com profiles cities and provides relevant statistics such as median household income and cost of living. NeighborhoodScout offers additional details and demographic information (some statistics like crime rates can only be accessed with a subscription). StreetAdvisor goes to the hyperlocal level, ranking neighborhoods by popularity. Walk Score offers ratings for walkability, basing neighborhood scores on proximity to schools, grocery stores, parks, and more.
Resources from the City
There is no better source of information about living in Houston or its surrounding cities than the cities themselves. You can call city halls to request new resident resources or consult the city’s official website for information on setting up utilities. Many cities also have online guides for shopping and recreational activities. Local chambers of commerce can also be a useful, especially for locating reputable businesses and the best restaurants.
Before your relocation, you should have an idea of how long your commute will be. If you drive to work, Google Maps will give you an overview of traffic and estimate travel times. Public transit systems will have maps and schedules online. Many will have online “plan your route” features that can help you get from point A to point B (including instructions for switching trains or transferring buses).
Reviews of Local Schools
If you have children, you obviously want to move to a new community with a strong school system. Even if you don’t have kids, high-ranking school districts are usually indicative of great communities (and this bodes well for the resale value of your home). To find attractive school systems, consult GreatSchools, an independent nonprofit website that ranks schools on a scale of 1 to 10. The rankings are built primarily on standardized test scores. Residents can also share their personal reviews.
Some of the most crucial pieces of information to learn about your new community are the crime rates. Many municipal police departments offer this information online. If not, there are several sites that collect and publish this data. Among them are CrimeReports, SpotCrime, and Family Watchdog. These online crime databases provide analysis of local crime statistics (specifically by area and by type of crime). SafeWise publishes annual rankings of the safest cities so you can see how your new community compares.
You will get no more honest assessment about living in Houston, Texas, than from residents. Online forums provide a venue for locals to offer their assessment of what is good and bad in their communities. To start, consult City-Data.com or the subreddit lists on Reddit. Nextdoor is a private site where residents can connect. Crowdsourced Explorer offers advice and tips from locals about what you should know before moving to pretty much any city. Don’t forget larger social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Yelp, which can also provide valuable insight from residents.
Soon, you will be living in Houston, Texas, or one of its fine surrounding communities like The Woodlands. But before you relocate, don’t forget to familiarize yourself with these important aspects of your new community. This knowledge will help make your relocation a smooth one!