Boasting one of the lowest costs of living in the nation and a quality of life that excels in every facet, Houston is a study in excellence. The dynamic economy encompasses jewels like the Port of Houston, the Houston Airport System, the world's largest medical center complex, and NASA's largest installation, Johnson Space Center. Long known for its industrial prowess, the area's considerable assets have resulted in a boom of high technology activity. As the academic center of the Southwest, Houston is home to distinguished school districts, acclaimed private schools, and prominent colleges and universities. Approximately 40 institutions of higher education are scattered throughout the metropolitan area, from convenient and affordable community colleges to major universities. Reflecting the caliber of Houston educational opportunities, three Nobel Prize winners have emerged from Rice University and the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center since 1996. State-of-the-art healthcare facilities and advanced research institutes are so highly developed in Houston that the city is an international destination for quality patient care. Over 40 member institutions make up the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, including the top cancer hospital in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. An entire network of medical centers, hospitals, clinics, and support facilities serve the metro area, employing nearly seven percent of the regional workforce.
Located primarily in Harris County but stretching into Fort Bend and Montgomery Counties, and is the nation's fourth largest city. Ranked as the 8th most livable metropolitan areas in North American in the Places Rated Almanac, Houston combines affordable housing and vibrant neighborhoods with world-class shopping, superb recreational amenities, endless attractions, and cultural treasures. Year-round resident companies represent all the major performing arts, theatre, opera, ballet, and symphony. The city's Theater District is second only to New York City for its concentration of seats in one geographic area, while the unique museum district offers an amazing mecca of museums, galleries, art and cultural institutions.
Throughout the metropolitan region, residents can enjoy professional and collegiate sports, elite golf courses, entertainment centers, spectacular attractions, and water sports on abundant waterways. Freshwater lakes and Galveston Bay are less than 40 miles from downtown Houston. Just beyond the front door, the city maintains over 310 lush parks filled with first-rate facilities and 80 miles of multi-purpose trails. Major attractions include thrilling amusement parts and water parks, the Houston Zoological Gardens, Moody Gardens, race parks, and a long list of colorful annual celebrations. Wonderful restaurants abound, drawing out residents for casual to formal dining more often than any other city in the nation.
Culturally diverse and delightfully cosmopolitan, the city ranks as the nation's third largest consular corps representing over 70 nations. Dozens of international chambers of commerce join foreign banks, trade associations, and the ranks of Houston offices for international companies. Newcomers will discover a city that manages to balance its obvious sophistication with the friendliness, warmth, and gracious hospitality of its Texan heritage. Even more dazzling than the array of amenities in Houston is the attractive, affordable selection of housing. Downtown lofts, elegant townhouses, historic Victorians, rambling ranches, tree-shaded subdivisions, and luxurious estates are just a few of the choices available. Regardless of the neighborhood or suburban enclave you choose to call home, the City of Houston ensures an unsurpassed quality of life that only grows richer with each passing year.