How Rude

Houston Ranks with NYC as 1 of the Nation’s Rudest Cities

Space City may not be as friendly as we think.

By Shelby Stewart September 6, 2022


Houston is one of the rudest cities in America. 

While Houston is undoubtedly the best city in Texas, a new study found that our beloved city may be lacking in Southern hospitality

Language learning app Preply surveyed over 1,500 residents of the 30 largest metro areas in the United States and asked them about the level of rudeness from its citizens. Houston came in at no. 10, with an average “rudeness score” of 5.33, slightly above the study's average city score of 5.10. More northern cities like Philadelphia, Memphis, New York, and Las Vegas topped the list. 

What does being a rude city entail? Preply identified some of the most common disrespectful behaviors in the nation—being absorbed by phones in public, not letting people merge in traffic, not slowing down around pedestrians, being noisy in public, and not acknowledging strangers— and asked residents to rank their city on a scale from one to 10.

As a native Houstonian, it's no surprise to this writer that the two rudest behaviors that plague our city both involve problematic driving. Natives and transplants agree that our most significant problems, in this case, are not letting people merge in traffic and not slowing down around pedestrians. While we can't make a case for not slowing down for pedestrians, Houston's four o'clock traffic is enough to make even the most genial person bitter.

While our vitriol can be seen most distinctly behind the wheel, Preply also measured who is the rudest between locals and non-locals. Houston claimed the no. 10 spot again, and by a narrow margin, Houston inhabitants said natives were coarser than transplants, 52 percent versus 48 percent. Houston falls behind other major cities with rude natives like Louisville, Chicago, and San Francisco. So when you feel like people may be a bit standoffish at the bar, you're not just imagining things—the study reports that many residents are reluctant to incorporate outsiders and have learned to keep to themselves while growing up in a busy city. 

The study's findings further showed that apparent rudeness is prevalent more often in larger cities. "When we consider a behavior rude, it's likely because it's either confrontational or inconsiderate towards others,” Matt Zajechowski writes.However, in major metropolitan cities, where we interact with many more people on a daily basis, what appears to be a confrontation of insensitivity may be a form of self-preservation." So, in short, we're very paranoid people. 

Adversely, the survey found city dwellers are ruder than those who live on the outskirts of a city or in the country. Seventy percent of the respondents in the study agreed with the statement that "people who live in or around cities are ruder than people who live in rural areas." 

The sentiment proved true, with the most polite cities concentrated in the southern states. Austin took the no. 1 spot for most polite towns, with an average rudeness score of 3.91, Fort Worth followed behind at the no. .3 spot with 4.20, and El Paso, San Antonio, and Dallas rounded out the list at nos. 13, 14, and 15. 

But that doesn't mean that these other Lone Star cities get off scot-free. As it turns out, Austin transplants are the ones dishing out the ill-mannered behavior. Austin has the No. 4 spot for rudeness from non-locals, and Forth Worth, San Antonio, and El Paso trail behind. 

The consensus is that Texas is a polite and friendly state, depending on where you are—Houston may not be the friendliest city, but what we lack in politeness we quickly make up for in other areas. We've got some of the best colleges in Texas, a burgeoning tech ecosystem, and a rodeo that puts others to shame. If we've got all that, maybe we can get a pass on pleasantries. 

Learn more about the methodology behind the study at Preply’s website


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