Moving to Houston Texas: 10 Reasons Why Houston is A Good Place to Live

Moving to Houston, TX Living Guide

If you're moving to Houston, Texas, you're not alone—over 100 people move to the Houston metro area every day! Get straight to understanding what this change entails for you with essential insights on the cost of living, job market, housing options, and lifestyle in the city of Houston, structured for those seeking to transition smoothly. Here are the facts and tips you need to start your journey to Texas' biggest city prepared and informed.

10 Reasons Houston is a Good Place to Live

  • Houston offers an affordable and diverse housing market with options for every lifestyle and budget
  • The cost of living is lower than many other major U.S. cities
  • The city boasts a strong job market with opportunities across many industries
  • Houston's arts and culture scene includes the massive Museum and Theater Districts
  • Take your pick of international cuisine and dining hotspots like Washington Avenue
  • Outdoor activities abound, from Hermann Park to the beaches of Galveston
  • Houston's public transit system is among the best in Texas, particularly throughout downtown
  • Enjoy warm weather year-round
  • Houston is home to several of the most prominent universities in Texas
  • Moving from out of state? Say goodbye to state income tax!

Houston's Housing Market

Navigating Houston's Housing Market

Compared to other major cities, living in Houston is highly affordable, especially in terms of housing costs. In fact, the cost of living index for housing in Houston is a whopping 25% below the national average. This, combined with a strong job market, helps increase your buying power and makes Houston a great choice for those looking to relocate.

In addition, Houston's status as a sprawling metropolis means there's an incredible variety of homes for sale. Whether you’re eyeing a quaint bungalow in a tree-lined street or a contemporary loft in downtown Houston, you’ll find a home that fits your lifestyle and budget.

Houston Home Prices

Houston has everything from condos in the $100,000s to luxury estates in the double-digit millions. Truly, the world is your oyster. Prices will naturally vary between communities; however, some general stats on the Houston real estate market include:

  • Overall median home price: around $320,000–$340,000
  • Typical 2-bedroom house: low to mid-$200s
  • Typical 3-bedroom house: around $300,000
  • Typical 4-bedroom house: mid- to high $300s
  • Typical 5+ bedroom house: high $500s

In general, the highest real estate prices tend to be west of downtown Houston around Katy Freeway.

Finding Your Ideal Houston Neighborhood

Choosing the right neighborhood in Houston can feel like an adventure. With a variety of communities, each with its own unique charm, the city caters to a plethora of lifestyles and budgets. Here are some of Houston's best neighborhoods to consider:

Uptown: Uptown is a veritable oasis with a wide variety of shopping and dining opportunities, including the famous Galleria. Homes in Uptown include styles from Mediterranean to Modern, have price ranges from the low $100s to several million, and include both single-family homes and high-end condos.

River Oaks: as one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Houston, River Oaks offers a wide range of luxury real estate options and upscale amenities such as golf courses, world-class shopping opportunities, and beautiful parks. With a fantastic central location, River Oaks has easy access to Houston's best restaurants, shops, and nightlife.

Montrose: this eclectic neighborhood includes some of the city's best art galleries, museums, and restaurants. Living in Montrose is a top choice for entertainment-seeking homebuyers who want to be within walking distance of all that this amazing city has to offer.

Inner Loop vs. Outer Loop

You'll hear these two terms used a lot when Houstonians start talking about locations.

The "Inner Loop" is defined by Interstate 610, which forms a complete circle around the central core. It's generally considered to have some of the best neighborhoods and attractions, and home prices are correspondingly higher in most areas. Anything farther from the downtown core than the 610 is "outside the loop."

The "Outer Loop" is defined by Beltway 8, which forms another complete circle around Houston. It's generally considered to be more peaceful and residential than inside the loop and generally has a more suburban feel.

There's a third loop in the works even farther out, formed primarily by the Grand Parkway toll road. It runs through several of Houston's best suburbs, such as Sugar Land and The Woodlands.

Property Taxes in Houston

Eager homebuyers should take Houston property taxes into account when deciding how much home they can afford. Here are some key points to know:

  • The average property tax rate in Harris County, which covers the majority of Houston, is 2.31%
  • Homeowners in Harris County typically pay just over $3,000 per year in property taxes
  • Other county tax rates to consider are Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, and Galveston County

The Job Market and Economic Outlook

A thriving economy in Houston sets the stage for an optimistic job market, with a median salary of over $56,000 per year and a major foothold in high-paying industries like healthcare and energy. Houston is fantastic for job seekers, with more than 1.3 million people employed throughout the area and more jobs added all the time. The city's top employers are all well known, including its oil giants: ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66 Company, and Marathon Oil Corporation. Other oil and mining companies in the area include Occidental Petroleum, Shell, BP, BHP, and CITGO.

Other Fortune 500 companies based in and around Houston include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Sysco
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • NRG Energy
  • CenterPoint Energy
  • Baker Hughes
  • Halliburton
  • EOG Resources

Houston's job market also features a significant number of premier healthcare institutions. The Memorial Hermann Health System and its 15 component hospitals employ over 24,000 people in the city and surrounding areas. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, considered one of the largest and most prestigious cancer centers in the world, employs over 21,000.

In other fields, Amazon has had a sizable presence in Houston since opening its first distribution center there two decades ago. Academy Sports + Outdoors, another Fortune 500 company in Houston, has over 5,800 employees.

Key Industries in Houston

As the "Energy Capital of the World," Houston is one of Texas' largest hubs for oil and gas companies, with 44 out of 113 U.S. oil and gas companies located in Houston. This makes it one of the most promising industries for job seekers moving to Houston. There are also a lot of green energy companies in the metro.

Beyond oil and gas, there are plenty of other well-paying jobs in Houston, too. Medical and healthcare professionals should make a beeline for this city, as it is also home to five of the best hospitals in Texas. Other major industries in Houston include aerospace and aviation—no surprise, being the home of NASA's Johnson Space Center—as well as advanced manufacturing, life sciences, transportation, and digital technology. In fact, Houston has one of the biggest manufacturing workforces in America.

The Role of the Greater Houston Partnership

The Greater Houston Partnership plays a pivotal role in Houston’s economy. From initiatives like UpSkill Houston, which helps employers find skilled talent, to strategic economic development efforts aimed at attracting, retaining, and growing leading global companies in the region, the partnership is a driving force behind Houston’s economic growth.

If you're looking to start a business while living in Houston, the Greater Houston Partnership is a great resource to help you get settled.

More information about finding a job in Houston:

Houston Cost of Living Analysis

Cost of Living Analysis in Houston

Texas is a highly affordable place to live, but Houston takes the cake. Overall, Houston's cost of living is about 4–5% lower than the national average, beating out both Dallas and Austin. And let's not get started on how Houston compares to some of the nation's other big metros—if you're moving from a big coastal city like San Diego, Seattle, or Boston, you could see an overall savings of over 40%. Even Chicago, the city closest in size to Houston, has a cost of living about 13% higher than the national average. The cost of living in Houston is downright cheap for a city of its caliber.

This affordability extends to housing, entertainment, and everyday expenses. While transportation may be more expensive than average (thanks to Houston's large geographic footprint and car culture), groceries, utilities, and healthcare are generally more affordable than elsewhere.

The median household income in Houston is about $60,400, according to the U.S. Census. This is the equivalent of earning roughly $67,600 in Dallas or $66,000 in Austin for the same standard of living.

Everyday Expenses in the Bayou City

Living in Houston, you’ll find that your money stretches further. Here are some average costs in Houston:

  • Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment: about $1,350
  • Median price of a two-bedroom home: about $215,000
  • Regular fare for public transportation: $1.25
  • Average cost of groceries per month for a family of four: about $710
  • Average health care cost per month for a single adult: about $305
  • Average child care cost per month for a four-year-old: about $610

Financial Benefits for Texas Residents

One of the biggest financial perks of living in Texas is the absence of state income tax. This allows residents to keep more of their hard-earned income, contributing to a favorable cost of living. This also includes retirement taxes, such as taxes on Social Security benefits, 401(k) withdrawals, etc. Texans enjoy the lack of state income tax so much that it's enshrined in the state constitution.

The absence of a state income tax is somewhat balanced by higher property taxes than other states. However, since properties themselves are generally much cheaper, you can get a bigger home for your money. Texas also offers homestead exemptions to lighten your tax burden.

Transportation in Houston: Getting Around Texas' Biggest City

While Houston’s expansive cityscape might initially seem daunting, with some preparation, you can easily navigate through the city. Whether you’re flying in or out of the city, commuting to work, or planning a weekend getaway, Houston offers a variety of transportation options to suit your needs.

Houston's Airports: Flying In and Out

Houston is served by two major airports: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Both airports are served by major airlines such as Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines.

Public transportation options to and from Houston’s airports include:

  • METRO Bus 102 Bush IAH Express between IAH and downtown Houston
  • METRO Bus 40 between HOU and downtown Houston (the downtown stop is two blocks from the 102 downtown stop, making it simple to go between airports)
  • Various shuttle services, including SuperShuttle Express, GO Airport Shuttle, and more
  • Various hotel courtesy shuttles

Driving in Houston: What to Expect

Driving in Houston has garnered a reputation for being slow or tedious, but that's part of the territory of being one of America's largest cities, both in population and land area. (For reference, the Houston metro area covers 10,000+ square miles. You could fit five London metro areas inside the Houston metro area.) Traffic has been compared to cities such as Los Angeles and San Fransisco, though still a bit lighter than New York and Boston.

Houston rush hours are typically most congested between 7–9 a.m. and 4–7 p.m. on weekdays. The worst slowdowns tend to be near the Galleria Mall between U.S. 59 and IH-10. On weekdays, traffic begins to disperse after around 7:30 p.m. Complicating the traffic volume, Houston is a very car-oriented city, with the vast majority of Houstonians commuting by car.

While Houston does experience heavy traffic congestion, especially during peak hours, staying updated on the traffic conditions through sources like the Houston TranStar Traffic Map, ABC13 Traffic Updates, and Google Maps can help manage your commute.

Most of Houston's major roads and highways have nicknames, so it can be helpful for new residents to learn these as soon as possible. Here's a quick list:

  • Katy Freeway: the part of I-10 west of I-45
  • Baytown East Freeway: the part of I-10 east of I-45
  • Southwest Freeway: the part of U.S. 59 south of I-45
  • Eastex Freeway: the part of U.S. 59 north of I-45
  • The 610 Loop or The Inner Loop: I-610; further subdivided into North Loop, North Loop West, etc.
  • Sam Houston Parkway: State Highway Beltway 8, the feeder road
  • Sam Houston Tollway: State Highway Beltway 8, the toll road
  • The Outer Loop: State Highway Beltway 8; further subdivided as with the Inner Loop

With enough time and experience, new residents will soon be getting around like natives.

Public Transportation in Houston

Public transit can be an appealing alternative to dealing with Houston's traffic, and in terms of Texas cities with good public transportation, Houston is second only to Dallas. METRO is Houston's primary public transportation provider, transporting over five million people by bus and a further two million by light rail every month. All METRO buses and trains have accessibility features.

The METRO bus system has dozens of routes to get riders to most places they need to go. Single rides are $1.25, with discount options available and free transfers for up to three hours using the Q card or Day Pass options. High-traffic bus routes typically run every quarter-hour or less, while less-trafficked routes may run every hour, starting from around 5 a.m. to late evening. Some buses may run until 2 a.m.

The METRORail is particularly useful downtown, connecting neighborhoods like Midtown, the Museum District, and the Theater District. Trains typically run every 6–20 minutes Monday through Thursday from 3:30 a.m. to midnight, Friday from 4:30 a.m. to 2:20 a.m., Saturday from 5:30 a.m. to 2:20 a.m., and Sunday from 5:30 a.m. to 11:40 p.m. Fares are the same as for the METRO bus.

Anywhere within the Central Business District, Houston taxis have a flat $6 fare. Also available are ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Houston is also home to a bikeshare program, Houston BCycle. Unlock a standard bike for $3 per 30 minutes or an e-bike for $5 per half-hour. Those who expect to ride frequently can save quite a bit by getting monthly ($13) or annual ($79) memberships for unlimited 60-minute rides.

Weathering Houston's Climate

Houston Has a Warm Climate

The climate of Houston is a key characteristic of the city. Known for its consistently warm weather throughout the year, the city experiences hot and humid summers and mild winters. The humidity may take some getting used to, but it also contributes to the lush greenery and vibrant surroundings that make Houston so beautiful.

Winter low temperatures typically range from 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 10 Celsius). Summer days can reach the high 90s (33–37 Celsius), typically peaking in August. During the summer, especially in July, be prepared for the weather to be muggy much of the time.

Houston's spring and fall are reasonably comfortable, with temperatures ranging from the low 50s to the high 80s (about 10–27 Celsius). April, early May, and October are typically considered the best months to visit from a weather perspective. These are also great months for residents to partake in Houston's outdoor recreation options.

Residents and visitors will want to pack an umbrella or raincoat. Houston experiences an average rainfall of 2.9 to 4.6 inches per month, peaking around June and October.

Due to its location on the Gulf Coast, Houston homebuyers should be aware of the possibility of flooding and hurricanes. If you're buying a home in Houston, ask your agent for assistance in determining the flood history of the area you're interested in, and keep in mind that flood insurance is separate from homeowner's insurance. Consider buying some flood barriers to keep on hand in case of emergency.

Embracing Houston's Culture

Embracing Houston's Cultural Diversity

Houston’s culture is one of its most captivating attributes. With over 12,000 restaurants in the metro representing over 70 countries and American regions, Houston’s dining scene is a culinary globe-trotter’s delight. In addition, the city’s vibrant arts and entertainment scene, featuring prestigious artistic institutions and a diverse array of festivals and trade shows, makes Houston a cultural hotspot.

Houston's Food Scene

In Houston, every meal is a culinary journey. The city’s food scene is incredibly diverse, boasting an array of cultural cuisines, including:

  • Tex-Mex
  • Southern barbecue
  • Louisiana Creole
  • Vietnamese
  • Seafood fresh from the Gulf
  • Chinese
  • Filipino
  • And many, many more

Whether you’re dining at a celebrated establishment like The Original Ninfa's or Tatemó, or trying out more obscure local favorites, there’s always something new and exciting on the menu. You'll have a great selection wherever you buy a home, but some of Houston's more well-known food districts include Montrose, the Heights, Midtown, and the Galleria area. The Upper Kirby District, also called "the Uptown," is another great place to visit. Shoppers can have fun browsing at Highland Village Shopping Center and eclectic dining options along this strip, including RA Sushi, Gauchos Do Sul, and more.

Houston's restaurant scene is vibrant, with plenty of food choices both upscale and down-home. The city has many excellent Latin American restaurants, which range from upscale eateries to grab-and-go taco trucks. Greater Houston is also home to a number of Cajun/Creole restaurants, most of them located in the suburbs and surrounding communities. There are several types of barbecue here: from the more traditional beef brisket to pork ribs and even barbecued bologna. For those looking for something different, go for Vietnamese noodle soup at Pho Dien or the soul food at Gatlin's Fins and Feathers, two of Houston's best restaurants.

Arts and Entertainment in Houston

Houston’s rich cultural scene is beautifully showcased by its prestigious artistic institutions like The Museum of Fine Arts and the Menil Drawing Institute, along with the expansive Houston Theater District. The city’s cultural tapestry is further enriched by a diverse array of festivals and trade shows, including Mardi Gras, the Japan Festival, and the Houston Italian Festival.

The Museum District has 19 institutions concentrated in a single area, so explorers can spend an entire day checking out treasures from art to world culture to science. Visitors can find such institutions as the Moody Center for the Arts, Children's Museum Houston, the Lawndale Art & Performance Center, the Houston Museum of African American Culture, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

Houston is also home to several theaters, including the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Miller Outdoor Theatre, and The Wortham Theater Center. Residents can also see performances by Houston Ballet at the Center for Dance.

Houston's Theater District is a sight to be seen, with nine theater venues stretching across 17 blocks of the downtown Houston neighborhood, home to performers and venues such as the Houston Grand Opera (HGO) and the Alley Theatre.

Houstonians love to party, so residents will never run out of options when it comes to bars and clubs in this city. Downtown is home to establishments such as Warehouse Live, a converted warehouse with three separate performance rooms; The Continental Club, which hosts live music and karaoke; and El Big Bad, a Tex-Mex restaurant with the world's largest infused tequila bar. The Kemah Boardwalk, about 20 miles from downtown, is a waterfront entertainment district on Galveston Bay that offers everything from midway games and roller coasters to mouthwatering food.

Whether you’re an art connoisseur, a theatre enthusiast, or a festival-goer, you’ll find something to your taste in Houston.

Things to Do in Houston: Sports and Recreation

Sports and Recreation in Houston

Sports enthusiasts and fitness fanatics will find Houston welcoming and engaging. The city is home to several professional sports teams and boasts a plethora of fitness and leisure options. Whether you’re cheering for the Houston Texans at a football game, joining a local sports club, or exploring the city’s parks and nature reserves, there’s never a dull moment in Houston.

Outdoor Activities in Houston

Houston is a fantastic place for people who love the outdoors. With warm weather year-round, outdoor enthusiasts have their pick of fishing, hiking, and even camping. The bayous that run through Houston offer kayaking and canoeing opportunities, too.

The city also has many beautiful public parks and trails within its borders for walking, jogging, cycling, picnicking, playing sports, or enjoying nature. Two of the best parks in Houston are Hermann Park and Memorial Park.

Hermann Park is one of the best urban parks in the U.S., with its scenery and amenities ranging from a beautiful Japanese garden to the Museum of Natural Science to a golf course, not to mention the Houston Zoo and Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Memorial Park is another popular destination, with several scenic hiking trails and picnic areas. The largest dog park in Houston, Congressman Bill Archer Park, is located here and has 17 acres of space for dogs to enjoy, with areas for small and large dogs, agility courses, and bone-shaped ponds.

Discovery Green is a big greenspace right in downtown and hosts events and concerts throughout the year.

Fitness and Leisure in the City

With Houston’s pleasant weather, outdoor activities are a year-round affair. From running, hiking, biking, and bayou boat tours to exploring nature reserves like Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge or Sam Houston National Forest, there’s an activity for every fitness level. There are even outdoor gyms, such as Fest with Beasts in Third Ward.

If you prefer indoor workouts, the city offers a variety of fitness centers like:

  • Memorial Athletic Club (The MAC) in the Energy Corridor
  • Facet Seven Fitness in the Heights and EaDo
  • O Athletik Fitness in the Heights
  • And many more

These fitness centers offer excellent facilities, personalized training programs, and a supportive fitness community.

Fanfare for Houston Sports Teams

In Houston, sports are a way of life. The city is home to several professional sports teams, including:

  • Houston Astros (MLB)
  • Houston Texans (NFL)
  • Houston Rockets (NBA)
  • Houston Dynamo FC (MLS)
  • Houston Dash (NWSL)

The city’s love for its teams is palpable, with residents turning out in droves to support their local teams.

Whether you’re a football fanatic, a basketball buff, or a soccer supporter, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to cheer for your favorite team.

Additional Attractions

Houston's famous for quite a few things, so be sure to explore! NASA Space Center, for example, gave Houston the moniker of Space City. The Galleria is Texas' biggest shopping mall, including over 375 stores, two hotels, and an indoor skating rink. There are dozens of niche museums, hidden history landmarks, and other unique and unusual things to see and do. One thing's for sure: living in Houston is never boring.

Houston Schools

Houston Education Options

The Houston Independent School District is the largest in the Houston area, and the seventh-largest in the nation, but it's by no means the only district. The list of Houston metro school districts is over 20 districts long.

Houston ISD covers the entirety of the Inner Loop and about half of the Outer Loop, plus a small area outside Beltway 8. It serves around 200,000 students and covers 276 schools and counting. HISD includes a school choice program, which allows students living in Houston to enroll in schools outside of the one their home is zoned to. If local schools are a major factor for you, this policy will give you a lot more flexibility in finding the perfect home in Houston.

Magnet, Charter, & Private Schools

In addition to traditional public education options, those living in Houston have the option of applying for specialized public and private schools. There are well over a hundred charter schools in the Houston metro, including systems like KIPP Houston Public Schools and Harmony Public Schools. In addition, there are nearly 40 magnet schools in Houston.

For those looking for private education, around 280 private schools serve over 55,000 students in the Houston area, including more than 60 high schools. Nearly 10% of K–12 students in Houston attend a private school.

Higher Education & Research

Houston is also a hub for higher education and research in the Texas City area. The city boasts renowned universities such as:

  • Rice University
  • University of Houston
  • University of St. Thomas (TX)
  • University of Houston–Clear Lake

These institutions offer a wide range of programs and are known for their research contributions. The University of Houston, the most prominent institution, is the third-largest university in Texas, with over 46,000 students. Rice University is a premier private research university with around 5,000 students, particularly notable for its science and engineering programs. Alongside these, the greater Houston area has over a dozen public and private colleges and universities.

Houston's Health Care Excellence

Houston's Health Care Excellence

The healthcare sector in Houston is home to top-notch medical facilities, renowned hospitals, and a thriving healthcare job market. Whether you’re seeking medical care or a career in healthcare, Houston’s healthcare sector has a lot to offer.

Access to Top Medical Facilities

When it comes to medical care, Houston stands out. The city is home to:

  • The Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world
  • Houston Methodist Hospital, one of the premier academic medical centers in the region
  • Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, known for its high-quality healthcare and research services
  • Memorial Hermann Hospital, one of the leading hospitals in Houston

These institutions offer exceptional medical care and contribute to Houston’s reputation as a hub for healthcare excellence. Whether you’re seeking specialized treatment or routine check-ups, you can trust Houston’s medical facilities to provide you with the best care possible.

Healthcare Employment Prospects

The healthcare sector is one of Houston’s largest employers, offering a wide range of job opportunities. Between direct healthcare jobs and indirect job growth fuelled by the growth of the sector, projections estimate a 68% job increase between 2021 and 2038, representing close to 500,000 positions. The healthcare industry promises a bright future for healthcare professionals in Houston.

No matter what healthcare position you're aiming for, you’ll find ample opportunities to build a fulfilling career in Houston’s healthcare sector.

Preparing for Living in Houston

Houston is a massive, modern, rapidly growing, yet affordable city that has something for everyone. No matter what someone's looking for, from kayaking to culture to cuisine to a career, this sprawling city has something that's sure to appeal.

From its diverse cultural scene and strong job market to its extensive education system and healthcare sector, the fourth-largest city in America has it all. Whether you’re moving to the Bayou City for work, studies, or simply a change of pace, you’ll find a welcoming community and a high quality of life. So, why wait? Start your Houston journey today!

Frequently Asked Questions about Living in Houston

Is it worth moving to Houston TX?

While individual situations vary, you should consider moving to Houston if:

  • You're looking for a career in Houston's major industries, such as energy, healthcare, and aerospace
  • Large homes at affordable prices are appealing
  • Having an endless list of things to do and places to go for entertainment is a priority
  • You want a new home in a region that has warm weather year-round

How much is needed to live comfortably in Houston?

According to a study by SmartAsset, to live comfortably in Houston, you'll ideally need an income of at least $62,260 to cover living expenses and build savings while ensuring a good quality of life. The basic living wage in Houston is $14.33 per hour.

The specific numbers also depend on your household size, individual needs such as healthcare, and what "living comfortably" looks like for you.

Why are so many people moving to Houston?

Many people are moving to Houston because of its affordable cost of living, offering a variety of residences at lower prices compared to other major US cities. Not only does it have a much lower cost of living than other big cities, but it also has a truly international cultural scene, diverse nightlife, and excellent food variety. World-class healthcare is readily available, and while it's still car-dependent, it has more public transit options than most of Texas. Plus, you'll never run out of things to do. There's a reason it's considered one of the best places to live in Texas.

What are the pros and cons of living in Houston Texas?

Living in Houston offers a diverse metropolis, plenty of sports, arts, and food, but it also comes with a lack of public transportation compared to other states' most populous cities, traffic, and the challenge of heat and humidity, plus tropical storms. So, overall, you get a lot of great experiences, but there are some important drawbacks to consider as well.

Ready to find your dream Houston home? Reach out to The RealFX Group at (512) 956-7390 to contact an experienced local real estate agent and discover your new Houston home today.

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