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Houston, Texas, has been dubbed the energy capital of the world. Energy doesn’t just refer to the gas and oil industries, but to the buzz of the streets. The Lone Star State’s largest city--as well as the largest city in the South--is a youthful one with a rising profile in art, culture and culinary pursuits.
New galleries, theaters and housing developments are altering the corporate cityscape. Young professionals are moving in and making themselves at home. Houston has some of the largest urban parks in the country and a bike network 345 miles long.
A major corporate center, the city is third in the nation as home base for Fortune 500 headquarters with 25, according to the Greater Houston Partnership. Although employment is dominated by energy-related businesses, Houston has a surprisingly diverse economic base with health, education and aerospace contributing to the city’s coffers.
The Council for Community and Economic Research’s annual Cost of Living Index for 2013 found Houston has the third lowest overall cost of living among the United State’s 20 most populated metro areas, and its housing costs are 36.6 percent below average. Houston didn’t see the runaway real estate prices of other regions prior to the recession. Consequently, it didn’t experience a big bust. In fact, housing prices have remained fairly stable, reports the Houston Chronicle.
A freeway, Interstate 610, forms a ring around downtown Houston. Located within what’s familiarly known as the Inner Loop is the financial district, cultural institutions like the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony as well as lovely historic neighborhoods.
River Oaks, located in the heart of the Inner Loop, is a landmark neighborhood and one of Houston’s most exclusive. Buyers here can find mansions designed by top architects. Southhampton Place, Royden Oaks and West University Place all feature choice Inner Loop properties. The Heights, located northeast of downtown, is one of the nation’s first master planned communities. It dates back to the late 1800s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Outside the Loop exclusive subdivisions can be found in such as communities as Tanglewood, the leafy and luxurious area once home to one of Houston’s most famous residents: former U.S. President, George H.W. Bush.