I live 26 miles south of downtown Houston and 23 miles North of Houston. Although I live in a the 'burbs, I experience a nice mix of family oriented fun. But there is also plenty of singles nightlife. The Clear Lake area hosts a number of nightclubs and hundreds of restaurants. I am close enough to Galveston that I can go and enjoy the water, and I am just a twenty-five minute car ride from Houston's greatest shopping area, the Galleria.
The midtown area (inside Beltway 8 on the West side) is great for singles, but it has more of an urban appeal than the suburbs.
Katy is great, but the traffic is a nightmare. Forget the I-10 corridor!
Galveston has alot of beach life, but the native population can be a challenge. The crime is high, the housing is poor (especially apartment living), and the only hospital on the island is UTMB which specializes in indigent and correctional care.
I completed my student rotations on Galveston Island, and I found that commuting over the causeway bridge to be a nightmare during Spring Break and the long (8 month) summer tourist season. The island hosts Kappa Beach Party each year which paralyzes the police force and forces the closure of businesses due to excessive drunkeness and lude behavior.
In addition, Mardi Gras is celebrated for several weeks on the island, Dicken on the Stand during December, Lone Star Motorcycle Rally, and a host of other "attractions" add to the problem of increase travel time to work. Additionally, the hospital census jumps during any of the festivities.
I love to play in Galveston, but I would not want to live there. As a matter of fact, three UTMB docs live on my street just 23 miles North on I-45. I large number of the professional staff of UTMB live off the island and commute due to the shortage of housing on the island. For example, many homes built prior to the 1900 hurricane still stand in all their splendor, with Section 8 housing (Govt projects) just next door.
Google the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce for a better overview of the Clear Lake area.
The Woodlands is a beautiful community nestled in tall pine trees. And it is home of the Cynthia Woods-Mitchell Pavilion where all the big concerts are held. The city has great shopping at the Woodlands Mall, and Memorial Hermann-The Woodlands Hospital and Methodist Hospital Woodlands. If you decide to live in Houston and commute to the Texas Medical Center (a few city blocks lined with 7 or 8 large highly-acclaimed teaching Hospitals), the drive would take about 1 hr during rush-hour (which may or may not be a problem depending on your shift).
Oh yea, rush hour in Houston starts around 3:30 pm.
Another idea, if you want a small town appeal in the heart of the city, try looking at West University. It is located just blocks from the Texas Medical Center and Rice University. Historic homes are a staple, and you are close enough to everything that matters. A few blocks from West U is the Village which is a cluster of restaurants, boutiques, and night venues like the Gingerman Bar and the Baker Street Pub. Plus, with Rice nearby, there are plenty of young singles.