Looking to move to a diverse, innovative, and culturally rich metropolis full of sunshine, pro sports, and excellent food? Surprise! Moving to Houston can check all of these boxes — and more. Ranked as one of the best places to live in Texas, Houston goes big on big-city amenities. Sure, Houston may be known as Space City (NASA and the Johnson Space Center are there, after all), but there is so much more to Houston than a tagline from a Tom Hanks movie.
First things first: Houston is huge. Spanning over 600 square miles and with seven million residents, Houston is one of the top 10 largest cities and the fourth most populated city in the country. This beautiful behemoth is teeming with excellent museums, devoted baseball fans, cutting-edge scientific and medical innovation, arts, history, and a wealth of fantastic restaurants and nightlife. Plus, Houston’s large immigrant numbers keep it impressively diverse and culturally rounded.
So whether you’ve already made up your mind about moving to Houston or you’re still trying on a few other cities for size — or, heck, you’re already a Houston resident, and you’re just looking for your next favorite neighborhood — let this guide of Houston neighborhoods and suburbs give you a glimpse of what the city has to offer. There’s a lot of area to cover, so let’s just dive right in.
THE TOP 8 HOUSTON SUBURBS AND NEIGHBORHOODS THAT STAND OUT TO US
No matter what you’re looking for — a sleek downtown high-rise apartment, artsy loft, starter home, or a family-friendly space with a big yard and room to grow — you can find it in one of Houston’s many neighborhoods or suburbs. With well over 50 to choose from, we’ve narrowed it down to what we think are the eight best places to live in Houston.
For each area, we’ll take into account type of housing, schools, commute times, things to do, cost, and overall vibe of the area — and the neighbors — so you can weigh them all against exactly what you’re looking for.
|Did You Know? Houston was founded in the 1830s — before neighborhoods were a thing — and the founders divided the city up into four quadrants (and later six) called “wards.” Today, the city is teeming with neighborhoods, though the different areas of Houston are still referred to as wards. Neighborhoods are also referred to as being inside or outside of the “inner loop,” which is just a way of denoting whether they’re inside or outside the Interstate 610 loop around Houston’s Central Business District.|
This may be the heart of Houston, but there’s not a lot of soul in the downtown area (or schools). Don’t get us wrong, there’s plenty of stuff to do — this is where you’ll find the famous Minute Maid Park, concert venues, conference centers, great bars and restaurants, the city’s theater district, and decent public parks with events — but it feels more CBD than H-O-M-E. That said, the nine downtown districts are extremely walkable, and it’s a great pick for young professionals or people who want to be close to work.
And while Downtown Houston has been booming commercially, there hasn’t been as big of a push for residential spaces. Luxury high-rise condos and apartments are more the norm, and you can expect to pay between $175,000 for a tiny studio just over 500 square feet to up to $290,000 for a one-bedroom that comes in under 1,000 square feet. The multi-bedroom penthouses well over 4,000 square feet? Those sell for over $1 million dollars. And if you’re renting, you can expect to pay around $1,000/month for a studio, $1,200/month for a one-bedroom, and up to $2,000/month for a two-bedroom in a luxury building with amenities.
If you’re picturing yourself somewhere trendy, a little bit weird, and very lively, Houston’s Midtown neighborhood, adjacent to the downtown area, might be your spot. There, you’ll find mostly young professionals in their mid-20s to 40s and a vibrant vibe. The bars, museums, shops, and restaurants are highly walkable, and there are three METRORail stations. Midtown’s convenient location — close to both downtown and Texas Medical Center — is also a big draw for its residents. Niche lists Midtown as one of the Top 10 Places to Live in Houston and gives the schools an overall A+ rating.
The popularity of Midtown is growing, but (for now) it remains one of the more affordable areas in the Inside Loop. Like Downtown Houston, luxury high-rise apartments are common finds, but so are lofts and single-family homes. Median home prices fall around $348,000, with small studios under 500 square feet selling for around $115,000, one-bedroom apartments under 1,000 square feet around $200,0000, and anything over 1,200 square feet going for over $220,000. Want a rental? Expect to pay between around $1,200 and $2,300 a month.
Looking for your happy place that straddles the border between the suburbs and city life? There’s a reason Memorial is consistently ranked one of the best neighborhoods to live in Houston. Well, actually, there are a few reasons. There, you’ll find a mix of big traditional and contemporary single-family or attached homes on spacious lots, surrounded by forest areas and some of the city’s best parks and green spaces. Families, in particular, love having access to two of Houston’s top Grade A school districts, Spring Branch and Katy. The area also has a worthy collection of cafes, restaurants, and nightlife options — not to mention a country club and golf course — all within a 20-minute drive from Downtown Houston.
The median home price is around $530,000, with a range roughly between $200,000 and $700,000. Rentals range from around $900/month to $1,200/month for a studio or one bedroom and go up to about $3,200/month for an 1,800-square-foot three bedroom.
Love historic homes? Houston Heights (called “The Heights” by locals) is crawling with them. This area is one of the city’s oldest planned communities and one of the only Houston neighborhoods that boasts beautiful historic homes and bungalows, ranging from Craftsman and Queen Anne to Victorian and other turn-of-the-century architecture styles. The vintage vibe of this neighborhood, combined with its cute walkable streets and growing local businesses and shops, gives Houston Heights a classic neighborhood feel. Plus, it’s just a 10-minute drive or 30-minute direct bus to Downtown Houston. Charm and accessibility? Sign us up!
Okay, so there is one potential con to living in this landmark historic neighborhood: If you’re buying, you’ll be beholden to follow the city’s (and likely HOA’s) strict preservation rules when it comes to any work done on your home. Average home prices run just under $625,000 with a range from $200,000 to $1.4 million. Rentals are less common, but they start at around $1,200/month for a studio or one bedroom and top out at around $2,900/month. It’s probably also worth noting that Niche gave an overall B- rating to the schools in The Heights (just below the Houston average), though there are several A-rated options.
Montrose is probably best described as Houston’s Austin. It’s Boho, artsy, creative, eclectic, and full of spirit. In 2018, it was named one of America’s hippest neighborhoods. This is where you go for great vintage shopping, cool bars, quirky restaurants, live music, galleries on galleries, and some pretty dang cool-looking 1920s mansions — plus, it’s adjacent to the Museum District, which is packed with over 50 different cultural institutions, museums, and more. Montrose is also Houston’s LGBTQIA community epicenter and has a high concentration of gay bars.
In addition to 1920s mansions, Montrose also has eclectic townhomes, slick condos, and traditional single-family homes. Homes there have a wide range of prices, from as low as $125,000 up to the multi-millions; however, the median price is about $600,000. Apartment buildings are more dated and aren’t as snazzy (or as amenity-loaded) as the ones you’ll find in Downtown or Midtown, but you’ll also pay a lot less. Average rent runs between $995/month and $1,800/month. And schools there have an overall B rating, which is right on par with the city as a whole, though Montrose’s High School of the Performing and Visual Arts and Lanier Middle School are top rated.
|Curious what life has to offer in other popular Texan cities? |
We’ve got guides for those, too! These blogs will give you the inside scoop on the best neighborhoods in Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth.
— Best Austin Neighborhoods
— Top Neighborhoods and Suburbs in Dallas, TX
— Guide to Fort Worth Neighborhoods
If you’re looking for a safe, quiet spot with a unique aquatic perk, you might want to consider Houston’s Nassau Bay suburb. With just over 4,000 people (but with up to 3,000 visitors daily), Nassau Bay offers small-town life with an urban edge. It’s also conveniently located just a 30-minute stone’s throw from Houston and Galveston Island. Plus, you’ll share the neighborhood with NASA and the Johnson Space Center. How cool is that? Surrounded by water on three sides, this is a great pick for folks looking to be near the waves.
Apartments there are affordable, starting at around $875/month for one bedroom and topping out under $2,000/month for four bedrooms. Many homes offer a mid-century look and overall have a good starter-home value with a median cost of $329,000 (though you can find properties for as low as $155,000 or as high as more than $1 million). Several bedrooms and big yards are common, and Nassau Bay is served by the Clear Creek Independent School District, with schools rated A or higher.
Quality of schools and town amenities (like the Katy Mills Mall, Katy Contemporary Arts Museum, and Typhoon Texas waterpark) have boosted Katy as an increasingly popular Houston suburb. Katy is also full of parks, great schools, and large homes on large lots. That being said, it may not come as a shock to learn that Katy attracts a lot of young families. An added bonus? It’s a straight 30-minute shot on I-10 East to Houston, making Katy a top pick for professionals who work in the city but want a quieter life at home.
You’ll find big contemporary houses and new builds as well as a host of planned communities in Katy, most with a median home price of around $295,000 (around the general median home price for homes in Houston’s best suburbs). Apartment buildings in Katy are modern, pet-friendly, and have other shared amenities like a pool and fitness room. Rent starts at around $1,000/month (or just under) for one bedroom and goes up to $2,500/month or more for three or more bedrooms. Large condos are also available for rent there.
Not a misnomer, The Woodlands is a 28,000-acre forested suburb located a 30-minute drive up I-45 North from Houston. This popular suburb is essentially just one large planned community full of luxury houses and excellent amenities like kayaking, hiking, swan boat rides on the lake, and an outdoor amphitheater. This affluent community speaks mostly to nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and those pursuing an active lifestyle, but education is also a top priority. The schools are some of the best in Houston and in Texas.
However, all this bliss doesn’t come cheap. Median home prices, which come in at around $498,000, are some of the highest you’ll find in Houston’s suburbs. In fact, there are times when it’s hard to find anything under $1 million. Houses there are huge, with multiple bedrooms and massive lots that often tip the scales at over 15,000 square feet. However, apartments can be much more affordable, starting at around $1,200/month for one bedroom in a contemporary (but not fancy) complex with some amenities.
|Relocating in or out of the Lone Star State? We’re here to help with our big-picture guide to moving in Texas.|
HOUSTON SCHOOLS: THEY’RE JUST AS PLENTIFUL AS THE NEIGHBORHOODS
Thankfully, this big city goes big on education, and you’ll find over 600 schools throughout the area. Niche gave Houston an overall B grade for schools, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from moving there, as several neighborhoods have great options. For example, three of Houston’s high schools rank among the top 10 in Texas, two of Houston’s private high schools (St. John’s and The Awty International School) rank in the top 10 for Texas private high schools, and 27 schools have some kind of advanced learning curriculum like AP or International Baccalaureate available. Most public schools in Houston tend to have an average student-to-teacher ratio of about 18:1. If schools are a top priority, just be sure to do your due diligence.
There’s no denying it: Deciding which Houston suburbs or neighborhoods make your short list is tough — they’re all such great communities. When you do make the decision, and you’re ready to go big and call Houston home, we’ve got the 4-1-1 on what you need to know about living in Houston, so you can start acting like a local faster than you can say “Go, Houston Astros!” Need help with your pre-move moves? We have that covered, too. Let us help make the process better with our easy moving checklist and packing and moving hacks.
Katherine Alex Beaven is a frequent contributor to the PODS blog who has moved 20+ times because she loves to experience new places.