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Picking the right area or suburb of Houston to live in is one of the most important decisions expats will make. Those that don’t mind commuting and want to escape the frantic pace of city life can opt for one of the surrounding satellite towns.
However, when deciding where to live, it’s important to bear in mind that although there is public transport in Houston, most people have their own cars and expats should expect to spend a lot of time driving.
Houston’s city centre is separated from its suburbs by the Interstate 610, or ‘the Loop’ as it’s more commonly known, and neighbourhoods are usually referred to as being either inside or outside the Loop.
The Loop contains the heart of Houston’s business world and a few residential areas that tend to contain modern, densely packed housing. More and more homes are being built in these areas to accommodate the growing population. Outside the Loop, expats will generally find more affordable accommodation and larger properties.
While there’s plenty of available housing in Houston, there are some parts of the city where demand is high and competition for properties is fierce.
Recommended neighbourhoods in Houston
Afton Oaks and River Oaks
These are two of the most affluent neighbourhoods in Houston. Perfectly located for shopping, working and dining, residents of Afton Oaks and River Oaks have easy access to the Interstate 610, the Southwest Freeway and the Interstate 10. It’s common to see active residents exercising at the nearby Memorial Park or enjoying a healthy brunch at one of the many patio cafés.
One downside to living in this part of Houston is the fact that most employers are located in and around this area, which results in heavy peak-time traffic congestion.
The demographic of these neighbourhoods is varied and includes young families, retirees, college students and young professionals. There are several good private schools close by, which means that the areas are popular with affluent families.
An older area with smaller homes, Lazybrook is relatively affordable and located just inside the Loop in northwest Houston and is conveniently located close to Highway 290 and the Interstate 10.
While there are plenty of restaurants in the neighbourhood, residents can also take a quick drive to Northwest Mall for more choice and late-night shopping.
Lazybrook is popular among young professionals who value living close to the office and having amenities within easy reach.
Greenway and Upper Kirby
Greenway and Upper Kirby are great options for living just inside the 610. Trendy areas brimming with eateries, cafés and boutique shops, they also boast entertainment venues like comedy clubs, jazz bars and theatres. Upper Kirby also has a number of nightclubs.
Properties here tend to be smaller than those just beyond the Loop, so they aren’t the most suitable for expats with children. But they are perfect for young people who enjoy an active lifestyle as there are numerous opportunities to hike, bike, run or stroll through the local parks.
In Montrose, expats will find housing options that range from elegantly restored mansions to contemporary condos and bungalows. The streets are walkable and the area is full of boutique stores, bars and acclaimed restaurants.
Remnants of the area’s bohemian roots are still apparent in its architecture and communal culture, but it has become more mainstream thanks to increasing property prices and the growth of modern housing complexes. In the summer, Montrose residents enjoy get-togethers and festivals in the local parks.
The Woodlands is located about 30 minutes outside Houston. The area is suited to expats with children because of its spacious properties and its proximity to good public schools. Despite being a little isolated, it's a self-sufficient planned community with plenty of restaurants, boutique stores, galleries and bars, and many residents find little reason to leave.
As the area continues to expand, so do the types of housing available, which includes lofts, townhouses and modern housing complexes.
Clear Lake is historically a popular suburb in Houston with accommodation that includes quaint townhouses and luxury apartments.
The area houses the University of Houston and has a large student population that gives it a youthful energy. Residents will find excellent shopping opportunities in the area.
Residents in Clear Lake range from students to young professionals, couples and small families. There are several good schools in the region which makes it a great option for expats moving to Houston with children.
In recent years the Washington Corridor has become popular with upwardly mobile young professionals. The area is close to Memorial Park, so joggers and cyclists are a common sight. It’s also close to good schools, making it popular among families.
The area’s nightlife can be found along Washington Avenue, which is full of eclectic restaurants and lively bars. It’s also located close to major roadways which makes getting around easy.
►Expat parents should have a look at our page on Education and Schools in Houston
Photo credits: Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston by Random Sky. All sourced from Unsplash.
"Katy, the Woodlands and Sugarland are three suburbs very popular with expats." Read more about Vicky's experiences living in Houston.
"The Woodlands has the best of both worlds in my opinion." Read Janice's thoughts on where to live in Houston.
Are you an expat living in Houston?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Houston. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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