Houston’s Energy Corridor is an area in West Houston that is headquarters to some of the largest oil and gas companies in the world. It is also a great place to work, live and raise a family. This Complete Guide to Living and Working in the Energy Corridor dives into what life is like in the Energy Corridor. It covers schools, restaurants, where to buy a home, and fun things to do in and around the Energy Corridor.
Where is the Energy Corridor?
Houston’s Energy Corridor is in West Houston along I-10 and Eldridge and up through Park Row Drive from Highway 6 to Barker Cypress.
Because of the great neighborhoods located around the Energy Corridor that are not technically the “Energy Corridor,” I’ll be referring to the area from I-10 to Westheimer and Beltway 8 to Highway 6 as the “Energy Corridor.”
This actually encompasses Memorial West and a little bit of the Westchase District, but many oil and gas professionals live and work here so that is why I’m lumping them together.
Energy Corridor Companies – World or National Headquarters
Other Prominent Companies
Best Place to Find Jobs
Living in the Energy Corridor
Life in West Houston is a nice mix of the small town feel with big city amenities. It’s not as slow as the suburbs can be nor is it the hustle and bustle of inner loop living, so many people find it is a nice balance.
Families are attracted to living here because of the great schools, great community, short drive to the office, and easy access to Houston’s best offerings.
Young professionals and couples often move to the Energy Corridor to cut down on their commute and to take advantage of the various reasonably priced homes.
It can be difficult to find a welcoming community in our busy culture, as we often stay more isolated at home, but I find that many of the neighborhoods in and around the Energy Corridor have an inviting community. After seeing your neighbors around the neighborhood, various neighborhood events, church events, the local gym, fundraisers, school, and so on, it is easier to make friends.
It also helps that most people tend to share a deep sense of southern hospitality despite Houston being such a large city.
Things to do in West Houston/Energy Corridor
The great thing about this location is that you can quickly hop on the freeway and get out to just about any place in Houston in about 45 minutes (non-peak times). But, with all the great activities in the area, you might just decide to stay close to home:
City Centre – Houston
Memorial City Mall
Anthills of Terry Hershey (mountain biking)
Great Restaurants in the Energy Corridor
There are tons of wonderful restaurants in the Energy Corridor. Whether you are grabbing a quick bite for lunch with a client or looking for a romantic dinner, here are a few options to try (in no particular order).
The original Lupe is at Hwy 6 and I-10 and is a home that was converted into a Tex-Mex restaurant. When you walk through, it will feel a little closed off and somewhat strange (you used to have to walk through the kitchen to get to the men’s restroom), but all the franchises have a similar layout and feel to them.
They have my favorite fajitas. Ahhh. I dream about them all the time when my belly rumbles.
The beef fajitas are so tender and are chock full of lime and cilantro flavor. They do have other great items but that is literally all I purchase every time I visit. They have a great patio and a sandy play-place for the kids as well.
This is a great American Fare restaurant with their own little twist. The pecan crusted chicken is amazing, the meatloaf will literally change your life, the burger is juicy with fresh cut fries and the fish tacos are wonderful.
They always have great beer on tap and a great wine list, and I really dig the chill atmosphere.
For my Yankee friends who have a hankering for some New York style pizza or if you just really like pizza, then check out Brother’s Pizza. They sell massive slices of pizza oozing with delicious cheese, fresh toppings on a thin crust.
This is a hamburger and Filipino fusion restaurant, which makes no sense, but they have delicious burgers. It started as a food truck and now has brick and mortar stores popping up around Houston because of its increasing popularity.
Sylvia’s Enchilada House
I had to get a second Tex-Mex on the list because Sylvia’s has some amazing enchiladas and is always great for a quick lunch or meeting up for happy hour.
Just Grk (Greek) is an authentic Greek restaurant and has some awesome food. The gyros combo plate is fantastic with a fluffy pita, delicious meat, and a creamy tzatziki sauce. Apparently, they have other great food, but the gyro is so good, that is all I ever purchase when I go there.
This is an upscale Italian food restaurant with some delicious dishes and a hoppin’ bar area. It can be a bit pricey, but the food and the atmosphere are worth it for a great date night.
If you want a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, then you have found a gem. Freddy’s has some killer burgers and is a popular lunch destination for oil and gas workers in the Energy Corridor. I like the diner feel as the main attraction is the great food. If you don’t have anything to do after you eat and you can make time for a nap, try the chili cheese fries with your burger, they are wonderful.
Bars and Gastropubs
Sometimes you just want to catch a game in the evening or meet up with an old friend over a drink, so a bar or gastropub may be just the thing. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Bull and the Bear Tavern & Eatery
From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but the atmosphere is nice and comfortable, and the food is great. It has a great vibe, and they have tons of beer on draft, so it’s a winner in my book.
Watson’s House of Ales
Watson’s has an old-world pub vibe on the inside or you can enjoy a beverage on the massive shaded patio that often host live music. The food is good, the drinks are well priced, and the place has a great atmosphere.
NextDoor Bar & Lounge
I love Next Door because it has really great food and tons of local Houston and Texas beers that are often hard to find. Hungry’s is the restaurant next door (owned by the same company), so you can decide if you want a more sit-down formal meal or a more up-tempo bar scene.
Amici Wine Bistro
This is a family owned restaurant with a passion for great food and wonderful wine. The selections are a mix of American and Italian dishes cooked to perfection. They have a great wine list and you can purchase by the bottle or the glass.
Rouge Wine Bar
Another wine bar option is just a little further south and where Amici has a more extensive dinner menu, Rogue has a greater wine selection. The oven-fired pizzas are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but if you are looking for some great wine that you won’t find at every other wine bar, then you need to try this place. Their patio is over-sized and a great place to relax when the weather is pleasant.
Top Energy Corridor Parks
There are a variety of great parks dotted throughout the Energy Corridor to help you get out and enjoy some fresh air.
Terry Hershey Park
Terry Hershey runs along the Buffalo Bayou and has a series of paved and dirt trails for hikers, bikers, and everything in-between. It spans from the Barker Reservoir at Highway 6 to the Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8). It has various restrooms and drinking fountains along the trail.
The Ant Hills of West Houston (or the mountain bike trails that run along the bayou) are incredibly fun to bike when the soil is dry. REI and other outdoor-loving adventurers have built ramps and bridges to make it a great off-road experience.
George Bush Park
George Bush Park is actually the Barker Reservoir and is designed to catch rain runoff to prevent the surrounding neighborhoods (and downtown Houston) from flooding. So, after a heavy rain, you may find much of the park underwater.
Despite that, it has a ton of great things to do! First, it has a variety of small lakes that often have fishermen casting their lures for a catch.
There is a great playground for the kids on South Barker Cypress along with two great pavilions you can rent out for parties. It has a professional shooting range (which is not close to the playground…thank goodness!), a remote control flying airplane runway, baseball fields, soccer fields, and a great dog park.
Millie Bush Dog Park is a well-maintained park with two separate areas for small and large dogs to play. It has shallow lakes for the pups to swim in, a walking path, and showers for cleaning up after playtime. It’s great to get out and let the pets play.
Bear Creek Pioneers Park
Pioneers Park has a ton to offer. My favorite part of this park is that it practically offers a free zoo!
They have a variety of birds, reptiles, and larger animals, such as emus, horses, potbelly pigs, and more. Bring a stroller and some good walking shoes because it can be a decent walk to see all the animals.
It also has multiple pavilions to rent along with sport fields, playgrounds, jogging trails and awesome hiking trails.
Nottingham Park has a little bit of everything. The paved trail is about ¾ of a mile and you will often see runners and walkers out enjoying the park. It has a massive playground for the kids to run and expend some energy along with some adult exercise stations (chin-ups, incline push-ups, and so forth). Our family really enjoys the free splash pad.
I have often played the 12 hole disc golf course with friends and thoroughly enjoy it despite spending the majority of my time chasing errant discs.
Edith Moore Nature Sanctuary
The Nature Sanctuary is a beautiful walk through the woods and a wonderful place to get out and enjoy nature on a beautiful day. They have a variety of trails, 17.5 acres of forests to traverse and weekly programming at the log cabin in the summers.
Ray Miller Park
On Eldridge, just south of Briar Forest, sits Ray Miller Park. This great park has .64 mile jogging trail, two playgrounds (one for the younger kids and one for the older kids), a couple of pavilions with grills, and a soccer field. You will often see boot camps taking place in the morning and evening along with other group activities.
Congressman Bill Archer Dog Park
Not sure if one of my highest aspirations in life is to have a dog park named after me, but Congressman Bill Archer, you did it (you may applaud now). This is actually a wonderful dog park. They have the typical big dog area and small dog area fenced off. They have ponds, walking trails, dog obstacle course, a couple of pet washing areas, and over-sized fire hydrants.
Let’s start with the positives for weather in Houston. First, the spring and the fall are often beautiful with cooler weather for relaxing and playing outside. Spring is my favorite because the wild flowers are out, it’s often sunny but cool, and it just makes you want to spend all your time outside.
Our winters are very mild. We will usually only have a few days with temperatures below freezing but it often doesn’t stay that way long. It will swing from hot to cold quickly when the northern cold fronts come down.
I can remember multiple Christmas days in shorts, but the good news is you don’t have to shovel snow. Speaking of snow, every couple of years we will see a few flurries and sometimes we will have enough snow to stick on the ground for a snowball or two…
I always look forward to cooler weather in the winter, but it cracks me up listening to other Houstonians complain about our “cold” weather. So, just be prepared for it when you move here.
Okay, let’s talk about some of the challenges with weather in Houston.
It’s hot and humid. Often.
When you live in an area that receives a lot of snow, the best advice people give for making the best of it is to just get out and be active: skiing, snowmobiling, ice hockey, snowball fights and so forth.
Same goes for Houston…but without the snow sports.
To make the best of the heat and humidity, it helps to get out to the pool often (or have one in your backyard). Splash pads, slip and slides, or a sprinkler in the backyard can do in a pinch to help the family cool off and have a great time.
Plan to spend time outside in the morning and the evening when it is cooler but even during the heat of the day you can get out and get a good sweat going while sticking to the shade. Don’t let it stop you from doing what you want to do.
People often say the first summer they spend here is rough, but after that, your body adapts to it (think X-Men).
The other thing to know is that Houston gets a lot of rain, about 50 inches per year (1.27 meters). A rain shower can dramatically increase your commute time, so check the weather and traffic before you leave your house. If your job allows it, try to change your departure time or work from home.
Finally, hurricanes are a real concern. Being so close to the coast makes us vulnerable to high winds, rain, and possible flooding. If you are considering moving closer to the coast, make sure your house has an elevation certificate and the roof is correctly attached per the building codes for high wind areas.
High winds are not as big of a concern in the Energy Corridor, but flooding is more likely. The Buffalo Bayou runs right through West Houston and can overflow during extremely heavy rainstorms.
Again, just be aware of where you decide to live and how close you are to flood-prone areas. Always check with your insurance company what flood insurance will cost before purchasing any home in Houston.
I’ve briefly touched on schools, but I’ll dive deeper into the various public and popular private schools for the area. The ratings are based upon the 2018 STAAR Statistics (the standardized test in Texas) which is just one factor when selecting a school. I would recommend speaking with parents with kids zoned to the particular school to get their experience.
Spring Branch ISD
Houston ISD has a great magnet school program. Check out some of the alternative offerings
Here is an extensive list of popular private schools in and around West Houston and a rough estimate of their tuitions:
St. Pope John Paul II ($7,000+)(PreK-8th)
Yorkshire Academy ($10,000+) (18 month to 5th grade)
The Village School ($21,000+) (PreK-12)
British International School ($20,000+) (PreK-12)
The Awty International School ($20,000+) (PreK-12)
St. Cecilia Catholic School ($9,000+) (PreK-8)
Second Baptist School ($16,000+) (PreK-12)
St. Michael Catholic School ($10,000+) (PreK-8)
First Baptist Houston ($14,000+) (PreK-8)
Rainard – School for the Gifted (9,900-$19,450) (PreK-8)
Houston Christian High School ($25,000+) (9-12)
Strake Jesuit ($21,000+) (9-12)
Buying a Home In The Energy Corridor
If you are looking to buy a home in the Energy Corridor, I suggest you start with what school district you want to live in. Even if you don’t have any kids, the school district can dramatically affect how much (or how little) your home will appreciate.
Spring Branch ISD (Independent School District) is a desired school district for many families, along with Katy ISD and Houston ISD. You need to check the reviews and school ratings for each school your potential home is zoned for so you can find the best fit.
After focusing on the school district, begin to narrow down to a few neighborhoods that you like the style of homes and that fit your price point.
Next, begin to familiarize yourself with your top neighborhood attributes: the average price per square foot, schools, flood maps, various floor plans and the traffic to and from major highways.
Then, tour and place offers on your top selections. If you are wondering about the process of buying a home in Texas, check out my post: How to Buy a Home in Houston. Once you have your dream home under contract, make sure you do your due diligence when inspecting the home. Here are a few things to watch out for:
Where to Look to Buy a Home in Houston
If you are moving to Houston and not sure where to start, the best website is Har.com.
HAR (Houston Association of Realtors) is where all the Houston Realtors upload their homes first and then they are sent out to all the other big name websites to show home listings. If this is your first time living in Houston, check out my video on the 10 Things You Must Know When Moving to Houston.
Houses for Rent and Energy Corridor Apartments
There are ample apartments in and around the Energy Corridor and you are likely to find one for a great price in no time (send me a message if you need assistance with apartment locating). For homes, check out this link. For apartments, check out this website.
Items to Watch for When Purchasing Your New Home
Anytime you buy a home in Houston, you need to check the flood maps. It helps to talk with neighbors about any previous flooding and to chat with your insurance agent about a property’s previous insurance claims (C.L.U.E. Reports).
Always purchase flood insurance. Even if your home isn’t in a flood zone.
Just because it didn’t flood in the past doesn’t mean it won’t flood in future storms and if FEMA decides to designate your area as a floodplain in the future, you would most likely be grandfathered in at the lower rate.
After seeing the mess Harvey caused on so many people’s lives and the additional pain they had to endure because they didn’t have flood insurance, I always recommend getting it.
How do you know where the flood plains are? Great question, you can check out the Fema Flood Maps here.
Most of West Houston has a clay-based soil that will dramatically expand and contract with the moisture levels. We joke that there are only two types of homes in Houston: the homes that have foundation repairs and those that will have foundation repairs.
It’s difficult to escape; even some newer homes have foundation issues, but don’t fret! Most foundation repairs can be addressed for less than $5,000.
There are homes that do need $20,000 of work or more, so it is good to be aware of what you are getting into, but don’t just run from a house because it had previous foundation repairs. Those are often the ones you actually want to buy!
A few quick foundation tips: know what to look for when you are touring homes, have a structural engineer measure and evaluate the foundation during the inspection period, and transfer any previous foundation work within 30 days of taking ownership.
Many homes in the Energy Corridor were built in the 60s and 70s and have galvanized pipes. Over-time, the minerals in our water will wear away portions of the pipe and cause it to leak.
That is why you may see some homes with multiple ceiling repairs (other leaks are always possible).
If the home’s under–slab pipes are original from the 1960’s, I would suggest having the pipes tested (hydrostatic test) or send a camera down the pipes to confirm they are in good working order. Replacing all the under slab pipes can be costly (contact me for a plumbing referral).
Tree roots can often find their way into the pipes and cause major damage. Completely replacing the under-slab plumbing can easily cost $10,000, so don’t skip out on inspecting the plumbing system.
Many of the older homes in the Energy Corridor still have a Federal Pacific electrical box. This brand has been known throughout the country to cause fires, so it is a great idea to replace them. If that is the case, I would encourage you to have the seller provide a concession so you can correctly replace the electrical box after closing.
Another electrical issue to be aware of is aluminum wiring. Aluminum will expand and contract more than copper wiring and issues can be caused from that movement. It usually does not need to be fully re-wired, but all the outlets do need to be correctly mitigated along with work on the electrical box. Be sure to have an electrician review.
These are obviously major items to be aware of, but don’t let it stop you from buying an older home in a great neighborhood. Especially one that has been beautifully maintained. Use this info to discuss with qualified professionals to give you a better understanding of the home’s condition.
Selling a Home in West Houston
Preparing your home to sell is much like you would with any other Houston home. Check out my extensive article on how to sell your home fast (and get the most money for it) and this awesome article on tips from the Top 23 Houston Home Stagers on how to prepare your home for sale.
When you are selling, I would take into consideration that your home will probably catch the eye of one or more oil and gas employees when it is on the market. I would highly recommend you see if your company has a company board in which you can post your home for sale or for lease.
What often happens is that employees moving to the area or renting will look for a trusted voice as to where they should live and what they should look for in their new home. Besides reading this great article and taking my expert advice on living in the Energy Corridor 😉, your real life experiences as to what it is like living here will be helpful for them to decide if they will live close to the office or make the commute from the suburbs.
Energy Corridor Living
If you made it to the end of this amazing article, congratulations! We would love to have you join us in our little haven in West Houston. If you are wondering what part of the Energy Corridor is best for you, then please contact me by clicking on the red button below, and I’ll be happy to talk about which neighborhoods fit in with your lifestyle and budget.