Everyone’s moving to Houston

calmhoustonFrom Brookings, data on migration within the US shows that for people ages 25-34, the destinations are not what you might expect. The top destination: Houston, with a net gain of over 14,000 people between 2012 and 2017. (Rounding out the top 5: Denver, Dallas, Seattle, and Austin.)

The biggest losses from the same age group: New York, LA, Chicago, San Diego, and Miami.

This is probably a surprising statistic to people who think that the only “real” cities in the US are on the coasts, but no surprise to the rest of us. Houston is big, diverse, culturally interesting, cosmopolitan, livable, and has a solid economy, not to mention excellent access to the rest of the country (being in the middle is handy) and international destinations by air. Of course it’s a place where people want to be.

Seattle stands out on that top 5 as the last hip coastal city attracting a lot of people, which is also not surprising; it stands apart from Los Angeles and San Francisco and New York in managing to have not become horrifically expensive and hard to live in, it’s beautiful, and it’s retained some semblance of its own culture. I’d certainly move there before any of those other cities.

(For seniors: no big surprises. Phoenix, Tampa, Riverside (CA), Las Vegas, and Jacksonville. (Jacksonville? OK, whatever.))

Houston is still viewed as a grungy sibling of other American cities, mainly by people who don’t know it very well. That’s okay. It’s also got a hefty dose of old-school businesses (energy, petrochemicals) that actually helps us from getting overrun by the tech bros who’ve wrecked San Francisco, but leaves lots of room for other sectors.

After 15 years here – the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my adult life – this town still surprises and delights me on a regular basis with its generosity, its acceptance of oddballs, its folk art, and its ability to throw many kinds of people and let them get along far better than I’ve seen anywhere else. I’m aware of its flaws but forgive them all, because I love it.

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