Why Houston Renters Aren’t Giving Their City High Marks

Leah Binkovitz | @leahbink | August 8, 2016

Image via flickr/Kurt Bauschardt.

Image via flickr/Kurt Bauschardt.

A report about Houstonians’ attitudes about their city re-surfaced this month, and the results aren’t, exactly, pretty.

Apartment List, a national apartment listing site, published a report based on a poll of its users to assess their level of satisfaction with the city in which they live. The study focuses on a measure based on residents’ likelihood of recommending their city as a place to live to friends and family members. Overall, Houston renters gave their city a D rating, meaning relatively few said they’d recommend it to other people.

From a 2015 report of renter attitudes; Houstonian renters weren't too happy with the city overall.

From a 2015 report of renter attitudes; Houstonian renters weren’t too happy with the city overall.

The survey, published last year and conducted in last 2014, was based on online responses. As a result, the respondents tended to skew younger and slightly lower-income when compared to Census information on renters, according to the report. Still, despite its limitations, the survey may provide insights into the psyche of Houstonians.

They gave the city high marks for their confidence in the local economy —  though the survey was conducted just as oil prices were starting to fall — and they also were relatively (and surprisingly) satisfied with their commutes. But they weren’t happy with public safety, the quality of schools or access to recreational opportunities.

“Houston received the lowest scores in Texas, lagging behind Austin, San Antonio, and cities in the Dallas metro,” Andrew Tam, vice president of data science at Apartment List said when the survey was released. “The U.S. renter population is at its highest level in 20 years, and renter concerns with Houston’s crime rate and access to recreation may affect its ability to attract this demographic.”

satisfaction

Out of 100 cities, Houston ranked near the bottom for overall city satisfaction at 83. Dallas performed slightly better at 75 and Austin left them both behind, ranking fourth. Other big Sun Belt cities also beat out Houston with Los Angeles ranking 48 and Atlanta ranking 32.

The million dollar question for Houston will be whether it’s able to move the needle. Since this survey was conducted, it’s opened Buffalo Bayou Park, expanded bike trails, and taken other steps to improve quality-of-life in Houston.

The report comes at a time when Houston, amid an economic slowdown, is experiencing slower rental price growth than both the state and national averages, according to the August 2016 report from Apartment List. In fact, rents have gone down in many parts of the city in the past year. Overall, rents decreased 0.8 percent between June and July in Houston, but they’re up 0.1 percent since July 2015, putting median rent for a 1-bedroom in Houston at $1,160 and a 2-bedroom at $1,500.

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Leah Binkovitz

Leah Binkovitz is Senior Editor with the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

2 Comments

  1. I’m surprised Houston scored as high as it did, I’ve been to almost every other major city and Houston doesn’t even compare. I’m a Houston native and unfortunately still live here due to work, there’s too many things they can’t change about Houston to ever make it desirable, although zoning would be a good start

  2. Ashley!!!!

    I disagree, Houston is the most diverse city in the nation, and I think the no zoning promotes a really unique atmosphere throughout the city

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