Tag Archives: Texas

Spend Some Time Exploring Your City: Three Fun Entertainment Venues In Houston

Houston, Texas stands as the fourth largest city in the United States, and as such it offers most of the same avenues of entertainment as all of the other large cities. From museums of high culture to play areas for children, there is something available for everyone in Houston. If you have been living in Houston for a long time you may have missed out on some of the attractions because you have become stuck in the same routine over and over again. To really get the feeling for what Houston has to offer you should take the time to explore the city and find some of the hidden gems. These are three of the best entertainment venues in Houston.

Alley Theater

There are few things in this world more exciting than a live theatrical performance. You can see the raw power and emotion of the actors and actresses, all while witnessing the skill of the set designers. The Alley Theater is a hotspot for local theater and musicals in Houston, providing a venue for cutting edge and experimental performances, as well as more traditional theater. They highlight people from the area, so you are given the chance to see the “next big thing” before it ever breaks out. The venue is intimate so you feel like you are right on the stage no matter where you are sitting, and the variety of plays means that there is almost always something for the entire family at least once a year. If you are interested in local arts and supporting the local community, then the Alley Theater deserves a visit.

Space Center Houston

If you grew up near Houston then you probably went to the Space Senter as a child, but that does not compare to the experience of going as an adult, even if you do not have children of your own. Here you can marvel and the men, women and machines that made it possible for an American to be the first person to walk on the moon and you can be awed by all that space has to offer. It is easier to appreciate the simulators and the history of the space center as an adult than it would have been while you were a student in grade school. The new Leonardo da Vinci exhibit, Machines in Motion, brings to life 40 of da Vinci’s greatest and most advanced creations in a way that is seen no where else in the world. This is a terrific place to spend a day with your family, or with your partner.

Murder Mystery Texas

For a quiet, but fun night out with your partner, Murder Mystery Texas is an excellent choice that is very affordable. The mystery unfolds over a four course dinner, and during your experience you are able to meet and mingle with the other people who attended the event. Everyone that you see is a potential suspect, as members of the cast have been planted as waiters and guests so that you are kept guessing the entire evening. A detective is there to guide you through the investigative process, and by the time dessert is finished, you should be able to figure out who the killer was. Prizes are given for the most accurate and most humorous answer, so even if you get the solution wrong, you can still win. The events only last two to three hours, so there is no need to set aside an entire day to enjoy this immersive and interactive experience.

Houston has all of the amenities of the other largest cities in the United States, and there are plenty of things to do if you take the time to look. Spend some time exploring what Houston has to offer and you will find the hidden gems that make it such a great place to live.

Author Bio: I am David Hoffman and I have been living in Houston since 2010. I wrote this article after one of my friends, a long time Houston resident, admitted that he had never been to the space center as an adult. I was shocked that there was so much of the city that people miss out on because they fall into the same patterns every time they go out.

Three Tips For Buying A Texas Cattle Ranch

Texas RanchWhen you decide to buy into a ranching legacy, you are most likely talking about cattle ranches in the great state of Texas. From dairy farms to grazing land, cattle ranches have become a part of the Texas identity, specifically in the land south of San Antonio. Some of the oldest ranching families in Texas started out around these parts, making it easy to see why many want their ranches here, as well. It’s inviting to not only enter into a potentially successful and lucrative business venture, but also to continue a proud history in a proud state. As a cattle rancher in Texas, you’d be shouldering generations of tradition and continuing that legacy for future generations. If you have decided to purchase this type of property, you need to go into the process equipped with a few tips and tricks. You might buy the first property that you see, but you still need to be cautious in this purchase.

1. Figure out what you want to do with the ranch.

The first step in buying a ranch should always be to make a list of your needs and wants. This involves deciding what you want to do with the ranch. The topography of the land caters to different needs. You need to make certain that you have these priorities in order. The search will be more tedious if you don’t know exactly what you want. Also, your broker won’t be able to find you the right property if you don’t express your needs. Depending on the type of cattle ranch that you need, you might face different county zoning and land use regulations.

2. Pay attention to the resources on the land.

The resources available to you on your piece of potential property can dictate whether your cattle ranch is the right fit for you. It is important to consider the resources on the ranch, such as live water sources. This resource will be necessary for many ranches that have livestock and crops.

3. Factor in the number of animals that the property can support.

If you are interested in buying a cattle ranch, you need to know just how many animals the property will support. Whether you are running a large or small cattle operation, you need to be upfront with your broker on your ranching goals. If you think you will expand, your land should allow for it. Some factors that will also dictate just how much cattle you can have include soil type, precipitation, vegetation and forage condition. Again, your broker should be able to educate you on the land and know just how much livestock the land can support.

Purchasing one of the many Texas cattle ranches that are currenly available can be an exciting endeavor. No matter the size of ranch that you are looking for, you have decisions to make that will impact the business of the ranch. These decisions largely come in the buying process. As you look at different properties, you will be able to fine-tune your wants, wishes and needs in a ranching space.

Clarence recently acquired a Texas cattle ranch through texasranchlandforsale.com. He has never been happier than he is running this property, and was glad of the help of a professional broker in finding his dream ranch. He thinks that others who long to own ranch land in Texas should find a way to follow their dreams.

Houston’s Oddly Absent Zoning Laws

Houston NeighborhoodHouston, Texas is one of the largest cities in the United States, ranking in at number four in terms of population. It’s got all the hallmarks of a huge metropolis.

The bustling city represents the locale of headquarters and flagship establishments for many of the world’s largest companies. It’s a logistical and economic artery, with railways and shipping channels. NASA is right around the corner, and it is an epicenter of the energy and oil industries.

But Houston also has a huge, sprawling populace with residential suburbs peppering the entire landscape. In most cities, especially larger ones, the commercial and residential sectors are somewhat segregated by zoning. But Houston has a quirky exception to this convention – No zoning laws.

The absence of zoning code means that there are no city-wide rules that regulate the use of land or the placement of business and residential establishments with respect to each other throughout the city. Your home could be right next to a business park. In some cases, a home can also be a business itself.

While there is no actual zoning code placing restrictions on building and land use, most property deeds contain contractual obligations that act in a similar fashion as zoning laws would. The difference is that the land owner and developers usually govern them.

As for whether or not this unusual absence of zoning laws in Houston is positive or negative, we have to look at it from a few different perspectives: Commerce, Residents and Prosperity.


In terms of commerce, Houston’s zoning laws grants a bit more flexibility to where a business can set up shop. Unlike other cities with zoning codes, it’s easier for a business to find a good location without such restrictions. Investors, however, sometimes find the lack of zoning somewhat tricky.

In suburban markets, real estate investors are apprehensive about working through the unusual zoning situation. Values and returns might be tough to feel confident about if a subdivision ends up sitting next to an airport. But residential developers have created a method to give investors peace of mind by building deed restrictions and land use covenants into the properties.


The one obvious drawback for residents living in a big city like Houston and having no zoning laws is the potential misfortune of a home right next to an industrial complex. But that occurrence is very rare. On the other hand, residents who wish to run a business out of their own homes might find it easier to accomplish that compared to a city with zoning codes.

Another benefit for residents is the convenience of easier commutes to work and the nearby locations of businesses and services. A worker in Houston could have a potentially long commute given the sheer sprawling size of the city. But because they have more options to choose from when selecting a home close to their workplace, residents can enjoy very short commutes.

Overall Prosperity

Even with all the varying opinions of both residents and commercial enterprises alike regarding the advantages and disadvantages of having no zoning laws, the real proof can be gleaned from the historical prosperity of the city.

Throughout the years, despite an absence of zoning laws, Houston has seen great prosperity. Whether you look at the continued population growth, or the influx of tourism and fresh investors and entrepreneurs, or perhaps the strong economic stability and growth in Houston; all of the signs point to a successful city. And it didn’t need zoning laws to get there!

Austin Faux works for We Buy Ugly Houses Houston. When not dealing in real estate Austin loves helping his wife relax, playing with is kids, and taking the family to the park.

Infographic: How To Spot a Brown Recluse

Brown Recluse Infographic

Houston Brown Recluse Control

The most feared pest in the Houston area is the Brown Recluse spider. Don’t let this spider ruin your way of life. If you are seeing Brown Recluse spiders in or near your home, get Houston Brown Recluse control!

Bulwark Exterminating
10900 Brittmoore Park Drive
Houston, TX 77041
(281) 668-4930
AAAnimal Pro: Wildlife Control
8280 Golf Green Circle
Houston, TX 77036
(832) 248- 7804
16155 Park Row, Suite 190
Houston, TX 77084
(832) 460-3698

Pest Word Search: What Pest Did You Find?

In Houston, it’s really easy to find pests inside your home (unless of course you’ve hired the pest management professionals of Bulwark Exterminating); especially the disgusting and disease carrying cockroach.

What may prove to be a little tougher challenge, is finding all the pests in the “pest test” word search puzzle that has been going around Facebook all summer.

Haven’t seen it?

We’ll here you go:

The Pest Test Word Search

Word Seach of Pests

How’d you do?

Could you find all the pests hidden within? Hint: The pests are bugs, ant, scorpion, wasp,  roach, fly, bedbugs, lice, termite, gnat, spider, flea, and centipede.

What pest did you see first?

Over 10,000 people commented the first pest that they found in the puzzle, as the social media piece made its way around Facebook. Want to know how your find stacks up against the others who also searched for the pests? Look no further than the following infographic:

Pest Word Search Infographic– What Pest Did You Find?


Pest Infographic

Thomas Ballantyne

3 Reasons Why Texas Is A Great Place To Buy Real Estate

Texas is the second largest state in America. What you may not know, however, is the cities of Texas are experiencing some of the largest growth in America primarily due to the following reasons:

  • safe communities
  • affordable home prices
  • secure employment

These are just a few of the reasons to consider purchasing a home in the Lone Star State. Read below to learn more about why Texas is a great place to buy real estate.

1. Texas Cities Are A Safe Bet

Crime is a reasonable worry for any home buyer who wants to ensure their potential investment is a safe bet. Overall, Texas’ crime rate is dropping rapidly when compared to the national rates; this drop mainly consists of property crime drops as well as violent crimes. Additionally, according to RedBeacon.com, homes in Austin sell within a median of 77 days, while those in Fort Worth sell within a median of 79 days. These cities are also seeing a drop in inventory levels, which drives home prices upward. Things are also looking bright on the foreclosure front. According to RealtyTrac, one in every 810 homes are foreclosed upon on a national level. On a state level, Texas only has 1 in 1,400 homes that have received a foreclosure filing.

2. Texas Is A Forbes Favorite

Whether it’s the Forbes “Best Places to Live List” or “America’s Coolest Cities to Live List” or even “America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhood List,” cities in Texas are nearly without fail mentioned on Forbes “Best of” lists. Being named on these Forbes lists holds more weight than one may think. The rankings are based on carefully researched statistics and stats – rather than the opinions of the writer. Texas cities being a Forbes favorite isn’t a new trend, even throughout the worst bouts of the economic crisis and after the pop of the real estate bubble, Texas cities thrived and consistently topped these lists. It’s only natural that as real estate improves, Forbes continues to provide its nod to Texas cities.

3. Affordable Homes

With a median income of just over $50,000 and home values hovering near $125,000. Even though homes are currently rising in value, Texas still has some of the most affordable home inventory in the country. This is especially true in tech towns such as Austin which now houses many tech start-ups and was once called the next Silicon Valley. Needless to say, now is a great time to take advantage of the affordability in Texas – especially if you are invovled in the tech industry.

There’s no better time than now to buy a home in Texas. The Lone Star State offers many safe neighborhoods with quality homes at affordable prices. With an unemployment rate that sits below the national average, steadily decreasing crime rates and many cities that are considered the best places to live by Forbes, you can make your home purchase with confidence.

Jon Clark is the current editor of the California Apartments Blog where he regularly blogs on home buying advice and provides tips on green living. When not blogging or restoring his vintage home, Jon can be found surfing and spending time with his family.

8 Ways to Avoid Termite Destruction

Termites In BarkEvery year termites wreak havoc among homeowners. These pesky critters will literally eat your home away. Termites feed off of organic matter such as wood. Considering most homes and buildings are made of at least some wood, termites tend to cause lots of structural damage; an average of about $5 billion per year in the U.S. The following tips can really put you one step ahead of these “silent destroyers.”

1. Remove Moisture

Termites thrive is moist environments. Keeping all sources of water to a minimum would greatly affect the survival of termites. Things like nearby water faucets and leaky pipes can really help termites survive near your home and should be properly fixed.

2. Reduce Direct Soil and Wood Contact

Having direct contact between the wooden parts of your home with the soil would give termites an all-access pass to your home. Termites, like most other bugs, live in the soil and forage for food. Having soil and wood in direct contact increases the risks that termites will find your home for lunch.

3. Fix Cracks, Openings, and Holes

Just like any other bug or unwanted intruder, having exposed cracks and holes into your home can let the termites in. Make sure any remotely thin openings or cracks in the foundation are properly sealed and fixed.

4. Don’t Store Wood or Mulch Nearby

Wood is a termite’s favorite meal, so storing it in the backyard can attract the critters. Piles of wood can easily gather moisture and having them close to the home will draw in the buggers. Mulch, which is meant to conserve moisture, can obviously also be very dangerous to keep nearby.

5. Remove Shrubs and Grass

Keeping the home free of grass and plant life will also help keep termites away. Sometimes plants like to cuddle up close to our homes, but these plants produce moisture, which will likely draw in the termites.

Termites Emerging From Wood6. Ventilation

Keeping your home ventilated will help reduce moisture. Good air circulation will help maintain the buildup of moisture to a minimum.

7. Use Chemically Treated Wood or Timber That’s Naturally Resistant

When building a new home or making additions, it is always a good idea to look into some termite resistant materials to use. Some woods can be chemically treated to ward off those predatory termites.

8. Have Home Inspected Regularly

The best way to guarantee that your home is free of termites is to have a professional inspect your home regularly. Termites are “silent destroyers”, and before you know it your home could be crumbling to the ground. Having a professional rule out the presence of these critters is the best option for maintaining your home free of termites.

Houston Termite Control

Bulwark Exterminating
10900 Brittmoore Park Drive
Houston, TX 77041
(281) 668-4930
AAAnimal Pro: Wildlife Control
8280 Golf Green Circle
Houston, TX 77036
(832) 248- 7804
16155 Park Row, Suite 190
Houston, TX 77084
(832) 460-3698

Author Bio: is a journalism student and blogger for Bulwark Exterminating, an industry leader in providing high quality termite control service. When I’m not playing with my two adorable nieces, I’m on the tennis court chasing that little green ball around.

Where Is Houston’s Real Estate Hot Spot?

Houston Park

Downtown Houston was once booming with all types of real estate, commercial, commerce and residential. The real estate business is still booming there but now the trend is buying outside of the Loop for residential, but why?

According to a study done by the Houston Chronicle last year, more than 80% of homes that were sold were outside of Beltway 8, compared to just 6 percent inside Loop 610 and 12.8 percent between the Loop and the Beltway. Residents aren’t minding the long commute for several different reasons.

Property in the suburbs of Houston can be twice as affordable as those within the larger city limits. According to housing data in that area, last year, the median price per square foot for a home outside the Beltway was $72.98. The Inner Loop value was $178.09 per square foot, still less than half. Courtney Johnson Rose, a realtor in the Missouri City area stated that to get a four-bedroom home inside the Loop, you are probably looking at $400,000-plus versus outside the loop at around $200,000.

Another big draw to the burbs is the amount of jobs locating outside of downtown.  Houston’s outlying areas are becoming home to major business districts along the West Belt, including oil companies like Exxon Mobile Corp. They are moving 10,000 employees to a new building west of I45. As a result, areas beyond city limits are booming. Other large companies such as BP, Shell and Conoco Phillips also employ thousands of people along I10, now becoming known as the Energy Corridor.

Schools and shopping are an important part of our everyday lives and there are a multitude of those showing up all along the outer city. The Institute for Regional Forecasting and the University of Houston’s, C.T. Bauer College of Business calls the West Belt their home. The largest shopping mall in Texas, The Galleria Houston is also located outside of the Loop. It boasts 26 million visitors each year with over 400 stores and restaurants, three office towers, and two high-rise hotels.

Some residents love the big city life, but without all the hustle and bustle that downtown is sure to provide. That is another reason for moving to the suburbs. There seems to be less crime, less traffic and a little slower pace of life for those who chose to live here. Some residents state it just feels more like home to be away from all the lights but still less than 30 minutes from just about any destination in Houston. It can be a  great place to raise a family because of the master-planned communities.

Although living in the outer edges of the city can only be a 30 minute commute, some find this to be a drawback to living there. Because of today’s technology, thankfully, many employees are finding that their employers are making is easier for them to telecommute. This is making it easier and easier for residents to say yes to buying outside of Loop 610.

Whether you are a city person at heart or not, it is clear why 80% of buyers are choosing to buy outside of the Loop. There is a lot to offer from schools to shopping and who can forget affordable housing and a strong job market in this economy? The burbs of Houston might just be the best place for you and your family.

Rickey Williams is a real estate investor, expert, and blogger. He works with We Buy Ugly Houses in Houston, a home buying franchise.

Houston Fire Ants Driven Out By ‘Crazy’ Ant Species


Rasberry Crazy Ants Driving Out Fire Ants In Houston

Most of us in Houston are very familiar with the wretched Red Imported Fire ants. They make huge mounds on our property, and one painful sting from this pesky ant will be a constant reminder to keep your distance.

Over the last few years, Houston residents have been noticing a different species of ant; a species that some are calling far worse than the fire ant. I’m talking about the Rasberry (not raspberry) Crazy ant, and it’s beginning to displace fire ants in many areas in Houston.

Areas in Houston infested with Crazy ants have very few fire ants present. The reason being is that the Rasberry Crazy ants are an extremely invasive species that out-compete all other species of ant found in Houston.

Ants on raspberriesCrazy Ants vs. Fire Ants: Why Are Crazy Ants So Bad?

Rasberry Crazy ants are so bad, and so destructive, many residents are clamoring to get the fire ants back!

Crazy ants quickly outnumber other ant species because they multiply in even larger numbers. They are also difficult to control since they don’t eat the same poison baits as fire ants do.

Fire ants are in many ways very polite compared to crazy ants. When fire ants move into in your yard, they’ll form mounds and stay there. The Fire ants will only interact with you if you bother them or step on their unmistakable mounds.

Rasberry Crazy ants, on the other hand, “go everywhere,” invading homes and nesting in walls and crawlspaces, even damaging electrical equipment by swarming inside appliances. These ants are attracted to electrical impulses, chewing through electric insulation; they cause stop lights, air conditions, and other electrical equipment to short circuit. After being drawn into electrical equipment, they can easily cause shortages. Such actions often result in expensive repairs that inflict Houston homeowners.

On a positive note, Crazy ants don’t inflict painful stings like the Red Imported Fire Ants do.

Learn more about pest control methods for Fire Ants

Rasberry Crazy Ants

Imported from Brazil and Argentina in the 1930’s, the Rasberry Crazy ant has been infesting the Southeastern United States ever since. They are named after Tom Rasberry, the exterminator in Houston who discovered them. They are sometimes referred to as Tawny ants, but most people prefer the moniker “Crazy” because the ant’s erratic and non-linear movements.

Rasberry Crazy ants range in size from 1/16-1/8 inches long. They have slender bodies with long legs, and long antenna. They are reddish-brown in color, and are covered with fuzz. This fuzz makes the ant appear less glossy then other species of ant; and lead many to define the ant as “hairy.”

Ant Control In Houston, TX

Whether you are dealing with the painful stinging Red Imported Fire ant, or the destructive Rasberry Crazy ant; professional Houston Ant Control can help you with all of your ant problems. Ant control professionals in Houston are up to date on of the latest and most effective ant control methods and techniques to help Houston residents live ant free. Call today!

Bulwark Exterminating
10900 Brittmoore Park Drive
Houston, TX 77041
(281) 668-4930
AAAnimal Pro: Wildlife Control
8280 Golf Green Circle
Houston, TX 77036
(832) 248- 7804
16155 Park Row, Suite 190
Houston, TX 77084
(832) 460-3698


Downgrading Your Home In Houston

Sometimes in life, a major change can mean the need to downgrade to a smaller home.  Whether your kids move out or you receive a pay decrease, the important thing is to realize the need to change your lifestyle.  But downgrading doesn’t always come easy; some things need to be taken into consideration.  Deciding on your new needs, finding a market for your old home, and finding a place for your stuff, are things to consider when you get started.  Doing things like putting your stuff into storage or simply being flexible with your asking price for your old home can help things go smoothly.

City of Houston

Deciding on Your New Needs

If you’re looking to downgrade your home, you’ve already decided what you don’t need, but what exactly are you looking for?  This can be a bigger question than you anticipated, so it’s important to decide once and for all what you are looking for in your next home.  This can be the difference between whether you look for a new home in the Spring Branch neighborhood, an apartment in the downtown area, or a place in one of the many other Houston neighborhoods.

Finding the Market for Your Home

Once you’ve figured out exactly what you’re looking for in a new Houston home, it’s time to decide what to do with your old home.  Putting your home on the buying market requires a number of considerations.  Go online or talk to a Houston real estate agent to find out what the market is for homes similar to yours; this can give you the price range for your asking price.  It’s also important to decide what the lowest price is you’re willing to accept for your home.  It’s unreasonable to expect the selling of your home to go without some compromise, so being flexible will be expected of you.  The market of your place will depend on the neighborhood, so make sure you research the market of your specific Houston neighborhood.

What to Do with All That Stuff

One of the biggest issues that come along with downgrading into a smaller place is figuring out what to do with all the stuff that you’ve accumulated throughout the years.  Luckily, there are a number of options that you have at your disposal.  If you don’t have much to get rid of, having a garage sale can be a great way to minimize the amount of excess stuff that you have to take care of.  If you have stuff that you can’t seem to get rid of, or things that you don’t want to, consider moving your personal items into a storage facility.  Seasonal items, such as Christmas decorations or pool items are perfect candidates to be moved to off-site storage in Houston.  It can be the best idea to help alleviate the problem of too much stuff.

Settling In

Getting comfortable in your new home can be a longer process than you’d expect, especially if your downgrade is a major one.  If you’re downgrading into a different Houston neighborhood, there could be an adjustment period based on amenities in the new area, the commute that you now must take to work, or even something as simple as where you get your morning coffee.  It’s important to remember that no matter how major or minimal a downgrade actually is, your first home was once new as well, but it wasn’t long before it became familiar to you.  Given time, your new place will be as familiar to you as your old place was.

Downgrading can be a blessing in disguise and it can go smoothly if you plan ahead.  Once done, it can be a whole new beginning for you and your family.

Featured images:

Ashely is a new writer that has an interest in writing about home improvement and real estate. Check out her Twitter @ashelymarie1985 to see more.