Relocation: Katy or The Woodlands?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Relocation: Katy or The Woodlands?

    Hey guys: There is a high chance I am being relocated to Houston. My wife and I have been surfing around the internet at houses and amenities of suburbs around Houston. We both ride mountain and road bikes (and cross bikes), and race quite a bit (she is a Cat 1 and I am a Cat 3). I will be working downtown, and she is a stay to at home mom of our 6 month old.

    So If you guys could pick between Katy and the woodlands, which would you chose based on quality of life (community feel of neighborhood and commute) and "out-your-door" road and mountain biking (which I know might be slim).

    We probably want to keep it under 300K and 3+ bedrooms, but that is flexible.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    I've lived in Houston most of my life and I work as a hot shot courier so I know Houston very well. Here's my 2 cents on both The Woodlands and Katy areas:

    Biking:

    The Woodlands is a great place to road bike as there are lots of side streets to ride as well as miles of well shaded sidewalks. The sidewalks were designed with walkers, joggers, and bike riders in mind so you don't have to worry about the police telling you to get off the sidewalk. There are quite a few mountain biking trails nearby including Flintridge which is actually located in The Woodlands. It's a short 3.5 mile out and back beginner trail that is tight and twisty. Cypresswood Proper is located about 15-20 minutes away and is longer and more fun. Huntsville State Park is a short 30 minute trip north up I-45 that is more challenging due to long climbs, lots of roots, and even more sand.

    Katy has even better road biking as there are lots of long country roads in the area. Many road groups head out to ride near Katy so if you're into road riding you'll have lots of choices and plenty of people to show you the area. For mountain biking you have the Anthills which is a long, fairly technical trail that runs along Buffalo Bayou. When it rains it tends to flood easily. Stephen F. Austin State Park is further west past Sealy, Tx and is stricly a beginner trail. It's well maintained and great for brand new beginner riders.

    There are lots more trail in the Houston area so check the GHORBA website here: www.ghorba.org

    Dining/Lifestyle:

    The Woodlands is an upper income residential area with lots of shopping areas including The Woodlands Mall plus any kind of restaurant you can imagine. If you need or want something you can find it in The Woodlands. The rush hour traffic from downtown Houston to The Woodlands isn't that bad but once you get into The Woodlands it's awful. Better have a good car GPS at all times as it's very easy to get lost. The streets curve all over the place and you're completely surrounded by trees so it's hard to get a good bearing of north or south. Crime is pretty low in the area due to the local police whom are numberous. I like The Woodlands because you always feel you're away from the city due to all the trees that hide everything. But in reality you're right in the thick of things. The Woodlands seems to be designed for people who live active lifestyles as there is so much to do in The Woodlands area.

    Katy, just like TW, has everything you need when it comes to shopping and eating but doesn't seem as well designed as TW. TW seems like a community where Katy is just another town. I have to admit that I like Katy much better as I feel that TW is a little snooty due to their higher incomes and their pride of living in The Woodlands. Katy has hard working folks who aren't uppity. As a courier I like Katy due to the fact that there aren't a million trees lining every road and it's much harder to get lost. It seems every road runs either north/south or east/west so I always know where I am. The incomes in Katy probably aren't as high as TW but they are by no means poor. Katy is a clean, well run area that in no ways looks run down. Traffic from downtown Houston to Katy use to be horrible but they recently expanded I-10 West and now traffic is practically non-existant unless there's a wreck. Once you get into Katy it's usually not that bad either. Katy is a much larger area than TW and has many more avenues in which to get home.

    EIther area is a great place to live, it just depends on what your priorities are. PM me if you have questions.

    Mike

  3. #3
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    I say Katy, TX. First and foremost they are NOT a part of Houston. They are their own city so you're not having to deal with the City of Houston politics.
    Katy and the neighboring area are growing daily. Look at Cinco Ranch now compared to what it was not even 10 years ago especially on Hwy 99 between West Park Toll and I-10. Lots of businesses.
    Has anyone seen Lakes of Bella Terra just south of Cinco Ranch? There's a Best Buy out there, Wal-Mart, etc..
    I agree. Katy is not snooty and more of the working man's area. There's a good blend of people out there. You have the stinking rich and the average income and everything in between.

    West of Houston has plenty of good road biking and mountain biking areas. Check out Sealy, Brookshire, etc. Vehicle traffic is usually super low and I see plenty of road bikers whenever I'm out that way cruising on my motorcycle. Terry Hershey Park/Ant Hills is within 30 minutes of Katy. Memorial Park is probably 40 mins.

    Most of the LBS are centralized as well. You have West End Bikes, Bike Sport, Blue Line Bike Labs, Bike Barn, etc all within 20 mins of each other (from Memorial Park area).

    Malls are close by (Katy Mills, West Oaks, Galleria, First Colony). Basically I'd rather be on the west end of Houston than north of Houston (Woodlands).

  4. #4
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    Where would you be relocating from? Soccerdude pretty much nailed it. I'd say check both areas out and most importantly do the commute in rush hour traffic from both. Houston traffic can be a mofo in certain directions. I only commute in to the Beltway and couldn't imagine trying to fight all the way into downtown, although alot of people do it. In addition the NW side (up 290 or 249) has some nice options. Your dollar will probably go farther in Katy however the homes in TW really hold their value well. We've been relocating alot of people and I've been amazing at how quickly people can sell in TW.

  5. #5
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    As much as I like the Fairfield area I would avoid anything up Hwy 290 at all costs. The traffic during the morning and evening rush hours is some of the worst in the country. It can sometimes take more than an hour to go 12 miles even without an accident slowing things down. There are plans to widen Hwy 290 but it won't be completed for years. If they do the same thing with 290 that they did with I-10 West it will be fantastic. Until then it's a nightmare. Tomball and Magnolia are nice up Hwy 249 but they are not as established as Katy or TW. If you're looking to have most of the ammenities of a big city but still feel like you're living in the country then Tomball and Magnolia are great. Same goes for Pearland down south on Hwy 288. Kingwood up Hwy 59 northeast is a nice area; kind of like a wannabe Woodlands but not as upity and not much in the way of biking.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all of the responses so far!

    I will be relocating from the bay area (close to walnut creek).

    So another question: How is living in the area of THP (anthills)? Both from a "good neighborhood" perspective and to get out of suburbia for road rides? So when does katy go from nice to not-so-nice as you move east towards Houston?

    THANKS AGAIN!

  7. #7
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    Katy is on the farthest western edge of Houston. Go any further west and you're in the country which is great for road riding. From Katy to downtown Houston there's mostly nice communities with the exception of Spring Branch which is located on the north side of I-10. It's not the worst area of town but it certainly isn't the greatest. You have to go east of downtown Houston before you hit the really bad section. Most of the bad areas are east and southeast of downtown.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by twelve_volt_man
    I will be relocating from the bay area (close to walnut creek).

    So another question: How is living in the area of THP (anthills)? Both from a "good neighborhood" perspective and to get out of suburbia for road rides? So when does katy go from nice to not-so-nice as you move east towards Houston?

    THANKS AGAIN!
    There are some "nice" neighborhoods that run along Memorial Dr and Briar Forest pretty much along the path of THP from Highway 6.. As with any area in the city of Houston, you'll have your good ones and your crappy ones. I don't recall Memorial or Briar Forest around THP having really bad ones. Can't avoid them all.

  9. #9
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    surely the OP is not basing his decisions on the biking in Katy and the Woodlands...?

    with that said, Katy > Woodlands. the people are nicer.

  10. #10
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    Based on biking?

    Yep. That is a key factor, out the door access is actually really important to my wife and I (as well as low crime, lots of little kids for ours to pay with, and good schools).

    We have based our decsions on "where to ride" before in Colorado and California and we will do it again.

    Thanks for all of the help, keep suggestions or differing thoughts coming.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by twelve_volt_man
    Yep. That is a key factor, out the door access is actually really important to my wife and I (as well as low crime, lots of little kids for ours to pay with, and good schools).

    We have based our decsions on "where to ride" before in Colorado and California and we will do it again.

    Thanks for all of the help, keep suggestions or differing thoughts coming.
    GO BACK THERE! (Houston MTB is straight up terrible)
    WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by twelve_volt_man
    (as well as low crime, lots of little kids for ours to pay with, and good schools).

    can't go wrong with either katy or woodlands, in those regards. houston MTBing is almost nonexistant, but katy will get you closer to the great parks in midtown Houston (Terry Hershey, Memorial Park, etc.) for MTBing. if you want a more road bike friendly community, you'll much prefer the woodlands area.

  13. #13
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    I moved from SF Bay Area (Fremont) to Houston area ten years ago. I was president of ROMP at the time, rode all the local reas (ECdM, Wilder, SDF, Mission Peak, Purisima) and ventured out to Mt. Tam, Annadel, Boggs Mtn, Pioneer Trail, Downieville, and others. First off, you will miss MTBing in the Bay Area. A few good places outside Austin, and further away I suppose, but Houston and most of Texas is flat. And hot. And muggy.

    That said, welcome! I chose between The Woodlands and Kingwood, and chose TW. It is a planned community and while folks say it is snooty and "Stepford People" I found it had the right mix of schools, parks, entertainment, restaurants, stores, etc for my family. It was also closer to the company I was relocated to work for. The area also seems a lot more wooded... think Woodside or Portola Valley, just flat and hotter/more humid.

    Nearby riding? They built a small singletrack trail near where I live (off Flintridge). I have ridden Jones Park (just outside The Woodlands), Memorial Park, Cypresswood, and Terry Hersey Park (aka The Ant Hills). Think singletrack, minimal elevation changes. Crowded on weekends. And very hot and humid. I have driven as far away as Warda, aka Bluff Creek Ranch. A bit more elevation changes, a bit longer singletrack. Its a private ranch, so you pay a few bucks to ride on it, but less crowds and they also have showers, bathrooms, and bike rentals. About a two hour drive.

    Don't intend to diss Katy, a nice area that is growing very quickly. It is even more flat than The Woodlands and has fewer trees. But they are building nice communities out there and I think you can get a bit more for your money.

    Let me know if I can answer any questions...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by laxman2001
    GO BACK THERE! (Houston MTB is straight up terrible)
    I wouldn't bash on H-Town that bad. I was born and raised near Chicago and believe me that is terrible. Based on that I thought Houston was pretty good but I just got back after doing a 2 yr stint for work in CO which was phenominal. With that said I'm happy to be back to a way lower cost of living, lower taxes, lower elevation, and the general economic prosperity that TX offers. Plus winter sucks! LOL! Definitely worth going back for a vacation though!

  15. #15
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    I lived in Houston for several years and can't really understand why anyone likes it. I can understand living there because your job is there, but I wouldn't consider it to have any sort of quality of life. I guess if you measure quality of life by the amount of Best Buy's and chain restaurants then it's quite high. Katy and the Woodlands are the final points of ridiculous urban sprawl so take the travel distance into consideration. 1 hour commutes that turn into 2 hour commutes are not all that uncommon if you have one of the worse commute routes. Add to that the miserable weather, think south Florida without the nice beaches, and it's at the bottom of places to live in my book.

    If you don't have a choice and must relocate I would actually say I prefer the Woodlands. Why? All the trees just make it a nicer looking area. The differences after that don't really exist so go with the more scenic area.

    One other bicycling note. The west side, out toward Katy has the Alkek Velodrome, so if you want to add track riding to road and MTB then Katy would be the place to go.

  16. #16
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    ^^ Several years? Try 31.. Why would anyone want to live in Houston? I guess I didn't have a choice being born here. It is what it is. I have a very successful career going and doing well. Houston has a little bit of everything that I require to maintain a quality of living.
    With that said, if you were spoiled elsewhere, it's really hard to call Houston home..unless you grew up in a cruddy part of town and just absolutely hated life.

    Your dollar can go a long way here. If all else fails, there are plenty of other states and cities to choose from. Good luck!

  17. #17
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    i like the proximity of strip clubs to churches and schools personally, but a bit to muggy for me

  18. #18
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    Here's something to put into perspective.. This afternoon around 3:30pm I drove from the IAH (north Houston) area to west Houston taking the beltway aka toll way and it took me approximately 40 minutes. Yes, 40 mins of straight driving at 70-75 mph with bursts of 80. Traffic wasn't thick yet but it was building up. I can't imagine traveling from Kingwood or The Woodlands down into town everyday unless you absolutely have to (work).

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterm5365
    I lived in Houston for several years and can't really understand why anyone likes it. I can understand living there because your job is there, but I wouldn't consider it to have any sort of quality of life. I guess if you measure quality of life by the amount of Best Buy's and chain restaurants then it's quite high. Katy and the Woodlands are the final points of ridiculous urban sprawl so take the travel distance into consideration. 1 hour commutes that turn into 2 hour commutes are not all that uncommon if you have one of the worse commute routes. Add to that the miserable weather, think south Florida without the nice beaches, and it's at the bottom of places to live in my book.

    about par for the course for any Austinite commenting on Houston...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexrex20
    about par for the course for any Austinite commenting on Houston...
    I would have said the same thing when I was a Houstonian.

  21. #21
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    I live in Katy and my in-laws live in Woodlands so I have spent a fair amount of time in both. Woodlands is very nice with lots of bike paths between neighborhoods, has trees and is closer to Huntsville State Park which is a fun place to ride off road. I would think the commute to downtown would be brutal even with hov or bus. No traffic it is 20 minutes just to the beltway....South part of Katy area I can ride out door along bayous to Bush Park all the way to and through Terry Hershey either off road or on bike paths (admittedly the off road except Terry Hershey is nothing exciting). Community - toss up, commute - advantage Katy, Biking - slight edge Katy, mostly because of proximity to options.

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