Lately, it seems like everyone wants to move to San Antonio and build a custom luxury home. With our great climate, lovely neighborhoods, low cost of living and amazing food, it’s easy to see why we’re a popular choice for those looking for an alternative from places like California, New York, Florida or even our nearby neighbor, Houston. As the housing market continues to boom, we wanted to take look at some of the differentiating factors between some of the most highly sought-after San Antonio luxury neighborhoods.
If you’ve heard anything about the various enclaves, neighborhoods and inner cities within San Antonio, you’ve probably heard of Alamo Heights. Occasionally called “The Bubble” due to the tendency of its residents to live as much within its city limits as possible, Alamo Heights has long been one of the leading high-end destinations for those looking for centrality, quiet areas, and beautiful homes. Alamo Heights has a little bit of everything, and is one of the leading destinations for newcomers looking to build custom homes within the central part of the city.
Pros: Alamo Heights was the original high-end suburb of San Antonio in the early-to-mid 1900’s. As such, it’s got a ton of history, beautiful mid-century homes, and is basically like a tiny town within a town. That’s part of what has led to its nickname of “The Bubble,” as it offers more than just residential housing. There are family-owned shops, large shopping centers, great schools and more all within the 78209 zip code.
Cons: Space. Simply put, there aren’t a ton of available lots to build on within Alamo Heights. When lots and spaces are available, they go quickly due to the neighborhood’s popularity.
Think of Terrell Hills as an “Alamo Heights-lite.” It offers a similar feel to life in Alamo Heights, but is a little less “bubble-y.” It has a smaller population, much smaller total area, and is more exclusively residential than Alamo Heights, even though they’re immediately adjacent to one another. Terrell Hills also happens to be home to actor Tommy Lee Jones, if that is something you care about when picking your next home’s location.
Pros: Beautiful mid-century architecture, quick access to Alamo Heights and downtown San Antonio, and slightly more readily-available building space than Alamo Heights or Monte Vista.
Cons: Slightly less commercially developed than Alamo Heights, which means residents may find they have to travel outside of the neighborhood to fulfill their needs.
The last of the “inner three” cities (with Terrell Hills and Alamo Heights being the other two), Olmos Park is the most centralized of all three. It also boasts the lowest population, and the smallest total area, taking up just 0.6 square miles in total. What it lacks in space, though, it makes up in elegance and high-end luxury residents, such as billionaire Red McCombs. The town is noted for its large estates, many of which were constructed during the 1920s, park-like setting, and oak-tree lined streets.
Pros: Large estate spaces, immediately central location, high-profile residents.
Cons: The total space of Olmos Park is almost laughably small, which means that it can be difficult to find a lot to build on in the area at times.
Our final “inside-the-loop” San Antonio luxury neighborhood is Monte Vista. Unlike the others, it’s not an independent enclave of San Antonio, but rather a small, historic district within the city. Monte Vista can lay claim to being the first truly affluent neighborhood in San Antonio. As the city expanded in the late 1800’s, wealthy residents started building beautiful mansions on what was then the city’s northern edge, forming the area known today as Monte Vista. Although it’s extremely small in total space, it boasts scores of beautiful homes, elegant architecture, and a more immersive, urban experience, as it’s now almost immediately adjacent to downtown San Antonio.
Pros: Luxurious homes and sophisticated architecture, minutes from downtown San Antonio, the most historic luxury neighborhood in the city.
Cons: The most “urban” of the areas inside Loop 410, Monte Vista feels almost like a tiny island unto itself. This can be off-putting to some, as the neighborhoods around Monte Vista are significantly less affluent.
The first of San Antonio luxury neighborhoods on our list that lays outside of Loop 410, Castle Hills offers more spacious lots than most of the other neighborhoods we’ve covered, and typically at a lower cost. The neighborhood overall is less affluent, while offering a sort of bridge between the “old money” of Alamo Heights, Monte Vista, Terrell Hills and Olmos Park, and the “new money” of more recently-developed areas like Shavano Park and Hollywood Park.
Pros: More bang for your buck in terms of space and price. It’s also outside of Loop 410, which helps with ease of access in and out of the area.
Cons: Bordered by lower-income areas, not quite as new as Shavano Park/Hollywood Park or quite as historic as Alamo Heights/Monte Vista. It’s also a notorious speed trap. Just Google it.
Just a little further north of Castle Hills on NW Military Highway lies Shavano Park. This neighborhood is much more modern and newer than anything else we’ve covered thus far, and includes multiple subdivisions that feature Mediterranean-inspired architecture and design. Shavano Park covers the “Northwest Corridor” area of San Antonio, and is bordered by Loop 1604 and Interstate 10.
Pros: Newer, more modern feel. Proximity to the northwest side of San Antonio (home to destinations like La Cantera, The Rim, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and Eisenhower Park/San Antonio Greenway System for outdoorsy folks). Great schools. Bordered on all sides by other affluent areas.
Cons: Traffic on both 1604 and I-10 can be brutal at times. Lots are smaller (typically) than in some other areas. Less “personality” than neighborhoods like Monte Vista or Alamo Heights.
Hill Country Village / Hollywood Park
We’ll probably get some push-back for combining these two neighborhoods into one, but to anyone who isn’t a die-hard, uber-proud resident, they’re essentially the same. They’re both in the “North Central” part of San Antonio, feature some of the highest-end homes in the area, and boast some of San Antonio’s most affluent and well-known residents. They’re also both located along Highway 281, and are some of the most private areas of San Antonio (most of the neighborhoods are gated, and there’s only a few ways in and a few ways out of both neighborhoods). Hill Country Village is regularly listed as one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in all of Texas, and Hollywood Park is home to multiple local celebrities, like former Spurs player Antonio Daniels and others.
Pros: Quiet, mostly private areas with a distinctly rural, Hill Country feel, despite the fact that they’re comfortably within San Antonio’s city limits. High-profile residents.
Cons: Can be difficult to get in and out of the neighborhoods. Not quite as cost-effective as Shavano Park, but more so than some other luxury neighborhoods.
While there are, of course, other affluent areas of San Antonio (the gated Inverness community, for example), these are the leading upscale, luxury neighborhoods that are largely within Loop 1604. Other areas, such as Stone Oak, Timberwood Park, Fair Oaks Ranch and the Dominion, are also available, but require you to either travel outside San Antonio proper or build your home on the fringes of the city.
We hope that you’ve found this helpful, and that this guide helps you determine which of the San Antonio luxury neighborhoods might be right for you in your design-build process. If you’re looking for help finding the best neighborhoods, or are ready to start your new custom home build, be sure to contact Urbano Design and Build. We’re happy to help you build the home of your dreams, and look forward to giving you a home in the prestigious areas of San Antonio that you’ll love for years to come.