Expats who are choosing to stay longer and are looking for a permanent living option generally consider renting apartments or purchasing a single family home, or sometimes a townhouse. In this section, you gain an insight into the appealing accommodations in Houston and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Apartment complexes are the most common type of apartment living in Houston. Apartment complexes are rented through a management company and most offer common amenities such as pools, fitness centers, offices with PCs and Internet, meeting rooms, movie rooms, entertainment rooms with a pool table, etc. and lounges. These amenities will range by property, with the more luxury properties offering more amenities to the renters than less luxurious places.
Many apartment complexes offer gated entry and some even have a security offer on duty at all times.
Properties are typically 1-3 bedrooms and range in square feet offered. Some apartment complexes offer attached, detached garages or covered carports. Some low-rise apartment complexes will look more like townhomes while mid-rise properties will often have between 4-6 stories and high-rise properties 8+ stories with many units in one single building.
Some apartments can be found near the city inside the Loop that are privately managed and are located in older homes. These apartments often lack the amenities of apartment complexes and have smaller square footage but can be very affordable for students or busy individuals who do not require a lot of room and like to be close to downtown or the midtown area.
Apartment complexes are the most popular choice of living for expatriates as they offer a lot of amenities for spending free time, are extremely convenient and most flexible for possible relocations.
Single Family Home
A single family home is a free-standing house, with no walls touching walls of another building, and is generally surrounded by a yard. Some will include pools, although this will depend upon the style and price range of the home. They generally come with a garage, either attached or detached, for one or more cars.
Single family homes are one or two stories and can vary by the square footage and external style of the property. Most single family homes will range from 3-4 bedrooms, although some of the older properties found inside the Loop can have as few as two bedrooms with tight stairways, kitchens and bathrooms. Larger properties can have as many as 5-6 spacious bedrooms.
All single family homes built in the last 30 years will come with central air conditioning and heating, ceiling fans and appliances. Older homes may only offer window units for air conditioning.
Single family homes in Houston are the most common type of living in a house as they offer quiet privacy compared to apartment neighbors, offer a lot more space and are very affordable in Houston. They are also commonly found in the suburbs of Houston in large subdivisions that are marked by their own names. The neighborhoods in these subdivisions are managed by homeowner associations (HOA) and when renting or purchasing a single family home, it is important to be aware of HOA rules as some can be extremely strict.
Some homes are located in gated communities and the more luxurious ones can also have a security officer at the gate with personally controlled entry.
Single family homes can be difficult to find for rent and are mostly considered for purchase. When for rent, they are often rented from private owners and there can be risks such as getting repairs done in time. Rental homes are not as reliable in service and convenience as apartment complex homes.
Townhouses, also called ‘vertical living’, offer a narrower and often modern floor plan (open kitchen, for example) that can range from 2-4 stories. While townhouses can be stand alone, meaning no adjacent walls to another property, they typically share walls with at least one other townhouse. They generally come with an attached garage.
Townhouses typically will range from 3 – 4 bedrooms. As townhouses are generally newer constructions, they will come with central air conditioning and heating, ceiling fans and appliances.
Townhouses have really found a following in Houston in the last few years and are being constructed in virtually all parts of Houston and surrounding area. They are typically found in clusters, with several similar looking units located next to one another. While townhouses can be found in virtually any portion of Houston, they are a popular living style in the metro area, as families and individuals can often find more square feet for the money than with a condominium in the same area. While they do not offer the privacy a single family home does, they are affordable homes and are also very popular with singles, busy individuals and seniors because they have very small or no yards and require little maintenance.
As with single family homes, townhouses are mostly considered for purchase rather than rent.
These are other accommodations that are not very popular with expatriates or not advisable for living in Houston:
Multi-family properties, also called duplexes, are most commonly found inside the Loop. These properties share a common wall with another property. With all of the same amenities that are typically offered with a single family home, these properties are popular for residents who are looking to live within the Houston city limits but don’t require as much privacy or space and want to live affordable.
Most duplexes are older constructions or properties in less popular living areas, such as near freeways. Some duplexes are in nice subdivisions and fancy-looking buildings. Duplexes are not popular with expatriates.
Condominium properties are apartments that are privately owned within a large building which is managed by a company. If you are looking for a condominium, then Houston will not offer you many options. Condominiums can be found in downtown and midtown Houston as well as the Galleria area. These properties are not commonly rented by expatriates. Houston doesn’t offer many for sale or lease, and if so, the property is generally commercial.