Thousands of people are turning their backs on central Houston, seeking a more affordable version of the American dream in the city’s most far-flung suburbs. The migration pattern is changing the face of some formerly sleepy counties like Liberty, Brazoria and Montgomery.
Erin Douglas is a local economy reporter for the Houston Chronicle. She says young, diverse families with highly skilled and well-educated members are making the move away from the city.
“They’re looking for a little more room to spread out. They’re looking for an opportunity to start their own business, sort of moving into the next stages of their lives,” Douglas says.
Houston’s cost of living is a factor in this wave of out-migration, as are concerns about schools.
“There are some really good school districts in the suburbs,” Douglas says.
Young families migrating to Pearland have cited good schools as well as so-called master-planned communities that offer amenities and more space.
During past suburban migrations, many still commuted into the city each day for work. But Douglas says that might not be the case for some now that businesses are also following the suburban trend.
“I think more companies are starting to locate outside, in the suburbs, for some of the same reasons that families are going,” Douglas says.
For immigrants, navigating suburban life can be tricky since some suburban areas aren’t always racially, ethnically or culturally diverse, Douglas says. But that’s changing as more people move away from the city, which is leading to increased diversity in suburban counties.
For long-time residents of these counties, though, the growing diversity means changes they weren’t exactly prepared for.
“When I talked to some of the older [neighbors] that had been there for decades and decades, they’re mourning a loss of identity in their once-small farm town,” Douglas says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.