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Traffic and Transportation in Houston

The idea of living in Houston has not reached the worldwide popularity New York or Los Angeles enjoy — and wrongly so, many would argue. Houston has a lot to offer and our guide has information on what awaits expats considering a life in Houston.
Many alternatives to driving are available in Houston.

Driving in Houston: Prepare for Traffic

Because of the country’s vast distances, US citizens are renowned for their propensity to drive wherever they need to go — calling cars part of the American way of life would be no overstatement. Indeed, you might find that it is more common to see multiple cars parked in front of a house than none at all. In Houston and Texas, both near-synonymous with oil, the car is of course also held in high esteem. While Interstate Highway 610 (the Loop) is a beltway enclosing the city, Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Parkway) encloses its metro area, facilitating easy travels to and from the city center and between many of its suburbs.  

However, as the vast majority of commuters drive their car to and from work, it’s no wonder the situation on the streets and roads is oftentimes stressful. In a report published by INRIX, , Houston was ranked the fourth most congested city in the USA in 2015, with an average of 74 hours per year wasted in traffic by each commuter.

Getting Your Driver’s License

Even though, you are allowed to drive in Houston for one year with a foreign driver’s license as a visitor, it is highly advisable to acquire a Texas driver’s license as soon as possible after moving to Houston Driver’s licenses are not only a prerequisite for handling an automobile, but are also your main proof of identification in everyday life. The Texas Department of Public Safety has a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to apply for a license, including a list of requirements.

Once you have obtained your driver’s license, make sure that you don’t forget to renew it when the time comes. A Texas driver’s license is usually valid for six years. After that, a renewal is necessary to continue driving legally. Renewals can be made online, by phone, by mail, or in person.

Our Expat Guide to the US offers all the information you need to tackle the task of getting an American driver's license.

Alternatives to Driving: Taking the Bike or the METRO

If you’d rather not join the hordes of car commuters, you’ll be happy to hear that there has been a positive trend in terms of availability of alternatives to the automobile. These do not only include the obvious public transportation systems, such as railways and buses, but bicycles as well. Never a city to miss out on a superlative, Houston’s Bikeway Program has made it number one in the nation in terms of total length of its bikeways — over 300 miles (483 km).  

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County — METRO, for short — is the service provider for most of the public transportation in Houston. METRO’s range of services includes a large bus network with more than 1,200 buses as well as a line of light rail services dubbed METRORail. Currently only two tracks are in service, but another line is already under construction.

Driving is not a necessity to get around Houston — but did you know you could also see the entire country without a car? Our guide on public transportation in the US has more information.


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David Hicks

"A colleague, also an expat, recommended InterNations to me and I can only agree with his recommendation and pass it on."

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"I met so many quality people on InterNations, which made it easy to start my new life in Houston."

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