Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What Families Want

When Steve and I looked for a community to call home, we didn't go back to our native States--New York and Michigan--because we hated the snow, ice and gloom. We had lived in Southern California, and while it's delightful when young and single, there was no way in heck we'd live there with a family. So we scouted Arizona (too dry), Colorado (snowy, sunny, overvalued) and at our friends' behest, Houston (yes Houston), Texas.

Who expects to love Houston, or rather a suburb of Houston? That's right, no one. But you get here and love it. I've had so many people tell me this from every diverse background.

Still, city planners scoff. Houston is spread out. Houston doesn't have a "real" down-town. Houston is hot, humid, buggy, and miserable in the summer. Houston is a dirty, oil town. Houston is a cow town (this from an irony-disabled Dallas dweller).

City planners are stupid. As Joel Kotkin notes in his Wall Street Journal editorial:

Advocates of the brew-latté-and-they-will-come approach often point to greater Portland, Ore., which has experienced consistent net gains of educated workers, including families. Yet most of that migration--as well as at least three quarters of the region's population and job growth--has been not to the increasingly childless city, but to the suburban periphery. This pattern holds true in virtually every major urban region.
Here's what Houston suburbs have: planned communities, good schools, access to culture, jobs, jobs, jobs, cheap housing, etc. Sure single people might like the city. I'm a mom with three kids and I like the city. But I don't like it that much--not enough to live there.

I want to take my kids for a walk and go to parks safely. I want room. I want a mall within minutes and the grocery even closer. In short, I want the suburb of a big city. And there are lots of people just like me.

City planners need to remember the dull, boring families. We do exist.

H/T Instapundit


Anonymous said...

Advocates of the brew-latté-and-they-will-come approach...

Whose latte-sippers are normally professional singles with non-procreative sexual proclivities or other reasons (I Gotta Be ME!) why they will die without issue. (And when they do, who gets all their nifty Toys?)

Before modern sanitation, cities used to be mortality sinks, with death rates exceeding birth rates. Now they're becoming latte-sipping fertility sinks, but the end result is the same.

Unknown said...

You're kidding, right?


I moved away from Houston (Katy) last year, thank goodness. I'm a born & raised SoCal boy, too.

Houston has the worst traffic I've ever seen. And I've driven in LA, Chicago, Boston, and Manhattan. Worst drivers, by far. Most construction.

Cookie-cutter, 2400-sq ft houses for $150k, sure. But how about those electricity bills & property taxes? And try finding a tree anywhere in all those new subdivisions.

Man, I guess the wounds are still fresh....

Melissa Clouthier said...


My poor dear, reader! It is great to have a Californian reading. Thank you!

When we started in Houston, we started in Katy, too. It sucked. The traffic on I-10 is an abomination. We hated it.

So we looked around Houston and moved to The Woodlands. It is wonderful! Trees everywhere! All levels of homes -- big ones, small ones.

Sure, Houston and even the Woodlands lacks a bit of history, so the architecture is pretty homogenous. But, a family can LIVE here. And that's a great thing.

Unknown said...

Okay, I'll give you the Woodlands. We are now in Raleigh, NC and it reminds me of the Woodlands in a lot of ways.

At least you'll have a head start on everyone else when the next hurricane comes. And you're closer to Chuy's! We have to go to Atlanta for Pappasito's.... :(

Melissa Clouthier said...


I have a brother-in-law in North Carolina. Along with Virginia, North Carolina seems almost perfect. Ocean, mountains, moderate winters, all the seasons.

Houston is a big, flat rice patty, I'll give you that. Texas in general is not the most beautiful state, but I still love it here. Go figure!