Best Houston Neighborhoods for a Young Family?
April 18, 2006 6:43 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I (and our five month old son) are thinking of relocating from Austin to Houston, but we really know very little about the area. We're looking for some advice/recommendations about neighborhoods and suburbs in the greater metropolitan area, particularly those within a reasonable commute to UH.

We're hoping to find a pretty, family oriented community, preferably in a newer area. I'm an attorney, and he's a captain in the Army, but money is tight since we are young and just started a family, so we're looking to find neighborhoods that would have homes in the mid 100s (but we'd be happy to be the smallest house on the block in a nicer neighborhood). The more specific, the better -- subdivision names would be great. All recommendations and advice about areas that might be a good match (or, conversely, areas to stay away from) are much appreciated, though I'm familiar with the criticisms of Houston as ugly/smoggy/etc, so I don't really need people to try to dissuade me from going there altogether.
posted by roundrock to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I doubt that you can find a house inside the Loop for the mid-100s that would also be in a really safe non-industrial family-oriented neighborhood. For commuting to UH, I'd suggest looking in Clear Lake, Friendswood, maybe League City.

These are suburban towns to the southeast of Houston, not specific subdivisions, but they'd point you in the right direction. The commute up I-45 to UH would be comparable from Round Rock into Austin, if not better.

There is also park-and-ride from the Clear Lake area up I-45. If you'd consider that, you might even look further down I-45 into Galveston County. There are a number of newer subdivisions going up from League City south toward Texas City which might have properties in your price range.

Good luck, and happy hunting!
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:18 AM on April 18, 2006

Best answer: I recently got married, and currently live with my wife in Pearland. We intend to stay around this area when we have kids. It's fairly safe, and quite diverse ethnically as well as economically. It's a short drive on the tollway to the Clear Lake area, but almost all the shopping you need can be found in Pearland, in the Silverlake area. We're over on the 288 side, which is only 15 minutes or so to downtown on a good day. (Last night, it was 28 minutes from walking out of my apartment to walking out of my car at the Astros game, which includes parking traffic and everything.)

Consider this a second vote for the southeast side of town in general (if you can live with the traffic.)
posted by cebailey at 7:24 AM on April 18, 2006

Best answer: I live south of Houston near NASA's Johnson Space Center and I'd happily recommend the Clear Lake area as a good place to start. There are many of the amenities that you're looking for and if you're coming from Austin then you may find the more educated and slightly more open-minded Clear Lake area to be more to your liking than the north or west sides of town.

The Clear Lake area has a great school district and the proximity to leisure activities make it a great place to raise a family (I'm raising mine here). Some suggestions for new developments include the League City area (neighborhoods include South Shore Harbor, Brittany Lakes, Bay Colony, Tuscany Lakes) and in Clear Lake near Ellington Field AFB. Also keep in mind the cities of Seabrook and Kemah when you're looking. Friendswood is OK but a little strange (it's a former Quaker community that became a 'master-planned' community for Exxon employees in the 60s-70s, it is also dry and very conservative). Take a look here for more info.

The commute to U of H would run about thirty-five minutes from NASA Parkway in rush hour, which in Houston isn't bad. If I were you I would stay well away from the I-10 corridor as traffic is insane. Sugarland is nice and all but that's where Tom DeLay's powerbase lives and while he is resigning they're likely to elect another nut-job later this year. The Woodlands and Kingwood are great but again, the commute is going to be longer.
posted by DragonBoy at 7:26 AM on April 18, 2006

Wow, three votes for the SE side already...
posted by DragonBoy at 7:27 AM on April 18, 2006

As Dragonboy alludes to above, the question that you might want to ask yourself is how much of a commute can you bear? My fiancee and I just bought a house in the metro area, and that (along with price and deed restriction issues) turned out to be one of our deciding factors.

I don't know much about areas inside the loop or to the south, but if you can do a half-hourish commute, you might want to look at Cypress (generally newer) or Jersey Village (generally older) along the US 290 corridor. There are good schools in the area, and it isn't hard to find a nice house in the mid-$100's. If you can deal with an hour commute, look into Magnolia (that's where we ended up living). The school districts there are quite good, and you can find some great deals on houses.

The Woodlands and Spring are also nice areas, but prices tend to be higher there. Also, I heard this morning that Humble is a nice area that would only give you a 20 or 25 minute commute in the morning
posted by Joe Schlabotnik at 9:10 AM on April 18, 2006

We moved from Austin to Houston about a year and a half ago, and love the Westchase area. Our house is near Westheimer/Gessner, 77063 zip code.

I'm lucky enough to have a five-minute commute down Westheimer from work. The big thing about Houston is to live close to where you work, otherwise you'll hate the commute.
posted by mrbill at 11:05 AM on April 18, 2006

A little off topic - but instead of saying how bad Houston is I'd like to praise it a bit. I spent three months there and found that the people were about the friendliest I've met in the US and that the affordability of the place for a city of that size is incredible. Also, there is quite a bit of stuff going on, the city has some good Latin dance places, there's life on Westheimer and generally Houston gets a far worse rap than it deserves.
posted by sien at 4:27 PM on April 18, 2006

sien: that's one thing I noticed about Houston, is that the people are a lot friendlier than those I ran across during nine years of living in Austin. It just seems less "hectic" and more easygoing.

My wife and I have a theory that anything we would/will ever need can be found on Westheimer somewhere, or within two blocks off it. So far in a year and a half we haven't been proved wrong.
posted by mrbill at 8:31 PM on April 18, 2006

I'd fourth the NASA/Clear Lake area. My little brother works for NASA and has lived down there for about three years and loves it. One of the upsides for me when visiting him is that the air is much clearer there than other places in Houston. I spent four years at Rice getting massive migraine headaches that cleared up once I left, and have always blamed it on the general level of pollution in Houston. But when you get down by the water much of that problem disappears.

And, you know, if you're so taken by everyone's love of Clear Lake and want to buy a house right away, my brother and his girlfriend are splitting up and selling this one. It's a two minute walk from a sweet little beach, 5 minutes from good hiking/jogging trails, and comes with a kick-ass multimedia room. Just, you know, FYI. :)
posted by MsMolly at 1:55 PM on April 19, 2006

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