The Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange region of southeast Texas became known as the Golden Triangle in 1901, due to the wealth accumulated by the Spindletop oil strike outside of the present city limits of Beaumont proper. Since then, Beaumont's bread and butter has been served with Texas teas, as refineries have infiltrated the city's ports and established a large --and somewhat smelly-- industrial area in town.
First of all, you're going to hear a lot about racism in the Golden Triangle area. Vidor, located ten miles northeast of Beaumont, was a notorious "Sundown Town", that is, a city that did not allow black people within its city limits after dark. In fact, as recently as 2006, national news outlets have reported on this largely white, racially divided city where residents openly lament the dissolution of institutionalized segregation. Yikes!
Second of all, that weird, unhinged vibe I was talking about earlier? That may be called depression. A 2011 Gallup poll ranked Beaumont as one of the "10 Saddest Cities in America."
Okay, So You're Moving to Beaumont. Now What?
Buck up, partner. You're moving to Southeast Texas, and you know what they say! When in Southeast Texas do as the emotionally and economically depressed do! Just kidding. It just so happens that as far as Golden Triangle living goes, Beaumont has some of the best activities in, like, a ninety mile radius.
You like the outdoors, right? Well, if you don't, do yourself a favor and start liking it immediately. Or don't. But mark my words, in two years you're going to wake up at four o'clock one morning in thigh-high waders, eager to get going on a weekend-long duck hunting and swamp fishing trip and wonder who the hell you are. Like I said, when in southeast Texas...
Beaumont also has some notable nightlife. Good? No, I said notable. And even then I mean, "notable for southeast Texas." The downtown area has some bars and restaurants, which tend to open and close at seemingly random hours. The further from downtown you go, particularly to the west, the more development you'll see, which means convenient shopping, dining and drinking at chain stores, restaurants and bars.
Getting a read on Beaumont's neighborhoods is just as difficult as getting a read on Beaumont in general. There's something just plain unsettling about it all. Some residents say that, particularly in recent times, the town has become more racially diverse and less stratified, meaning that ghettoized portions of town have been absorbed into the surrounding areas a bit. Others will say that Beaumont is a few lynchings short of Jim Crow.
North Beaumont is definitely the most desirable area in town. Located some distance from the mills and refineries along the port that provide the area with its distinctive, uh, aroma - it's not just the comparatively fresh air that makes this area nice. Lower crime rates and better maintained developments create a community atmosphere in this region. This area also has a variety of shopping and development, particularly near the farthest north points around Parkdale Mall. Similarly distant from the port, Beaumont's west side also has a number of affordable and desirable rentals in newer developments and single-family homes.
Though pockets of crime exist throughout all the city's neighborhoods, the closer the rental is to the city center or the industrial port area, the less desirable it is, according to general resident consensus.
Lamar University, a public school located on Beaumont's southern end, constitutes the majority of its young population. The area surrounding Lamar is replete with affordable, though slightly dingy, rentals with flexible lease options that cater to students. Southern Beaumont has a fairly college-ish vibe, so noise and petty crime can be an issue in this region.
What's undeniably great about Beaumont is that it is incredibly, unbelievably cheap throughout pretty much all parts of town. The main difference in rental prices is due to the property's quality rather than its location. Single-family rental houses, many of which are dilapidated, ill-maintained constructions, are cheaper than newer condo and apartment developments. Prices for these houses range from $400-550.
Newer development in the farther-flung and more suburbanized areas of town will cost you more. These buildings are generally better-maintained and have more available amenities--such as swimming pools and community centers. Prices in new developments generally range from $600-700 for a two bedroom.
The majority of rentals in Beaumont are arranged through management companies and private owners, as real estate agents have enough on their plates trying to unload the city's properties that are up for sale. Many management companies will require more in terms of up front fees, background checks and deposits, while application requirements for private homes are on a case by case basis.
Interstate-10 cuts through central Beaumont and serves as a main thoroughfare for commuters around the Golden Triangle. The problem with commuting in Beaumont is not necessarily the traffic, so much as it is the distance. This sprawling region finds many throughout the area commuting upwards of 90 miles to and from work.
Beaumont Transit provides residents with a semi-quaint five-line system that will take you across and around town. Most residents who can afford it, however, drive.
Best of luck new Beaumont resident. Don't let the stigma getcha down, it is called the Golden Triangle after all. That has to be good for something!
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