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Serow225

location search - commutable acreages

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Hi all! my wife and i are looking to relocate to Houston in a couple years, so I've begun the neighborhood search. I'm in town for a few days, and thought i might be able to check out a few locations with your help :)

Background: we're 30, and will be looking to raise a family. we'll both be working dowtown, and would prefer to keep the commute to 45min or less. Our price range is in the three hundreds.

We'd like to find a house in a more natural wooden setting, where your neighbors aren't really visible from inside your house - perhaps a one acre lot in the woods? we'd like a comfortable size for 2 or 3 kids, plus a study/exercise room/etc. Ideally, the kind of lot where you could put up a tree swing for the kids & let them run around the forest, and build an extra car garage/worshop for tinkering...

Our preference for architecture is something solidly built to last - brick or stone or wood, not a stucco crapbox :) Age is not as important to me as construction & condition...

Is something like this available in the Houston area? If so, I'd greatly appreciate your guidance as to what neighborhoods I should drive to this week to check out!

Thanks again,

EBS

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I think from downtown, the best freeway to look on would be 59 north. There are still pockets of land up there that are "relatively" close in, treed, etc. and the commute is still reasonable compared to the other major freeways. Other freeways - by the time you get to "wooded" areas - your commutes are too long. Park - n Rides can also be your friend when working downtown - they can save a lot of time and money on parking.

I'm 37 miles out of downtown down 59 south. If I was to do it all over again from 10 years ago when we bought - I know I would go the opposite direction - could probably get a lot closer to dt, and a bigger place for the same money and a shorter commute. Too much trouble to move now.

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Someone that works downtown has options to the northeast or east of the city that just aren't as easily accessible for people who work further to the west of town, and you can definitely find homes at your price point within your preferred commuting distance.

If you either 1) ascribe to the traditional perspective that schools serving a fairly homogenous affluent population are necessary or 2) have the expectation that an HOA should actively enforce deed restrictions within a planned community, then Kingwood is the principal community in which you should be looking. Bender's Landing would also be viable, either to build or to buy, although it is newer and therefore a bit pricier.

If you're more open to a rural lifestyle, then you should consider northeast Harris County (77336), southeast Montgomery County, northwest Liberty County, or select locations within the Trinity River basin. This listing will give you an idea of what would be available at your price point and where the tradeoffs can be made.

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I tend to agree - northeast on 59 is going to be your best bet. Also check out Summerwood and Atascocita in addition to Kingwood.

You may also want to check out the hottest of all areas, The Woodlands, on 45N, although it might be tough to get the commute you want, esp. if you live deep inside The Woodlands (far from the freeway). On the plus side, the Hardy Toll Road does provide a fast route, and the Woodlands Express bus service is a good option for downtown (I think it does get to use the HOV lane).

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Large lots in The Woodlands will tend to be expensive, although there may be exceptions (such as this one) in the older sections off of Sawdust. Not a terrible option. Summerwood and Atascocita (as well as Fall Creek) are all nice-enough and newer neighborhoods, and are closer-in, but have smaller lots and probably have sketchier middle and high schools. If 45 minutes is the sweet spot for your commute, then you can do better.

Another place that I like, personally, is a stretch from Hankamer through Anahuac to about Double Bayou. It's about one uncongested hour from downtown, but there's still plenty of relatively inexpensive bayfront to be had, water frontage along Turtle Lake or one of the many navigable bayous, and a good mix of softwood and hardwood trees. That'd be the kind of area where you could buy land affordably enough to build new and to your exacting specifications.

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Another place that I like, personally, is a stretch from Hankamer through Anahuac to about Double Bayou. It's about one uncongested hour from downtown, but there's still plenty of relatively inexpensive bayfront to be had, water frontage along Turtle Lake or one of the many navigable bayous, and a good mix of softwood and hardwood trees. That'd be the kind of area where you could buy land affordably enough to build new and to your exacting specifications.

That is affordable water front, albeit at some distance from downtown, but I'd think you'd have to build for hurricane surge risk - as well as check the home insurance rates. May be manageable factors, but just be aware.

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That is affordable water front, albeit at some distance from downtown, but I'd think you'd have to build for hurricane surge risk - as well as check the home insurance rates. May be manageable factors, but just be aware.

That's true of some places more than others. Frontage along Turtle Lake (off of FM 563 between Anahuac and I-10) is at 20 to 25 feet in elevation. That's perfectly safe. Immediately south of Anahuac fronting Trinity Bay is at about 15 feet, where risks can be largely mitigated. And then, south of there past Oak Island or even about four miles inland along Double Bayou, the elevation is only 5 to 10 feet! Its certainly true that coastal counties certainly require extra due diligence and may be subject to extra insurance even when the property is out of harm's way, however there are offsetting benefits as well.

I forgot to mention earlier though, one benefit to living in rural areas is that property tax rates can be much lower without being beholden to the vagaries of municipalities or MUDs, and things can get especially advantageous if someone obtains an ag exemption for their excess land.

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...Kingwood is the principal community in which you should be looking. Bender's Landing would also be viable, either to build or to buy, although it is newer and therefore a bit pricier.

If you're more open to a rural lifestyle, then you should consider northeast Harris County (77336), southeast Montgomery County, northwest Liberty County, or select locations within the Trinity River basin. This listing will give you an idea of what would be available at your price point and where the tradeoffs can be made.

Wow thanks so much everyone, what great information! I've heard about Kingwood from a couple folks, so I'll have to take a look.

However, I really like that Huffman listing!!! That's the kind.of more rural setting that I was had in mind.

Niche, is there a map online that would give me a better idea of which areas in the counties you are referring to more exactly, or further description, so I could drive up to those locations? They sound rather broad to my non-native brain :)

Cheers,

EBS

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They sound broad because they are broad. What I like is to use Google Earth with the zip code layer turned on, then search har.com accordingly. It becomes obvious where there are trees and where there aren't, where there's water and where there isn't, and so on and so forth. Follow my very very general guidelines and enjoy your numerous road trips. Doing the buyer's agent's work for them and extorting a point and a half back from them is half the fun!

But here are a few other good resources. Enjoy!

Zip Code Maps

Topographic Maps (watch for subsidence and take cues from any sort of artificial geophysical changes)

Soil Surveys

Vegetation/Cover Types

Texas BBQ Map (completely irrelevant, but important nevertheless)

Superfund Sites Map (you'd be amazed how often I do business with someone living adjacent to one of them!)

Aeronautical Charts (don't be under a flight path, which is easy to do if you're looking near Lake Houston)

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There's a pocket hood along Japhet Creek less than 2 and a quarter miles from Enron Field. Thickly treed lots, less than two dozen houses, and just enough room to do something like you talk about.

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Bender's Landing is ridiculously overpriced. They charge lakefront prices for land that abuts a retention pond. There are much better ways to spend a quarter million dollars.

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They sound broad because they are broad. What I like is to use Google Earth with the zip code layer turned on, then search har.com accordingly. It becomes obvious where there are trees and where there aren't, where there's water and where there isn't, and so on and so forth. Follow my very very general guidelines and enjoy your numerous road trips. Doing the buyer's agent's work for them and extorting a point and a half back from them is half the fun!

But here are a few other good resources. Enjoy!

Zip Code Maps

Topographic Maps (watch for subsidence and take cues from any sort of artificial geophysical changes)

Soil Surveys

Vegetation/Cover Types

Texas BBQ Map (completely irrelevant, but important nevertheless)

Superfund Sites Map (you'd be amazed how often I do business with someone living adjacent to one of them!)

Aeronautical Charts (don't be under a flight path, which is easy to do if you're looking near Lake Houston)

That B-B-Q map is flawed..... They include hog slop like Dozier's, and yet left out Nonmacher's.....

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I tend to agree - northeast on 59 is going to be your best bet. Also check out Summerwood and Atascocita in addition to Kingwood.

You may also want to check out the hottest of all areas, The Woodlands, on 45N, although it might be tough to get the commute you want, esp. if you live deep inside The Woodlands (far from the freeway). On the plus side, the Hardy Toll Road does provide a fast route, and the Woodlands Express bus service is a good option for downtown (I think it does get to use the HOV lane).

I'll agree with Tory on Summerwood and Atascocita, have a friend that lives up there, you're close enough to 59, and the Crosby freeway. friend says schools are good, grocery stores are close, big lake right around the block.

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