What do Houston newbies need to know? Here’s what locals -- and we mean real locals -- say is essential knowledge

“Nobody wears cowboy boots, unless the fair’s in town!”

Houston (Pixabay)

So, Houstonians, what does a newcomer need to know about our city’s wayward ways? Whether it’s investing in stellar flood insurance, carrying an umbrella at all times, or avoiding some of the city’s tourist traps, what’s your best piece of advice for new Houston transplants?

When we asked locals for their best pointers we got back hundreds of submissions ranging from warnings and tips to restaurant recommendations and real estate advice.

Straight from the horse’s mouth, here’s what locals -- and we mean real locals -- say Houston newbies should know about H-Town:

Advice on how to assimilate:

  • “Y’all are more than welcome....just don’t try to change our ways....learn to adapt or get out! A native Houstonian.” - Carmen
  • “Nobody wears cowboy boots, unless the fair’s in town!” - KMA
  • “Do not say anything bad about the Astros. Never!!!” - Anna

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

Learn the rules of the road:

  • “To stay out of my way on 610 and 288 And if they get a ez-tag and get on the beltway, stay out of my way again. Okay bye…” - Carol
  • “The speed limit is 90 mph.” - Stephanie
  • “Don’t block the turning lane!” - Rachel
  • “Don’t you dare drive slow in the fast lane.” - Jose
  • “The far left lane is for “real” speeding…not 70 mph more like 90 mph.Doesn’t matter if it’s 2 lanes or 5 lanes, stay out of the left lane if you’re not driving 90 mph. If someone drives up fast behind you, YOU get over to the right and let them pass.” - Tiffany
  • “If someone is riding your tail, driving aggressively or strange, trying to cut in front of people waiting to turn or exit, trying to get around you, etc; just let them pass you and pay 1000% attention at all times. People are CRAZY here and they drive even crazier. It’s better to be a little late or let go of your pride a bit so that you can make it to your destination alive rather than get in a wreck or get shot in a road rage incident.” - Jennifer

RELATED: Why do Houston freeways have multiple names?

Houston traffic will test your patience:

  • “Be prepared to leave your house 2 hours early to go 20 minutes across town. Traffic is a NIGHTMARE!” - Robin
  • “It takes 2 hours to travel to Houston from Houston.” - Amy
  • “Get an EZ Pass for your cars pronto!” - Carissa
  • “No one loves traffic. So be organized. Give yourself time. Like an extra 40 minutes!” - Norma
  • “I always told new employees to have at least 5 different routes to work. Waze app helps now.” - Chuck
  • “Buy a sunshade for your car and watch for potholes!” - Samwel
  • “Do your errands M-F from 9 am to 11 am and from 1:30pm to 3:30 pm, otherwise stay home to avoid traffic congestion during work drive rush hours and the lunchtime rush. Good luck getting around on Saturdays in the Inner 610 loop; streets have become continuous lines of cars; no gaps in traffic or wiggle room anymore.” - Brenda

RELATED: I-45 declared most dangerous U.S. highway in new national study

Arrive on an empty stomach:

  • “Find a little Mom and Pop family-owned/operated Mexican Food Restaurant... and discover the secret that puts those crappy national chains to shame!” - Libran
  • “Eat everything, everywhere.” - Evan
  • “NINFA’S on Navigation is the ONLY NINFA’S that matters.” - Brad
  • “Expect to gain at least 10 lbs if you’re moving to Houston. The cuisine here is incredible.” - Cindy
  • “The food at most restaurants is great and if you don’t mind waiting 45 minutes for a table then make sure to call and make reservations and you will do fine in Houston.” - Edward

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

Real estate recommendations:

  • “Flood insurance even if you are not in a flood zone. Even if your home is 50 years old and has never flooded before.” - Julie
  • “When buying a house, even if your neighbors have never flooded, but that flood insurance. Our street was on a 100 year flood plane, never in 30+ years had it ever flooded once, and we flooded in Hurricane Harvey and it destroyed the first floor of our house. We didn’t have flood insurance because the real estate agent said we didn’t need it and so we didn’t buy it. We have it now! It’s a great peace of mind knowing now that if we flooded again, we are covered.” - Rachel
  • “DO NOT LIVE BY ANY BODY OF WATER i.e retention ponds, lakes, bayous, rivers, & if you do, Get rental or home insurance & be prepared to evacuate during major TROPICAL Storms or Major Hurricanes.” - Tonya
  • “Just because something looks nice and fancy, doesn’t mean it’s nice and fancy. Read the crime reports. Watch your surroundings. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they are not right there watching you.” - Jason
  • “Be neighborly with everyone. If your neighbor on your left is from Nepal and your neighbor on the right is from California advise your neighbor on the left to steer clear from your neighbor on the right.” - Rocky
  • “You will need a generator.” - Lori
  • “Don’t go to Kemah Boardwalk its a huge tourist trap, when you live here except the weather to get pretty bad over here, always look at the weather report to see if it will rain, do research on where the house/apartment flooded during Harvey and get flood insurance if had flooded.” - Elijah

RELATED: Houston’s most outrageous HOA rules, according to local residents

Prepare to acclimate to high heat and humidity:

  • “If moving to Houston, be prepared for high temps and high humidity.” - Sherry
  • “Your hair will always be larger than you planned due to humidity. Invest in oils that help to tame it.” - Dawn
  • “Make sure the a/c in your car works.”
  • “Use sunscreen and always bring a sweater lol.” - Angelina

RELATED: What is the lowest humidity ever recorded in Houston?

Messages from some of Houston’s less hospitable residents:

  • “Stop MOVING to Texas, we’re full!” - Christina
  • “If your a liberal from Cali, leave.” - Darrell
  • “Best advice for new transplants: LEAVE” - Ben

RELATED: So much for Southern hospitality! Texas ranked one of the least kind states in the country


Houstonians, leave your tips, warnings and recommendations 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.