Comment of the Day: The Secret Ingredients in Any Good Bedroom Community Recipe

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE SECRET INGREDIENTS IN ANY GOOD BEDROOM COMMUNITY RECIPE Illustration of Soggy Burger“The idea that The Woodlands is a mecca because of some secret sauce is absurd. Places like that can only exist in the vicinity of a larger city. The Woodlands has maintained itself as a high-end housing community, which is of course an achievement that took careful planning, but it’s entirely unsustainable without nearby cities to absorb the lower service economy sector/poorer individuals that any city needs and will have regardless. A similar point can be made about West U, which recently made some list about wealthy cities.” [MrEction, commenting on Avoiding the Lonely Drive to Work; Houston Olympics Speculation] Illustration: Lulu

6 Comment

  • Yes and no, because there is DEFINITELY a secret sauce and something all these communities have in common.
    It’s called paying lower Property Tax rates than the surrounding community that supports the infrastructure for their high paying jobs and lifestyles. Probably the single largest attraction to cluster together high net-worth individuals. After that you just have to find the right lawyers and officials to work with so the city doesn’t annex you.

  • Well yeah, the “free rider” problem that these guys present is definitely real and it’s more than a little aggravating.

  • Joel, I just commented in the original post that in many or even most cases, the property tax rates in desirable newer suburbs are higher than in the City of Houston. Now, if your home price is a lot less than an equivalent one in the City, you might still have a lower tax bill. But property tax rates in newer MUDs are frequently very high. Some incorporated suburbs also have higher property tax rates than Houston.

  • Before you get to property taxes, the first ingredient is to be located next to a major city from which to skim the high net worth individuals.

  • Local Planner, point well noted and my comment was really in reference to the well established $MM hoods like Woodlands, West U, Bellaire and The Villages.

  • It seems to cut both ways. Moneyed suburbanites can sometimes carve out an enclave, but their tax rates are sometimes higher or lower than the larger city that they orbit. There is a symbiosis going on there too, as without the Woodlands/West U/Bellaire, etc., the big, high end property tax sources in the Houston proper don’t have people to operate, patronize, or slave away in between commuting and sleeping hours. As joel points out, sometimes you get annexed because you did such a good job of planning out a community and maintaining its desirability (Kingwood, Clear Lake) while your less organized neighbors closer to the city (Atascocita, Sagemont) got passed over because they weren’t such a sweet deal for the city from a cash flow perspective. So, I don’t think there’s a free rider dynamic consistently one way or the other, but there are lots of choices along the spectrum that gives folks different options to pay for or not one way or the other here in the metro area.