Our Top Picks for the Best Neighborhoods in Houston

Out of all the cities in Texas, none of them can hold a candle to Houston. The city has seen substantial growth over the years, and it has brought new skyscrapers, homes, theaters, restaurants and activities to the city. Though the city has been going through some changes, its charm and beauty remains.

As the fourth most populous city in the county, Houston has been growing and changing rapidly. Whether you’re new to the city or a native, it can be tough to keep track of the best neighborhoods in Houston and which neighborhoods are considered up and coming and which ones aren’t as trendy.

We at Natran Green Pest Control know Houston as good as anyone else — our trucks are always driving around the city. We’ve seen neighborhoods grow, shift, change and expand, and we can tell you which are the best neighborhoods in Houston.

If you’re thinking of moving around Houston or in another city looking for a change of pace, here is our guide to the best neighborhoods in Houston.

University Place/West University

Anyone who knows Houston is familiar with Rice University. The prestigious, private university was founded in 1912 and is consistently ranked one of the top 20 universities in the country. Its Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business and George R. Brown School of Engineering are highly regarded, and its active campus life means the area always has a great influx of restaurants, bars and nightlife. 

University Place covers Rice’s campus and the surrounding areas. The university gives the area a campus-like amenities without feeling as if you’re living in the dorms. It has easy access to public transportation as well as the highway. If you work downtown and are thinking of giving up a vehicle, the Light Rail runs near Rice’s campus, allowing you to easily walk to the station without having to face heavy traffic. If you’re young but no longer in school, University Place may be a good place to look for an apartment to rent.

It’s true that much of University Place has housing geared towards students — small studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments — but if you go just a little bit west, you’ll hit West University, a similar neighborhood that still enjoys the amenities of University Place, but has fewer students and a more community feel.

As far as location, few other neighborhoods could ever dream of topping Rice. The neighborhood is right next to the Houston Museum District, which gives you great access to cool museum’s such as the Houston Children’s Museum and the Houston Holocaust Museum. The Houston Zoo is also nearby, and with an annual membership, you can stroll through the zoo whenever you like.

As far as food and nightlife goes, you’ll always find something tasty in and around University Place and West University. Since you have a lot of younger, less financially-inclined students around, the restaurants and bars tend to be less expensive and have good deals. There are also a lot of coffee shops around. When school’s in session, you will probably be among a lot of college kids, but in the summertime, the area is much quieter.

Housing in the area varies. Because there are so many students renting, there are fewer places to buy, and that means the places that are available can be more expensive. The area does have a mix of new construction and older bungalows, with some homes listed for $1.5 million. The area also has in-demand schools, which also impact the price.

What makes West University so ideal for many people though is its walkability. If you’d like to cut down on the number of cars you own or go without one altogether, this is the area for you. There is less parking in the area, but many of the shops and restaurants are easy to walk to, which means you spend less time sitting in traffic.

The GOOF

What a name, right? You’d think a place called the GOOF (think Goofy much?) wouldn’t be all that hip and one of the best neighborhoods in Houston, but the Goof — which stands for Garden Oaks/Oak Forest — is actually one of the hottest neighborhoods for young, hip families. Located just outside of the loop highway around Houston, the GOOF has attracted a lot of young families over the years, but there are still a lot of amenities around that keep the area both fun and practical. Also known as Central Northwest, the GOOF branches out from the intersections of U.S. 290 and I-610, which means it’s easy to jump on the highway to get to downtown or any other area of Houston.

It may feel odd being out of Houston’s loop, but the GOOF has been building itself up over the years, and it has plenty to offer families, especially young ones. For one thing, it’s a very safe neighborhood. In the evenings, it’s normal to see families outside, kids riding their bikes up and down the streets and joggers out and about around the neighborhood. As one of the best neighborhoods in Houston, the GOOF straddles the line between urban and suburban, offering the best of both.

When it comes to food, the GOOF has a good mix of upscale and relaxed. You can find just about every type of food — Mexican, Mediterranean, barbecue, etc. — and if you’re looking for a night out, you’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. Many of the bars offer specials on beer and wine, and their small-plate menus are ideal for sharing. Aladdin Mediterranean Grill, a Montrose favorite which we’ll get to in a bit, opened a second location in the GOOF, so the area is starting to attract some great favorites. You’ll also find chain favorites nearby.

Most of the homes in the GOOF are single-family homes, but you can find some condominiums in the mix as well. Home prices can vary greatly, depending on how new the area of the GOOF is. Newer, more modern homes can cost more, even reaching the millions, but smaller homes in need of a few minor updates can be more affordable to families.

One of the that make the GOOF one of the best neighborhoods in Houston  is that T.C. Jester Park runs right through it. Nature lovers and joggers will find great paths to trod up and down, and though a few streets will run across the park, most of it is cut off from cars, which means you don’t have to watch for vehicles. There’s also a dog park in the area, so your pooch can make some friends too.

Montrose

If you know anything about Montrose, it’s probably the reputation for the area as one of the best neighborhoods in Houston. It’s one of the most eclectic and artistic neighborhoods throughout Houston, but you don’t have to be an artist to live in the area. If you want to live in an area that is diverse and always has something going on, Montrose is one of your best options. It’s also located right next to downtown and Midtown, and it’s considered one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Houston. For those who want to ditch one of their cars, Montrose has plenty of amenities in walking distance so you won’t need to get into your car every single time you need to leave your home.

What makes Montrose one of the best neighborhoods in Houston is the eclectic museums and galleries that you’ll find all over the neighborhood. For example, the Houston Center for Photography offers a rotating selection of contemporary photographs from local and international photographers. It only takes about an hour to tour, and it’s free to enter, which makes it an ideal spot for a lazy Saturday afternoon. There’s also the Printing Museum in the area, which houses antique printing equipment and newspaper prints. You’ll also find rare books and other antiques, making this a must-see visit for any bibliophile. And of course, there’s the Menil Collection and the Rothko Chapel — both major art galleries that have featured works from Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, among others.

Real estate in Montrose has been growing steadily in price over the last few years, thanks to it being one of the best neighborhoods in Houston, and there’s a good mix of home styles in the neighborhood. You can find older single-family homes, which usually sell for a bit less, and more modern new-construction homes and luxury townhomes that will fetch a premium price. As the neighborhood was originally built in 1911, you can definitely find a good mix of older homes from different periods. Those that need a little extra restoration will be less expensive, but get ready to put the work in.

The Heights

Want to live in one of Houston’s oldest neighborhoods? It also happens to be one of the best neighborhoods in Houston, and it’s known as both the Heights and Houston Heights. Originally a separate town when it was founded in 1890, the Heights became part of Houston in 1918, and it actually includes a collection of neighborhoods: Norhill Heights, Sunset Heights, Woodland Heights and a few other tiny neighborhoods. The area is known for having a tight community, and it has a lot of amenities that make it a fun place to live and raise a family.

Green space is abundant in the Heights, which is great for nature lovers searching for the best neighborhood in Houston. There are more than seven parks in the area and several hike-and-bike trails that crisscross through the neighborhood. Most notably, the Height’s Hike and Bike Trail goes through the neighborhood and directly into downtown. If you work downtown and would like an easier way to get to work, riding bike down the Hike and Bike Trail will save you time you’d otherwise spend stuck in traffic.

As the area has become more popular, more activities and events go on during the year to bring people out of their homes and attract new ones to the neighborhood. One of the favorite events of the year is the Heights Mistletoe Madness, a holiday event held on the first Saturday in December. Those who attend are invited to start their holiday shopping at the Heights’ many boutiques and eclectic shops, and there’s always the caroling context and horse-drawn carriages going up and down the streets. It’s a great way to bring in some holiday cheer.

Because the neighborhood is so old, you’ll find plenty of Victorian mansions and Craftsman bungalows that have been preserved and in some cases renovated. While there is new construction in the area, these older homes have that charm that newer ones just can’t match.

Downtown

If you really want an urban lifestyle, there’s no place better to go than downtown Houston itself. For the fast-paced, city-that-never-sleeps lifestyle, you can’t go wrong with downtown as one of the best neighborhoods in Houston.

When you’re in downtown Houston, you’re living close to everything. Many of the light rail lines  and hiking and biking trails go right through downtown, so if you don’t want to drive, you’re connected to just about all of the hottest restaurants and nightlife spots around the county.

LIke many other major cities, living right downtown can get pricey, and you won’t have a ton of space as you might if you lived in any of the outer neighborhoods. But if small-space homes with lots of amenities fits your lifestyle, then you’ll love being right at the center of it all.

Whether you’re new to Houston or just thinking about moving across town, any one of these best neighborhoods in Houston could be a good match for you — but don’t take our word for it. Before you put in an offer on a new home, hang out in the neighborhood and see if it’s a good fit for you. Is it too noisy? Too quiet? Too far away from downtown? Too close to it? You won’t know for sure until you see for it yourself.

Give us your opinion: What do you think is one of the best neighborhoods in Houston? Share with us in the comments!

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