One question we’re sometimes asked by people moving to Houston is, “can you live in Houston without a car?” The honest answer is, “It’s a challenge, but it can be done.” Houston is definitely a car-loving city with the majority of commuters getting to work by car, and most of the metro area is spread out and designed for cars, not cyclists, pedestrians, or mass transit riders. Houston public transportation includes buses and light rail, but it’s not nearly as extensive as public transit is in many other major cities. Still, living in Houston without a car is entirely doable – it just takes a bit more planning and creativity. Here are our four top tips for a great car-free Houston life:
1. When hunting for your Houston apartment, focus on location.
In online discussions like this one on Quora, Houstonians say again and again that the quality of a carless Houston life depends on where you work and where you choose to live. The Houston area’s public transit system is still growing – it already serves some areas well, while leaving others lacking. Living in Houston without a car is much easier if your home and your workplace are near light rail lines or major bus lines. As you start your apartment hunt, visit the website for Houston’s METRO public transit system to learn what locations the system serves well, and what locations are still tough to get to and from. If you let Houston Apartment Insiders help you find your next apartment — a service that’s free to renters — just tell us that you’ll be moving to Houston without a car, and we’ll keep that in mind as we schedule showings for apartments that fit your wants and needs.
2. Look into alternative ways of getting around.
Besides driving and taking trains and buses, there are other ways to get around Houston. Ours is not a particularly bike-friendly city, but Houston has an active community of cyclists who are working hard to change that. If you only need a car from time to time (say, for a day trip to the beach, or to visit friends across town), keep in mind that the Houston area has car services, including Lyft and Uber, and car-sharing services, including Zipcar and Turo.
3. Consider the climate.
If you’re on the fence about whether to bring a car when moving to Houston, consider our climate and how you and your family will feel spending a lot of time outdoors here. Houston is a warm place with mild winters and very little snow, but our climate still has its challenges to health and comfort. If you choose (or must have) a car-free Houston life, be prepared for occasional heavy rains and lots of hot, humid summer days. A good umbrella, raincoat, and water-resistant shoes are musts for rainy days. In the summer, learn the signs of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them, especially for older people, pets, and young children. With a little planning, you should be able to stay safe and comfortable as you travel around Houston, with or without a car.