The Five Most Overrated Neighborhoods In Houston

Last week we told you about Houston's most underrated neighborhoods; now it's time to determine the area's most overrated places to live.

Where to begin? Let us travel north for starters.

5. The Woodlands Recently the author of something called The Nordstrom Guide to Everyday Dressing called The Woodlands "hip," for reasons that are as clear to us as why anyone would buy a book called The Nordstrom Guide to Everyday Dressing. The Woodlands is a place where you never, ever escape the movie-set feeling of unreality: it's like a meticulously planned version of what a bucolic suburb should be, but it's like living in The Sims rather than reality. When the focus point of your neighborhood's existence is a mall with overpriced touches like gondola rides, you're not "hip." Except maybe to a Nordstrom's publicist.

4. Kingwood The northern suburb that isn't The Woodlands. Yeah, it's got a lot of trees and trails. But you can only see so many McMansions before your brain gets scrambled. And that commute up and down 59 -- is that really worth some trees?

3. Bellaire A nice, 1950s suburb, filled with comfortable houses on big lots, has become a collection of ostentatious, overbuilt modern monstrosities with teeny little bits of lawn. An over-aggressive police force, people inordinately proud to be zoned to Bellaire High, and a general feeling of disappointment that they're not in West U lead to an overall blahness.

2. Montrose Oh, not the Montrose of old, the one filled with bungalows, odd shops, and weird little apartments and duplexes. But modern Montrose? Filled with shoddy-looking cookie-cutter townhomes, strip shopping centers, and a constant stream of death notices for former neighborhood landmarks? That Montrose is overrated. Still better than a lot of neighborhoods, but not what it used to be, and not what oldtimers think of when they hear "Montrose." Sic transit gloria, and all that.

1. River Oaks Yeah, it's for the upper crust, to which none of us mere mortals can aspire. But why would we want to? Monuments to bad taste, very few of which seem to think much of concepts like subtlety or minimalism, are arrayed in roads crowded with overstuffed luxury SUVs. The sense of self-satisfied entitlement is as pungent as refinery burnoff in La Porte, the prices are inflated to the "if you have to ask" level, the whole thing....we'll pass. Not that we'd ever qualify for such anointed ground.

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