Houston is huge. Start on one side and you can plan on an hour drive to the other side. On this trip, regardless of the route you take, you will pass through many many neighborhoods – each with their own distinct character. The only trouble with so many “little towns” in this big city is, which one should you call home?
You should consider where you will work, where you will need to drive each day, what schools you like best and which neighborhood just feels right.
Still, even after digging through maps, school ratings and traffic reports, you might still be lost in this big city. This is when it would be really nice to ask a local.
Let me tell you what I found when I asked a big group of locals. Here are the Top 10 Recommended Neighborhoods inside Houston.
Some are hip, some are expensive, some are up-and-coming and not all will be right for you – but reading this will give you a better idea of what locals think of each “little town” inside Houston.
Queen Anne mansions, bungalows and a lot of charm fill the Houston Heights. Residential and commercial development mix together in this quaint part of town. Bike down the paved trails and find a hundred-year-old houses, townhomes, big new Victorians and a well loved hole-in-the-wall restaurants. If you are looking for character, The Heights has it. The only tricky part is, prices have been getting higher and higher in this sought after neighborhood.
If you want a walkable neighborhood with the city’s hottest restaurants, bars and shops – plus parks and good schools – you should look at Montrose. Much like The Heights, you will find old bungalows, new construction, apartments and townhomes mixed in with shops, salons and restaurants. Montrose is also home to the Menil Collection, the Rothko Chapel, Houston Center for Photography, the Printing Museum and the University of Saint Thomas. You might find a fixer-upper, but prices have been climbing in this part of the city.
Just imagine giant oak trees in a canopy over the street, protecting big old brick houses and shading the many walkers and joggers in this neighborhood – this is the museum district. If you are new to town and not sure where to land, try the apartments near Hermann Park. While you get adjusted and figure out the city, you can walk out your door to the park, the zoo, and several great museums. Many young families can be found pushing their strollers from these apartments as they explore the city by foot. Like the other popular neighborhoods, the prices can be high. Although very few can afford the postcard perfect houses, there are some more modest sized houses and a lot of renovation projects in process.
This well known and well-respected neighborhood has big trees and fabulous houses. Not many of the people surveyed actually lived here, but many of them dream of living here. When doing your Houston neighborhood tour, take a trip through River Oaks. Just do not try anything suspicious… I once made a wrong turn in my beat up old Volvo and had security following me within minutes.
West University/Southside Place
If you want a picture perfect neighborhood full of families, tree swings and little league games, look at West University and Southside Place. Both are right in the middle of Houston – but are not actually incorporated. These “little towns”, like I used to describe the neighborhoods in Houston, are actually little towns with their own government. Still, the residents live in the heart of the big city and send their kids to Houston schools. Most of the older homes have been replaced with big new construction. The price tags are not cheap, but the neighborhood could be the setting of a sweet 1950s sitcom.
Like West University, Bellaire is it’s own city within the city. Also like West University, many of the old homes have been replaced with big new construction. The yards are filled with school spirit signs and garages are packed with bikes and lacrosse sticks. The prices are not cheap but you might be able to find a fixer upper if you are game for a project.
Very close to West University and Bellaire is Braeswood Place. Here you can find still find swings in the yard and bikes in the garage, but you will also find more reasonable price tags. Braeswood Place is near the Medical Center, Downtown and Galleria and has good schools.
A hundred years ago, this part of town was filled with big yards, houses and horse stables. Over time, these were sold and the stables were replaced by houses. Still, today you can still see the winding roads, big yards and nice houses. The schools are good and the commutes are decent. Part of Memorial is in Houston and part has its own government. Of course, the price tags of the homes reflects this picture perfect neighborhood.
Right next to Memorial, right outside the 8 loop, and near… you guessed it… many of Houston’s energy companies. This neighborhood has good schools, good shopping and nice houses.
If you want to live in the loop, in the shadow of Downtown but feel like you may be priced out of the neighborhoods listed here, take a look at Third Ward. Filled with mostly historic old houses, there is renovation happening everywhere and some new construction. Much like Monstrose and The Heights were several years ago, the Third Ward is up-and-coming.