Find Your Perfect Space in Houston

downtown houston on a sunny day
Written by Carolyn Albee

Houston is known for many things: Tex-Mex, chicken-fried steak, line-dancing, the Bush family, giant shopping malls, even bigger hair … the list goes on. But it may be most well-known as part of a familiar American saying: "Houston, we have a problem.” Those are the famous words spoken by Apollo 13 astronauts during the 1970 spaceflight, and they've lived on in American folklore for decades.

Those words were beamed from the stars into the Johnson Space Center, Houston's most famous landmark and still an active NASA hub. The space center lends the city its official nickname, "Space City," but there are plenty of other places where you can "get some space" in Houston. Take a breather, do some thinking, or even move right in: These are Space City's other spaces.

Outer Space

inside the space center in houston, tx
Via robert thigpen/Flickr

The Johnson Space Center is still one of NASA's largest research centers and the base for International Space Station mission control, the Orion Program, and more. You can visit Space Center Houston, right next door, for a taste of the astronaut life, and can even hop on the Tram Tour for a behind-the-scenes look at the Space Center itself.

Back in the city center, head to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where you can stargaze at George Observatory and take a tour through the stars at Burke Baker Planetarium. For an artsier take on outer space, check out James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace at Rice University, an installation that plays an LED lightshow at sunrise and sunset. Need even more space? Reach for the stars with North Houston Astronomy Club—members get access to tons of other stargazing sites.

Green Space

pathway in the houston arboretum and nature center
Via P K./Yelp

Houston is on the cutting-edge of all kinds of science, including the latest trends in eco-friendliness. If you want sustainable living in Houston, TX, you'll find it at LEED-certified apartments like The Millennium High Street near trendy Uptown. Shop at nearby Urban Harvest Farmers Market for even more sustainability credibility. You can even store your extra stuff sustainably: CubeSmart has two eco-friendly and sustainably built facilities in Pearland and Northwest Houston.

Green Houston extends to literal green spaces, too. In Hermann Park, take a stroll around the lake, hit the golf course, or have a date day in the gorgeous Japanese gardens. For more garden time, check out the Houston Arboretum, which also hosts fun programs like scavenger hunts and "Owl Prowls." Want to break a sweat? Get your fitness on in one of Houston parks.

Quiet Space

light installation in the menil collection building
Via May C./Yelp

Sometimes you just need a little space to think. Get away from the bustling streets of Houston at one its many artsy attractions. The halls of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts are a great place to contemplate art, life, and the world. Visit the museum's Bayou Bend to discover your own "secret gardens": the house sits on 14 acres of beautifully maintained gardens. The Menil Collection focuses on multimedia art and sculpture, but its quietest space is the Rothko Chapel, a nondenominational space for meditation and reflection.

Bookworms can get lost in the stacks at Brazos Bookstore, a Houston institution since 1974. It's independently owned by local Houstonians, who also hand-pick every book on the shelves. Just be careful—you could literally spend hours here. If you need to get some work done or just want to chill with a good book, check out Paper Co. Café near the First Ward. House-roasted, direct trade coffee doesn't get any tastier, and the adorable loft-like space next to a church doesn't get any quieter.

Personal Space

aerial view of downtown houston and surrounding neighborhood
Via Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock

No matter how much time you spend in pretty parks and quiet cafés, you're going to need a place of your own if you're moving to Houston. The overall cost of living in Houston is lower than the national average, but average rents vary widely by neighborhood. You'll get the most space for your dollar in Westchase, a diverse neighborhood in west Houston with tons of restaurants and coffee shops, or Clear Lake in south Houston, home of the Space Center. Average rents are around $1,100 in these areas.

Houston's up-and-coming Uptown and Greater Heights neighborhoods are a good bet for trendy city living at a reasonable price, with average rents of about $1,450. If you must live in the most popular areas, expect to pay around $1,800. However, it could be worth it to live near the artsy counterculture vibe of Montrose, the parks and museums of University Place, or the super-central, walkable Midtown. Six wards give you plenty of neighborhoods to live in Downtown Houston, if you want to stay central.

Houston Storage Space

cubesmart facility in houston, texas

If you're trading space for the conveniences and perks of city life, don't sell all your stuff just yet. CubeSmart has Houston self storage near all the popular neighborhoods, so you’re never far from your favorite things.

University Place: 4211 Bellaire Boulevard
Montrose: 1202 Shepherd Drive
Midtown: 1019 W Dallas Street

With a great economy, a super-diverse array of restaurants and nightlife, and plenty of parks and gardens, Houston has everything you want in a city, including ways to get away from it all. In Space City, it's easy to get some space—you just need to know where to look.

Header image via Brandon Seidel/Shutterstock

About the author

Carolyn Albee

Carolyn is a writer, editor, and fan of the Chicago Manual of Style. She's based in Southern California (the greatest place on earth), but she lives by the belief that every city, and every person, has a story to tell. When she's not telling those stories, you'll find her visiting craft breweries and exploring new hikes with her best friend—her dog, of course.

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