The best neighborhoods in Houston

City of Houston at sunset

Here are the top 11 places to buy a home in Houston

By Josh Potter

First built by land prospectors in a swampy bayou, Houston has quietly grown over generations into a world-class, international city. Upstream from the port of Galveston and at the edge of the plains, Houston sits at the perfect crossroads of American culture and landscape.

That’s why Houston gets the best of everything Texas has to offer. It is the fourth-largest city in the U.S. and one of the most diverse with no ethnic majority. Over a hundred languages are spoken in Houston and it has one of the largest collections of museums in the country.

For decades, Houston has been Texas’ best-kept secret but with more and more people moving there every year, the secret is finally out.

What’s in this article

You’ll find a guide to the best places to live in Houston and why each place was picked. We’ve looked into everything from walkability, to schools, from entertainment to home value and quality of life. Use this list as a guide to find the perfect neighborhood once you decide to buy a home in Houston.

Midtown

Photo by @cerose.

You can’t get more downtown amenities—without actually being downtown—than in Midtown. Just outside the main urban center of Houston, Midtown is both the arts and cultural center of Houston while being considered one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city. 

Midtown is a recently revitalized neighborhood, full of restaurants and nightlife where, only ten years ago, it was largely left alone. It’s also one of the best places in Houston for singles to live, with condos at reasonable prices for young professionals to buy, investing in a part of the city with tons of potential. 

Pros: A lively, energetic neighborhood with no shortage of activities and entertainment. 
Cons: Very few single-family homes in a dense part of the city.

Southgate

It might be hard to believe that Southgate is so close to downtown Houston when you take a stroll along its tree-lined streets. The neighborhood’s quaint, well-kept, modest houses give the area a suburban feel even though it’s just a five-minute drive downtown. 

Southgate locals are dedicated to keeping the area a neat, friendly neighborhood by ensuring the homes don’t outgrow their plots and that the neighbors all get to get to know each other through public spaces and events. As one of the best places in Houston to avoid flooding, Southgate makes an all-around great fit. 

Pros: A central location with a suburban feel makes Southgate an urban oasis. 
Cons: A very involved HOA sets a lot of rules for many different aspects of your home.

Memorial

With some of the area’s best public schools, a central location for commuters and a suburban vibe squeezed in between parks, Memorial is an ideal homebase for families. This corner of the city to the west is like a small city all to its own, and there are even some subdivisions in the neighborhood that operate as separate municipalities to Houston.

But no one is isolated here. With shopping and restaurants, there isn’t a lot of reason to leave Memorial. Affluent, safe and good for commuters, this is the best neighborhood to live in for families

Pros: A quiet but active neighborhood great for families and making a homebase. 
Cons: Memorial can feel like a separate city within a city, leading some to call it secluded.

Houston Heights

Colorful houses in Houston Heights. Photo by @sockixxx.

A walk through Houston Heights, northwest of downtown, can take you back to the 1800s, when Houstonians used the area as a country retreat. Now it’s where Houston history lives on. 

Historic homes on tree-lined streets with plenty of greenspace make this a quiet escape but the nearby antique stores, bed and breakfasts and unique restaurants keep this place alive with activity. One of Houston’s best shopping destinations is also its most historic and well-preserved. 

Pros: Safe and family friendly with a low-key vibe and a higher-end feel. 
Cons: Old homes with odd layouts will need more initial investment.

Montrose

Dogs are welcome in Montrose! Photo by @sockixxx.

The amount of options for culture and entertainment packed into its four square miles makes Montrose one of Houston’s most eccentric neighborhoods. From new, trendy cocktail bars to antique shops and art galleries all within walking distance, Montrose is where Houston goes for unique experiences. 

Just west of downtown, Montrose is near everything but doesn’t necessarily feel overly populated. It’s a pocket of quirky culture and activity outside the dense urban center without being too far away, so coming to Montrose is easy from anywhere. It’s the leaving that you’ll find difficult. 

Pros: One of the most walkable neighborhoods is also one of the most entertaining.
Cons: Fast growth and almost no zoning makes real estate buying tricky.

Museum District

Photo by @off_world.

Though the exhibits in the museums may be antiques, the Museum District is anything but old and stuffy. A lively area home to 19 museums and the Houston Zoo, the Museum District is a favorite destination for Houstonians to enjoy a weekend of activities. But the locals here know that every day is an adventure, with lively cafes, parks and walkable streets that connect culture to entertainment to greenspace and beyond. Don’t come only for the museums. 

Pros: Lively and fun neighborhood with plenty of activities and commuting options. 
Cons: Limited real estate leaves buyers with mostly condos and townhouses.

Galleria

A little way past the inner loop of Houston’s central neighborhoods, you’ll find Galleria to the west, a cosmopolitan outpost of Houston centered around world-renowned shopping and dining. Galleria is considered one of the more livable neighborhoods for its close proximity to office space, dining, shopping and local favorite activities. 

Galleria is Houston’s shopping center but it’s much more than that, too. An enclave on the edge of the busy inner loop of Houston, it’s an escape and a retreat without sacrificing any of the amenities or any of the charm of the city. 

Pros: Luxurious and livable neighborhood with amenities all within walking distance. 
Cons: Options for real estate are generally limited to condos with HOA fees and limited zoning.

Third Ward

A view of the Houston skyline from the Third Ward. Photo by @urbanexposuremedia.

Move to the Third Ward and get immediately immersed in the area’s black history, from Emancipation Park to the presence of the historically black college, Texas Southern University. The Third Ward is a hot neighborhood, quickly gentrifying while also trying to hang on to its traditional roots. That makes for a neighborhood rich in community, culture and politics. Locals have loved the Third Ward for a long time and newcomers are learning what it means to love it too. The future of the Third Ward is bright, vibrant and dynamic. And so is its past. 

Pros: A historic and up-and-coming neighborhood that reaches back to the city’s black history.
Cons: Fast changes in the neighborhood make the future of the area hard to predict.

Upper Kirby

Upper Kirby is on the way to and from everywhere in Houston. A small pocket of streets surrounded by residential neighborhoods and business districts, people come to Upper Kirby to enjoy its comfortable atmosphere for post-work drinks or weekend adventures in brunches or farmers markets.

This is a trendy district where you can just as easily find live music and comedy as you can find quiet, swanky bistros. It’s a neighborhood where professionals mingle with partiers and families mingle with singles and where everyone can relax together for a good time. 

Pros: An active, fun environment with plenty to do for all kinds of people. 
Cons: Commuters and visitors make Kirby a relatively congested and noisy area.

EaDo

One of the fastest-growing areas in all of Houston, EaDo used to be all but forgotten. Once, Houston’s industrial center and Chinatown, EaDo is now the home of BBVA Compass Stadium, where Houston’s soccer team, the Dynamos, play. 

But EaDo, an abbreviation for East of Downtown, is not just a sports stop. The neighborhood has become, almost overnight, a dynamic and engaging force all on its own with brewpubs, concert venues, shopping and music venues. 

Buying a townhouse in this up-and-coming quadrant is still much less pricey than it would be just blocks west in downtown Houston. For quick access to downtown, public transportation and large employment and entertainment opportunities, you can’t do better than EaDo. 

Pros: A great location with high investment value in a newly reinvigorated neighborhood. 
Cons: Traffic and noise from the stadium and surrounding businesses.

River Oaks

Houston’s first master planned community, River Oaks is a high-end retreat for Houston’s wealthy elite. Built as a luxury development on a plot of land belonging to a nearby country club in the 1920s, the neighborhood is now a stunning community, planned to the last detail to create a beautiful space filled with historic mansions and contemporary architecture. 

River Oaks is the richest neighborhood in Houston with home prices rising to above $20 million in some areas. A private police force keeps the streets safe and some of the best schools in Houston make it one of the most sought-after for families. Houstonians enjoy coming to the area for high-end shopping and dining and to view the tree-lined streets and gorgeous estates. 

Pros: Beautiful homes on safe streets in an affluent part of the city.
Cons: High real estate prices make the barrier to entry for this area high.

Takeaway

Houston is a diverse city with a growing population that makes each of its many neighborhoods unique for different reasons. But it would be hard to find a neighborhood with nothing to offer. From luxurious condos to historic homes and independent stores to high-end shopping malls, Houston and its surrounding neighborhoods offer something to everyone.

FAQ about living in Houston

What is the best area to live in Houston TX?

Houston is a big city with a rich history, diverse population and a lot to see and do. Depending on what you’re looking for, one area may be better than another but you’ll be able to find the best area for yourself in Houston. 

What is the nicest part of Houston?

There’s a lot that makes a neighborhood nice but we looked into crime rates, walkability, livability and access to amenities and determined that the areas with the lowest crime rates and most access to amenities are places close to downtown in the Inner Loop like Memorial, Midtown and Downtown. 

Where do the rich live in Houston?

The richest neighborhoods in Houston tend to be outside the Inner Loop in places like River Oaks, Bellaire and Galleria. Here is a list of the top ten richest neighborhoods by Money Inc.

Is Houston a fun place to live?

In short, yes. It is the place to be for music, food, drinks, entertainment and culture along the gulf. With a vibrant and diverse population that’s only growing Houston is a worthy destination for anyone looking to have a good time. 

Is it more expensive to live in Dallas or Houston?

In most metrics like cost of living and real estate, Dallas turns out to be a little more expensive to live in than Houston according to Bestplaces.net.


About the author: Josh Potter works for Flyhomes. He is a writer and journalist based in Seattle.

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