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Old 01-29-2013, 05:47 PM
 
15,656 posts, read 10,143,962 times
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Just my 2 cents.

Keep an open mind. DH was transferred all over the place. We are from Houston, kind of. When the company sent us north, we loved it. Four seasons, hills, it was great. When we had to come back, I insisted on the center hall colonial with formals, all beds up that I was used too even though they were almost impossible to find here. I finally found one with a huge big yard.

Big mistake. People here do not live like that. It is a total different lifestyle.

Traffic here is not going to get any better any time soon. The prospect of the 4-6000 or whatever newcomers with Exxon is going to be a traffic nightmare. Thank goodness you don't have to get mixed up in it. Keep looking in Katy. Something will turn up.

Good luck and welcome to Houston. There is a sizable Russian community here.
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Old 01-30-2013, 02:05 PM
 
Location: Katy TX
1,066 posts, read 2,158,326 times
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Fulshear and Alvin. Fulshear may be out of your price range, but it's truly beautiful country living. Alvin has a low quality of living and high taxes, but plenty of land to build on. Seabrook and Texas City are also options.
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:25 PM
 
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How about Brookshire, Old Katy, Manvel, or Needville?
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:38 PM
 
Location: Beach City Texas
169 posts, read 408,889 times
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Looking into the country living you are looking for...I can tell you any country area within the travel time you ask for will not stay a country area for more than 5 years or so because those areas are just west of the Katy sprawl...You need to lengthen your commute and more likely look to the east or really far south (hwy 288)...I live in a country area (Barbers Hill) out east and it is growing...but slowly & the growth stops at the Trinity River...and won't jump it for about 20 years most likely.

You can find what you are looking for if you are willing to drive further out...

Using my area as an example:
*rush hour commute-2-2.5 hours (non rush hour-1hour commute)
houses range $200,000-300,000 for 3-4 bed 2500-3000 sqft
most homes sit on 1.5 to 5 acres
HOA's are common but rarely enforce laws
and a good school district
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:24 PM
 
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Medved, We're doing the same thing right now. We just moved from Fairfax, VA (we worked in DC), and are renting in Missouri city. We have been pretty surprised by what we've seen real estate wise. At first we thought we'd do suburbs (I mean we're coming from Fairfax - a DC suburb!), but after being here for a month, we're starting to look inside the loop. The ONLY thing that keeps the master planned communities on the table are the schools. We were amazed at how small the backyards are here. After having half an acre in Fairfax, just a few miles of the beltway, we thought for sure we could find something similar here. We can, but the outer loop is nowhere near the city! One of us works along the energy corridor, the other in Deer Park, so our options are pretty slim anyway. We also have 2 kids under 2. Mentally prepare yourself for every house you see in a master planned community to have a media room. I just don't understand devoting an entire room to movie watching. Also prepare yourself for the toll roads. It blows my mind that between the two of us we pay between $8 and $11 a day just to drive to work. I am all about my toll for he 295 tunnel in Baltimore, or the golden gate bridge, but really, to drive on a freeway. I just haven't internalized this one yet. Maybe I'll go get some cowboy boots and it will feel right. It's yet another reason we are looking inside the loop. (Current budget between $350 and 500k.) We feel if we're going to "invest" nearly $300 a month in something, better if it's our home/property than a local freeway. Prepare yourself for every house to look exactly the same, or pretty darn close. Also, people here like to brick/stone veneer the front and then use siding on the sides and back. Definitely not our style. But, when in Rome.... Once we realized there's almost no way to get acreage and a house we can tolerate in a good school district without paying for the commute (time and $ wise) we really opened up to the idea of dropping the half-1.5 acre requirement to try and find something with some character and a decent commute. Shoot, if we're going to have a big house and yard, it sure would be nice to see it before 6:30 at night and after 5:45 in the morning. Sorry for the long post, but just wanted to let you know what has surprised us. I recommend renting for a bit until you feel the neighborhoods (and commute) out. We got a short term lease in a Missouri City MPC to do just that and feel less pressure to find the perfect place right this second. Hope this helps.

For everyone else out there (and sorry to hijack your post) please send tips our way about where to look. We're coming from a 1943 Cape Cod in Virginia (1600 sq ft) that we absolutely loved, and have 2 dogs and 2 kids under 2. Schools are important, but we are considering private school regardless, so it's not everything. Looking for a house with character, that's not the same as everything in the neighborhood, well built, doesn't have a ridiculous HOA, and that will be a good investment if we move in 5-10 years. Price range ($350-$500, would stretch to $550 if house was perfect). We think 2000 -2600 sq ft would be ideal. (I hate the prospect of cleaning a 3400 sq ft home.) We're also looking to minimize the commute. I currently work in Deer Park, but my company has offices in the city and along the energy corridor, so think it would be wise to position ourselves centrally, or nearer to my husbands work along the energy corridor, for the longterm. Thanks!
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:30 PM
 
2 posts, read 3,202 times
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One last thing, people in Houston have been great! Everyone is very friendly here, and there are a few bad drivers out there, but the selfish jerks on the road are much fewer and further between. You can turn your blinker on, and people leave space for you to move over!! I find the commute is almost as bad traffic wise, but I am way less stressed while driving it. The winter weather has been wonderful, but I fear the worst for the summer if I am dressing my kids in short sleeves in January!
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:15 AM
 
28 posts, read 57,721 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnhw2 View Post
A developer can not kick you off your land, they can offer to buy it but YOU decide whether to sell it to them or not.

The point I am making is if you find the ideal 1 or 2 acres to live on with neighbors on good sized land as well, the odds of a small lot MPC development coming in next door or around the corner or a mile or two down the road in your area is lower in Fulshear area.

The reason is the developer would have need say 500+ acres of land. In the area west of Fulshear, he would find it more difficult to assemble that much land, say 500 acres from a large number of land owners with contiguous land. It is easier to assemble 500 acres from one large land owner than talking 10-25 land owners into selling at the same time for reasonable market prices.

So the odds of an MPC in west Fushear is lower due to the small land tracts owned now in that area compared to east of Fulshear and around Katy where much of the land was rice farms owned 1 or 2 individuals.

There are 2 larger developments west of Fulshear in place, Weston Lakes and Fulbrook. The remaining land ownership is largely in the lands of these small horse ranches (10 to 50 acres in size). Its due to the fact that this has been a popular cutting horse ranch area for decades and the large farms were split up into these smaller tracts for horse owners within a decent commute from Houston.

But let me repeat, if you buy an acre and build on it you can not get your land taken by a developer. But the neighborhood can change to an MPC if your acre is near someone who would like the price an MPC developer might offer them for their large land tract.

If I have confused you further PM me or ask away.
This definitely helps, thanks for the clarification. I'm also starting to look at semi-rural neighborhoods with large lots rather than stand alone homes, for the same reason.
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:52 AM
 
28 posts, read 57,721 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imback View Post
Just a few more comparisons:

1. What you have adjusted to in NOVA is not "the same" as in Houston but longer, but in fact, nice, temperate summers with occasional somewhat warm spells. Houston has REAL summers, with the almost-tropical heat and humidity starting around April, is in full-force by May, and never, ever lets up - not for one day, not even much at night - until about the end of September. (On the plus side, everything is air conditioned, and the brutal summers are the currency which pays for the mild winters - which some of us love).
Yeah, it doesn't sound great. But I've been to Houston in summer a few times before and at least what I saw was an equivalent of a very hot August day in VA every day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by imback View Post
2. There is no zoning in the city of Houston, so it's only a slight exaggeration to say that in Houston a strong HOA which ferociously enforces the deed restrictions (the stricter the better) is about all that stands between you and someone building an abattoir or strip joint next to your house. So in Houston, the HOA is your friend and defender. Of course, in many Houston suburbs, this may not apply because many are separate municipalities which do have zoning, so the their HOAs may revert to just being what you seem to consider them - annoying busybodies.
I heard the horror stories about no zoning and HOA being the only defender from having something unpleasant built next door, but I still don't trust them. I'd much rather have a property in an area with deed restrictions, than deal with HOA. Is there a way to tell which areas have restrictions and zoning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by imback View Post
3. Unlike NOVA, in Houston, just about all houses have fenced back yards. In lower income areas, the fences are chain-link, in more expensive areas, they are tall wooden, metal railing or even masonry. A 6- 8 foot, solid wooden fence does provide a measure of privacy even on a smaller lot.

4. Unfortunately, many of the beautiful neighborhoods are places like West University, Southside Place, Bellaire, Memorial Villages, Braeswood Terrace area - where houses are far - in many cases very far - above the 400K range, except for maybe for the small mid-century ranch houses in Bellaire, Braeswood Terraces, etc... being sold at "lot value" as "teardowns" to be replaced with McMansions. But all of these (except maybe Memorial) are within an easy commute to the Galleria area. (River Oaks is beautiful too, but prices there make McLean, Chevy Chase, and Woodley Park look like cut-rate bargain slums....)
I saw a couple of affordable houses in the city which seemed in a good conditions, but neighborhood didn't look very nice.
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:55 AM
 
28 posts, read 57,721 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alsal29 View Post
Try Lomax area of La Porte.
Too far from Gallearia, too close to the water...
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:02 AM
 
28 posts, read 57,721 times
Reputation: 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by crone View Post
Just my 2 cents.

Keep an open mind. DH was transferred all over the place. We are from Houston, kind of. When the company sent us north, we loved it. Four seasons, hills, it was great. When we had to come back, I insisted on the center hall colonial with formals, all beds up that I was used too even though they were almost impossible to find here. I finally found one with a huge big yard.

Big mistake. People here do not live like that. It is a total different lifestyle.
So what types of houses/layouts are more typical in Houston? I'd like to have a better understanding of that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crone View Post
Traffic here is not going to get any better any time soon. The prospect of the 4-6000 or whatever newcomers with Exxon is going to be a traffic nightmare. Thank goodness you don't have to get mixed up in it. Keep looking in Katy. Something will turn up.

Good luck and welcome to Houston. There is a sizable Russian community here.
Thanks... Not looking forward to traffic AT ALL.
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