H-Town. The Bayou City. The Southern Capital of Cool. Or, just Houston. The largest city in Texas began as plots of swamp land sold to 19th-century buyers. Those buyers weren’t aware of the region’s notorious summer heat, mosquitoes, and alligators. Now, 183 years later, Houston has overcome its questionable beginnings to take a place on the world stage. The city’s prominence is about to get even bigger as developers, business and people move here. Here’s a look at Houston’s future.
The heat, mosquitoes, and alligators remain, but that doesn’t bother Houston’s 2.3 million (and counting!) people. Thanks to modern air conditioning, Houston could soon overtake Chicago in population. More than 2.54 million people are expected to call Houston home by the year 2025. That surpasses Chicago, which is predicted to have 2.5 million people by then.
Economic opportunities come hand in hand with that population growth. Houston’s economy is one of the most robust in the country. The unemployment rate is low, and jobs are plentiful here.
Affordable City Living
The affordable cost of living fuels the explosive population growth. Houston is one of the most affordable big cities in the country. Houstonians get more house for their buck than almost any other big-city dwellers in the US. Affordability is partly driven by the lack of zoning, and partly inspired by home builders trying to keep up with the population surge.
It’s a Small World
If you’re not from Houston, you may not realize how international the city is. Houston is the most diverse city in the USA. Having two international airports also helps. Bush Intercontinental Airport and Hobby Airport serve airlines from all over the globe. There are also 92 consulates representing countries like Mexico, Japan, and India for diplomatic and trade missions. Houston’s diversity and international presence are only expected to grow in the coming years. Shipping, trade, science, and education are bringing more people and foreign money into the region.
Eat Like A King
One of the perks of Houston’s diversity is its food. The city offers everything from trendy bistros to white-napkin dining to ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurants. On the must-try list? Vietnamese pho in the city’s Midtown, Cajun food that represents Houston’s Gulf Coast roots, barbecue and Tex-Mex. Houston is also home to several James Beard-winning chefs, like Chris Shepherd, a celebrity in the Bayou City. You will always find Houston eateries represented on lists of hot new restaurants to try.
You can’t talk about Houston’s future without talking about flood control. Thanks to Hurricane Harvey in 2017, many of the images of Houston these past few years have been of a city underwater. It’s not an overnight fix, but Houston’s future means flood control measures will be more prominent. Look for more elevated home construction and changes to infrastructure to prevent the city’s neighborhoods from taking on an unmanageable amount of water. The city is also receiving help from the State of Texas and from the federal government to help prevent major floods in the future.
Houstonians delight in the way Hunter S. Thompson described their city. “Houston is a cruel, crazy town on a filthy river in East Texas with no zoning laws and a culture of sex, money, and violence. It’s a shabby, sprawling metropolis ruled by brazen women, crooked cops and super-rich pansexual cowboys who live by the code of the West — which can mean just about anything you need it to mean, in a pinch,” he wrote. The only words a Houstonian might deny are “cruel” and “shabby.” Like no other city in the country, Houston’s future looks to hold more growth, diversity, and unique culture — and they’re more than happy to share it with you.
Patty Osborn is a writer who lives in Houston. She spends much of her time cooking gourmet meals and searching for restaurants that can compete with her home cooking. She grows most of her own herbs and vegetables.