Any Houston ladies out there? | ExpatWoman.com
 

Any Houston ladies out there?

244
Posts
EW NEWBIE
Latest post on 04 October 2013 - 21:10
Hi ladies, we may have the chance to move to Houston, Texas. Could anybody give any advice re schools, healthcare and anything else I may find useful in making this decision. I have two dds age 7 and 9. How would it differ to life in Dubai. Many thanks!
673
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EW GURU
Latest post on 05 October 2013 - 09:47
I'm not from Houston but can offer the following: Health care will be provided by your company (same as in Dubai). If you're working in oil and gas the health care policies tend to be excellent. America does have excellent health care as long as it's paid for. Schooling: there's a British School of Houston which may be ideal if you're only planning on staying there for a few years before moving elsewhere and want to keep your children in the UK curriculum. Alternatively there are good US state/public schools and private schools. Will the company offer school fees? Some do. If you elect to use US state schools the approximate rule of thumb is the more expensive the neighborhood the better the schools. Good private schools include Kincaid and St. John's. Houston is a big, sprawling city so where to live may be dependent on where your husband is working. The Woodlands is very popular with families, has excellent reputation for its schools and yes, can be quite expensive, and the same is true for Sugarlands. Both are very suburban communities. More central/in town location are the neighborhoods around the Galleria Mall/Uptown District and Bellaire near Rice University which have a more established character and feel (basically Jumeriah versus Arabian Ranches).
190
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EW NEWBIE
Latest post on 05 October 2013 - 12:58
Life in Houston is actually not that different from life in Dubai. Actually, I think Dubai is more like Houston than many other cities within the US. As Tallybalt has said, Houston is a sprawling city so selecting a neighborhood with a decent commute is important. If the job is downtown I would suggest West University, River Oaks, University Place, Memorial, Tanglewood or Bellaire. These are wonderful places with good public schools and restaurants/shopping within walking distance. If you prefer the suburban lifestyle/don't mind a longer commute Sugarland, Fall Creek and Katy are all very highly rated communities. The Woodlands is also very nice but further out than many other choices. Kincaid and St. Johns are the top rated private schools but frankly, you will have a tough time gaining admission. I would suggest instead researching the neighborhoods with the best public schools. The good public schools in the US are excellent overall. I have friends with children in the West University and Bellaire systems - they are thrilled. As for healthcare, you are by the largest medical center in the world. It is very highly rated and many locals here fly to Houston for healthcare, especially if it concerns cancer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Medical_Center Your money will go a LONG way in Houston, the cost of living is among the lowest in the nation. You will have lots of beautiful live oak trees and greenery surrounding you. People are much nicer there. The restaurants are better. Downsides are lots of bugs, just as humid as Dubai and no beaches. Summary, Houston is a very easy place to live.
244
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EW NEWBIE
Latest post on 05 October 2013 - 16:54
Thanks for your replies! It sounds lovely, we are not sure yet where DH will be based, it's good to know about the medical centre as my youngest DD has recently been diagnosed with epilepsy. Yes we would only consider moving if school fees and housing were paid. What is driving like over there, easier than here I am guessing (hoping) Are the schools over subscribed like here? The greenery sounds lovely.... One of my concerns is that we would be bored there, is there plenty to do?
190
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EW NEWBIE
Latest post on 05 October 2013 - 19:53
The medical center is fantastic - you will find every and any type of specialist there and the Texas Children's Hospital is excellent. I have a lot of practice driving over there (lived there for &gt;10 years) so it doesn't not seem hard to me. BUT, I wouldn't call it easier than Dubai either. It is much easier to navigate as the major roads are like a bullseye with an "X" crossing it ... all roads are marked with numbers and their direction. However, the average driver over there is faster and slightly more aggressive. Public schools, in general, are not over-subscribed. Remember, the school you attend is based on where you live and zoning prevents lots of housing being built without adequate school spots. That being said, I think there are "hot spots" with younger families but all that means is that your class size would be larger. Houston is a town built for family time. There are TONS of restaurants, lots of parks, etc. We lived by Rice University and we could walk to a park, take our kids to the university for music lessons, drive to the zoo and museums in &lt;5 min, walk to the light rail which takes you downtown .... lots, lots to do. Galveston is an hour away - beaches are ugly compared to Dubai but it is a beach. Then with 3-4 hour drives you can get to San Antonio (SeaWorld, river walk), Austin (beautiful lake, hills, 6th street) or Dallas. And like I said, everyone is so friendly. You will be booked up on the weekends in no time. <em>edited by HotRice on 05/10/2013</em>
888
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EW GURU
Latest post on 06 October 2013 - 15:11
Yes we would only consider moving if school fees and housing were paid. Do the math yourself. Even if housing and schooling aren't "included" in the package, you might come out ahead if they provide enough salary. Typically American employers offer a fixed salary and how you spend that (housing, schooling, vehicles, etc) is your business. In most areas, public schools are good and absolutely free (assigned based on the area you live in), so there's no need for schooling to be included in a package unless you're adamant that your kids must go to British school, for example. Even then, they may not see a need to provide "education allowance" because you've got the option of good public schools for free or paying for private schools at your discretion. It's not at all like the system here. Are the schools over subscribed like here? Irrelevant question if your children attend public schools. The best school districts housing might be more expensive, but there are no wait lists for public schools. You live in the community, your children's school is predetermined.
190
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EW NEWBIE
Latest post on 06 October 2013 - 19:35
Of course, besides the cost (or lack thereof) of schools.... you will have to pay taxes. Hopefully the position accounts for that. Luckily Houston does not have any city tax and Texas does not have any state tax so all you will be liable for is federal taxes.
673
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EW GURU
Latest post on 06 October 2013 - 20:08
Just be aware of property taxes if you buy a house. Texas property taxes are quite high to make up for the lack of a state income tax. But the property taxes is what funds the local schools. Meagle is correct in that you don't need school fees in the US anymore than you do in the UK. Going to a private school is purely a personal choice and there's no tax incentives or rebates in doing so. And there's great public schools. But if you're coming in as an expat your company may offer school fees. DH's company offers expats relocating to the US school fees (at his level, that is). The idea was that the expats could send their children to the international school offering the home country curriculum as the relocations are only meant to be temporary, but at the end of the day they can spend the money at whatever school they want and apparently most people elect for an American private school to build up the English language skills. So if your company will offer school fees and you want the kids to go to the British school in Houston, go for it. But if school fees aren't offered, there will be lots of great public school options.
68
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EW NEWBIE
Latest post on 08 January 2016 - 10:59
Hi Also consider the VIllage School near Dairy Ashford it's a brilliant international school my son went the and was not behind when we went back to the uk.