10 Reasons Why You Should Raise Your Kids in Houston

Houston has been getting a bit of positive press over the last few years. Renowned publications like Forbes, Travel + Leisure, US News, and Time have ranked Houston at the top for various accolades that span economic growth, travel, food, arts, and so on and so forth. The titles of “Fastest Growing City” and “Largest Medical Center in the World” are a really big deal, but how does that apply to everyday life? Is our city actually a good place for a family? The answer is a resounding yes.  You should raise your kids in Houston.

family at Houston restaurantI didn’t always feel this way though. “I just want you to know that I’m never moving to Houston.” This is what I told my then-boyfriend/now husband while we were living (it up) in New York City. He grew up in the suburbs of Houston and didn’t mind my sentiment one bit. We proceeded to spend over a decade between New York City and Beijing, happily chasing big city thrills. While living overseas with our one-year-old, I became pregnant again. The idea of raising a growing family away from home was a little sad. We spent an amazing season abroad and now it felt like we should give the children a chance to grow up with grandparents, cousins and all that good stuff. I was willing to give Houston a chance.

I’m now thrilled to be raising three children inside the loop in Houston where they get the best of both worlds. Big city living? We got it! Family-friendly neighborhoods with playgrounds and parks to play in? Check! From world-class museums to southern hospitality, Houston has it all.

Good ol’ H-town. There’s really no place like it.

Houston family at Astros gameHouston is a place that encourages growth of all the senses. There’s so much good, affordable food to taste. There’s art to see, both in museums and on the street. There’s textures to feel at the zoo, the local splash pad, or at the impressive High Fashion Fabrics. There’s the smell of wet grass after many of our rain storms. And, you can hear the varieties of music Houston is known for: from the world-famous Houston Grand Opera to ZZ Top to the chopped and screwed tunes of Swishahouse, not to mention Broadway musicals at Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS).

Plus, we have NASA. And Beyonce.

A Houston upbringing has produced other legends: Walter Cronkite, Patrick Swayze, Michael Strahan, Alexis Bledel, Jim Parsons, Chandra Wilson, and so many more. And while not all Houstonians will gain world-wide fame, we all have the opportunity to take advantage of what this city has to offer in enhancing childhood. The benefits are expansive, so we’ve highlighted 10 reasons why Houston is a great place to raise kids.


Kids are expensive. {Duh, Captain Obvious!} Couple that with adulting. Adulting is expensive, too. Yes, we do pay property taxes even after Homestead Exemption, but it could definitely be worse. Compared to other US metropolitan areas, Houston has a low cost of living while maintaining a high quality of life. Houston’s housing costs are significantly less than the nation’s 20 most populous metropolitan areas. The price of a 2 bedroom condo in Irvine will generally buy you a 3 bedroom house with a yard and garage in the Houston Inner Loop. And, if you move further from the city center, you’ll get an American Dream mansion at the same price: 4 bedrooms, a pool, a cul-de-sac, and fantastic public schools.

A photograph of a father helping a daughter ride a bike.

Come as you are

Since we are in the South, hospitality is dominant in our culture. However, it’s a pretty chill type of hospitality. There’s the Southern sweetness that has a bite of “Bless Your Heart” but there’s also an unbending welcome to anyone who wants to be here. We don’t hold a reputation of weirdness or high class like a few of our sister cities in Texas. We really don’t care how proper or how punk you are. Just be nice to one another. I think a reason for our culture is you’ll meet a lot of non-native Houstonians given the amount of transplants, expats, immigrants, and refugees who live here. We all know how large and daunting our city can be, and can empathize with the challenge of figuring things out, especially when you don’t have family nearby.

Two smiling adults and a smiling child in a park.
Pride Houston


According to census data, the Houston metropolitan area is the most diverse in the nation. We even surpass New York City and Los Angeles. Houston has the third largest Vietnamese and Nigerian populations in the nation. At my children’s school, ~20 languages are spoken at home in addition to English at school, and there’s only about 120 students total! To continue the culture of “just be nice,” Annise Parker was elected as the Mayor of Houston multiple times making her the first openly gay person to lead a large US city. This happened without controversy over her sexual orientation. Why does this even matter? Some argue that we are all of the human race; however, studies have shown that children who are exposed to positive cultural diversity in early childhood have a strong foundation of respect and inclusion. As a parent, one of my goals is to raise children who are kind and respectful to all people, regardless of their walks of life. I want them to be good global citizens and growing up in a diverse city helps with that cause. In addition, diversity also leads to…

Five smiling children in front of a net.


Of course, Houston is well-known for BBQ and Tex Mex. These can’t be rivaled. But we are also known for food that reflects our diverse city and for “fancy” food recognized by the world’s foodie scene.  There’s a few James Beard award winning chefs in town, and there’s also equally delicious food that is affordable. Lunch for under $10 isn’t limited to Chick-fil-A. In Houston, you have these local chains that are friendly on the palate and the wallet: Pho Binh, Frenchy’s, Taqueria Arandas, and beyond. Our global cuisine lured Anthony Bourdain, and he filmed a show celebrating Houston’s creole. Top Chef also filmed in Houston one season. There’s something to be said about the availability of ethnic cuisine and grocers. Houston Moms contributors have written guides for Chinatown, Katy Asian Town, breweries, kid-friendly restaurants, and patios. Check these out!

A baby looking into a bakery bag.

So Much To Do

Houston Moms publishes a monthly guide for a reason. There’s always something to do in our city. We have many family-friendly festivals: Greek, Japan, Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn, Zydeco, kite, Children’s, Renaissance, just to name a few.

A mother and two children flying kites in a park.
Hermann Park Kite Festival
A family of four at a Renaissance festival.
Houston Renaissance Festival

We have the biggest Pride celebration in all of Texas. And there’s sporting events year round :: Rockets, Texans, Dynamo, Astros, Sugar Land Skeeters, and collegiate sports too! Don’t forget that the Houston Astros are two-time World Series champs!

A family of 6 at a basketball game.

A family of four in front of a large football.

There’s always a huge pop star or Disney on Ice touring through town as well. And let’s not forget about the Houston Rodeo and all the glory of the beloved mutton busting. Free performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre top our list of things to do when you raise kids in Houston.

A toddler sitting on the base of a statue in a park.
Miller Outdoor Theatre

Activities aren’t limited to special events. There’s also quite a few {free} reoccurring events that happen on a weekly or monthly basis. There’s free classes at the library. Farmer’s markets at City Hall every Wednesday and and in Upper Kirby every Saturday. There’s actual farm-like places where you can pick fruit {Froberg’s, Dewberry, Blessington}. Splash pads all around town. Even the Houston Zoo {there’s a new elephant habitat!} is free on Tuesday afternoons from September through May.

A child leaning on the glass of an aquarium.
Houston Zoo

Nature can be found in the city when you raise kids in Houston. There’s the Houston Arboretum and Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. Twice the size of New York City’s Central Park, we also have Memorial Park which boasts jogging trails, picnic areas and wildlife habitats including the new Gulf Coast prairie land bridge.

Three young children holding butterfly nets at a nature sanctuary.
Edith L. Moore Nature Sancturary

If all else fails, you can head down to Galveston or Surfside to enjoy the beach.


The last decade has really brought a transformation to our city’s green spaces. These aren’t just your run-of-the-mill parks with picnic benches, slides, and swings. The modern Houston parks are providing things that are difficult to come-by in our sprawling city and in the digital age: gathering, community, and enrichment. These parks offer splash pads, visually pleasing playscapes, and free classes and programs. Discovery Green and Levy Park are a couple of my favorites, but there are so many other parks that we have not yet visited like the ones listed in our Best Parks list. Personally, I’m looking forward to viewing the video installation at the Cistern at Buffalo Bayou Park, which is free on Thursdays with online reservation.

A young child at a waterpark.
Levy Park
A child near ducks at a pond.
Hermann Park

Art & Museums

Given the humidity that embraces you from May through October, we are so fortunate to have museums that provide both relief from the heat and cultivation for curiosity. The Museum of Natural Science and the Children’s Museum of Houston have both Museum District and satellite locations in Sugar Land. My favorite is the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and every summer they have fascinating exhibitions that captivate audiences of all ages. Let’s not forget about the Health Museum, Asia Society of Texas, and the Center for Contemporary Craft. The Houston Museum District often promotes the area with free entry days, and some museums offer free entry every Thursday. The Menil Collection is always free. The point is, art and culture are accessible to all. And, if museums just aren’t your thing, keep your eye out for mini murals which are painted utility boxes on the street. There are also huge murals and street art beautifying the sides of buildings.

A mother holding a child at the Museum of Fine arts.
Museum of Fine Arts Houston – The Light Inside {Tunnel}
A child standing in front of a dinosaur shadow.
Houston Museum of Natural Science


Woman in front of Rice Owl mascotWhether you choose public or private school for your children, Houston offers a huge spectrum of schools. From filmmaker Wes Anderson’s St. John’s School and George W. Bush’s The Kinkaid School to Jaclyn Smith’s Lamar High School, there’s something for everyone. We all know public education can be a challenge anywhere you go. Despite that, the Houston area has distinguished public schools ranking nationally including Carnegie Vanguard, DeBakey High School for Health Professions, and Memorial High School. There are even language immersion schools in Houston’s public school system like the Mandarin Immersion Magnet School. It’s worth mentioning the many fantastic school districts in the suburbs adjacent to Houston:: Spring Branch, Katy, Fort Bend, Clear Creek, Alvin, and Conroe ISDs. Let’s not forget the successes of YES Prep and KIPP public charter schools. The legacy continues with higher education at Tier One Universities :: University of Houston and Rice University.

Two photographs. Left: An owl mascot holding a young child. Right: A smiling family of three.

The Texas Medical Center

I have friends who have children with medical conditions that require a high level of care. It’s comforting knowing that we have easy access to the world’s largest children’s hospital and many other hospitals with plenty of nation- and world-wide accolades. We are in good hands when we raise kids in Houston.

Three photographs. Left: A young child at Texas Children's hospital. Middle: A child in a wheelchair being treated in a hospital. Right: Doctors watching a baby in a hospital bed.

Accessibility for Out-of-Town Loved Ones

Houston has two international airports {George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby Airports} and a commercial spaceport {Ellington Field} … because, you know, some of our relatives are out of this world. We are 1 of only 5 cities in the world that connect to all 6 inhabited continents and also offer 198 nonstop destinations. If air travel isn’t for you, I-10 dissects the city, there’s Greyhound and Megabus services, and there’s Amtrak. So don’t let people use the excuse that it’s too hard to get here!

A child wearing a santa hat and holding a Flight ticket.

As a bonus, when you raise kids in Houston, the tots can marvel at the real-life construction sites surrounding many communities due to the tremendous growth. We have to find the silver lining with traffic, right? So whether you’re a native Houstonian or new to town, be proud of where you’ve landed. Embrace the Space City because Houston, we don’t have a problem!


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