Houston is the most lively metropolitan city in Texas. It is also the 4th largest city in all of the US and is globally known for being home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. An amazing food scene, entertainment, job opportunities, low cost of living, and the big city life all combined make it one of the most desired cities to live in. No wonder it is the most populous city in Texas! Additionally, the economy of the city is in great shape and there are plenty of things to do in the city. If moving to Houston is sounding increasingly tempting, read on for a thorough guide on the same.
Moving to Houston will come with its unique set of pros and cons. To give you a better look at those, we have listed some of them below. It will help you know what Houston has to offer you, and what you’ll simply have to deal with.
Thriving Job Market
Houston is known for its thriving job market that provides great opportunities for young professionals. The oil, healthcare, aerospace, and manufacturing industries are the major contributors to the job market.
A Lot of Sports To Watch
Houston is known for its sporting events. The sports teams in the city are next level, to say the least. Houston Texans, Houston Astros, Houston Dynamo FC, and Houston Rockets are some of the sports teams in the city. Plus, watching these games allows you to make friends with the locals and meet new people.
Houston is a city that boasts diversity. It has people from different backgrounds which allows you the opportunity to celebrate multiple cultures and explore more food and art as well.
Large Green Spaces
This is a city that has more than 5,000 acres of parks spread across different areas. In the past few years, Houston has been making efforts to preserve these green spaces and build more parks, walking and cycling trails, Greenway projects, and more.
Hot and Humid Weather
The ‘H’ in Houston stands for ‘hot and humid weather’ and it’s not even funny. It can be an uncomfortable experience for you if you aren’t used to the warm temperatures and mugginess.
High Sales Tax
Even though Houston, just like Texas, does not impose any income tax, it compensates for this by imposing some heavy sales taxes. The sales tax in Houston is over 8% which is higher than the national average.
Just like any other metropolitan city in the country, Houston too has traffic issues in most areas. Other than the suburban regions of the city, the downtown and the central parts of the city face traffic issues, especially during peak hours.
Bugs and Mosquitoes
With the hot and humid climate, the city also has some bugs and mosquitoes that you will spot every now and then. They don’t mind stopping by to say hello to you, but we doubt you’ll enjoy these interactions too much. So, make sure you stay prepared.
Weather In Houston
Just like any other southern city in the US, Houston also experiences typical hot and humid weather along with mild winters. Spring and fall are also mild, with very little variation in the weather conditions.
The summers as mentioned earlier are hot and humid for the most part. July and August are the hottest months of the year with temperatures reaching anywhere between 91°F to 95°F. The heat can get sweltering so make sure you brace yourself with plenty of sunscreen and hydration.
The winters are mild with January being the month where the temperatures drop to an average of 42°F, about the lowest in the year. When it comes to snow, there are no surprises here; Houston has no snowfall during winters. The city also experiences a decent amount of rainfall with some spontaneous thunderstorms as well. The rainfall in Houston averages about 53 inches per year.
With all the opportunities that Houston offers, you will be surprised to know that the cost of living in the city is not on the steep side. Houston is an affordable city to live in and most people have been flocking to the city for this reason. Let us have a look at what the cost of living in Houston is like.
The housing market in Houston is affordable if you compare it with the national average. Depending on the neighborhoods and areas, the styles of houses and the price range keep fluctuating. But you will find all sorts of houses like apartments, cottages, condos, and bungalows in the city.
We have put down a table that will help you know the median home value of houses in Houston compared to the median value of homes in the US. These values are taken from Zillow.
Median Home Value
Because of how affordable the houses are in the city, a majority of the population are homeowners. If you are looking for affordable homes, Far North, and Meyerland are some neighborhoods for you.
Renting A House In Houston
Renting is a popular choice among the residents of Houston. Around 45% of the residents choose to live in rentals around the city. The market for rentals is extremely competitive as the houses are very affordable.
To give you an idea of what rent may cost you in Houston, we have listed down a table to give you more information with the help of Bestplaces.net.
Houston Average Monthly Rent
US Average Monthly Rent
Taxes In Houston
The taxes in Houston are a bit unevenly placed. You are free from having to pay income tax as the state of Texas does not impose any. But, when it comes to the sales tax, Houston imposes an extra 2% on top of the state average of 6.5%. This makes the sales tax a total of 8.5% in Houston. This is a high sales tax rate when compared to the national average.
At 2.25%, the property tax is also a bit higher in Houston. So the bottom line is, where you instantly save money by not paying any income tax, you spend some extra when you’re out shopping.
Expenses In Houston
Your utilities, groceries, food, healthcare, and other basic bills are a part of your monthly expenditure. On average, you tend to spend a large sum of your salary on these expenses; we’ve broken down some of these expenses for you to better understand.
When it comes to your utility bills in Houston, you end up spending $143 on a monthly basis according to Numbeo. This is your basic utility bill that includes the heating, cooling, water, garbage, and electricity bills; it excludes your average phone bill ($197.66.) If you also want to include your internet bill (which is also technically a ‘basic’) it’ll be an additional $59.
The food and groceries in Houston cost you 13% lower than the national average according to Payscale. You spend $1.68 on a gallon of regular milk, $2.57 on a loaf of bread, and $1.50 on a dozen eggs. These are the average rates that you will come across in grocery stores in Houston. You’ll also pay around $2.55 per gallon of gas in Houston.
When looking at your utilities and expenses, healthcare is an important factor that you may want to consider as it can be really expensive in some cities. But, that is not the case in Houston. According to Payscale, the healthcare facilities and services are 9% lower than the national average. Your one-time doctor’s visit will cost you $101 and a one-time visit to a vet’s clinic will cost you about $48.
Because the crime rate in Houston is a bit on the higher end, you may want to choose a neighborhood wisely. The crime rates in the city are unevenly distributed with some neighborhoods having higher crime rates while others have negligible crime rates.
According to Neighborhoodscout, the city of Houston is only safer than 2% of the cities of the USA. The violent crime index in Houston is 12.80 per 1000 residents, thrice as higher when compared to the national average of 4.
The property crime average, on the other hand, is 43 per 1000 residents which is over twice the national median of 19. This also means that you have a one in 23 chance of being a victim of burglary, robbery, or motor theft in Houston.
If safety is a priority for you, choosing a safe neighborhood in Houston is an important task. Two of the safest neighborhoods in Houston are University Place and Kingwood. Keep these in mind when you go neighborhood-hunting.
Economy And Employment Opportunities In Houston
The economy of Houston is thriving with sectors such as oil, aerospace, manufacturing, bioscience, high-technology, healthcare, and defense contributing largely to its economy. The annual GDP of Houston was $472 billion in 2019. According to Houston.org, the unemployment rate in Houston is 3.8% which is similar to the national average of 3.9%.
All the sectors mentioned above are the same sectors that provide employment to the residents of the city. Professionals from around the country move to Houston in search of job opportunities and the comfortable lifestyle that it provides.
A resident of Houston has an average salary of around $47,000 per year. This allows you to live a comfortable life here. Some of the major employers in the city are, cPanel, Johnson Space Center, HostGator, Centre Technologies, Memorial Hermann Health System, The University Of Texas, and Kroger.
Houston is home to the largest school system in Texas which also ranks 7th nationwide on the list of the best school systems. You’ll come across many educational institutions in the city that provide high-quality education at both the elementary and higher levels. If you’re looking at better educational opportunities, Houston is a great city for it.
Here is a list of the top-rated institutions in Houston according to Greatschools.org
KIIP Shine Prep
Frostwood Elementary School
Rummel Creek Elementary School
Mandarin Immersion Magnet Schools (dedicated to Mandarin immersion)
Getting around Houston is fairly easy with the public transportation systems that are made available to the city. The city is well connected with roadways, and METRO is the city’s public transit system that enables you to move around. The system is the most affordable way to commute and is popular among the locals.
The METRORail in Houston is a light rail, perfect for people commuting within the heart of the city. It is a convenient and efficient way to get to your destination in under a few minutes. METRORail has 3 lines – the Red Line has 25 stops and takes you from Northline Transit Center to Fannin South, the Green Line has 9 stations from Downtown to Magnolia Park Transit Center, and the Purple Line runs from Downtown to Palm Center Transit Center. The fare to ride the light rail is $1.25.
METRO also offers bus services in the city, and there are 3 networks that practically cover every city street there is. The regular local service bus fare is $1.25 for a one-way ticket. The ‘park and ride’ services, on the other hand, cost anywhere between $2 to $5, but the convenience of being able to park your car at the parking lot and hop onto a bus makes this minor hike worth it. You get a monthly pass for both, the METRORail and the buses, which is better planned for daily users. A one-day pass for either costs $3.
You can also hire taxi services or avail of the many cabs that are available in all parts of the city. They are a bit more expensive but they do drop you off at your desired location quite easily and conveniently. Houston is also a bicycle-friendly city with over 160 miles of bike trails and Houston Bcycle’s bicycle sharing system.
The Houston Airport System is in charge of running Houston’s two main airports – the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and the William P. Hobby Airport. Both airports have domestic as well as international flights.
Overall, Houston is a well-connected city, and is ideal whether you drive around in your own car, use public transportation exclusively, or want a mix of both. Additionally, the city’s importance to bicycles is perfect for those of you who would rather pedal around instead.
Places To Visit In Houston
The official visitor center of NASA is located in Houston and is one of the most famous tourist attractions. You can touch an actual rock from the moon or have a look at the very first space station built by America. Visiting the Space Center is a thrilling experience altogether.
The Museum District
The Museum District in Houston, as the name suggests, is home to more than 18 museums in the city. To know a bit about the history, culture and artistic background of the city, visiting the Museum District will be of great help.
Galveston, an island city off the coast, makes for the ideal destination for a day trip. It has a gorgeous beach and ample places to eat at. Walking the historic streets and soaking in the sun at the beach is an ideal way to relieve some of your stress.
University Place is a prime neighborhood located in the Southwest region of Houston. It is a small neighborhood that has great schools, parks, playgrounds, and markets. A majority of the residents in the area are house owners and a very low amount of houses and apartments are available on rent. The small community in this area comprises mainly upper-middle-class families.
Median Home Value: $619,252
Annual Median Household Income: $260,400
Monthly Median Rent: $1,604
Memorial is one of the top-rated neighborhoods in Houston primarily known for great houses, food, nightlife, restaurants, bars, architectural beauty, and urban lifestyle. This neighborhood is close to Downtown and other areas where job opportunities are flooding. This allows you to have a short commute time and makes traveling convenient. You can also engage in some outdoor activities like cycling, hiking, camping, etc.
Median Home Value: $449,400
Annual Median Household Income: $103,240
Monthly Median Rent: $1,243
Braeswood is one of the most diverse neighborhoods with excellent educational institutes and parks. This is a neighborhood slightly away from Downtown which gives it an isolated and laid-back vibe with a touch of urban life. The neighborhood has libraries, shopping centers, local markets, schools, restaurants, and ample green space spread across its area. You’ll find something interesting to do in this neighborhood.
Median Home Value: $529,300
Annual Median Household Income: $76,762
Monthly Median Rent: $1,340
Spring Branch is a neighborhood located in the prime area of the city and is an upcoming neighborhood. This is a neighborhood that is in close proximity with Downtown and has good opportunities for professionals. It has a suburban feel with a small community vibe. The housing market here is a bit on the more steep side but the neighborhood has a lot of potential to grow.
Median Home Value: $574,846
Annual Median Household Income: $91,474
Monthly Median Rent: $1,105
Houston is an ethnically, culturally, economically diverse city that appeals to a large population as it is one of the most affordable cities in the USA. It offers you a range of job opportunities. However, the high tax rates, poor transportation and the heated weather can seem like a downer. It certainly will be if you don’t research and plan your move well enough.
But, with a low cost of living, great recreational activities, and shared love for sports among the people of Houston, it is definitely a lively city to live in. If you are looking for a family-friendly city in Texas that has opportunities for people from all walks of life, Houston is just perfect.
Houston is a city that provides great job opportunities along with a low cost of living and a comfortable lifestyle. It is perfect for people who want to grow their professional life while also building their families. Houston makes for a great city to live in.
How Humid Is Houston In Summer?
The summers in Houston are hot and humid. July and August are the hottest summer months with average temperatures reaching anywhere between 91°F to 95°F.
Does Houston Texas Get Snow?
Just like any other southern city, Houston Texas does not experience any snowfall. Houston is a city where winters are mild and summers are humid. Experiencing snowfall is very rare in the city.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.