When can a Houston transplant call themselves a true Houstonian? Here’s what locals say.

Houston (Pixabay)

So, when does a newcomer transition from a transplant to a tried-and-true Houstonian? We asked locals what they thought on the subject and what we got back were dozens of different criteria, ranging from the plain and practical (time, geography and such) to the oddly detailed and specific -- for one Houston resident, the title Houstonian could only bequeathed to those who’ve suffered through a minimum 396 traffic jams.

From the obvious to the absurd, here’s what it takes to become a true Houstonian, according to the locals who live here:

Some locals say it’s all in the attitude:

  • “When they talk smack about the city but get offended if anyone else does.” - Maggie
  • “When you quit calling someplace else ‘back home.’” - Theresa
  • “When they decide Houston is home. Easy.” - Hollie
  • “A true Houstonian is someone who loves our city no matter what.” - Liz

RELATED: 40 things local residents said they would change about Houston if they could

Others say geography is the true standard-bearer:

  • “This is tough. I grew up in Cypress so I don’t even consider myself a true Houstonian. Anything inside 610 Loop would make you a true blue Houstonian.” - AnneMarie
  • “When they are so fed up with Houston but can’t escape!!!” Mark
  • “Home is where you hang your hat.” - Michael
  • “Can they say Humble correctly?” - Mauri
  • “I’d say once you know the difference between i10 and 610. 290 and and 249 and 45 and 59. Also the areas....Kingwood Pearland Sugarland Katy tomball greenspoint.” - Stephanie

RELATED: Why is Kuykendahl pronounced ‘kEr ken-dAHl’?

The true test? How a transplant handles Houston’s traffic:

  • “Can’t call yourself a Houstonian if you refer to BW8 as the Sam Houston Tollway.” - Esther
  • “When we merge at the last possible second on 610 with no space thinking ‘today is a good day to die’” - Brett
  • “All I know is if they don’t call it 59 and say 69 instead I’m honing in that they ARE not from here.” - Sheila
  • “When you learn the names of the freeways not the numbers!” - Cathay
  • “When you’re not afraid to drive on our freeways.” - Itoro
  • “When you call the road a feeder and not an access road, then you’re a Houstonian!” - Amy
  • “When they can pronounce Fuqua.” - Momeye
  • “If they can merge and are happy to be here!” - Kara
  • “When you tell someone to go North on the East Loop and it makes sense to you.” - Lee
  • “When they figure out all the interstates have 3 different names.” - Margaret

RELATED: Why do Houston freeways have multiple names?

For some longtime Houston residents, it’s all in the minutia of everyday Houston life:

  • “They know what you mean by O. S. T. and they talk about shows in the Astrodome, astrohall and astroarena.” - Steve
  • “When they know all the words to wanna be a baller.” - Taylor
  • “When you have experienced: Rodeo, Niko Niko’s, Original Ninfa’s, Mambo Seafood, Downtown tunnels, Bellaire Blvd for al kinds of Asian cuisine, NASA, Moody Gardens, Nutcracker Market, Art Cars, and can name at least six suburbs in the Houston area!” - Kristine
  • “When they know who The Goode family is.” - Natasha
  • “Once they know who Mattress Mack is.” - Samantha
  • “You’re a Houstonian when you know how to pronounce bayou correctly.” - Suzanne
  • “After 1 Hurricane, 396 traffic jams, 3 floods and 2 brothers tacos. Extra credit if you sit through an entire losing Texans season.” - Andrew
  • “Surviving August is what makes me a true Houstonian!!!!” - Gail

RELATED: The things every Houston resident should do before they die (or move)

Become emotionally invested in the city’s local teams and sports fans will welcome you with open arms:

  • “Once they go through a complete Texans’ disappointing season.” - Albert
  • “Celebrating with joy when Dallas Cowboys don’t make the playoffs.” - Pete

For some, there’s no better measure than time:

  • “When they’ve lived here longer than they lived anywhere else! If they’re a yankee, though, never.” - Miranda
  • “Ummm, I’ve been here since 2004 and I still don’t consider myself a Houstonian.” - Sarah
  • “When they call Lakewood Church the Summit.” - Anita
  • “I’ve been in Houston and surrounding areas since 1983. I was always told ten years after living here you’ve experienced most everything Houston has to offer which in turn makes you a Houstonian/Texan. My heart though will always be in Alabama.” - Whitney
  • “Moved here from Chicago with my family at the age of 11 (2002). It wasn’t until about 2012 that I felt like a true Houstonian.” - Samuel
  • “10 years. A decade.” - Megan

RELATED: 31 Houston-area eateries that have stood the test of time

Others say that it’s just not possible if you weren’t born and raised here -- In other words, once a transplant, always a transplant:

  • “With all the out of towners moving here I’m of the mind to say if you weren’t born here you can’t call yourself a Houstonian.” - Lucas
  • “As someone born and raised here unless that’s your situation you can probably never call yourself a ‘true houstonian’” - Brian
  • “If they were born in Houston!! Otherwise, you are merely a transplant.” - Dawn
  • “From Georgia and been here 14 years, but just can’t seem to call Houston home.” - Mary
  • “The only ones who can be called a true Houstonian are the ones who were born and raised in Houston and who know everything about our city!” - Michelle
  • To be a houstonian is something you’re born into not sworn into. You have to be born in Houston to be a houstonian, no if, ands, or buts.” - Emerson


Longtime Houston residents, what do you think? When can a newcomer truly call themselves a Houstonian? When they can actually pronounce Kuykendahl correctly? Once they weather their first hurricane? When they figure out who Mattress Mack is? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.