Founded in 1895 by Quakers, Friendswood, Texas has earned a spot on Money Magazine's list of America's best places to live, thanks to its business-friendly climate and welcoming small town vibe.
To paraphrase a popular jelly commercial, with a name like Friendswood, it's got to be -- well, friendly. To tell the truth, it is. Founded by Quakers (hence the name) in 1895, Friendswood is something of a throwback to earlier times, but it still retains a modern identity. Its ability to juxtapose small-town charm with contemporary living has earned it a spot in CNN/Money Magazine's "America's Best Places to Live" list, and Businessweek Magazine named it one of the most affordable suburbs in the country. With all this going for it, don't be misled into thinking that Friendswood is a one-stoplight town that rolls up its streets by 10 p.m. A number of large businesses are headquartered there, and one of Houston's landmark shopping centers, Baybrook Mall, has its mailing address in Friendswood. It also has its own local airport (Clover Field) and is just 48 minutes from one of the country's major international airports. With Houston and Galveston both a little more than half an hour away, Friendswood is that unique entity: a small town with almost immediate access to all the amenities of uber-urban living.
Moving to Friendswood
If you're moving to Friendswood, your biggest obstacle is getting your friends and colleagues to believe you when you tell them you're moving to a town named "Friendswood." After that, you're pretty much home free. It's easy to get to, thanks to its proximity to airports and the Interstate. Plus, there's no real "season" for renters, and the weather is always temperate, so you can move anytime of the year.
Whether you're looking for a duplex for rent, a rental apartment or a house to rent in Friendswood, you're in the right place, because this city abounds with attractive, well-maintained places for rent. You'll find everything from studio efficiencies to luxury apartments, all at a wide variety of sizes and price points to suit any lifestyle. While you should be prepared to pay first and last month's rent, plus a security deposit, Friendswood is the kind of place where you might be able to bargain with your landlord for terms that will suit your budget.
Outside of looking online, the best thing you can do is take a scouting trip and drive through some of the neighborhoods that appeal to you. At any time of the year, you're liable to see plenty of "For Rent" signs dotting the landscape, so bring your camera, take notes and come prepared to dicker.
Neighborhoods in Friendswood
Lakes are a recurring decorative theme in Friendswood, and many of its residential communities are enhanced with pristine lakes, wooded areas and tranquil walking trails. Here are a few of the city's most popular residential neighborhoods:
Falcon Ridge: This lovely, bike-friendly residential community is highlighted by several man-made lakes, and is just minutes away from a large number of retailers and service providers, including Walgreen's, Nature's Garden and Subway.
San Joaquin: This is another bike-friendly, lake-friendly neighborhood that's especially popular for its superbly-landscaped lawns and large multi-level homes for sale.
Eagle Lakes: This subdivision boasts beautiful nature trails, a picturesque creek and a community swimming pool. It's also just down the road from Walgreen's, as well as restaurants such as Luna's Mexican and The Cake Lady Bakery.
West Ranch: West Ranch is a beautifully landscaped residential community that's dotted with fountains and gazebos, and highlighted by lakes and 100 acres of lush wooded walking trails.
Living in Friendswood
Friendswood is an easy place to put down roots in because the climate is great, the atmosphere is relaxed and the layout of the city is user-friendly. Plus, there's public transportation if you want it, courtesy of Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority bus system. If you ever need to get out of town in a hurry, it is less than an hour away from the Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Friendswood may seem like a small town, but there's plenty of places to go, including a gratifying array of sophisticated restaurants good enough to tempt even the most sophisticated palate. Texas is steak country, so local carnivores flock to Perry & Sons Market & Grille, which serves up some of the best cuts of meat in town, along with sides like stuffed mushrooms and fried asparagus. If you're hankering after pizza, you'll find it's worth living in Friendswood just so you can enjoy the fantastic pasta dishes (and the truly decadent eggplant rollatini) at Stefano's.
Here in Texas, all roads lead to beer and football. Locals congregate at R&R Sports Bar or Friends Pub for a game, a brewski and a hand or two of poker. If wine bars are more your thing, you'll become a regular at the wittily-named Friends Uncorked, which offers a tempting array of domestic and imported reds and whites.
Friendswood is a city that values its heritage, so if you're a history buff, you'll fall in love with its renovated Victorian homes. Check out the 1903 Perry House Museum, a restored 19th-century manor that's furnished with a wealth of period antiques you'll end up coveting. Another treasure trove is the Frank J. Brown Heritage Museum and Barn, which is a replica of the first house built in the town in 1895. Both the house and barn offer a fascinating glimpse into turn-of-the-century Quaker life (and, alas, plumbing). Onsite, you'll also find the restored Glynis Barber Shop, which served the tonsorial needs of the community from 1951 to 1990.
Although Friendswood values its history, it also appreciates the present, so you'll find plenty of retailers, recreation centers and parks where you can spend your leisure hours. Love to shop? There's the fabulous Baybrook Mall, which is just a few miles down Interstate 45. This mega-center has more than 175 retailers, 14 restaurants and a huge food court.
If you prefer to spend the day outdoors, you'll enjoy Centennial Park, which offers hiking trails and athletic areas, including five lighted soccer fields. Golfing fans flock to the Timber Creek Golf Club, a beautiful, densely wooded 27-hole course designed by Jay Riviere.
With Houston just half an hour away, you can easily avail yourself of performances by the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet, but you don't always have to go far afield to get your culture fix. Every summer, Friendswood sponsors a series of free concerts in Stevenson Park. As with other Texas towns, Friendswood is also big on festivals, and one of the best is the Friendswood Crawfish Festival, which takes place every Memorial Day weekend. You can enjoy live music, arts and crafts and, of course, buckets and buckets of the tasty, mini-lobster-like crustaceans. There's also a first-rate Fourth of July celebration, complete with a big parade and huge fireworks display -- it's small-town America at its most fun. In May, you can enjoy the Spring Arts Market in Stevenson Park, where you'll see live musicians and local crafters to street artists.
One of the best things about Friendswood is that it has no surprises -- unless you're surprised by the fact that it manages to live up to its name and reputation. It's got history, it's got beautiful homes and great festivals, and it's even got friendly folk who, more often than not, will say hello to you when you pass them on the street, even if you're a complete stranger. There's a kind of civic pride about the place that, in the end, is ultimately irresistible, even to the most jaded urbanite.