Private transportation is a popular choice in Houston and often the only choice for moving from point to point. Due to poor public transport services, having a car in Houston is essential and this makes Houston expensive. It has one of the highest costs for transportation in the nation as driving a car requires gas, insurance and maintaining the car. Distances are also often far and Houstonians put a lot of miles on their vehicles. Gas may appear cheap at first glance but when considering the distances driven, it usually doesn’t work out in favor of the driver’s wallet.
Being a car city doesn’t only mean that you need to have a car to get anywhere but also that the infrastructure is very complex and it is easy to get lost or overwhelmed by freeways and their merging lanes, u-turns, one-way streets, being passed on the right and the unfamiliar way of how Americans drive. When opting for private transportation or, perhaps, being forced to use it due to lack of public transportation, many foreigners prefer to drive around with a friend or co-worker at first to learn the general area they are in from the view of a passenger seat. In the beginning, you could also use a taxi or a driver service, which can be expensive. See the taxi section for more information.
When driving in Houston, it is recommended to invest in a navigation system (GPS) because it will be of great help. Most expatriates feel much more comfortable and confident after acquiring a GPS.
In the beginning, expats usually rent a car. It is the easiest way to make sure requirements for a driver license and insurance are met. See the Rental Companies section for more information about renting a vehicle. After a few weeks, it is recommended to get the Texas Driver License and then, to purchase a car locally. Importing a car from the home country is expensive and the vehicle can only be driven inside the U.S. for up to one year unless it is converted to U.S. standards. Most expats stay longer than only a year and depending on the type of car, conversion can be very costly or, very likely, impossible.
As already mentioned there are insurance requirements. By law, every driver has to carry liability insurance and show proof of insurance for liability when owning and driving a car in Houston. It is a big and busy city and even though Texas has strict driving rules that are generally followed, accidents are a common sight on Texas roadways.
If you are uncomfortable driving in Houston yourself, you may also contact a limo service to be driven to your destinations, such as the airport. Rates are generally per hour and start around $50: http://www.houstonlimousinecompanies.com