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Neighborhoods and Communities

Home Sweet Home

Houston's variety of neighborhoods promises a home for every lifestyle. "Home Sweet Home" delivers the information necessary to find that home. Inside are descriptions of communities and neighborhoods throughout Houston as well as a map to help find them. The section also provides lists of home price trends, planned communities.

Housing opportunities in the Houston area run the gamut from sophisticated urban living in the city's re-energized downtown area to charming bungalows or sparkling new homes within minutes of downtown to sprawling gated communities in suburban or rural settings a short drive from the city.

A glimpse of the many neighborhoods and communities in the Greater Houston area follows. While attempting to provide a panoramic view of housing opportunities around Houston, it is not intended to be the ultimate source for choosing a home. Information was obtained from local chambers of commerce, local real estate agents and Web sites of cities, communities, management districts and real estate-related sites.

A local real estate agent can provide specific information about the following neighborhoods and other areas. Contact the Houston Association of Realtors (www.har.com) for names of qualified agents. A Multiple Listing Service with more detailed information on available housing options is accessible through the Greater Houston Partnership's Web site at www.houston.org .

Inner Loop

Living inside Loop 610 is highly desirable because of the proximity to downtown Houston, sporting venues, cultural activities and the Texas Medical Center.

— Astrodome/South Loop

About 25,000 people live in the shadow of one of Houston's world-class entertainment and convention center sites — Reliant Park. The complex is composed of four venues - Reliant Stadium, a 69,500-seat indoor stadium that serves as the home of the National Football League Houston Texans; Reliant Center, a convention and exposition center covering 1.4 million square feet; Reliant Astrodome, the world famous indoor football and baseball stadium; and Reliant Arena, a venue for smaller arena events.

The Astrodome/South Loop area is mixed in terms of both ethnic make-up and income levels. About 1,180 businesses with 30,000 employees are located in the area. The Metropolitan Transit Authority's (METRO) new 7.5-mile light rail system connects the Astrodome/South Loop area to downtown Houston, Midtown, the University of Houston-Downtown, Rice University, the medical center and the Museum District ( www.gswhcc.org ).

— Bellaire

Modern life merges with days gone by in Bellaire, which offers a combination of quiet, small-town America and the convenience of big city attractions. One of Houston's first suburbs, Bellaire has grown from a small farming community to a thriving city.

Approximately 16,000 people live in Bellaire, roughly the same number as those who work within the city limits. The 6,000 homes in Bellaire are a mixture of 1950s and 1960s two- and three-bedroom ranch styles and brand new Georgian brick and Mediterranean stucco mansions. The practice of tear-downs - replacing old frame and brick bungalows with new, larger constructions - is common in Bellaire ( www.gswhcc.org ).

— Braeswood/Stella Link  

Recent redevelopment and revitalization efforts in the Braeswood and Stella Link neighborhoods have made them ideal communities for growing families. Approximately 29,000 residents include a mix of senior citizens and young couples with families. A variety of home prices makes the area attractive for many homebuyers.

— Denver Harbor

With a population of about 19,000, the Denver Harbor area contains a mix of residential, commercial and industrial property. A predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, Denver Harbor lies just east of downtown Houston and is split by Interstate 10. Port Houston is a small residential community nearby.

— Downtown Houston

More and more Houstonians are choosing a downtown address. Downtown Houston's current residential population of 3,000 is expected to more than triple by 2010. "The synergy that is happening downtown is so exciting," said Robin K. Mueck, president and CEO of Heritage Texas Properties. "It's clear that downtown is now a destination. Dining opportunities are on every block, the Theater District is exploding and downtown has a thriving night life, two incredible sports venues and an alluring rail system.''

Professionals working downtown, empty nesters and reverse commuters are increasingly attracted to downtown, with its growing opportunities for loft living. Approximately 3,017 units have been built within 1.5 miles of downtown in the past few years. Another 4,000 are expected to be complete in the next few years (www.downtowndistrict.org, www.downtown-houston.org ).

— Fifth Ward  

Fifth Ward, with a population of approximately 18,000, is served by Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation (CRC), a nonprofit community developer striving to accelerate the rebirth of this historic community.

Although most homes average 50 years of age or older, the Fifth Ward CRC has developed about 250 new homes in the past 10 years. Future developments in Fifth Ward include a retail shopping center and a technology center ( www.fifthwardcrc.org ).

— Greater Third Ward

Greater Third Ward is a predominantly African-American community immediately adjacent to the Main Street corridor. It is home to Texas Southern University and the University of Houston, both largely commuter campuses, which serve a student population totaling more than 44,000. The area boasts Alabama Garden, the largest and oldest community garden in Houston.

— Greenway Plaza

Greenway Plaza, a small sliver of Houston on the Southwest Freeway between Loop 610 and Kirby Drive, is experiencing new residential and commercial development. For many years, Greenway Plaza has been known for its gleaming office towers. Within the boundaries of Greenway Plaza, 755 businesses employ more than 25,000 people. Greenway Plaza has a small but upscale residential section. The area's luxury townhomes, high-rise apartments and condos are popular with empty nesters and young professionals, offering security, personal service and low-maintenance living combined with a convenient location. Shopping, sports arenas, restaurants, museums and fine arts venues are easily accessible from a Greenway residence.

— Harrisburg/Manchester

Harrisburg was founded at the convergence of Brays and Buffalo bayous preceding the Texas Revolution. Santa Anna's army burned the community just before its defeat at San Jacinto in 1836. Later that year, Houston was established. By 1927, the area was part of Houston. Manchester lies to the east of Harrisburg. Its modest homes are surrounded by Pot of Houston industries.

— The Heights

The Heights has Houston's largest concentration of historic homes, with more than 100 individually listed private and public buildings. Distinctive turn-of-the-century homes, privately maintained parks, several churches and a public library line Heights Boulevard, which has a special City of Houston designation as a "Scenic Right of Way." Such charm, coupled with its proximity to downtown, makes The Heights an appealing place to live. The unique 19th Street historic business district and a variety of antique and specialty shops make the area a shopping attraction. The Heights is favored by professionals and families who appreciate a short commute to downtown and the small-town quality of life ( www.houstonheights.org ).

— MacGregor/Riverside

Located near the medical center, the MacGregor/Riverside communities include stately homes, small apartment complexes and townhomes. The area, with a population of about 14,000, is undergoing change as older homes are refurbished and new homes are being built.

— Midtown

New construction and the preservation and restoration of historical structures are reviving the Midtown area to the original residential nature of the area. Approximately 5,000 residents live in Midtown, which consists mainly of townhomes and apartments. Midtown has more than 200,000 jobs within its large business community, including a Vietnamese business district, three cultural arts museums and 40,000 square feet of performing arts revitalization ( www.houstonmidtown.com ).

— Memorial Park/Washington Avenue

Memorial Park, a shady urban oasis, lies in the midst of this scenic area that stretches from the west side of the northern edge of downtown to the West Loop. Covering 5,081 acres, residential areas adjacent to Memorial Park are being redeveloped with high-end, single-family homes, high-rises, three-story condos and patio homes.

— Montrose

A burgeoning center for the creative, the Montrose area is one of the most eclectic in Houston. The Montrose area houses the Houston Museum District, which encompasses more than 50 museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions. Cultural and ethnic diversity is visible in the wide array of restaurants, boutiques and galleries dotting the area. Two-bedroom bungalows characterize the neighborhood. In Courtland Place, all of the houses are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

— Near Northside

Immediately adjacent to downtown, Near Northside consists of wood-frame homes surrounding commercial properties along North Main and Fulton streets. This area is experiencing an influx of high-rises, townhomes and condos.

— Old Spanish Trail/South Union

With a population of about 19,500, this area near the medical center offers an abundance of rental properties, making it attractive to medical students. Many homes in the Old Spanish Trail/South Union area were built right after World War II. The area is home to the Shrine of the Black Madonna church, which purchased and redeveloped a number of properties near its sanctuary.

— Rice Village/Medical Center  

Home to the world-famous Texas Medical Center and prestigious Rice University, the Rice Village/Medical Center area is one of the most vibrant and exciting in Houston. Many residents work for one of the more than 42 nonprofit institutions of the medical center. Located next to Hermann Park and the Museum District, the area is now linked to Reliant Park to the south and to downtown Houston to the north by the new METRORail light rail ( www.gswhcc.org ).

— River Oaks

River Oaks, one of Houston's most exclusive residential areas, comprises some 1,100 acres replete with stately white-columned mansions dating to the 1920s. Just three miles west of downtown Houston, River Oaks also enjoys easy access to the Greenway Plaza business district and the Galleria area.

While a wide range of architectural styles is evident throughout River Oaks, strict control has created harmony with the landscaping and natural topography in this heavily wooded area. Comprehensive deed restrictions ensure that the River Oaks area can never be invaded by commercial structures or multifamily housing. Many homes were designed by nationally recognized architects of the era. One such home, "Bayou Bend," was owned by Ima Hogg. She later donated the magnificent Greek revival property, along with its extensive collection of early American furniture and antiques, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Bayou Bend now serves as the American decorative arts wing of the museum.

— Second Ward/Magnolia Park

Today's east end reflects a largely Latino residential population. Second Ward and Magnolia Park, two of the city's oldest Hispanic neighborhoods are home to Mutalistan Hall on Canal Street, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Navigation Boulevard and the intricate concrete bandstand designed by V. Linzano and inscribed "From Houston Mexicans to their city" in Hidalgo Park. Most of the housing in the area was built before World War II. New development is taking place in the east end with loft apartments on the western boundary and the redevelopment of Gulfgate, Houston's first shopping mall ( www.greatereastend.com ).

— Southside Place  

Shaped like a backward "L" slipped into the boundaries of West University Place, Southside Place has 440 homes and 1,500 residents. Only nine streets long from one end to the other and only one block wide, Southside Place has street names in alphabetical order from Bellaire to Jardin ( www.gswhcc.org ).

— West University Place

As the name reflects, the City of West University Place (West U) draws its location and atmosphere from neighboring Rice University, the "Harvard of the South." West U's charming mix of bungalows and new brick homes ranks as the third-most expensive neighborhood in Houston.

Beginning in the 1980s, West U underwent major revitalization as young families moved into its beautiful, tree-lined neighborhoods and replaced small homes with large new homes. West U officials take special care with construction, putting specific restrictions and codes on the development of lots in the area and assuring that West U homes are attractive and maintain their value ( www.gswhcc.org ).

North Houston

Areas north of the city core contain a mixture of cultural influences and new and older housing. North Houston residents can enjoy an easier commute, thanks to the Hardy Toll Road.

— Acres Homes

Once considered the South's largest unincorporated black community, Acres Homes is situated between downtown Houston and Greenspoint. The area developed around the time of World War I, when landholders began selling off home sites in plots big enough to allow for small gardens and raising chickens or farm animals. The town derived its name from the fact that land was sold by the acre and not by the lot. New, resale and rental homes as well as apartments are available.

— Aldine

This area of about 14,000 residents is located near the Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8) and Interstate 45 North. Via the Hardy Tollway, residents have easy access to employment centers, especially in the Greenspoint area and downtown Houston. Housing options vary.

— Garden Oaks/Oak Forest

This quaint and architecturally unique neighborhood of approximately 1,400 homes offers a diverse array from cottages and bungalows to plantation, ranch and traditional style homes. Homes have larger than usual lot sizes (www.gardenoaks.org).

— Greater Greenspoint

The Greater Greenspoint District, which includes a 12-square-mile area, has more than 17 million square feet of office, retail and industrial properties. Fifty thousand people work in the area, and there are some 75,000 residents (www.greenspoint.org).

— Inwood Forest

This community offers some of the most affordable golf course housing in the Houston area, with many contemporary and Spanish-style homes. It features the Inwood Forest Country Club with 27 holes and a distinctively different designer for each nine-hole course.

North of Houston

Areas further north of the city offer restful suburban/rural living as well as immense shopping and recreational opportunities. The forested beauty of the region, with its lakes, rivers and parks, is a major factor in the area's popularity.

— Conroe/Willis/Montgomery County

Conroe, with a population of more than 43,000, is the largest city in Montgomery County. The county has a total population of more than 360,000. Conroe has a new 58,000-square-foot convention center, and the downtown area is being completely renovated with brick pavers and new lighting. New neighborhoods are being developed. There are new schools, new parks, a new chamber of commerce building, a new fire station and a new police station. There also is a new terminal at Montgomery County Airport.

Lake Conroe, a 22,000-acre lake just seven miles west of the City of Conroe, offers water sports, fishing, skiing, sailing, boating, pristine campgrounds and three resorts. Thirteen golf courses are located in the Lake Conroe area.

Some of the many master-planned communities in the area include The French Quarter on Lake Conroe and Grand Lake Estates, home to the first Gary Player Signature Golf Course in Texas. Nearby Sam Houston National Forest houses various wildlife species. Willis, a lumbering and agricultural market town on the Missouri Pacific Railroad eight miles north of Conroe, has a population of more than 4,000 ( www.gcedc.org , www.lakeconroecvb.org ).

— The Woodlands/South Montgomery

Nestled in 27,000 acres of forest just north of Houston, The Woodlands is one of the first master-planned communities in the nation. The Woodlands includes eight villages featuring homes in virtually every price range, excellent public and private schools, more than 135 miles of hike-and-bike trails, more than 95 neighborhood parks, six championship and signature golf courses, a major regional shopping mall, village shopping centers, a variety of specialty and family restaurants, a spectacular outdoor performing arts pavilion, offices and research buildings, more than 30 places of worship, hospitals and clinics, country clubs, and a full-service resort and conference center. The Town Center is thriving with commerce and is the site of The Woodlands Waterway, a planned linear park where visitors may stroll or ride a water taxi or trolley to shops and entertainment ( www.thewoodlands.com ).

Northeast

Northeast Houston is made up of a mix of communities: Atascocita, Eagle Springs, Fall Creek, Humble, Kingwood, Summer-wood and Walden on Lake Houston. Located within about a 10-mile radius from where U.S. 59 and F.M. 1960 intersect, these seven communities share an abundance of natural beauty. Residents take advantage of the fishing and boating opportunities that Lake Houston and the San Jacinto River create. These amenities attract many buyers. Proximity to downtown and George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) contributes to the area's attractiveness.

— Atascocita

On the shores of Lake Houston, Atascocita encompasses more than 15 subdivisions and has become one of the fastest-growing residential communities in the nation. Formed by the damming of the San Jacinto River, Lake Houston offers excellent opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating and skiing. With access from numerous public boat ramps, fishing enthusiasts are drawn to more than a dozen varieties of fish found in the lake ( www.humbleareachamber.org ).

— Eagle Springs

Eagle Springs residents have easy access to U.S. 59 and Beltway 8 and are just minutes from Lake Houston and IAH. Amenities in the community include a 15-acre community sports park, swim complex, central nature park, a series of lakes, hike-and-bike-trails and a village square.  

— Fall Creek

Located near major employment venues, including the east energy corridor, Greenspoint, the Inner Loop, the medical center and The Galleria, Fall Creek offers convenient, suburban living. Shopping, cultural, entertainment and dining adventures abound, with many downtown and suburban attractions less than 25 minutes away. Quiet streets and carefully planned villages complement an aquatic center, trails and greenbelts in a 1,261-acre community offering an abundance of recreational opportunities including Redstone Golf Club - home to the Shell Houston Open PGA Tour Event ( www.fallcreekhouston.com ).

— Humble

The City of Humble offers a small-town feel just 20 miles from downtown Houston. Located in the northeast quadrant of the Houston metropolitan area, the Greater Humble area includes Atascocita, the City of Humble, Kingwood and Spring, all of which are currently experiencing population and economic growth. With the imminent completion of upgrading on U.S. 59, local growth has been facilitated by the reasonable commute to the huge job base in downtown Houston. Additionally, robust commercial growth in the area has created thousands of jobs locally. The highly acclaimed Humble Independent School District (ISD) serves the area ( www.humblearea.com ).

— Kingwood

Conveniently located near Houston area businesses and recreational destinations, Kingwood consists of 26 villages, with more than 63,000 residents. More than 75 miles of private greenbelt and hike-and-bike trails, 23 swimming pools, a private boat launch, equestrian centers and more than 55 acres of private parks enhance this 14,000-acre community. METRO's Park & Ride service provides transportation to downtown Houston, Greenway Plaza and Greenspoint. Kingwood residents have easy access to IAH, and with the widening and completion of U.S. 59 to Humble, Kingwood Drive, Northpark Drive and the newly completed Lake Houston Parkway, commuting has become even faster ( www.kingwoodonline.com ).

— Summerwood

Located in Houston just off Beltway 8 near Humble, Summerwood encompasses 1,500 acres in a setting among lakes and tree-lined trails. Wired for the future, every home comes ready with a state-of-the-art, fiber-optic network. Other amenities include 17 acres of lakes, more than 150 acres of woodland and open spaces, nearby Lake Houston and proximity to Deerbrook Mall as well as major employment and business centers ( www.summerwoodonline.com ).

— Walden on Lake Houston

Walden on Lake Houston is located on the shores of Lake Houston, just south of F.M. 1960.   This growing 750-acre, master-planned community of 2,000 homes boasts 11 inland lakes, an 18-hole championship golf course, lighted tennis courts, Olympic-size swimming pool, racquetball courts and clubhouse.

Northwest

The Northwest section of Houston is a high-growth area. The completion of Beltway 8, the upgrading of Texas 6 and F.M. 1960, and improvements to U.S. 290 have enhanced accessibility to the region. Area neighborhoods are attractive to employees who work on the west side of Houston.

— Bear Creek/Texas 6

Bear Creek and the Texas 6 area have experienced significant residential development as well as major office and industrial activity. The area between the Katy Freeway and U.S. 290 is referred to as Bear Creek and is one of the three distinct areas that make up Houston's northwest sector. Master-planned communities in Bear Creek include Fairfield and Deerfield Village. Other subdivisions include Glencairn, Bear Creek Plantation and Pine Forest.

— Coles Crossing

Located at U.S. 290 and Barker-Cypress, Coles Crossing is close to work, shopping and top-rated Cypress-Fairbanks (Cy-Fair) schools. The 1,200-acre master-planned community has 175 acres devoted to recreation (www.colescrossing.com).

— Cypress

Cypress is located northwest of Houston, 21 miles from Houston's Central Business District. Jersey Village is an incorporated city located within the area. More than 200,000 people in 68,000 households have been attracted to the Cypress area, which includes approximately 186 square miles within the highly ranked Cy-Fair ISD. In addition to being within a reasonable commute of the huge job base in Houston, much of the land is reasonably priced. Willowbrook Mall is nearby (www.cyfairchamber.com).

— Champions/F.M. 1960

The Champions/F.M. 1960 area is close to The Woodlands, Willowbrook and Greenspoint malls, golf courses and country clubs such as Champions Golf Club, Sam Houston Race Park and the Aerodome Ice Skating Complex. IAH, Highway 249 and Beltway 8 have sparked growth in the area.  

— Fairfield

Friendswood Development Company recently added another 1,000 acres to the 3,200-acre community of Fairfield. When complete by 2011, Fairfield will be home to 6,500 families. The area's 13,400-square-foot athletic club includes a full-size basketball court, fitness room, special events room, locker rooms and classroom areas. Outside the center are a competition-size swimming pool, tennis courts and a 20-acre sports park with baseball and soccer fields. Currently, Fairfield has six lakes, five neighborhood parks and five neighborhood pools plus numerous pocket parks and greenbelts winding through the community. Fairfield is located in the highly acclaimed Cy-Fair ISD ( www.visitfairfield.com ).

— Gleannloch Farms

Founded in the 1950s as a source for Egyptian Arabian horses, Gleannloch Farms today is known for paths, parks, ponds, a lakeside eight-acre recreation center, a 27-hole golf course and an equestrian center providing myriad family activities. The immediate area also boasts a burgeoning technology corridor, the F.M. 1960 shopping district, the large regional Willowbrook Mall only minutes away and important venues for the arts ( www.gleannlochfarms.com ).

— High Meadow Ranch

Located off Texas 249, High Meadow Ranch is a master-planned community offering a championship golf course, junior Olympic-size swimming pool, horseback riding, a fishing lake and nature trails. Homesites range from one to 10 acres ( www.highmeadowranch.com ).

— Magnolia

Magnolia is situated 20 miles southwest of Conroe in southwestern Montgomery County, at the junction of F.M. 1774 and F.M. 1488. The Greater Magnolia area, which is experiencing a high growth rate, spans roughly 12 miles in all directions, encompassing a population of more than 65,000 ( http://ci.magnolia.tx.us ).

— Northpointe

Located off Texas 249 outside F.M. 1960, Northpointe is a heavily wooded community with lakes, recreational facilities and fiber-optic capabilities. The Villages of Northpointe are close to Willowbrook Mall.

— Riata Ranch

Riata Ranch, located south of U.S. 290 on Barker-Cypress Road, is a family oriented community nestled in the countryside of northwest Houston. Residents enjoy 18-plus acres of parks, a recreation center with a swimming pool and children's pool, lighted tennis courts and a unique, figure-eight tricycle park and playground for toddlers.

— Spring/F.M. 1960/Klein

The Spring/F.M. 1960/Klein area offers a suburban quality of life for those who want to live near the city but long for a hometown feel. Housing options vary from one-story, ranch-style homes to large two-story, colonials. The area has several townhome and apartment communities. Spring residents draw from several employment centers, including IAH, The Woodlands and downtown Houston. It is home to Old Town Spring, a quaint turn-of-the-century shopping town composed of more than 150 shops, restaurants, museums and art galleries. The highly ranked Klein ISD serves the area ( www.oldtownspringtx.com ).

— Tomball

The Tomball area, just north of F.M. 1960, is known for its open rural territory as well as abundant forested land. The availability of ample scenic land at reasonable prices has been a strong factor in attracting homebuyers. Local growth also has been facilitated by the reasonable commute via Texas 249 to the job base in Houston ( www.tomballtexas.com ).

— WindRose

WindRose, a heavily forested 1,121-acre community southwest of Spring off Interstate 45 North, will have about 2,000 homes upon completion. The master plan includes a championship 18-hole golf course, green space and parks. Offered in a variety of price ranges, homes feature amenities, including a junior Olympic-size pool, tennis courts, meeting house, volleyball court, soccer field and parks ( www.visitwindrose.com ).

West Houston

Houston's west side has experienced immense growth. The area offers high-quality living, good schools, excellent freeway access and a range of shopping and recreational activities. Demand has exceeded the supply of residences here because of proximity to freeways, the Galleria area and the appeal of wooded, established neighborhoods.

— Galleria/Uptown

The Galleria area's high-rise offices and hotels, fine restaurants and shopping centers serve as host to 200,000 office workers, shoppers and out-of-town visitors daily. Houston's Uptown district, the Galleria/Post Oak area, has been called Houston's urban village.

The Galleria-area lifestyle appeals to active adults and families looking for suburban comfort and security in an energetic urban setting. Residential construction is still continuing, and in the past 10 years, more than 1,800 new single-family homes and townhomes have been built. Uptown is itself a growing neighborhood with continued construction of a wide variety of upscale homes and apartments. Almost 5,000 high-rise condominium and other multi-family units are located Uptown. Intimate patio homes constructed on limited-access courts offer a cozy and secure urban retreat, while luxury subdivisions feature in-town estates with some of Houston's most prestigious addresses ( www. uptown-houston.com ).

— Memorial/Spring Branch  

The Memorial area is synonymous with large, manicured lawns, huge oaks and some of the most expensive homes in Houston. Although Memorial Drive originates in downtown Houston, the Memorial area generally refers to neighborhoods that lie between Loop 610 on the east and Texas 6 on the west from Interstate 10 south to the natural boundary of Buffalo Bayou. The opening of Beltway 8 has provided Memorial residents quick access to many parts of the city. Both airports are within a 30-minute drive, and Interstate 10 and U.S. 59 are just a few minutes away. Most of the area is served by the award-winning Spring Branch ISD.

— Memorial Villages

Clustering near west Memorial Drive (a former Indian trail) are the "Villages." This term refers to the incorporated municipalities of Bunker Hill, Hedwig, Hunter's Creek and Piney Point, all located south of Interstate 10 West, and Spring Valley and Hilshire Village, north of the freeway. Many homes in this area fringe Buffalo Bayou. Older homes built in the 1960s as well as more modern homes can be found here.

•  Briargrove Park

Old oak trees shadowing the streets, flickering gas-lit lamps and child swings hanging in the front yards describe this picturesque neighborhood of more than 1,400 homes. Located just inside Beltway 8 between Memorial Drive and Westheimer this family friendly neighborhood has a community pool, tennis courts, community playground and numerous neighborhood organizations.

•  Walnut Bend

A beautiful neighborhood of more than 900 homes, Walnut Bend borders Beltway 8, to the west, and Westheimer Boulevard to the south. This tucked-away neighborhood offers its residents numerous amenities including neighborhood organizations, three pools, tennis courts, a playground and park, and volleyball courts ( www.walnutbend.net ).

— Royal Oaks

Offering a unique resort lifestyle, Royal Oaks is a gated community of luxury homes surrounding a private country club and the Fred Couples Signature Golf Course in the heart of Houston, just eight miles west of The Galleria on Westheimer Road. The 490-acre community features an 11,000-square-foot clubhouse, spa, gym, aquatic center and tennis complex with a stadium court and croquet lawn ( www.royaloakscc.com ).

— Tanglewood

Located just outside Loop 610 and on the border of Memorial, Tanglewood has remained one of Houston's most exclusive and desirable neighborhoods during its 50-plus-year history. In recent years, two-story homes have replaced many of the older homes in the neighborhood. The Tanglewood area is home to former President George Bush and Barbara Bush.

— West Memorial

Farther west on Memorial past Wilcrest Drive is subdivision after subdivision of homes built in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These areas offer private, secluded, near-bayou living. Memorial Thicket, Fleetwood and Barker's Landing are newer subdivisions built within the past 20 years. Home styles are typically New Orleans Colonial, Cape Cod, traditional and contemporary. Townhomes in the west Houston area are more often leased than purchased. A good availability exists. Retirement communities include Tarrytowne, an assisted living complex at Briar Forest and Dairy Ashford. Recreational activities include the Westside Tennis Club, selected by World Tennis magazine and the U.S. Tennis Association as one of the top 20 tennis clubs in the nation.

West of Houston

During the past few years, Houston's west side has experienced immense growth, due to the area's high-quality living, good schools, excellent freeway access, and range of shopping and recreational activities.

— Cinco Ranch

A 7,200-acre master-planned community, Cinco Ranch offers residents their own Beach Club with crystal-clear water and a white-sand beach. Other nearby amenities include a water park; the Golf Club at Cinco Ranch, an 18-hole championship course; and a wooded Bayou Nature Trail preserving nearly 70 acres of wooded habitat. Cinco Ranch's master plan devotes hundreds of acres to recreational amenities, including six, major neighborhood recreation centers offering swimming, tennis, basketball, sports fields and more. All Cinco Ranch neighborhoods and amenities are connected by greenbelt trails for jogging, hiking and rollerblading ( www.cincoranch.com ).

— Fulshear

Fulshear, at the junction of Farm Roads 359 and 1093 in northern Fort Bend County, is a small farming community with roots in agriculture. Fulshear is home to Riverwood Forest, a gated community just west of Houston's Grand Parkway overlooking the Brazos River. The highly rated Lamar Consolidated School District serves the Riverwood Forest community.

— Grayson Lakes

Located five miles west of the Grand Parkway and south of Interstate 10, Grayson Lakes offers some of the largest average home sites in the area, including large waterfront lots. Grayson Lakes includes 30 acres of lakes and fountains, parks, hike-and-bike trails, a recreation center, tennis courts, a swimming pool and a children's splash pool and playground. The new Westpark Tollway will provide another route for Grayson Lakes residents who commute to Houston ( www.graysonlakes.com ).

— Katy

The City of Katy offers the charm of a small town and the sophistication of suburbia. Housing options in Katy range from apartments and condominiums to large estate homes with acreage to enjoy and maintain horses. Some have championship golf courses as their backyard. The area also is home to Katy Mills Mall. Katy is accessible from the Interstate 10 West corridor, Grand Parkway and Beltway 8 ( www.katytexas.com ).

— Lakes on Eldridge

Offering lakeside living within minutes of Houston's cultural, business and shopping centers, Lakes on Eldridge is a 456-acre community featuring a million-dollar recreation center. Located north of Interstate 10 West, Lakes on Eldridge is near major shopping centers, employers, medical facilities and recreational opportunities such as Bear Creek Park and Golf Course. Laguna Falls Estates offers custom-designed homes on oversized waterfront lots ( www.TheLakesOnEldridge.com ).

— Weston Lakes

Weston Lakes is a gated estate country club community with 24-hour manned security. Amenities include: large lots; stately homes; a private, 18-hole championship golf course; adult and family swimming pools; and lighted tennis courts. The golf course winds through the lakes and ancient pecan trees of Weston Lakes, where excellent fishing is available. More than 11 miles of lakes are stocked with trophy-size bass and other game fish ( www.weston-lakes.com ).

— Windsor Park Lakes

Private piers for boating and fishing and Mediterranean-style homes mark the Windsor Park Lakes community located south of Interstate 10 West outside Texas 6. Rock-landscaped waterfalls, lighted sprays, gated entrances, tennis courts, athletic fields and other amenities are offered in this all tiled-roof enclave ( www.wplakes.com ).

•  WoodCreek Reserve

A 500-acre community at Interstate 10 West and F.M. 1463, features a wooded environment with more than 160 acres devoted to nature parks and other recreational amenities. The community's centerpiece is The Reserve nature park, which borders Buffalo Bayou and features nature trails, a fish-stocked lake, soccer fields and other amenities ( www.woodcreekreserve.com ).

Southwest

One of the most expansive areas in Houston is the southwest region - encompassing parts of Harris County and Fort Bend County.

— Fondren Southwest

With more than 41,000 residents, Fondren Southwest is a microcosm of the Greater Houston community - a mixture of multi-family dwellings and residential subdivisions. Its easy access to the medical center, downtown, the Beltway, Southwest Freeway and Braeswood has helped to contribute to the area's steady growth during the past few years ( www.gs-whcc.org ).

— Gulfton            

Many different nationalities live in the Gulfton area, north of Bellaire. Most of the 46,000 residents live in apartment homes, although the number of single-family homes is growing. Gulfton also is home to Benavidez Community Garden, the largest urban harvest garden in Houston. Westpark, bordering the Gulfton area, recently opened and is now a major east-west toll road that is attracting businesses ( www.gswhcc.org ).

— Meyerland/South Post Oak

Located just south of Bellaire, the combined Meyerland/South Post Oak community boasts excellent accessibility, beautiful parks and serious deed restrictions. While some of the homes are original 1950s bungalows, others are new construction. The southwest Houston neighborhood is served by three synagogues and the Jewish Community Center ( www.gs-whcc.org/meyerland.asp ).

— Sharpstown

Sharpstown is a predominantly middle-class community with good freeway access, more than 7,000 homes and wide diversity. The area noted for its winding streets, large yards and quiet neighborhoods ( www.gswhcc.org/sharpstown.asp ).

— Westbury

Westbury is a vibrant and active middle-class community with more than 39,000 residents. Accessibility is a big key to the success of Westbury. The medical center, downtown Houston and Reliant Park are within easy reach. At least another 7 percent growth in population is projected over the next few years ( www.gswhcc.org/westbury.asp ).

Fort Bend County

Fort Bend County is home to more master-planned communities than any other county in the state. The total designed development population for these 32 planned communities is almost 370,000 residents. During the past few years, Fort Bend County has experienced a new home sales surge fueled by low mortgage rates and strong job growth. The population of Fort Bend County is expected to increase from 380,200 to 447,457 persons by 2007.

— Alief

A culturally diverse area in southwest Houston, Alief offers a variety of homes, restaurants and shopping opportunities. Alief ISD is one of the state's fast-growth districts, serving more than 45,000 students who cumulatively speak 59 languages ( www.alief.com ).

— First Colony

A 9,700-acre community, First Colony boasts a golf course and indoor/outdoor tennis courts at Sweetwater Country Club plus ice skating at the Aerodome, the home training facility for the Houston Aeros professional hockey team. Other amenities include year-round swimming at the 50-meter, heated aquatics pool, more than 23 athletic fields, 14 neighborhood parks and 89 acres of lakes ( www.firstcolonytexas.com ).

— Greatwood

Hundred-year-old trees flourish among more than 3,000 homes in a small-town atmosphere. Greatwood offers a championship golf course, more than 32 acres of lakes, a trail system, three recreation complexes and a four-acre nature park ( www.greatwoodonline.com ).

— Lake Olympia

Located off Texas 6 near Missouri City, Lake Olympia has miles of greenbelt trails, 130 acres of natural lakes, nature and wildlife reserves, parks and a marina. The Fort Bend ISD serves the community.

— Missouri City

Missouri City residents enjoy urban amenities in a small-town atmosphere. With a population of almost 59,000, Missouri City is home to several award-winning master-planned communities and the highly acclaimed Fort Bend ISD. Missouri City also boasts one of the largest and most extensive park systems in Fort Bend County ( www.ci.mocity.tx.us ).

— New Territory

New Territory is a 2,300-acre master-planned community of 4,600 homes in one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States. Opportunities for both indoor and outdoor activities abound for New Territory residents and their guests. These include parks and playgrounds, swimming pools, baseball and softball fields, tennis courts and soccer fields, indoor and outdoor volleyball and basketball courts, and an indoor fitness center ( www.newterritory.org ).

— Pecan Grove Plantation

This 1,400-acre country club community is built around a 27-hole golf course set in the natural beauty of huge oak and pecan trees. Pecan Grove offers its residents neighborhood parks, playing fields, jogging paths, swimming pools, tennis courts, a fitness center and a private country club ( www.fortbendcounty.org/plan.html ).

— Richmond

Located on a bend in the Brazos River, Richmond is the oldest city in

Fort Bend County, with a population of approximately 12,000 residents. Surrounded by many of Fort Bend County's newest master-planned communities, Richmond often is the central meeting place for government business as well as a favorite site for the film industry to produce movies and commercials. Close to the state's most visited park — Brazos Bend State Park and The George Observatory — the community supports its local parks and green belts for family recreation, bird watching and camping ( www.roserichchamber.com ).

— RiverPark

RiverPark, located near U.S. 59 and Grand Parkway, offers large homes on oversized lots. Consisting of 800 acres, this community has more than 160 acres of Brazos River frontage for parks.

— Riverstone

This 3,700-acre planned community will contain 6,000 single-family homes and include 250 acres of lakes and more than 500 acres devoted to open space, parklands and recreational facilities, plus an 18-hole golf course. Currently, homes are available in seven neighborhoods ( www.rivestonecommunity.com ).

— Rosenberg

The City of Rosenberg and its almost 26,500 residents are hosts to the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds and the Fort Bend Railroad Museum. Antique shops, museums and restaurants have become the center of downtown trade. Nearby community parks include Brazos, Travis and Seabourne Creek — adjacent to Rosenberg's Convention and Civic Center. Rosenberg's housing prices are lower than the Fort Bend County average ( www.ci.rosenberg.tx.us ).

— Sienna Plantation

A master-planned community near Missouri City, Sienna Plantation features the largest private, resort-style water park in the South. The pool covers more than an acre and includes an eight-lane competition pool, multiple diving areas with a three-board diving well, a water tower with more than 200 feet of slides, a zero-entry pool and Sienna "waterworks." Club Sienna also includes a half-acre children's playground, a tennis center with eight lighted courts and an outdoor amphitheater overlooking Waters Lake. There's also a 7,500-square-foot southern plantation-style community center featuring two multipurpose meeting rooms, a fitness center and cabana ( www.siennaplantation.com ).

— Stafford

The City of Stafford made national headlines when it eliminated its property tax in 1995 for residents and businesses. More than 15,000 residents live in the city, and more than 50,000 people come to work in Stafford each day. Residents enjoy 35 acres of green space dedicated as parkland throughout the city and five city parks, with another on the way. The parks feature playground equipment, picnic benches, jogging trails and well-maintained fields for competitive sports ( www.cityofstafford.com ).

— Sugar Land

Sugar Land is an economically strong and culturally diverse city of about 71,000 residents. According to the 2000 census, Sugar Land ranked first in growth both in the Houston metro area and among the state's 45 largest cities. Recreational opportunities include numerous parks, athletic complexes, hike-and-bike trails, greenbelts, aquatic centers and three highly regarded golf courses ( www.ci.sugar-land.tx.us ).

South of Houston

Areas just south of Houston are among the fastest growing in the entire region, and newcomers can find a variety of lifestyle options.

— Alvin

The City of Alvin has more than 22,000 residents and is within easy access of Houston, the Johnson Space Center, Gulf Coast petrochemical industries and Galveston. A city of trees, parks and Victorian homes, Alvin is known for its hometown atmosphere and economically diverse population. Alvin ISD has a "Recognized" rating from the state for academic achievement (for more information see chart on page XX). Attractions include Texas Thunder Speedway, Nolan Ryan Center Exhibit and Bayou Wildlife Park ( www.alvintexas.org ).

— Galveston

Many newcomers are surprised to learn that Galveston, a barrier island on the Texas Gulf Coast, is less than an hour's drive from Houston. Galveston is home to many commuters who work in Houston. In addition, many Houstonians maintain property along the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston for their weekend getaways.

A diversity of housing options ranging from stately Victorian mansions and beachfront villas to bungalows and high-rises adds to the city's charm. With hundreds of structures on the National Register of Historic Places and thousands of historic houses, Galveston is one of the country's most important concentrations of late 19th- and early 20th-century architecture. From stately mansions to quaint cottages to the conversions of downtown buildings to residential lofts, Galveston's older neighborhoods offer a wide range of housing options to fit any budget ( www.galveston.com ).

— Pearland

Located in northern Brazoria County and southern Harris County, Pearland shares a boundary with the City of Houston and is about 10 miles from Hobby Airport. Residents enjoy big-city amenities with a country atmosphere. Pearland ISD has more than 14,000 students and an "Exemplary" district rating — the highest rating given by the state. Many well-maintained, economical and conveniently located multi-family units serve the area as well as master-planned communities such as Shadow Creek Ranch, a 3,300-acre, lake-themed community ( www.ci.pearland.tx.us ).

— Silverlake

Silverlake, located at Texas 288 and F.M. 518, has a 29-acre lake with a surrounding park and eight recreational facilities, including four tennis courts, walking trails, junior Olympic-size swimming pool and community center. Served by Pearland ISD, the 1,700-acre community will have 4,000 homes upon completion and a championship golf course with clubhouse.

Bay Area Houston

Halfway between Houston and Galveston, Bay Area Houston is the third-largest boating center in the United States and home to NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC).   The nearly 200,000 residents of 11 separate municipalities and unincorporated areas enjoy a highly diversified, balanced economic structure with a strong base of aerospace, high-tech, petrochemical, commercial fishing and marine/boating industries. Attractions such as Space Center Houston have promoted a tremendous growth in tourism in recent years.

Originally dependent on fishing and agriculture, the area's primary industry today is aerospace, with a focus on JSC. Aerospace-related companies employ about 27 percent of the area's residents. Boating, recreation and tourism industries employ an additional 25 percent. Neighborhoods and communities in Bay Area Houston include Clear Lake, Clear Lake Shores, El Lago, League City, Kemah, Naussau Bay, Seabrook, South Shore Harbor, Taylor Lake Village, Victory Lakes and Webster ( www.clearlakearea.com ). Bay Area Houston entities include:

  • Clear Lake, a unique master-planned community of about 57,100, has been annexed by the City of Houston. It is home to JSC and many JSC employees, including astronauts.
  • Clear Lake Shores, a small island community, has about 1,200 residents.
  • El Lago, located on Clear Lake, is home to about 3,100 residents.
  • Kemah, a bayside community of about 2,400 residents, boasts the Kemah Boardwalk, which features amusement rides, waterfront dining and quaint shops.
  • League City, the largest city in the bay area, with a population of about 52,000, is continuing to experience robust growth.
  • Nassau Bay, located directly across from JSC, is home to about 4,100 residents. Many residents live along the Clear Lake waterfront.
  • Seabrook, one of the larger residential communities with an estimated 10,500 residents, features parks, marinas, fresh seafood markets and restaurants along Clear Lake and Galveston Bay.
  • South Shore Harbor, located on the south side of Clear Lake, features 800 single-family homes surrounding a 27-hole golf course, country club and marina.
  • Taylor Lake Village, with a population of about 3,600, is a quiet community that accesses Clear Lake.
  • Victory Lakes, a master-planned community, features seven lakes, walking trails, a golf course and a recreational center.
  • Webster, the gateway to NASA and Bay Area Houston, has more than 9,100 residents.

— Deer Park

Deer Park, a quiet community of about 28,000 residents, is located about 20 miles southeast of Houston. The area has a solid job base with 14 major firms and several smaller light industrial companies. Quality schools, affordable houses and low taxes characterize the area, which also features golf courses, recreation centers, parks, sports fields and swimming pools ( www.ci.deer-park.tx.us ).

— Edgebrook

Edgebrook offers several single-family home subdivisions on both sides of Edgebrook Boulevard. Many of its subdivisions were developed in the 1950s. Large apartment complexes are found along Interstate 45 South and Edgebrook Boulevard.

— Friendswood

The City of Friendswood, halfway between Houston and Galveston, offers single-family residential housing in shaded, park-like settings tucked away from the busy stream of vehicular traffic. Choices abound with master-planned communities for new homes, resale homes in a variety of architectural styles and several communities offering seniors the finest in independent and assisted living in Texas ( www.ci.friendswood.tx.us ).

— La Marque

This Galveston County city of nearly 14,000 offers many quality-of-life and vacation activities. La Marque's Highland Bayou Park, with more than 230 acres of lush recreational area, and Mahan Park offer picnic areas, ball fields, tennis courts, camping and playgrounds. La Marque is home to a bird sanctuary, Gulf Greyhound Park and Factory Stores of America, a discount outlet center ( www.ci.la-marque.tx.us ).

— La Porte/Bayshore

Gateway to Galveston Bay, the La Porte/Bayshore area includes the cities of La Porte, Morgan's Point and Shoreacres. History abounds in the area, as La Porte is home to the San Jacinto Monument and Battleship TEXAS. Shoreacres is home to the Houston Yacht Club, the state's oldest yacht club. Other amenities include Sylvan Beach Park, a wave pool, a golf course and the La Porte-Bayshore Historical Trail ( www.laportechamber.org ).

— Pasadena

To house a population of more than 141,000, Pasadena offers new construction and a range of homes that are more than 40 years old. Pasadena is the center of the local petrochemical, manufacturing and shipping industries in an area southeast of Houston encompassing the Port of Houston. Recreational facilities abound, including fields for Little League and adult league baseball at Strawberry Park, Southmore Park and Ben Briar Park. Fishing is available at Crenshaw Park, where the pond is amply stocked with catfish, bass and, in the wintertime, rainbow trout. There also are numerous playgrounds and botanical parks and gardens located throughout the area ( www.pasadenachamber.org ).

— Texas City

Texas City, located on the upper Texas Gulf Coast in Galveston County, has a huge petrochemical complex and is a major hub for world energy supplies. The Port of Texas City - currently exceeding 78 million net tons of cargo - is the eighth-largest port in the United States and the third largest in Texas.   The area's approximately 42,000 residents enjoy many amenities, including a shopping mall with several major department stores, a wide variety of specialty shops and restaurants. Texas City also has many types of recreational opportunities, including 38 parks, four swimming pools, an 18-hole golf course and a shooting range ( www.texascitytx.org ).

East of Houston

Home to the Port of Houston and several petrochemical complexes, the area east of Houston is an important trade and industrial region.

— Baytown

The third-largest city in Harris County, with a population exceeding 75,000, Baytown offers many opportunities for employment, housing and recreation. To house the many employees who work at several industrial complexes in the area, more than 20 subdivisions offering affordable housing have been planned in the past five years. Amenities in the area include public boat ramps at a marina, two major parks, the Goose Creek Greenbelt Project with walking trails and picnic and playground facilities, stops on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, Houston Raceway Park and several golfing and dining facilities ( www.baytown.org ).

— Crosby/Huffman

Crosby and Huffman sit on the east side of Lake Houston on 150 square miles of piney forest and open grassland. This area, just 35 minutes outside downtown Houston, offers a relaxed, hometown atmosphere and many of the cultural, recreational and sports activities and facilities of a larger city. A variety of housing choices is available in the Crosby/Huffman area east of Lake Houston, including new custom homes, rural homes, farms, ranches, apartments and residential subdivision resales ( www.crosbyhuffmancc.org ).

— North Channel Area

The North Channel area, population more than 190,000, includes all the unincorporated areas of Sheldon, Channelview and North Shore plus the cities of Galena Park and Jacinto City, part of the City of Humble and a small portion of the City of Houston. The North Channel area is unique in that it offers a suburban setting where major industry, commercial concerns, retail establishments and bedroom communities flourish.

The newest community in the North Channel area is commonly known as North Shore. Composed of several smaller neighborhoods, North Shore has seen steady population growth during the past 30 years. Most new home construction in the North Channel area is focused here ( www.northchannelarea.com ).

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