Comment of the Day: Our House

COMMENT OF THE DAY: OUR HOUSE “I imagine that a lot of people are like us: we lived in a 1500 sqft old bungalow in the Heights during our DINKhood, but cashed out and moved to the burbs once the children came. Now we have 3000+ sqft and 4 baths for our growing family and for visiting family. We have no extended family in Houston (this thread has already established the fact that no one is actually from Houston) so we have to house a lot of people throughout the year. The big house helps. We do miss Heights-style living, but function trumps form now, and the burbs aren’t that bad. Another thing: A lot of professionals that I work with have no intention of living in Houston long term. They are here for the cash and aren’t terribly concerned about building up the fabric of the inner loop. They may not particularly like living in suburban Houston, but [it’s] cheap and temporary.” [CV, commenting on Comment of the Day: Battle Hymn of the Inner Loop]

23 Comment

  • Yeah, I just bought an old 1900 house in Montrose. I could fit a kid or two in here (I’m young, have gf, but kidless) but any more than that and I’d have to burb it. God willing I’d be able to buy the size house I need in this area but who knows what I’ll be doing if/when kid #3 comes along :)

  • From the burbs (Klein) and I’m never going back, property prices or otherwise. In a similar boat as the above although outside of Houston is a no go, plenty of good Catholic Schools for the kids (later) inside the loop.

  • My wife and I are currently enjoying our “dinkhood” in the Heights. We are in a 1384 sqft bungalow, and love it. When we talk about whether we would need to move when kids come, we always marvel at how it used to be common for a family of 4, 5, or 6 to live in a house the size of ours.
    The wife is holding out hope that we will be able to afford a camelback when the time comes.

  • My Heights bungalow was originally built for a family of 5. They moved from the Chapell Hill area in search of a better life in the city. I’m sure the house was a big step up for them, but 5 people in a 950 sf house seems really cramped by today’s standards.

  • Get rid of the second and third TVa (or the all of them), you do not need a media room or a play room – ditch the formal dining and living. Donate all the useless crap. Organize the garage and all the closets – and heck yeah you can have a couple of kiddos in these small houses…. and feel damn good about it the whole time.

  • I feel sorry for CV who doesn’t know any born and raised Houstonians … we are not a dying breed!

  • I was at a party in August and the conversation steered to electric bills. The host has a 3 bedroom 2 bath house in Westbury and his bill was over $500 for July. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that mine was $126.

  • If you DINKs become parents, your moment of truth will come when you face the beast known as HISD. Bright, highly motivated kids who get in a good magnet do well, but woe to the kids with learning diabilites, quirky personalities or a lack of test taking skills at 4 years old.
    Then the big decision – Do you put 7,10,15 thoudands a year into private school tutition (per child) or do you put that money toward a house or their college?
    That too is why The Heights is a transient neighborhood. Once the kids are grown, some move back. Very empty nesty on my block.

  • Finness – I know loads of Heights families whose kids have successfully negotiated HISD and been accepted to prestigious universities all across the country. What they all have in common is parents who stayed involved in their kids educations, which includes learning what schools to attend, who to talk to, and so on. It is not nearly as bleak as you describe.
    FYI – kids with disabilities and quirky personalities fall through the cracks in suburbia, too.

  • I live in a tiny bungalow in the Heights with a little one. The idea that you need 3-4000 sq ft for a family is just ridiculous. We do just fine with two beds and one bath. In fact it has been a blessing in disguise in hard times. When ever we see something we want to buy that we don’t really need (exercise machine, kayak, A/V toys, kitchen crap), we realize that even if we could afford it we don’t have room for it. The result is that we have more money to go to sporting events, take vacations, eat out, and live a better life. There is more to life than having a bunch of stuff.

  • Mies – If the implication is that I am uninvolved … I have 26 very involved Vanguard and magnet parent years in HISD and ended up before the school board with them apologizing to me. It is a long story but not an uncommon story, as I learned along the way.
    As one teacher put it – “We have standardized tests. Unfortunately, we don’t have standardized children.”
    If you have a non-standard child, HISD is a total crap shoot with the house winning most of the time because they WANT you to leave.

  • 1100 sq ft,

    We are in fact relative minimalists when it comes to stuff. I guess that I could whittle my “needs” down to a sleeping bag, grill, and a six-pack, but I prefer the capacity to host visiting relatives in comfort. Or a growing family. Bottom line is that I find neither living situation “ridiculous.”

  • Wow, are there really so few native Houstonians on this website? I am a 4th generation Houstonian, and if you include Galveston, my family goes back even more generations before that. I have lived all over the US, and also in England for many years, and I finally came back here to Houston, strangely enough. True, I came back for a job, but also most of my family and friends are here. About the only place my spouse and I would rather live now is (wait for it) AUSTIN!! :)

  • Careful CV, My Grandpa moved to Houston 40 years ago with your same mentality… but he’s still here (and so is our entire family now). As for inner loop, my wife and I could never live in a small Heights bungalow. Instead, we live in a larger Midtown townhouse that gives us space for kids/guests, a small side yard, and at the cost of a small Heights bungalow. IMHO, town-homes are the way to go.

  • Brian — I don’t share the mentality of my coworkers. I’m actually looking to put down some roots. When we moved from the Heights we didn’t look for “cheap and temporary” suburbia.

  • I have friends and family who live out in the suburbs, and although their beatiful fancy big houses and yards are two, three, four or five times as big as mine, we all “live” in the same square footage. And you know what, I like that just fine! :-)

  • I think the amount of space a family requires to live in depends entirely on the size of the family. To claim that anyone living in more than 1100sq.ft is some kind of slave to consumerism is the sort of extremism that gets this discussion nowhere. My family lives in about 2500 sq.ft and we happily use every square foot of that space every day. I also pay a hell of a lot less than $500 a month for electricity. Hellsing, I would think you need to tell your friend he has got either a crappy rate, crappy insulation or an unhealthy desire to live in an icebox.

  • Never said that anyone who lived in a large house was a slave to consumerism. I said that it was a beneficial burden to live in a small space. You only buy things you absolutely need because there is so little room. And anything you no longer need gets whisked off to Goodwill pretty quickly. But it is interesting that you read my post that way. Maybe you are a slave to consumerism.

  • Jimbo– you have 2,500 in the Heights? Are you some kind of millionaire!? ;-)

  • My husband and I live in about 1000 sq feet, 3 bed 1 bath house in Oak Forest, a very typical 1950s ranch. We hardly ever have friends over because theres just not enough room. (Yes, snarky, we have friends) We hang out on the patio in the nice big back yard in part because it extends the usable space of the house. But definately the main issue is the “one bathroom” thing–it really gets old. Sometimes you just may both have to use the bathroom at the same time. Luckily we have a really good marriage :) and no kids, because I can’t even imagine having kids in a house with one bathroom!

  • Matt said:

    “Get rid of the second and third TVa (or the all of them), you do not need a media room or a play room”

    WOW; I disagree.

    I have a 28’X 20′ media room, wet bar, 1080p front projector, 110″ screen, 7.2 surround sound. Movies, sports, I live in that room. I cannot imaging life without it.

  • Jimbo: his house is a little larger than your, I believe, and he has a pool as well. Every time I’ve been over thre, it’s been very cold inside. He likes the contrast between the outside heat and indoor cold – who am I to judge? And you hit one of the key words – “family”. As I mentioned in another thread, not everyone has children. Not everyone without children wants to live in a condo or townhouse. Many smaller homes are perfect for single people or couples with the desire and time to keep up a yard, but they are simply not being built anymore. One of our marketing reps bought a townhouse in Westchase because that’s what she could afford, but freely admits that two bedrooms are empty and closed off because she has no use for them. In fact, she rarely goes upstairs. But that’s just life – bigger is always better. At least that’s what a lot of my inbox spam tells me.

  • “this thread has already established the fact that no one is actually from Houston”

    What?! Who said THAT? I’m a fifth generation Houstonian; the only time I’ve ever even lived out of the loop was when I lived out-of-state for college – and I couldn’t WAIT to get back here.

    God bless Houston!