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LBS near Rice University in Houston?

LBS near Rice University in Houston?

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Old 12-01-10, 01:37 PM
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bhdavis1978
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LBS near Rice University in Houston?

Hey all,

I'm visiting Rice University for a few days for a job interview and I'm staying at the Hilton close by. Any good LBS that anyone can recommend checking out? I asked about living in Houston a few months ago and I had a good thread, but I can't find it now. Can anyone help me out?

Brad
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Old 12-01-10, 05:31 PM
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Bike Barn just opened a new store in the area.
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Old 12-01-10, 06:21 PM
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Bike Barn moved from Rice Village to Weslayan, just off Bissonnet. It's about 2 miles west of its old location. There's also Bicycle World on Rice Blvd between Kirby & Kelvin.

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Old 12-01-10, 06:49 PM
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Bikesport is my favorite in the Houston area. Just on the other side of 59.

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Old 12-02-10, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by alpha_bravo View Post
Bikesport is my favorite in the Houston area. Just on the other side of 59.
+1

I'm also a big supporter of West End Bikes - just east of Memorial Park.
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Old 12-02-10, 06:21 AM
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You could walk across Herman Park to Boone's.

Oh, and good luck on the job interview!
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Old 12-02-10, 03:08 PM
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There are good things about each of the places already mentioned! Boone's is the most eclectic, and worth a visit just for the museum-like atmosphere. The Rice U/Med Center area is really quite a nice, centralized place from which to visit bike shops, and gain access to bike paths and bike-friendly public streets.

Cyclone Cycles on West Holcombe is another place to see, if one likes small independent shops, though the new stuff they handle seems more toward the budget end. I have seen some really interesting pre-owned bikes there.

Keep in mind that Bikesport and Boone's are both closed Mondays, and Boone's is closed Sundays.
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Old 12-03-10, 06:49 PM
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I visited Houston a few weeks ago and went to quite a few shops in that area. Boone's is worth seeing at least once, plus if you need a freewheel cog and have the time to dig for it, it's a good resource.

I was put-off by my experience at the new Bike Barn on a few levels, it didn't offer anything unique over any other big store.
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Old 12-03-10, 09:32 PM
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So I think I got the job. I don't have a formal offer on the table yet, but I think that's coming next week given everything my potential new boss said. They showed me a pretty good time while I was here- I was picked up at the airport in a limo, put up at the Hilton, and taken out for dinner every night. I've never been on a job interview before where I felt like they were trying to impress me as much as I was trying to impress them. I really want the job, it is doing exactly what I want to be doing, it's a really exciting, dynamic group, and Rice seems like a great University.

I spent most of today checking out the area around Houston, as much as I could with a rental car and a GPS unit. Some acquaintances suggested I check out the Montrose and The Height's neigbhorhoods. I was just trying to get a sense of the city, so that if I take the job, we'd know where to look for housing. (We will be renting, not buying- cause it'll be a 2-3 year contract job; probably not permanent). I also checked out the Breaswood (sp?) areas.

I was really underwhelmed by Montrose and the Heights. There were pockets of nice houses, surrounded by some pretty dismal streets. I'm already asking a lot of my wife by moving from her job and friends (again, for the 2nd time in 3 years), and so I want to have a neighborhood and a house that she's comfortable in. We have a baby coming in April, and I want her to be comfortable leaving the house to go outside with the baby on her own. It's not just an issue of safety, but a certain comfort level. Breasewood (sp?) seemed much nicer, but to get into a house that I think will satisfy our desires is going to take about $1400 / month, which will be more than I can afford if they offer me the standard salary for someone with my experience (I'd be taking a postdoctoral researcher job at Rice University, and I have 3 years of experience, which means a salary of about $45,000 following the NIH pay scale). Realistically, to be able to afford $1400 / month in rent, I need to be making about $50000-$52000, since my wife doesn't want to work for a year after the baby is born- which I think is a reasonable request. If we had stayed in Canada, she'd have been able to take a full year off of work with 80% of her salary. So since we're moving around all the time because of me, I feel it's a request I need to honor. Especially in light of the fact that my wife hates the heat. Once she'd go back to work (she'd probably make more than me, cause she's a teacher with about 8 years of experience) it'd be easy to afford it, but we need to be able to at least make it through the first year (or so) on my salary alone. So basically, unless I can talk him into paying me $52,000, I don't think I can afford to take the job. So I will definitely try to negotiate salary with him, and perhaps he will have the flexibility to negotiate with me. On one hand, an extra $5-$7k / year isn't likely to make a huge dent in his budget, but it would make a huge difference to us. So maybe I'm worrying overly about this. Does anyone have any advice about negotiating salaries that they'd care to share with me? Also, since I know I can get another job somewhere in academia, and I know that if I left academia I'd probably double my current asking salary, I'm not in a situation where I feel forced to take this position, even though I want to take it. I feel like I need to make a responsible decision and take into consideration how this will affect my wife and future child, and their happiness. Cause ultimately, if she is really unhappy in our house and neighborhood, it'll become an extremely stressful home environment for me, and make the job untenable for external circumstances.

Anyway, if I can find a reasonably nice house / duplex / townhome in a nice for $1000, safe neighborhood within a reasonable bike commuting distance, then I'd take the job. So my question to you Houstonians is, do you have any suggestions for neighborhoods (perhaps indicated by a major intersection) which would be within about a 10 mile biking commute from Rice University? I probably wouldn't be moving until May-July, but it'd be nice to have an idea of some areas to look at so I can get an expectation of what the market is.

Thanks,
Brad
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Old 12-04-10, 12:30 AM
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Upon further inspection of the map, I think I may have been in the greater heights, and not the heights and montrose. I was up around 11th and 20th avenue along Heights and Montrose avenues, so that may explain some of my issues?
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Old 12-04-10, 01:11 PM
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It's arguable - but the Heights has only been in the process of gentrification for the past 5-7 years. I would say the farther east you go north of I-10 (within the 610 loop), the worse it gets. It's a hot destination because it has a small community feel in the heart of a big city - lots of restored bungalow homes (w/ good appreciation over time) - but again, many areas are still in the process of being restored.

I'm guessing you drove on Montrose south of Memorial drive until it intersected Hermann Park? Montrose has the stereotype (arguably) of being the hip, somewhat quirky destination - and can be very walkable if you live near the Montrose/Westheimer intersection (just north of The University of St. Thomas). But all of this depends on the type of area you're hoping to find.

Some suggestions (I'll try to hit different areas if possible):
- West University: It's the entire community west of Kirby Dr and north of Bellaire/Holcombe Blvd. It's an upper-middle class neighborhood with an increasing number of 5,000sqft mansion-esque homes. There are a number of condos & apartments surrounding the area, and the rent will probably depend on the age of the home.

- Bellaire: It's the area surrounding Bellaire Blvd, roughly between Newcastle & Chimney Rock. I'm honestly not too familiar with this area, but I do know the farther outside the 610 loop you are, the cheaper the prices. I imagine it's what West University used to look like before the mansions came in. Meyerland is just south of Bellaire and probably similar to the Braeswood areas you saw, except outside the loop.

- River Oaks/Upper Kirby: A good portion of River Oaks is just plan mansions. I grew up believing it was the richest neighborhood in Houston. The entire general area is bounded roughly by Memorial Dr, Shepherd Dr, Willowick/Weslayan, and 59 freeway. Westheimer & Kirby Dr are mostly retail, but the entire area north of Westheimer is mostly residential & a nice area.

- Uptown/Galleria: I would say it's more of a retail & financial district, but there are a lot of high-rise condos if that's your thing. And it's technically outside the 610 loop, so prices might be a little lower.

- Garden Oaks: It's pretty much the Heights, but about 5 years behind on the gentrification, outside the 610 loop, and with slightly larger homes. It's also the farthest away from Rice.

I certainly didn't cover a lot of areas & I'm sure others have different opinions, but hopefully that helps a little. Happy exploring.
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Old 12-04-10, 08:11 PM
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Brad,

I think the negotiation of salary will depend on what is paid to other post docs. I am guessing there will be lattitude, but Rice may not want to pay you too much more than others already employed as post docs.

I have been surprised that most tenure track positions at major universities require post doctoral fellowships. I am guessing that the salary levels for assistant professors will be significantly better. I am also guessing that you will be making a sacrifice regarding medical coverage, unless Rice has a generous insurance plan. Having a baby can incur significant medical costs that sometimes must be paid in advance.

I hope you get the position, and I can ride with you sometime.
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Old 12-05-10, 04:00 AM
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The Heights and Montrose neighborhoods will indeed have some dismal streets. Be careful when looking for housing in those neighborhoods.

West University is an independent city, not part of Houston. Unlike Houston, it has zoning laws, and unlike Houston, the local police stay in the area, not being constantly called away to the worse parts of town. Bellaire is another independent city, to the west of West University, with zoning laws. (I live in Bellaire.) These small cities have lower levels of what can be termed "quality of life" issues.

Sorry, I cannot be helpful regarding the rental/real estate price situation. I have heard of sub-$1000/month rent inside the loop, but cannot say what you would get for that price. I will try to look tomorrow in my neighborhood, for "for rent" signs. The down economy might mean rent will be lower than during the good times.
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Old 12-05-10, 01:26 PM
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Oh, by the way, it is Braeswood, named for nearby Braes Bayou, if you are googling rental property. Outside the loop, along Braes Bayou, is the Meyerland area, fairly nice out to around Chimney Rock Road or so. When N. and S. Braeswood approach Fondren Road, however, that is getting into a more mixed area, with some problematic neighborhoods and apartment complexes. The Fondren area was much-changed with the influx of refugees from Hurricane Katrina, being called by some the western-most Ward of New Orleans.
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Old 12-06-10, 11:24 AM
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Hey Little Dwight,

Thanks a lot for your comprehensive reply, I do appreciate it. I will use that information and try to scout out those areas using a combination of har.com and google street view, thanks a lot.

Originally Posted by gtragitt View Post
Brad,

I think the negotiation of salary will depend on what is paid to other post docs. I am guessing there will be lattitude, but Rice may not want to pay you too much more than others already employed as post docs.
The negotiation would be with my supervisor, and I don't think Rice cares/gets a lot of input. Considerable variation in postdoc salaries exist within departments at many Universities. For example, one of my best friends was making $65k / year as a postdoc at UCSD because his supervisor felt he was worth it. Rice is a different University than UCSD obviously, so there may be some important cultural differences between those two schools, but it's not inconceivable that I could negotiate a higher salary. I think it largely depends on my abilities as a negotiator and how badly my potential new supervisor wants to hire me.

I have been surprised that most tenure track positions at major universities require post doctoral fellowships. I am guessing that the salary levels for assistant professors will be significantly better. I am also guessing that you will be making a sacrifice regarding medical coverage, unless Rice has a generous insurance plan. Having a baby can incur significant medical costs that sometimes must be paid in advance.
I would say that almost all tenure track positions at major research universities require considerable post doctoral experience. Heck, even small universities tend to want postdoctoral experience. The only real exception seems to be at liberal arts schools where teaching is the major component of the job and research is secondary that they are less concerned with it.

Rice University has a very good medical coverage plan. It seems to be as good as my current coverage at the University of Minnesota, so I'm not terribly concerned with that. And actually, I'd say our coverage at the University of Minnesota is as good as we had in Canada- just a bit more expensive, since we don't have co-pays in Canada.

I hope you get the position, and I can ride with you sometime.
Greg
Thanks Greg! If I am offered the position and accept it, I look forward to riding with you too!


Originally Posted by Rex G View Post
The Heights and Montrose neighborhoods will indeed have some dismal streets. Be careful when looking for housing in those neighborhoods.
Okay, so it wasn't just in my head.

West University is an independent city, not part of Houston. Unlike Houston, it has zoning laws, and unlike Houston, the local police stay in the area, not being constantly called away to the worse parts of town. Bellaire is another independent city, to the west of West University, with zoning laws. (I live in Bellaire.) These small cities have lower levels of what can be termed "quality of life" issues.

Sorry, I cannot be helpful regarding the rental/real estate price situation. I have heard of sub-$1000/month rent inside the loop, but cannot say what you would get for that price. I will try to look tomorrow in my neighborhood, for "for rent" signs. The down economy might mean rent will be lower than during the good times.
I'm not necessarily hugely concerned with being within the loop so much as I want to be within bike commuting distance. I've heard that the public transit situation in Houston is pretty ugly, and I want to be able to leave the car for my wife. My basic considerations for where to live are is it within 10 miles (by bike) of Rice University, and is it a nice neighborhood? I'm also willing to use a combination of public transit and biking if that'd work and allow us to be a bit further out. It's just so hard to know when you don't live in a city.

Originally Posted by Rex G View Post
Oh, by the way, it is Braeswood, named for nearby Braes Bayou, if you are googling rental property. Outside the loop, along Braes Bayou, is the Meyerland area, fairly nice out to around Chimney Rock Road or so. When N. and S. Braeswood approach Fondren Road, however, that is getting into a more mixed area, with some problematic neighborhoods and apartment complexes. The Fondren area was much-changed with the influx of refugees from Hurricane Katrina, being called by some the western-most Ward of New Orleans.
Thanks a lot Rex, I appreciate it. I'll take that into consideration when I look around in those areas.
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Old 12-14-10, 03:32 PM
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I am totally cracking up at the idea that assistant professor starting salaries are generous. I'm an assistant professor, and let me tell you, we don't stay in academia for the money! But you can live on it.

And academic health insurance, even for postdocs, is usually very good. I'm guessing your wife's pregnancy will be covered.

ANYWAY, Brad, I might have some insight for you into rental/neighborhood possibilities.

I live in the Heights, and I absolutely love it. I bike to work at the Medical Center (cutting across the Rice campus) or take the local bus. Great neighbors, close to restaurants, shopping, things to do. Your definition of "sketchy", however, may not meet mine. Yes, there are some scary-looking places tucked in the Heights, especially along the north and east sides, but for the most part it's pretty safe. Petty crime is pretty common, but if you're smart about parking and locking things up, you'll be OK. However, you'll pay a premium to live in a cute, tiny house. And most people find these cute, tiny houses less cute once the baby arrives and there's one bathroom, lead paint on the outside, and a very small yard. And most house rentals will cost you $1300-1800/mo.

We Heights folks can be rather smug about our cute little neighborhood. You'll either find that amusingly charming or you'll run screaming. Just FYI There's an active Mom's group here, though, and lots of young families.

Bigger houses may be had in Lazybrook, Timbergrove, Garden Oaks, and Candlelight Oaks. All of these are within easy biking distance of Rice and still close in to the loop. Again, prices may be a bit higher than you want to pay.

Better deals can be found on the Southwest side, specifically check out Robindell and Braeburn valley. Here's a decent place in Robindell. [URL="http://search.har.com/engine/8713-Robindell-Dr-Houston-TX-77074_HAR60690046.htm"]
You can take the Braes Bayou MUP in towards Rice, easy ride.

However, this area is still coming around. The subdivisions are nice and safe, but there are lots of huge, terrifying apartment complexes nearby. Your nearby restaurant and shopping experiences will require driving.

If you really want to be an urban pioneer, there are decent cheap places in Lindale Park (north of downtown) and in Eastwood (east of downtown).

The Medical Center housing area (south of the Med Center near Reliant Park) is boring and high density, but you can get a townhouse cheap. Look around Holly Hall and Cambridge streets. Heck, you can buy a townhouse for about 100K, sit on it for a few years, and re-sell it for what you paid for it. Might be cheaper than renting.

Finally, the area north of the medical center, west of 288 and south of 59 is getting re-developed. Not sure what the rents are, but lots of townhouses there and it's a neat neighborhood.

I think spouse and family happiness in Houston is extremely location-dependent. Are you the types that like the "urban style" of living? Can you put up with taco trucks, strange men pushing shopping carts around, and kids with their pants dangling to their knees? If so, someplace in the loop is going to be OK for you. The tradeoff is you're close to the museums, the restaurants, the parks and the zoo, and you don't have to fight rush hour traffic.

If a big yard, a cheap big house and a "family-friendly" environment are what you seek, in your price range you're going to have to hit the suburbs. The Park and Ride system is very good, and you can put your bike on the buses. However, your work hours are going to be limited to when those buses run, and that might not be the best thing when you're a postdoc. I, personally, would go insane if I lived out there, but that's just me - it works for a lot of people!

If you get serious about moving here and find a few places you might like to live, I'd be happy to do a drive or bike-by and give you an opinion.
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Old 12-28-10, 09:04 PM
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How is the move progressing?

Let me know via PM if you need anything to be photographed or otherwise scouted.

Look for a PM from me this evening.
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Old 12-29-10, 07:15 AM
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Hey Brad as a father of five oldest 30, youngest 14, all born and raised in Houston I feel like I should chime in here.

I live in the Clear Lake area over thirty years and have worked in the River Oaks/Galleria area for over 20 years. I'm not going to even go into the whole living inside/outside the loop or which neighborhood to live in business. Here is my major concern for you!

If you and your wife are currently working, she earns more than you and she is going to have a baby and not work for any period of time then I just cannot imagine the three of you living in the Houston area on total income of 45-50,000 dollar range. While I know Houston is a much less expensive place to live (one of my daughters lives in the LA area) I just can't see you able to support a family of three on $50,000. Maybe if your health insurance doesn't cost you anything but if it does you are going to be eaten alive by rent, taxes, fees, food, and new baby things, unexpected auto repairs and your wife will be stuck at home not being able to afford to go out and do things that she'd like to afford to do.

I know it's nice to be pursued by a nice university like Rice but don't let that feeling get ahead of sound reasoning. If your wife is pregnant and you've already moved twice and she's not happy with that and she is going to have to quit her job and she makes more than you and she hates the heat and you're going to move her again with no family around to help with the baby and minimal finances, I think you are asking for big trouble with your marriage! Do you realize just to get your car registered and inspected for the state of Texas in Houston is going to cost you over $100?

Just some fatherly incite! I truly don't mean to discourage you and I would love to have another cyclist here but I'd just hate to see you put your family through hell if you aren't currently doing so bad.
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Old 01-12-11, 11:55 AM
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My opinion is that Houston is a drivers city.. being in the hip or cool area isn't that important, they don't even have sidewalks to walk on. Texans love their cars, especially in Houston. To comment on what bikingcajun mentions above, his points are all valid, but not limited to Houston. Relatively, Houston is a CHEAP place to live, and any university town you go to will probably be equal or more expensive to live in. I recommend you get a newer, cheap apartment, shoot for something with a 30 min drive to work which is manageable. You'll need the extra $$ for that baby. That baby will probably sleep in the crib in your bedroom for 6 months anyway, so a 1 bedroom will work for you. Learn the city, get comfortable with your finances, then figure out what you can afford and look for a house after your 1 year lease is up on the apartment.
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Old 01-18-11, 04:03 PM
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I disagree. There ARE sidewalks in some of the "hip and cool" neighborhoods. Mine is one of them. Your definition of hip and cool may vary, however, which is, well, cool.

(I went back and read the opening post again, and I see that the OP wound up near Studewood and 20th in the Heights. Poor guy. That is possibly the worst-looking intersection in the Heights. The neighborhood is really much nicer than that!)

There are many bikeable (and pretty!) areas near Rice, too. Wide, quiet side streets, shade in the summer. Lots of duplexes and 4plexes scattered around for rent.

However, for the OP, I think something in the medical center area would be his best bet. Housing is cheap there, and there are plenty of families making it on grad student/postdoc salaries. Also, it's an easy, if not that pretty, bike ride into Rice from there.
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