Hahaha. No really:
1. Rice is a tiny school of 5000 students with a huge budget. It's a liberal arts size with a liberal arts attention to individual students, with an Ivy League budget and research 1 status, with a bunch of Ph.D. programs all over the place.
2. You will get funded. Everyone gets funded. You will get paid pretty much my starting salary when I began as a professor. You will get travel money. You will get all kinds of fellowships to attend seminars and workshops that go on all year and introduce you to fantastic people from around the world.
3. We have very well funded institutes like the energy and humanities one (CEHNS) and the theory one (3CT). This means that if you are into ecology you will find your needs met all over the place. Two names: Cary Wolfe and Dominic Boyer. Look them up! There are more!
4. Because it's not on the East or West coasts, Rice is a very free and creative place where all kinds of extraordinarily interesting stuff happens. There is way less paranoia and way less sclerotic tradition. The undergraduates are incredibly introspective and hard working--some are double and some are triple majors, and there are very few minors. There are no fraternities (from day 1 of its founding) and a very enlightened alcohol policy (hence no violence to do with that) and in my experience (which has been a lot) a very enlightened sexual violence policy. These and other factors make it the most peaceful, easy to work at place I've ever been at.
5. Houston is the fourth largest and most un-segregated city in the USA. And Rice is smack in the middle of it. And the middle of it is beautiful. No one believes this unless they've visited. Trees. Lots of them. Almost like a forest. About fifteen minutes north of campus is Montrose, where the cool kids live (sorry people in the Heights!) and you can walk to the Rothko Chapel, Menil Collection and on and on.
6. Mexico City is closer and cheaper to fly to than Denver. And Mexico City is dope (hi Mario!). And then there's Belize and the rest of Central America.
7. It's a subtropical climate, i.e. we have rain. Sorry California. Forty minutes drive to the south is the actual tropics, aka Galveston, where there is 90 degree water and a gently sloping beach made of powder-fine sand.
8. You can live and eat incredibly cheaply. And incredibly well. If the quality of a $20 meal in Chicago (due north) is x, the quality of the same price meal in Houston is 5x. Sorry Chicago! New Orleans is six hours by car away. Austin is a few hours away, and the Austin folks I know wish they lived in Houston (no really). If you are in the 99% (like, all of us) you can live in the middle of a major city within walking distance of the zoo and the museums, as long as that city is Houston.
9. Oil. Energy. The belly of the beast. Come on, you know you want to. You will be able to see very up close the actual corporations that structure our world right now. It's very interesting and you get to study and meet all kinds of things and people. (FYI Texas in fact has sick amounts of wind power, a little known fact.)