How far out will Houston grow?The front page headline in the Sunday Houston Chronicle:
Houston's final frontier: How far out will we go?
An inexhaustible housing demand and buyers' willingness to commute push city boundaries in all directions
"Houston is growing by leaps and bounds. And it's growing in all directions," said Mike Manners, president of Houston-based Elan Development.
Though opposition to growth in some parts of the country has sparked heated battles over land-use controls, developers here faced little resistance in outer counties where rapid growth is often seen as a plus by local leaders. ...
Although many urban planners and educators focus on the rebirth of cities and their influx of empty nesters and baby boomers, that's only a small part of the story, said Joel Kotkin, a fellow at the Los Angeles-based New America Foundation. More than 75 percent of the houses sold in the greater-Houston area last year were outside Beltway 8, according to Crawford Realty Advisors.
The suburbs are going to grow much faster than cities, said Kotkin, who studies economic and social trends. ''It's the schools, the back yards, the parks. It's safety," he said.
I would argue that the Internet has also helped. More and more people find themselves in jobs that don't require going into the office every day. Work at home and travel are more and more common rather than trips to the office. A 2+hour round-trip commute is crazy five days/week, but not so bad maybe 2-3 days/week, especially if that gets you your dream home and neighborhood at an affordable price.
Answer to the original headline question: not as far as you might think. This was actually the topic of my third post on this blog way back in early March. Go there for the long-term answer.