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Old 08-11-2009, 07:53 AM
 
Location: WA
3,827 posts, read 4,834,355 times
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I see endless Katy vs Woodlands vs Cypress vs Sugar Land types of threads here. And they are fun and educational for those contemplating relocating to the greater Houston area.

At the same time, I see lots of locals complain about the distance they need to drive for various necessities. For example, there was a recent thread about lack of good grocery options (HEB/Costco) in Sugar Land.

So I'm curious. What do you folks think is the most self-contained suburban community in the Houston area? My own definition of self-contained would be to have ALL of the following amenities a MINIMUM of 5-10 minutes away and preferably to have many of them within walking/biking distance.

Quality full-service grocery (like a big new HEB)
Quality general retail (clothes, household like Target)
Public library
Variety of parks and playgrounds
Good schools
Hospital & specialty medical offices
Decent selection of restaurants and cafes
Home improvement/gardening store (Home Depot and nurseries)
Good selection of child care options
Fitness clubs/public pools

Ideally I'd like to be able to get up on a Saturday morning and do whatever I want without ever having to get into my car: coffee and pastry, groceries, working out, playground for the kids, etc.

So far the only places in the greater Houston area that I've visited so far have been the Woodlands, Cinco Ranch, and Cypress. Based on my own casual observations, I would rank these 3 areas as follows:

Woodlands: Most self-contained suburb with a legitimate business district. However I don't particularly like how the Woodlands is laid out with all the commercial/retail along the eastern edge bordering I-45 and the residential neighborhoods laid out for miles and miles to the west. The pretty much means that large swaths of residential neighborhoods in the Woodlands are 20 minutes from anything. Some people may like this, I do not.

Katy/Cinco Ranch: I know that Katy is much larger than Cinco Ranch. But that's the part I've seen the most of because I have friends there I visit. Amenities in Katy are more spread out over the area rather than concentrated like in the Woodlands. This means that the average resident in Katy probably lives much closer to a grocery than the average Woodlands resident. And the commercial developments are more in the center of things rather than the edge. Someone picking the right neighborhood in the older part of Cinco Ranch could be within easy walking distance of just about every necessity. I didn't see any similar residential areas of the Woodlands unless you live in a townhouse or condo. On the other hand, the restaurant options seem a bit lacking. My friends will actually drive all the way to Lupe's to get Mexican take-out. That's insane.

Cypress: I've driven through this area and frankly, I've seen little else but suburban housing interspaced with the occasional retail strip. I don't know the area nearly as well, but I never found any sort of center to the place. It comes across as the most bedroom community of the areas I mentioned and the least self-sufficient and most car-centric.

I've never been to Sugar Land or any of the southern suburbs so I can't comment on them. I am curious about how Sugar Land compares though.

Comments?
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:59 AM
 
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The burbs are so spread out that it would not be feasable to ride a bike anywhere but around the provided bike paths. However, Kingwood bike paths do take you near 711's,parks and schools and possiblly a coffee shop but the grocery stores are further away and off the path if I remember correctly.
Neighborhoods inside the loop are about the only walking communities in Houston IMO.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:03 AM
 
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I would say all of the areas you listed are totally car-centric yet have all of the amenities you mentioned close by (via car). You are not going to walk/bike to any of those amenities from your house except maybe the neighborhood pool and playground.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:23 AM
 
Location: Houston, TX (Bellaire)
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You can bike to the central HEB in Kingwood plus all the parks and most of the shops.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:28 AM
 
Location: Clear Lake TX
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Look on Clear Lake City Blvd between Hwy 3 and Space Center. You can get a few of those within walking or biking distance depending on where you situate yourself, but everything else will be by car.

I can take a 5 min walk to a nice (overpriced) Randalls, bank, hair cutter, eye doctor, Hunan restaraunt and Pizza Hut. I can bike in 5 minutes to a coffee shop, Subway, breakfast taco place and a couple other small restaraunts. If I feel adventurous I can bike 20 minutes to the library or 24 hr fitness but I personally don't have time for that.

Everything else I am SOL and need to use a car but honestly, it's not like I'm going to bike to replace some wardrobe, or bike to pick up plants at a nursery. But all else you mentioned is readily available.

www.walkscore.com <=== not sure how good this site is, but my score is a 50/100. My parents' in Sugar Land is 23/100.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:37 AM
 
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To add to what I said, I'm sure there are certain homes in all of those areas that are close enough to a shopping center to bike there. A lot neighborhoods will have a shopping center inbetween the neighborhood and whatever major street they are off of. So maybe you can find one that has what you are looking for.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:45 AM
 
Location: The land of sugar... previously Houston and Austin
5,429 posts, read 13,597,368 times
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Take a look at Sugar Land. Especially in or near First Colony. When we lived in FC, everything you named was 5-10 minutes away. Some people that lived on the edges of the subdivisions could walk/bike to some of these things.

Sugar Land is running out of room and starting to expand into Richmond now. There are already plans for the huge grocery stores mentioned previously. Though I never had a problem with what's already available.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:12 AM
 
77 posts, read 435,954 times
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I believe what you are looking for is called the CITY not a suburb...suburbs are built for and around people driving vehicles
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Houston, TX
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I am in Cypress. (Near Grant & Louetta, and we love it...can't beat the friendly people and the TREES.) I can drive within 5-10 minutes to all of the things you listed. I can walk to a Kroger, donut shop, fitness center, garden center, bank, video store, hardware store, liquor store (!), McDonalds, as well as two different decent Italian restaurants.

(The playground for the kids thing is easy...most neighborhoods have a pool, etc. within walking or biking distance. The one we have is close and safe for the kids (if not too young) to go by themselves.

Since we moved here a year ago, I am sharing a car with my daughter (which means I never see it - lol). I can manage without the car except for longer drives or bigger purchases.

Two negatives on the walking/biking pretty much anywhere in greater Houston:

heat (although trees really help)
traffic (Houston area is really lacking in sidewalks)

Last edited by vicket; 08-11-2009 at 10:46 AM..
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:33 AM
 
Location: WA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spm6110 View Post
I believe what you are looking for is called the CITY not a suburb...suburbs are built for and around people driving vehicles
OK shoot...What urban neighborhood in Houston is self-contained and meets all of these criteria?

I hear all about West U and Memorial but do they really have EVERYTHING within walking biking distance as well? Including top quality schools, aquatics, etc. Or are you still stuck in your car while paying 2X the cost for your housing?
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