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In terms of quality of life, Conroe offers residents water-adjacent living and lush forests — and that’s not just for home owners.

A new study by the RentCafe website places Conroe No. 3 in the country when it comes to the best cities for renters. In in its new ranking of the top U.S. cities for renters in 2022, RentCafe also ranks Houston No. 19 further down the list.

Conroe, according to RentCafe, comes in third place in terms of cost of living and housing, making it “very appealing” to renters. More than 70 percent of apartments there are high-end, which ensures a diverse selection of high-quality dwelling. The area’s warm weather, myriad lakes, and green spaces create the perfect location for active residents and nature-lovers.

To come up with the ranking, RentCafe analyzed 17 factors, including measurements related to cost of living, quality of rental housing, economic strength, and quality of life. The rental platform reviewed data for hundreds of cities before arriving at 115 contenders.

Elsewhere in Texas, the Austin suburb of Round Rock comes it a No. 1 on the list. A dozen of the cities in the study’s top 50 are in Texas:

  • Round Rock, No. 1
  • Conroe, No. 3
  • Austin, No. 10
  • Plano, No. 13
  • San Antonio, No. 18
  • Houston, No. 19
  • Fort Worth, No. 20
  • Lubbock, No. 21
  • Amarillo, No. 23
  • Odessa, No. 39
  • San Marcos, No. 41
  • Dallas, No. 49

“Small cities tend to offer the best life for renters, representing half of our top 50 — despite the fact that some people might expect larger cities to suit renters’ needs the best. In fact, many of these smaller cities are suburbs of large metros and are often clustered in the Southern and Southeastern United States,” RentCafe explains. “What they all have in common is a healthy pace of new apartment construction and a great selection of amenity-rich properties.”

Photo courtesy of Dolce Midtown Apartments

This is how much Houston's apartment rent spiked in one year

Cost-of-living concerns

Houstonians who feel their rents increasing now know just how much across the city. New data from rental platform Zumper reveals that rents in the Greater Houston area jumped 9.9 percent from February 2021 to February 2022.

By the numbers, that increase puts Houston at No. 49 overall nationally. The average rent here for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,200, while a two-bedroom flat is $1,490, at a 7.2 percent increase in one year.

“Rent’s rapid rise is largely tied to the home sales market. As home prices rise, they price out renters who would otherwise buy,” Zumper says. “And because the home sales market has gotten so hypercompetitive, many frustrated renters in the market for a home have simply given up because the process is so exhausting and demoralizing.”

As a result, the home sales market is keeping some tenants in the rental market longer than they’d like to be, leading to higher rents overall, according to Zumper.

Among the 100 cities included in Zumper’s latest rental index, Miami experienced the steepest year-over-year rise in the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment — 34.4 percent.

In Texas, Austin recorded the highest increase in the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment (30.3 percent) from February 2021 to February 2022, Zumper says. This February, the average rent there was $1,550.

Elsewhere in the state, average rent for one-bedroom apartment in San Antonio climbed 11.3 percent from February 2021 to February 2022, winding up at $1,080. Near Dallas-Fort Worth, Plano has witnessed the biggest one-year jump in the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment, some 17.1 percent to $1,440, Zumper says. Dallas landed at No. 3 in the region, with a 13.4 percent jump. The average rent in Dallas was $1,440, according to Zumper. In Fort Worth, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment climbed 9 percent to $1,210, while it increased 8.4 percent in Arlington to $1,030.

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Here's how much rents have increased in Houston in the past 7 years

large leases

It's not just the price of milk, meat and gas rising. So is rent, and it's rising too much for some renters to keep afloat.

CultureMap news partner ABC13's data team compiled numbers of rent from the past seven years in several cities across the country. What it discovered is rent is up 39 percent compared to seven years ago.

In Houston, rent has gone from $1,230 a month in 2014 to $1,515 in 2021. It's an increase that renters know too well. Houston Apartment Association member Stephanie Graves said like everything else, rent is rising. The cost to build and renovate is increasing, and so are the taxes landlords have to pay.

ABC13 data shows rent is up 23 percent in Houston over the past seven years. However, it climbed 10 percent in just the past year.

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Continue reading this article on our news partner ABC13.

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Houston ranks among the worst U.S. cities for single renters

Money-saving move

Houstonians frowning at their rent bill each month have good reason to grumble.

Surprisingly, Houston appears at No. 9 in a new ranking of the cities with the least affordable studio apartments. Here, median monthly rent is $1,449, gobbling up a little over 28 percent of the average income for a single person ($62,003). That works out to 4.55 percent year-over-year, per the report.

Apartment List says studio apartments tend to be cheaper than one-bedroom apartments by about 5 percent.

“Studio apartments are usually ideal for a single renter in urban areas with high rental price tags. Opting for a cozy studio vs. one-bedroom apartment could save you tons of money,” Apartment List says. “Of course, with those savings come sacrifices of space and privacy.”

Wichita, Kansas, tops the RentHop list of affordable digs for a single person, with median monthly rent of just $500 for a studio apartment. There, a single person with an average income would need to spend just 13.6 percent of their income to live alone.


Elsewhere in Texas, Dallas-Fort Worth appears at No. 15 on the list of the least affordable rent for singles. In Fort Worth, the median monthly rent for a studio apartment is $1,264, with singles typically spending 27 percent of their average income ($56,140) to live alone, according to RentHop.

Dallas is not far behind, landing at No. 17 for the least affordable studios. In Big D, median monthly rent for a studio apartment is $1,427, consuming nearly 26.5 percent of the average income of $64,734 for a single person, the report says.

Meanwhile, San Antonio grabs the No. 13 spot among cities with the least affordable rent for singles. In Alamo City, median monthly rent is $1,088, accounting for slightly more than 27.1 percent of the average income for a single person ($48,136).

San Antonio notches a dubious second-place finish among the cities witnessing the biggest year-over-year spike in median monthly rent for a studio apartment in 2021. The increase in San Antonio was nearly 21 percent, just behind Boston.

Austin lands at No. 28 among the cities based on the least affordability. In Austin, a studio apartment commands median rent of $1,452 a month, representing 23.3 percent of the average income of $74,655 for a single person.

For its Singles Index, RentHop combed through about 1.2 million studio listings on RentHop in 2020 and 2021, and paired that with income data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The RentHop Singles Index deviates considerably from a ranking published in January 2021 by Apartment Guide of the U.S. cities with the most affordable studio apartments.

To come up with its ranking, Apartment Guide looked at the average price of a studio apartment in cities with a population of more than 100,000 (a broader group than the RentHop report). Then, Apartment Guide ranked the cities with the highest percentage of studios that are cheaper than the city’s average.

On Apartment Guide’s list, Portland, Oregon, landed at No. 1 for the most affordable studio apartments. The highest-ranking Texas city was Carrollton (No. 5).

Photo courtesy of Broadstone Memorial Park

Memorial Park is your backyard at these upscale Houston apartments

Welcome Home

In search of your next dream apartment? At Broadstone Memorial Park, live where blissful nature meets urban convenience.

This thoughtfully designed community is situated just across I-10 from lush Memorial Park, and runs adjacent to some of Houston’s most exciting, fastest-growing neighborhoods.

And it’s all about the upscale amenities — residents can take advantage of everything from a rooftop deck with an outdoor kitchen to a putting green to a sizable pool.

Check out what Broadstone Memorial Park has to offer:

Location, location, location
Located at the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and I-10, the property boasts easy access to all of Houston’s vital roadways. Surrounding neighborhoods include the booming Heights, as well as the affluent Rice Military and River Oaks. Washington Corridor is less than a mile away, where you’ll find some of the city’s best restaurants, cafes, shops, and nightlife spots.

Popular eateries like Porta Vino, Velvet Taco, Standard, and Canyon Creek Cafe Bar & Grill are all nearby, as is the new food hall Railway Heights.

Grab coffee at Catalina Coffee, relax after work with a glass of red at Max’s Wine Dive, and end the week at Sugar Room, a high-end speakeasy hidden behind a pastry shop — just to name a few of the buzz-worthy, unique dining and drinking options in the area.

And, of course, Memorial Park is just a stone’s throw away. This bustling green expanse is one of the biggest urban parks in the country, with amenities that include a top-rated 18-hole golf course, forested trails for cycling and hiking, a three-mile running loop, a public pool, and fields for soccer, baseball, and softball, among others.

The features
With 358 spacious units in a swanky mid-rise building, Broadstone Memorial Park is the epitome of urban elegance. Residents can choose between one- and two-bedroom apartments, all of which are outfitted with Energy Star-certified, stainless-steel appliances.

Sleek design touches abound, like gleaming Euro-style cabinetry, quartz countertops, and gray wood laminate. Some units have balconies, kitchen pantries, and islands, and all units are equipped with full-size washer and dryers and spacious closets. Here, on-site convenience meets luxe living.

The amenities
You’ll have everything you need (and then some) when you make your home at Broadstone Memorial Park. This pet-friendly community features both a dog spa and pet park for your furry friend to enjoy, and there are various gathering areas and coworking spaces scattered around, with lots of leafy, tree-lined views.

Get your workout in at the state-of-the-art fitness center, then cool off in the landscaped pool that's dotted with private cabanas and towering palm trees. Take in views of the glittering skyline from the roof deck, where you can also prepare meals in the outdoor kitchen. There’s even a putting green, complete with a lounge and refreshment bar — in short, you may have trouble leaving the premises.

Get in touch
Ready to sign the lease on your new home? Visit the website or call 833-272-9450 to sign up for a tour and find out more, and follow Broadstone Memorial Park on Facebook and Instagram.

The units offer plenty of natural light.

Photo courtesy of Broadstone Memorial Park
The units offer plenty of natural light.
Courtesy photo

New Houston renters are swarming in from this Texas city most, new report says

the u-haul expressway

There’s a very logical reason why you might be spotting more moving trucks on I-45 these days.

In a new report from Apartment List, Houston ranks as the most popular destination for Dallas renters looking to move somewhere else. Apartment List says 6.5 percent of Dallas renters hunting for an apartment outside the metro area are searching in Houston, followed by Tulsa (4.9 percent) and Oklahoma City (4.6 percent).

In other words, I-45, the main artery between Houston and Dallas, very well could earn the nickname “the U-Haul Expressway.”

Here in Houston, the top sources for outside-the-area renters are Dallas, 13.8 percent; Austin, 4.6 percent; and Atlanta, 4.1 percent. As for Houston renters eyeing other metro areas, the top three destinations are Dallas, 12.7 percent; Austin, 12.3 percent; and San Antonio, 11.1 percent.

The report shows 24.5 percent of renters looking for a place to live in Houston are searching from outside the metro area, and 31.3 percent of Houston renters are pondering a move to a different metro area.

Meanwhile, among outside-the-metro renters searching for an apartment in Dallas, 13.3 percent are from Houston, making it Big D’s No. 1 source of potential new arrivals. That’s followed by Austin (4.6 percent) and San Antonio (3.1 percent).

In all, 34.7 percent of apartment hunters living in the Dallas area are looking to move away from the metro area, and 24.5 percent of those seeking somewhere to live in Dallas are searching from outside the metro area.

The report is based on Apartment List searches that occurred between July 1 and September 30.

Apartment List says debates around the country over rent control, zoning, eviction bans, and other matters affecting renters could result in even more renters moving around.

“All of these shifts have the potential to accelerate migration as renters reconsider how their current living arrangements align with their housing preferences, their work arrangements, and their financial standing,” Apartment List says.

Elsewhere in Texas
To the west of Houston, the Apartment List classifies Austin as a “revolving door” for renters based on high turnover. Among the 50 major metros featured, Austin ranks sixth for the share of searches from renters looking to move to a different metro (47 percent) and seventh for the share of searches from outside-the-metro renters seeking to head to Austin (45.2 percent). Two other tech hubs — San Jose, California, and Raleigh, North Carolina — also fall into the “revolving door” category.

Apartment List suggests Austin, San Jose, and Raleigh are experiencing the “revolving door” phenomenon because all three boast high shares of workers in remote-friendly jobs.

“We have seen this dynamic play out in local rent prices, where over the last 18 months these cities experienced dramatic rent declines followed by similarly dramatic rent rebounds as residents cycle in and out of the rental market,” Apartment List says.

According to the report, Austin’s top sources of outside-the-metro renters are Houston, 22 percent; Dallas, 12.6 percent; and San Antonio, 9.7 percent. The top destinations for renters looking to move out of the Austin metro area are San Antonio, 30 percent; Dallas, 7.5 percent; and Corpus Christi, 7.3 percent.

As for the San Antonio area, a whopping 44 percent of apartment searches are from outside the region. The top drivers of that traffic are Austin, 31.7 percent; Houston, 19.8 percent; and Dallas, 8 percent.

When it comes to the 29.8 percent of San Antonio renters plotting relocation to another metro area, the top destinations are Austin, 18.2 percent; Dallas, 10.1 percent; and Houston, 8.1 percent.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' BBQ joint's Katy outpost closure leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' barbecue joint's Katy location quietly closes. Sadly, the local outpost couldn't replicate the magic of the original in Llano.

2. Ken Hoffman urges Houston travelers to keep calm and enjoy the trip at the new-look Bush IAH. Our columnist explains why travelers might be in "for a big, pleasant surprise at Houston’s Bush-Intercontinental Airport."

3. Houston's most spectacular winter light shows and events dazzle for the holidays. We rounded up where to see dazzling lights with family, friends, and visitors.

4. Disgraced Theranos CEO and former Houstonian Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years for fraud. Additionally, Holmes faces a fine of $400 million.

5. Houston's NASA leaders 'giddy' after historic Artemis 1 moon flyby. The spacecraft cruised just 81 miles above the lunar surface.

Disney's Strange World is a visual stunner with too many story ideas

Movie Review

For a studio whose entire reason for being seems to rely on creating and sustaining familiar characters, Walt Disney Animation takes its fair share of risks. In the last 10 years, it has released nine films, seven of which were not based on pre-existing properties (the other two were sequels for two of those seven). That’s a lot of new stuff, most of which has succeeded mightily for the perennially-popular leaders in animation.

They’re at it again with Strange World, which takes place in an unknown country/world known as Avalonia, where Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a famous explorer whose only desire is to find a way over, around, or through the imposing mountains surrounding the land. His son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), doesn’t share his enthusiasm, and an early discovery by Searcher of a unique energy source leads to a rift between father and son. Jaeger continues onwards, while Searcher returns home with a plant they call Pando that creates harmony throughout the land.

Years later, when the plant shows signs of failure, Searcher is recruited by Avalonia leader Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) to help in an expedition to find the source of whatever is attacking Pando. What they and others – including Searcher’s wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) – find in their travels certainly lives up to the title.

Co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen and written by Nguyen, the film is a visual stunner. The quality of animation in Disney movies rarely fails to impress, and Strange World is the latest and greatest example. Whether it’s the humans, the landscape, or the innumerable weird creatures that populate the film, there is almost nothing that doesn’t deserve to be stared at and admired.

It’s odd, then, that the story does not come close to matching the graphics. There are a variety of reasons for this failure. Nguyen is the sole credited writer, and he stuffs the film full of big and small ideas, probably too many for this type of project. Searcher’s family and the world of Avalonia and beyond are diverse in multiple ways, to the point that it feels like Nguyen was trying to include everything he could think of in case he never got another shot.

The bigger sin, though, is how quickly the film advances through its plot, often bringing up new things out of nowhere. While Searcher and his family make for an interesting group, the side characters never make an impact. There are also multiple instances where the story takes a turn that makes no sense, either in the world of the film or a storytelling manner.

This includes the final act of the film, which features a significant twist that is presented and accepted in a way that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. It adds on yet another message in a movie that contains a lot of them, but in a way that even those inclined to believe in what it’s trying to say may wonder why that part is there at all.

The science fiction element of Strange World is a bonanza for the filmmakers and animators to go as wild as they wanted in the visual department. But all that splendor is in service of a story that just doesn’t measure up, making it one of Disney’s less successful offerings in recent years.

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Strange World is now playing in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World

Affluent Houston suburb leads region for highest holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Sugar Land as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Sugar Land is $2,793 per person, the 15th highest in the nation. As CultureMap previously reported, Sugar Land residents here make an average of $123,261; the average home price is $337,600.

Fittingly, Fort Bend, home to Sugar Land, was recently named the second-richest county in Texas.

As for Greater Houston, Santa's bag could be a mixed bag, with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling far behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

Elsewhere in Texas, 10 North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Flower Mound, No. 3, $3,531 (The only Texas city in the top 10)
  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630
  • Fort Worth, No. 366, $890
  • Dallas, No. 401, $845

Spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, CT with a budget of only $211.