The Salary You Need To Buy A Home In Houston’s Best Neighborhoods
Houston’s Best Neighborhoods:
According to Forbes, Money Magazine and the US Census Bureau, Houston is one of the most affordable major cities in the United States(1).
It also has the fifth lowest overall cost of living among the nation’s top 20 most populous US metropolitan areas(2).
We analyzed median home prices for 52 top Houston neighborhoods, and estimated salary requirements to live in each.
Major updates for mid-year 2018:
- On average, the salary requirements to buy a new home increased 7.7% from last year.
- This growth rate is higher than normal for two main reasons:
- Interest rates increased. (The Fed also expects to raise rates again in 6-9 months.)
- Most Houston neighborhoods appreciated in value this year.
- For many neighborhoods zoned to top ranked Houston schools rates increased even faster because:
- Land prices appreciated faster than average. (See the benefits of owning land.)
- There were more new construction homes. (Tearing down older, less expensive homes to build new properties raises an area’s median home price.)
- The neighborhoods where it is now cheaper to buy a home predominantly were areas that flooded during Hurricane Harvey.
- However, this increase has not slowed down the overall Houston housing market (as we’re currently on pace for another record year). It does impact “how much house” a buyer can comfortably afford.
As always, real estate is hyper local. See how your neighborhood is doing.
“Paige Martin is the best Realtor. She is highly experienced and very knowledgeable. She made our buying experience an enjoyable one, not only for us, but for our daughter, son-in-law and several of our friends. We have bought and sold many houses, and Paige has been the best realtor we have ever worked with. We highly recommend her.”
- The neighborhoods we selected came from our lists of: Best Houston Neighborhood Guide, Top Houston School Rankings, Most Accessible Neighborhoods, Best Real Estate Investments and Best Houston Suburbs.
- Our estimates below used a 20% down payment. However, some lenders have special 0% or 5% down loans. Contact me for a list of recommended mortgage providers and what (who) to avoid.
- Median prices below include only single family homes unless otherwise stated. Specific methodology and calculations are listed at the bottom of this article.
We have great lenders. Contact Paige Martin at Paige@HoustonProperties.com for great mortgage banking recommendations.
SUMMARY: ANNUAL SALARY & HOUSTON NEIGHBORHOODS MATRIX
|Salary Range||Central Houston||Suburbs|
|Under $80,000||*Galleria, *Medical Center, University Area & Riverside||Champions, Clear Lake, Copperfield, Cypress, Eldridge North, Friendswood, Jersey Village, Katy, Kingwood, League City, Missouri City, Northside, Northwest Houston, Pearland, Spring|
|$80,000 – $150,000||Briargrove Park, Cottage Grove, *Downtown, *EaDo, Heights, Knollwood, *Memorial West, Meyerland, *Midtown, Oak Forest, Rice Military, Spring Branch, Timbergrove, Washington / East Sabine||Energy Corridor, Fall Creek, Fulshear, Sienna Area, Sienna Plantation, The Woodlands, Sugar Land|
|$150,000 – $250,000||*Braeswood Place, Briargrove, Garden Oaks, *Memorial Close In, Montrose, *Museum District, River Oaks Shopping Area|
|Over $250,000||Bellaire, Highland Village, Memorial Park, Memorial Villages, River Oaks, Royden / Afton Oaks, Tanglewood, West University|
How Much Do I Need To Earn To Live Comfortably In Houston’s Best Neighborhoods
Under $80,000 – Top Houston Neighborhoods
|Area||Median Home Price||Estimated Salary*||Notes|
|Katy||$274,000||$75,661||Top Ranked Schools|
|League City||$270,000||$74,556||Best Suburbs|
|University Area / Riverside||$268,000||$74,004||MetroRail Access|
|Friendswood||$266,000||$73,452||Best Golf Courses|
|Clear Lake||$265,000||$73,176||Top Ranked Schools|
|Pearland||$264,000||$72,899||Top Ranked Schools|
|Northside||$255,000||$70,414||Top Ranked Schools|
|Champions Area||$248,500||$68,619||Top Ranked Schools|
|Kingwood||$240,000||$66,272||Top Ranked Schools|
|Jersey Village||$239,500||$66,134||Best Suburbs|
|Copperfield||$225,000||$62,130||Top Ranked Schools|
|Eldridge North||$220,000||$60,750||Top Ranked Schools|
|Missouri City||$214,900||$59,341||Top Ranked Schools|
|*Medical Center||$210,000||$57,988||MetroRail Access|
|Northwest Houston||$191,900||$52,990||Top Ranked Schools|
Under $80,000 – Galleria/Uptown Park
Nestled at the corner of Southwest Freeway, Galleria is one of Houston’s most accessible districts. It is in close proximity to Memorial Park, one of the country’s largest urban park. Downtown Houston, Medical Center and the West University area are about 15 to 20 minutes away from the area as well.
Most of the people who live in the Galleria/Uptown park area live in condo and highrises. (Compare Galleria Condos), as land values are quite high.
Highrise living allows residents to reside just a few blocks from numerous entertainment hubs like The Galleria mall and Uptown Park, as well as several hundred restaurants, parks, and shops.
Galleria highrises also offer great amenities: tennis courts, pools, saunas, fitness rooms, well-kept grounds, rooftop decks, and more. Porters, valet, building managers, concierges, trash & dry cleaning pickup are also available at many luxury buildings.
The most popular real estate in Galleria are condos. Most of the Best Houston Condo Investments are within luxury highrises within the Galleria area.
Under $80,000 – Katy
Katy rates well among the best suburbs in Texas based upon community ratings for public schools, affordability, commute time, livability and amenities.
The neighborhood is one of the top communities in the state for “Fun Family Activities” with shopping and entertainment venues, like Katy Mills Mall, LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch, and Typhoon Texas Water Park.
Katy is also home to some of the top ranked master-planned communities in the Houston area, including Cinco Ranch, Falls at Green Meadows, Firethorne, Grand Lakes, Seven Meadows and over a dozen more.
Located about 29 miles west of Downtown Houston, the city of Katy covers a 10.7-square mile area.
Known as Old Katy or “Katy – Old Towne”, the city is west of Grand Parkway, bisected by Interstate 10 (Katy Freeway).
Greater Katy spans a much larger 181-square mile area, covering unincorporated neighborhoods and communities within Harris, Waller, and Fort Bend counties. The area’s boundaries are based from the KISD’s, with the city of Katy serving as its anchor.
Under $80,000 – Medical Center
The Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world. The area also has one of the highest concentrations of clinical facilities for patient care, basic science, and translational research.
Living in the medical center affords a fantastic commute to anyone working in the complex. In addition, the Medical Center is a few minutes away from Downtown Houston. Other Loop 610 neighborhoods are conveniently accessible from the district, including Rice University, Museum District, and West University.
The Medical Center features a wide selection of homes including single-family homes, townhomes, and condos. Fannin Station, one of Houston’s Best Gated Communities, is also located within the neighborhood. Several of Houston’s Newest Condo Buildings are coming up in the area too.
According to Houston’s Best Public Schools, many of public schools within the Medical Center are ranked amongst the top in the state of Texas. Roberts Elementary, Poe Elementary, Pershing Middle and Lamar High School are among the highly rated public schools zoned to the neighborhood.
Medical Center’s real estate market has been one of the best performing suburban Houston neighborhoods over the past one, five and ten-year periods.
Under $80,000 – Pearland
Pearland made it into this list due to the number of highly rated schools zoned to its homes. The city also offers a relatively shorter commute to key Houston areas like the Medical Center and Downtown.
More than 80% of Pearland is residential, and like most Houston suburbs that made this list, it is home to several master-planned communities. Silverlake, Silvercreek, Green Tee Terrace, Sunrise Lakes, Shadow Creek Ranch, and Southern Trails are just some of the communities within the city.
Pearland features a number of shopping and entertainment centers, including the Pearland Town Center, Shadow Creek Town Center, and Silverlake Village Shopping Center. Golf courses like Clear Creek Golf Club, Southwyck Golf Club, and Golfcrest Country Club are all within Pearland.
Most Pearland homes are zoned to the Pearland ISD, though small portions of the city are under Fort Bend, Alvin, Clear Creek, Houston, and Pasadena ISDs.
$80,000 to $150,000 – Top Houston Neighborhoods
$80,000 – $150,000 – EaDo / East Downtown
Located adjacent to Downtown Houston (hence the name East Downtown), this area was a graveyard of abandoned supermarkets and restaurants until about 10 years ago.
East Downtown (EaDo) is a vibrant Houston neighborhood near the major business districts of Downtown Houston, the Texas Medical Center, and the Houston Ship Channel.
EaDo is located north of Interstate 45, and between the George R. Brown Convention Center and the East End district.
EaDoHouston.com dubbed the neighborhood as the “Art & Soul of Houston.” Formerly referred to as “Houston Chinatown,” EaDo was filled with inexpensive land.
Over the past few years, this community has seen one of the largest investments in capital projects of any part of Houston.
EaDo benefits from the new BBVA Soccer stadium, MetroRail expansion, multiple new apartment and townhome complexes and an explosion of (highly rated) new restaurants and bars.
The reinvention of the EaDo area has propelled it among Houston Neighborhoods With Best Land Value Appreciation.
$80,000 to $150,000 – Cottage Grove
Conveniently located along the Katy Freeway, the neighborhood is about 10 minutes away from the Galleria and Downtown Houston.
There are plenty of housing options in the neighborhood, ranging from vintage cottages and townhomes. Increased demand for Cottage Grove homes has sparked a surge of new development in the area.
Cottage Grove is one of Houston’s burgeoning neighborhoods. With new construction custom-built homes, townhomes in gated communities, and old single-family homes, homebuyers have a bevy of options.
$80,000 to $150,000 – Houston Heights
Homes for sale in the Heights appreciated by 14% last year. Homes sold in 2004 have risen by more than half of its value in just 10 years.
Ranked #4 in CNN Money’s Top 10 Big City Neighborhoods, The Heights offers charm and a small-town feel; along with a fantastic collection of restaurants, coffee bars, antique shops, parks, and running trails.
The Hike & Bike Trail in the Heights recently opened with several new bridges. It connects the north side of Houston’s Inner loop with soon-to-be over hundred miles of city trails.
$80,000 to $150,000 – Oak Forest
Oak Forest real estate has remained popular over the years due to several factors, including the neighborhood’s location, large lots, and relatively affordable home prices.
Homes in the area enjoy convenient access to schools, stores, restaurants, entertainment centers, and parks.
Apart from relatively easy commutes and the neighborhood’s quiet suburban feel, Oak Forest’s schools are also a great draw for homebuyers.
$80,000 to $150,000 – Timbergrove/Lazybrook
The residential area lies west of the Houston Heights and along the wooded banks of White Oak Bayou.
Timbergrove homes for sale are mostly mid-century, one-story ranch-style brick homes.
It is also among the approximately 60 Houston neighborhoods carrying the “Super Neighborhood” recognition.
$150,000 to $250,000 – Top Houston Neighborhoods
|Area||Median Home Price||Estimated Salary*||Notes|
|Garden Oaks||$566,250||$156,361||Best Appreciation|
|*Memorial Close In||$567,500||$156,706||Affordable Townhomes|
|*Museum District||$620,300||$171,286||Best Appreciation|
|River Oaks Shopping Area||$680,000||$187,771||Most Accessible|
|Royal Oaks||$685,000||$189,152||Most Expensive|
|Briargrove||$783,800||$216,434||Top Ranked Schools|
|*Braeswood Place||$849,900||$234,686||Most Expensive|
$150,000 – $250,000 – Memorial Close-In
Located west of Downtown Houston, the Memorial area lies just outside Loop 610.
The vast Memorial area is made up of several neighborhoods, independent cities, and smaller gated communities.
The area is zoned to some of the top ranked schools in Texas including Memorial Drive Elementary, Frostwood Elementary, Wilchester Elementary, Bunker Hill Elementary, Memorial Middle and Memorial High.
Land value in Memorial is typically lower than neighborhoods like Tanglewood, West University, or River Oaks, and many Memorial homes for sale have large, wooded lots. A large number of Memorial home buyers choose the area because they want more land than inner loop neighborhoods provide.
Memorial homes enjoy easy access to schools, stores, restaurants, entertainment centers, and parks. The Galleria/Uptown area and the Energy Corridor, two of Houston’s largest employment centers, are easily accessible from Memorial.
Note: The following communities have been included in the Memorial Close In area: Sherwood Forest, Winston Wood, Pinewood Estates, Bayou Woods, Stablewood, Longwoods, Oak Hill, Park Laureate Place, Park at Saddlebrook.
$150,000 to $250,000 – Royal Oaks Country Club
Royal Oaks offers a 24-hour, guard-gated entrance and is a fully gated community. Over 8 miles of masonry wall encompasses the borders of the subdivision.
The subdivision was developed by Las Vegas-based Sunrise Colony Company, one of the most renowned residential and country club community developers in the country.
Royal Oaks Country Club amenities include resort-style pool, playground area, WiFi access in common areas, community media room, business center, community park, basketball court, and a courtyard.
The subdivision includes a 48,000 sq. ft. clubhouse with private locker rooms, fine dining, casual grill restaurant, private wine cellar, and a banquet space.
Royal Oaks Country Club homes for sale include luxury single-family homes and mansions with over 4 bedrooms and 4 baths.
Royal Oaks residents enjoy close proximity to hundreds of retail and shopping options in the Galleria and The Royal Oaks Village.
$150,000 to $250,000 – Rice / Museum District
Within a 1.5 mile radius, the Museum District includes 19 museums that offer educational, artistic, and scientific resources. A dozen of the member museums have free admission each day.
There are multiple property types throughout the area, and Museum District condos and townhomes are certainly a popular choice.
Much of the newer construction is architecturally-inspired, allowing these Museum District homes to complement the vibrant feel of the area.
$150,000 – $250,000 – Braeswood Place
The neighborhood consists of 7 private subdivisions: Ayrshire, Braes Heights, Braes Oaks, Braes Manor, Braes Terrace, Emerald Forest, and Southern Oaks.
Braeswood had the 2nd highest 10-year appreciation rate within Inner Loop.
The neighborhood’s prime location, deed restrictions, and its gorgeous collection of new construction homes make it one of the most desirable communities in Houston.
Over $250,000 – Top Houston Neighborhoods
|Area||Median Home Price||Estimated Salary*||Notes|
|River Oaks||$2,175,000||$600,592||Most Expensive|
|Memorial Park||$1,800,000||$497,041||Most Expensive|
|Memorial Villages||$1,569,000||$433,254||Most Expensive|
|Royden / Afton Oaks||$1,355,000||$374,162||Most Expensive|
|West University||$1,335,503||$368,778||Most Expensive|
|Highland Village||$1,035,000||$273,689||Most Expensive|
Over $250,000 – Highland Village/Midlane
Highland Village is a deed-restricted residential enclave located about 6 miles west of Downtown Houston.
Located along Westheimer and a stone’s throw away from Southwest Freeway and Loop 610, Highland Village has convenient access to key Houston areas like the Galleria, Museum District, Downtown, and the Medical Center.
The neighborhood has plenty of shopping options nearby: the Highland Village Shopping Center, Central Market, Galleria, Uptown Village, and Rice Village.
From vintage single-family homes from the early 50s to new construction custom-built homes, Highland Village offers a great selection. Surrounded by some of the most expensive neighborhoods in Houston, Highland real estate properties are slightly more affordable than those in River Oaks and Afton Oaks.
Over $250,000 – Royden Oaks / Afton Oaks
The subdivision enjoys the same location benefits of its neighbor, River Oaks. While it has its own collection luxury homes for sale, Royden Oaks real estate is still less expensive compared to homes for sale in River Oaks.
Royden Oaks is located in the geographic center of Houston making it one of the most accessible Houston neighborhoods.
Homes range in size from 2,000-5,000 square feet and are at least 25 feet away from the front property line, guaranteeing spacious front yards.
Posh new constructions have been changing the Royden Oaks real estate market for the past decade.
Despite being on relatively smaller lots, these new homes rival the grandeur of River Oaks homes for sale and sell in the neighborhood of $1 million. More than a third of the older homes have already been replaced with stunning 2-story homes.
Over $250,000 – River Oaks
The grande dame of Houston’s luxury enclaves, River Oaks is a 1,100-acre enclave of mansions and estates found at the heart of Inner Loop Houston.
The neighborhood is north of the Upper Kirby district and is near many major thoroughfares such as Westheimer Road, Kirby Drive, and San Felipe Street.
Houston main districts — Downtown, Galleria, and Medical Center — are within 15 to 20 minutes from River Oaks.
Parts of River Oaks have acre-plus lots and deed restrictions to keep out commercial establishments. Other parts of River Oaks (notably on the South and Eastern sides) border the River Oaks Shopping Center and Upper Kirby/Greenway Plaza, and are home to a fabulous collection of shops and restaurants.
The entirety of River Oaks is a scenic view of towering trees that line streets coupled with intricately detailed bushes that lead to pocket gardens. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, boutiques, and art galleries in the River Oaks Shopping Center and West Ave complexes.
Over $250,000 – Tanglewood
Apart from being one of Houston’s most expensive neighborhoods, Tanglewood is also among the Best Houston Neighborhoods for Land Value Appreciation.
Tanglewood offers a good commute to Houston’s major job centers, including Downtown, the Galleria, and Energy Corridor. In addition, over 550 Yelp-rated establishments are within 3 miles of the neighborhood.
The median home price in Tanglewood is approximately $1.75 million. When comparing with West University or River Oaks, the average Tanglewood home for sale is newer and has a larger lot (land prices are cheaper). Compared with homes in Memorial Villages, Tanglewood land values are more expensive and lots are smaller.
Over $250,000 – Memorial Villages
Memorial Villages, or simply the “Villages,” is located along Katy Freeway, west of Greater Houston.
With deed restrictions and its own governing bodies in place, Memorial Villages maintains a quiet and private ambience. Each city also operates its own police and fire departments.
Over $250,000 – West University
West University is consistently ranked as one of Houston’s best communities.
West University has its own police force, which boasts that they have “one of the best crime rates in all of Houston.” Residents can sign up for text messages to get real-time alerts about any community issues.
With a median home price of over $1M (and new construction constantly selling over $2M), West University also has one of the best five- and ten-year appreciation rates of any neighborhood in Houston.
The neighborhood’s park system, baseball fields, recreation center, library, and Rice Village offer one of Houston’s most accessible communities.
Over $250,000 – Bellaire
Bordered by the cities of Houston and West University, Bellaire enjoys a central location within the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land Metropolitan area.
The name “Bellaire” originated from “good air” or “good breeze”, attributed to the neighborhoods small-town, family-friendly community.
Sources, Methodology & Disclosures
- Median home sale prices were calculated by HAR MLS Geo Market area, HAR MLS Master Planned Community Designation, or HAR MLS subdivision based on data from January 1 – June 30, 2018.
- All median Houston home sale information was sourced by the HAR MLS database.
- *Default median housing price values are from single-family homes, except these neighborhoods (where condos, townhomes and single-family homes are considered due to the fact that there’s an above average of condos/townhomes in these market areas.) These exception neighborhoods include: Braeswood Place, Rice/Museum District, Memorial West, Midtown, Downtown, EaDo, Memorial Close In, and Medical Center.
- For monthly PITI (principal, interest, taxes and insurance) the following assumptions were used: 20% down payment, 4.2% interest rate, 30 year mortgage, 2.54% effective property tax rate, 0.5% annual insurance cost based on the median sale price, no PMI. Monthly PITI costs were generated, using those assumptions, from http://www.mortgagecalculator.org/
- For annual appreciation or depreciation salary requirement rates, we did not make any modifications based on the most recent tax reform act. We assumed taxes rates were constant in our calculations between monthly PITI costs and salary requirements.
- For “can comfortably afford” salary assumptions, we used that 28% of gross income could be used toward monthly PITI costs.
- Financial planners often say that 25-33% of income can be used toward monthly PITI payments. For qualification purposes underwriters typically defer to their “back end” ratio which includes liabilities on credit reports (all revolving, installment, and mortgage liabilities). For this ratio 36% is normally used in planning and around 43% is around the maximum allowed. Contact your mortgage provider for specifics, or contact me for mortgage provider recommendations.
- Data is deemed accurate, but is not guaranteed. Information is provided for informational purposes only.
- If you’d like to see any neighborhoods, master planned communities or subdivisions added to this bi-annually updated watch list, please let me know.
More About Paige MartinTop Realtor In Houston
As featured on Fox News in the Morning, Houston Business Journal, and Houston Chronicle, Paige Martin, a consistent Top Producing Broker-Associate and head of the Houston Properties Team, is ranked amongst the top Keller Williams agents in the United States.
Paige Martin is ranked as one of the top residential real estate agents in the world.
A Houston-area native, Paige is an experienced, successful partner in any residential real estate transaction. Armed with a local perspective of the city & a deep knowledge of Houston real estate market, her skills have marked her as one of the most sought-after agents in Houston.
Upon graduation from Baylor University, Paige launched a career as a marketing consultant, developing customized marketing plans and strategies for her clients. She now uses those professional marketing skills to help her real estate clients find and sell their homes.
When working with home sellers, Paige employs individually-tailored, cutting-edge techniques to gain her clients the most value in the shortest time.
She is also an ideal partner for buyers, helping them make informed home-buying decisions with the least amount of stress.
Paige is passionate about her work, her clients and her city. Her attention to detail and excellent communication skills make her the perfect choice for those looking to buy or sell a home in Houston.
In addition to her robust real estate career, Paige was appointed by Houston’s Mayor Bill White to serve on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Redevelopment Authority and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #3 (TIRZ), where she volunteers her time as a Chairman of the Housing Committee, as well as a member the Budget & Finance Committee. Paige also serves a variety of non-profits, civic and community boards and has been recognized for fundraising by the Houston Police Foundation.
A member of the National Association of Realtors, Texas Association of Realtors and Houston Association of Realtors, Paige has served on the Houston Association of Realtors MLS Advisory Group, in which she volunteers on the TEMPO Task Force and the CMA Task Force. Paige is also the co-chair of the Keller Williams Realty – Memorial Office’s Luxury Homes Committee.
Paige Martin is a customer-focused Houston Realtor (member of the National Association of Realtors) dedicated to providing exceptional service. Paige and her team guide clients through all aspects of learning about Houston, relocating to Houston, buying a home, buying a highrise or condo, tips for selling your home and ensuring that your transaction goes as seamlessly as possible.