Moving back to Houston: The same, only different
Moving to Houston can be easier the second time around. Just ask Jackie Rowan. She and her family recently moved back to Houston following a two-year stint in Calgary.
Originally from Manchester, England, Rowan and her family had been residents of Katy for 11 when her husband’s job took them to Calgary. Upon their return, rather than moving back to Katy, they chose to live in Cypress instead.
Now that Rowan is back, she said that life in Houston is the same, only different.
I recently visited with her about what it has been like to return to Houston, even after a short time away. Here’s what she had to say:
MS: What led to your decision to live in Cypress this time?
JR: We knew when we left that we were coming back, and that my husband’s job would either be based in the Energy Corridor or The Woodlands.
Our original plan was to come back to Old Katy, but there were so few houses to rent there that we looked at the options that were available just east and a little west of Texas 99. That’s how we ended up in Cypress.
MS: Why did you decide to lease instead of purchasing?
JR: Our daughter, Jennifer, only has two years left in school, and then she may or may not be going away to college. So, we thought we would rent for two years, and then we can make a decision about where we might want to be longer-term. Renting gives us that flexibility.
MS: Did you work with a Realtor to find your rental property?
JR: Because we were only renting, I didn’t really want to bother anybody to help us. I thought that I didn’t need the help and that I knew what I was doing. I knew how to check a lease and how to search on HAR.com. We had leased here on our own before, so we were relatively comfortable doing it ourselves.
MS: Where there any challenges in doing it yourself?
JR: I contacted listing agents through HAR, and two of them came back to me, but another one didn’t reply. I think that was because I was just a person and not a Realtor.
We ended up renting a home that belonged to a Realtor’s parents. She was the listing agent, and we asked her if she would deal with us directly, because we didn’t want to get another Realtor involved. I think that because it was her parent’s house, that made it easier.
MS: If you had it to do over again, would you still lease on your own without having a Realtor represent you?
JR: I think it was a mistake to not get a Realtor involved to help us. I would definitely say that doing it ourselves was a really bad idea, and I would tell others not to do that. If I was doing it again, and if I had been buying, I would absolutely have gotten somebody to help us.
MS: When you moved back, what did you find familiar and comforting verses what was different or unexpected?
JR: It’s strange, because we are back in Houston, but we’re in a whole different area. So, some places are familiar, but at the same time, we’re suddenly back to not knowing how to get anywhere. We don’t know any of the shortcuts yet.
We’ve also noticed that everything is much busier, and even though we’re in a slightly quieter area, the roads are just insane. The greater Houston area has grown exponentially in two years, and I can’t believe how much more of Houston there is.
MS: What has helped you find some of the things that you’re looking for in your new area?
JR: One of the things that I’ve used a lot is the Nextdoor app. It has been really valuable, because I can go on there and ask people to recommend a vet or a restaurant or anything like that. Then, I get loads of recommendations within hours, so it’s really handy.
MS: What’s the best thing about being back?
JR: Just being able to be outside in the sunshine is really nice, but I suppose the biggest thing is just being able to reconnect with friends. It feels like Canada was a dream, and like we were never away.
MS: Was it easier the second time around?
JR: Yes, because we knew more of what we didn’t know the first time. We were much more conscious of what we needed to do, and we were aware of the kinds of things that were important, and what things not to stress about.
Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit “On the Move” at blog.chron.com/onthemove.