Making Money Magazine Cut

Residents of The Woodlands enjoy one of the highest median incomes in the nation — and, to top it off, pay less for their homes than residents of other high-income areas.

The Woodlands was named in Money magazine’s Best Places to Live as the 11th top-earning town in the U.S. among cities with populations of 50,000 to 300,000 people, boasting a median household income of $124,939. Making the master-planned community even more attractive is the fact that its median home price of $214,593 is the lowest of the 25 top-earning towns on the list.

On Money’s list of cities with the most affordable homes, Spring was ranked fifth, with a median home price of $112,062 for a median household income of $75,412. The Woodlands was not in the top 25 listing for most affordable homes.

“We never got into the pricing bubble that some of the other areas did,” said Susan Vreeland-Wendt, marketing director for The Woodlands Development Company. “The whole Houston area avoided falling into the pitfalls that Las Vegas or Scottsdale (Ariz.) has seen.

“It’s about good planning. We’ve really planned ahead for population growth and carefully placed products to not have too much inventory.”

Location of the community is also important, Vreeland-Wendt said. Of the 25 highest median home prices, 21 were located in California. Many of them were located on beaches or near water, including Greenwich, Conn., which had the third-highest median home sale price, and Palo Alto, Calif., which had the highest median home sale price.

Vreeland-Wendt said the economy in the area benefits the affordability of homes here as well.

“The oil and gas business has been a strong industry in the Houston area,” she said.

New homes in The Woodlands can go as low as $140,000, she said, with most single-family homes starting at upwards of $180,000 and going as high as millions of dollars.

“Considering the amenities, there is a lot of value for a house here,” she said. “There’s a tremendous amount of value in the purchasing price.”

Pippa Mac, a Realtor in The Woodlands, agreed the amenities in The Woodlands — including the “exemplary” schools, parks and pathways, and businesses — make homes more valuable.

“You get more for your money in Spring, but you make up for it (in The Woodlands) with the amenities,” said Mac who currently lives in The Woodlands, but used to live in Spring.

As a major hub for Continental Airlines, The Woodlands is also a “great location for getting to Latin and South America,” Mac said, noting The Woodlands was ranked No. 14 on Forbes’ list of top 25 places to relocate in 2009.

The Top-Earning Towns and Top Affordable Homes lists are part of Money’s 100 Best Places to Live study, which used information provided by Onboard Informatics to develop the list based on finances, housing, quality of life and other criteria.

Though The Woodlands did not make the overall top 100 list, the community stacked up well in many areas when compared with the top 100 cities. The Woodlands had a higher median household income than the top 100 average ($90,547), a lower median home price than the top 100 average ($239,391), and an annual $813 property tax much lower than the top 100 average of $3,418.