Houston is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Lone Star State and a top choice for both families and professionals looking for a fresh start. Unfortunately, this growth and opportunity also lead to development and traffic.
If the thought of living in the metro area has always appealed to you, but you aren't a fan of smog, these cities near Houston offer a more laid-back and relaxed lifestyle. So, go ahead and load up the moving truck, spread your wings and put down some roots in these outlying cities.
Located just south of downtown Houston and less than an hour away from the beach, Pearland has a rich history dating back to 1894. Historic sites include Pearland's First United Methodist Church, the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad, Old Settlers Cemetery and Zychlinski Park.
Today, the city of Pearland is in high demand and is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Houston area. Residents are proud of attractions like the Pear-Scape art sculpture trail, the Pearl Theater, the Pearland Town Center and the world-famous Killen's Barbecue.
Perks of living in this suburban city include diversity, top-rated schools, a strong sense of community and beautiful parks. Popular public green spaces include the Shadow Creek Ranch Nature Trail, John Hargrove Environmental Complex, Independence Park and Centennial Park.
Sugar Land is a haven for those seeking urban amenities in a suburban setting. The city is home to its own minor league baseball team, town square, airport and even a brand-new state-of-the-art concert hall.
Other local attractions include world-class shopping and dining as well as various museums and green spaces like Oyster Creek Park and Sugar Land Memorial Park.
The demographics of Sugar Land are fairly diverse, and the city has one of the largest Asian populations in the Houston metro area. With the second-highest average household income on our list, life in Sugar Land is a sweet treat for those looking to splurge.
When you want to live near the beach but within commuting distance of downtown, League City is the place for you. Besides offering some of the cheapest rents on our list, League City also has historic appeal, a strong job market and world-class healthcare facilities.
The city's waterfront location provides residents with endless outdoor recreational activities and opportunities to explore nature, including fishing, kayaking and birding.
League City is adjacent to major attractions like the Kemah Boardwalk and Space Center Houston, popular with locals and tourists. Other notable landmarks include the League City Historic District, Butler Longhorn Museum and Challenger Seven Memorial Park.
Baytown is one of Houston's most overlooked commuter suburbs and boasts some of the cheapest rents in the metro area. With the shortest average commute time on our list, Baytown residents can spend more time enjoying the waterfront city.
In addition to the city's diversity, which includes a large local Hispanic population, recent revitalization has led to strong economic growth and development. Residents will find ample job opportunities, especially in the manufacturing and petrochemical fields.
Baytown is home to highly-rated schools, waterfront parks and notable attractions, including the popular Yepez Vineyard, the Baytown Nature Center, Pirates Bay Water Park, Bicentennial Park, Houston Raceway and the revamped San Jacinto Marketplace.
Baytown also offers facilities for the arts (including its own theatre and symphony), several annual festivals and historical sites. This bustling little city even has its own Downtown Arts District.
Nicknamed “The Livable Forest," Kingwood has been a top destination for Houston families for years.
The perks of living in this green suburban oasis include top-rated schools, 75 miles of greenbelt walking trails and a short commute to downtown Houston.
Popular local activities include waterfront dining at Kings Harbor, golfing at the Clubs of Kingwood, community events at the Town Center Park and upscale shopping at Main Street.
As a relatively large and well-appointed suburb, Kingwood offers its residents amenities of every kind, from advanced medical facilities to endless dining and retail options. Despite its size, Kingwood is a close-knit community with a ton of pride and has the feel of a small town.
Commonly known by locals as “Old Katy," this city offers residents a straight shot to downtown Houston along the Interstate 10 corridor. In Katy, it's easy to get that “everybody knows everybody" vibe along with a generous dose of southern hospitality.
All the charm of small-town life is here in this small city packed full of heritage and tradition. Both small businesses and families can thrive and enjoy local happenings like farmer's markets, craft shows, church events and community gatherings.
The popular Katy Independent School District boasts nationally recognized schools and winning sports teams to play under those “Friday Night Lights." Local pride is strong, and the city's history is rich in events and spots like the Katy Rice Festival, MKT Depot and Katy Heritage Park.
Developed as a master-planned unincorporated township, The Woodlands is widely renowned as being one of the best places to live in the whole state of Texas. As one might guess from the name, The Woodlands offers residents access to suburban living in a wooded environment filled with greenery, lakes, parks and winding country roads.
But don't let the area's scenic nature fool you. The Woodlands is also home to major development and commerce, including several leading hospitals, a 16,500-seat outdoor concert venue, multiple malls and outdoor shopping districts and many commercial office buildings for companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron Phillips and McKesson.
Additionally, The Woodlands Waterway draws in large numbers of visitors each year through its world-class dining, family-friendly resorts and well-appointed convention center.
As the favorite rural suburb of many locals, Tomball offers a taste of country living with easy access to big-city amenities. First settled in the mid-1800s, the Tomball area has grown by leaps and bounds while still providing an alternative to urban life.
The city's main attractions include authentic Texas experiences like the historic Tomball Railroad Depot Plaza, Old Town Tomball and Tomball Museum Center, as well as the award-winning Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue.
Community events and gatherings are a favorite local pastime, along with enjoying live music at Main Street Crossing, catching a Tomball High School Cougars game or browsing the weekly Tomball Farmers Market.
Centered around Lake Conroe, this city is an excellent option for outdoor lovers looking to truly get away from it all. Nearby Sam Houston National Forest and W. Goodrich Jones State Forest add to the area's natural beauty and appeal.
With one of the shortest commute times on our list, it is hard to imagine that such a peaceful lifestyle is found so close to the big city.
At the same time, Conroe is rapidly growing, and frequent community events and abundant recreational activities draw in large numbers of tourists. Annual festivals include the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival and Conroe KidzFest.
Conroe Independent School District has one of the highest graduation rates in the state, and the area includes many suburban neighborhoods for young families.
This bustling small town offers plenty of amenities and job opportunities, making Conroe an ideal place to call home.
With less development than many of the places on our list, the city of Magnolia still offers plenty of wide-open spaces for Houston-area residents seeking an escape.
The vibe of Magnolia is a bit like turning back the clock to a time of small-town simplicity, country living and laid-back cowboy culture. In fact, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Trail Ride rolls through town every spring, and there's even a Cowboy Church.
Despite this sleepy lifestyle, Magnolia is also home to a highly-rated school district, several burgeoning master-planned communities and the basic retail necessities.
All the other conveniences you may need are just minutes away in The Woodlands or Tomball.
Whether you're a first-time renter or have moved more times than you can count, you're bound to find the right place for you with our wide selection of rentals near Houston. If any of the cities on the list above sound appealing, start your search today and discover your next place.