Two Houston-area communities make CNN's most affordable list, but are theirhidden costs worth it?
We all know that money can buy a home, a car, and perhaps even peace of mind — but it can't buy happiness. ... or health. That's why CNN Money's special, "Where homes are affordable" should be approached with the understanding that a stronger dollar doesn't necessarily yield a happier and healthier population.
Two communities in the Houston area made the 25 city countdown: Lake Jackson at number two and Deer Park at number 10. If you look at the entire list, you may notice that many are suburban, several are master-planned, and most have an overwhelmingly Anglo racial makeup (we're talking 80 percent or greater, with some as high as 98 percent white).
Lake Jackson, about an hour south of Houston, is the birthplace of Tejano superstar Selena and longtime home town of Ron Paul. The "City of Enchantment" was designed by Alden Dow in the 1940s to house Dow Chemical Company employees. The town boasts a median family income of $91,922, homes with a median price tag of $125,000, and 17 golf courses within a 30-mile radius.
Drive 25 minutes east from downtown on the Pasadena Freeway and — smell those chemicals? — you're in Deer Park. The median family income there is $80,721, and the median home price is $131,250. The city encompasses the Shell Oil complex and other plants, and exposure to chemicalreleases is really only a small price to pay. Debbie Westbeld, the city's economic development administrator, tells CNN Money, "There's a lot of disposable income [here]. Everybody has a boat or a four-wheeler."