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Cost of Living in Houston – The 2020 Guide

If your heart is set on living in the Lone Star State, then its biggest city may be the best option. Useful info on the cost of living in Houston can be just the thing to tip you into making this momentous decision. After all, it’s an excellent and exciting place to live, and jobs are in abundance, so all it takes is a bit of budget planning. And we’re here to help with our 2020 guide to the costs of everyday life in the famous Space City.

Monthly and Yearly Expenses

As tempting as moving to Houston certainly is, before you plan your moving budget, hire highly recommended professionals that offer moving services, or start packing furniture and clothes on your own, you should also make some arrangements concerning the place you’ll live in. If you’re relocating because your workplace has been transferred, accommodation should be on top of the relocation questions to ask the employer. You should also know how much your future house or apartment will cost you long before you figure out how to change the address. Let’s take a look.

The Impact of Housing on the Overall Cost of Living in Houston TX

No matter if you are moving during holidays or in summer, finding a home in HOU is not difficult, and housing is cheaper than in the rest of the country on average, which is one of many reasons why you should move here, but numbers are steadily growing. Also, more than half of the residents don’t own a home, so you should probably consider renting, too.

According to the latest data provided by the online database numbeo.com, the average price for the apartment in downtown is $220 per square foot. Outside of the city center, a square foot can be purchased for $120. Mortgage rates stand around 4.12% per year, and the monthly mortgage amount is about $1,000.

If you opt for paying rent, you’ll be giving away around a third of your monthly salary. Rent for a single bedroom flat in the center would require around $1,400, while the same apartment further from the center would come at $960, give or take a few bucks. If you want to reduce relocation costs look for the bigger place when house-hunting and find a roommate through one of many roommate websites, you can also move in together with your partner, or consider relocating to the suburbs. Larger apartments would be in the area of $2,500 in the center, and $1,700 outside of it. All in all, the housing index in the H-Town stands 18 points below the national, and one point below the Texas one.

In case you want to downsize and move into a smaller home, you can expect to save a few more bucks if you learn some packing tips and tricks, create a photo inventory, and sell or donate unwanted items before you create a household inventory list. But, of course, all these numbers will vary depending on the area you choose to live in and the general safety of a neighborhood.  If you still haven’t found one, here’s a suggestion: among some of the best neighborhoods in Houston are Memorial, Clear Lake, and Neartown-Montrose.

What You’ll Spend on Utilities

Unlike houses and apartments, the utility index is higher than the national one. For utility bills (which cover heating, cooling, water, electricity, and garbage disposal), you’ll have to splash more than 140 bucks. A fast internet connection comes at around 60 dollars a month.
In terms of utilities, heating won’t be much of a problem, but cooling is essential, due to the scorching and dry summers.

A Quick Guide to Taxes

As we all know very well, the only two things you can’t escape are death and taxes. As anywhere in the US, there are tax rates on local, county, state, and federal levels. So let’s quickly go through those rates.

When all is combined, Houstonians pay a sales tax of 8.25%. That’s no small amount of money. The situation is similar to property tax, which stands at 2.12%. When you compare it to the rest of the country, it’s almost double. That rate adds together taxes for Harris County, the city, and the School District.

If you’re wondering why anyone would want to live there with such rates, the answer is simple. Neither Harris County nor the great State of Texas charge income tax. Sure, the IRS will still want its share of your earnings in April, but at least you won’t have to think about local treasuries.

With a good salary, you won't need to worry about housing prices and rent, nor the costs of utilities and food.

Prices of Groceries and Goods

After accommodation, people spend the most money on food and consumer goods. A gallon of milk in supermarkets costs around $2.50, and so does a loaf of white bread. A carton of eggs will be around $2.1, and cheese made by local producers – $.45 per pound. A standard bottle of water stands at $1.7. You can get a pound of white rice for $1.5. If you wish to buy meat, chicken breast costs in the area of $3.5 per pound, and beef usually goes for more than $5.

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, prices for two pounds are as follow:

  • Bananas – $1.45
  • Apples – $3.6
  • Oranges – $3.3
  • Potatoes – $2.3
  • Tomatoes – $2.3

We haven’t forgotten about alcoholic beverages, either. A bottle of mid-quality wine stands at $12, domestic beer is around $2.3, while imported ones are around $3. If you have a habit of smoking, a pack of Marlboro can be purchased for around $7.5.

Since you’ll need something to wear as well (assuming you followed the recommended procedures of decluttering when packing), you can get a new pair of jeans for around $40. Dresses at retailers like H&M or Zara can be bought for a sum close to $40 as well.
A pair of sneakers (Nike or similar) is around $70, while leather business shoes can be acquired for approximately $100.

Overall, the grocery index is lower than the national, while the goods and services index is higher.

All data shows that Texas cities have affordable prices of food which can be covered with a decent salary.

Amenities That Await in Houston

As you may expect of a metropolis of this size, Houston has top-notch amenities. Let’s start with healthcare.

Visiting a doctor for necessary medical examination stands at around $90-100, while dental work price is about $85. A pack of antibiotics with 12 capsules is approximately $25. If you catch a cold, a week’s worth of pastilles and aspirins will be around $6.

On to culture. There are lots of places worth visiting in H-Town, and several million people do it every year. Luckily, some of the most famous of them allow you to save money. If you purchase a CityPASS, you’ll have a chance to visit five attractions for only $64 ($54 for children). That is more than 50% less than the prices of each of them combined. Among those attractions is, first and foremost, the Space Center. There is also the Museum of Natural Science and the Downtown Aquarium. For the last two, you may choose between the Children’s Museum and Kemah Boardwalk, and between the Zoo and the Museum of Fine Arts. CityPASS is valid for nine days. There’s one more perk to it – you can jump queues.

Besides those, there are scores of other museums, the Theater District with several performing troupes, opera, ballet, symphony orchestra, and many, many more. If you like to stay in shape without walking around too much, the monthly fee for the gym is about $40.

This is one of the best cities in Texas to raise a family, so if you are moving with kids that are school-aged, you’ll probably want to know how much their education will cost you. Here are some numbers.

How Much Does School Cost

Like many other great cities to raise a family in the US, H-Town has some of the best educational institutions in the area. There are almost one thousand schools, with more than 300 private ones. If you want your child to attend an international primary school, that will take around $20,000 per year.

Private schools in Houston are expensive, with tuition that goes from $14,000 up to $25,000 in the most expensive ones. Higher education is also up there, with four state universities and several private institutions. In their vicinity are some of the best places to live in Houston for students and singles, not surprisingly.

The Costs of Transportation in This Texas Metropolis

Moving around the city is essential for everyday life in H-Town. Many people drive there, so you won’t be wrong if you learn how car shipping works and use auto transport services to haul your car to the new home. If not, you can obtain a standard car for around $22,000.

One of the many positive things about transportation in Houston is the practice of “slugging.” That’s a system of ride-sharing, with people gathering at specific hubs and arranging rides together.

If you don’t want to transport your car across the country, you’ll have to rely on public transportation. Prices are $1.25 for a single ticket and $50 for a monthly pass. The transportation index there is higher than the national one by almost 20 points.

Amenities justify the cost of living in Space City and show why people are choosing to live here in 2020

What Is the Average Living Wage in H-Town?

H-Town is globally famous for its energy industry, but also medical and research facilities. And, of course, NASA. It has one of the busiest ports in the US. It’s home to the headquarters of 19 Fortune 500 companies, Phillips 66, Sysco, and Halliburton being among them. There is also a strong presence of other large companies, such as Exxon Mobil or Hewlett Packard.

Therefore, you can expect plenty of jobs to be on offer, and finding a job before moving to another state shouldn’t be a problem. The biggest employers in the city are medical institutions, universities, and energy companies. According to data provided by payscale.com, the average salary stands around $70,000 per year. The best salaries are those of project managers ($81,000), followed by project and mechanical engineers ($79,000 and $78,000 respectively), and finally operation managers ($71,000). A quick check with a calculator will show you that if you land a good job, you’ll have no problem getting by here.

Job reasons why you should move
Houston is among the best places in the US to work or start business in 2020, since there's no income tax

Leisure In the Space City

Houstonians value their time after the daily business was concluded just like any other folks. When you unpack after the move explore the metropolis. Things to do in Houston are aplenty, but people especially enjoy walking in parks and eating out. If you wish to try out some of the best restaurants in Houston, be ready to pay something in the region from $15 at a less expensive joint to $60 at the mid-range restaurant. With your lunch or dinner, you can have a beer for around $6-7, a coke for $2, and a cappuccino for $5.

When it comes to sports, the pro offer isn’t as vast as in some other locations, but you’ll find it satisfying nonetheless. Here you can follow football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. The only thing that’s missing is the NHL franchise. If you’re a fan of hockey, we’re sorry to inform you that the nearest option for that is in Dallas.

But let’s not speak of what isn’t available. Here’s the price of tickets for available sports events:

  • Houston Dynamo – an MLS team, and not a very successful one, Dynamo follows the pack in terms of tickets. For the cheapest seat in the stands of BBVA Stadium, you’ll have to part with some $20. Fancier seats mean more money out of your pocket, up to more than $200.
  • Houston Astros – Winners of the 2017 World Series, the Astros will charge you $40 to $50 per game.
  • Houston Rockets – Glory days and two NBA titles from the ’90s may seem like a distant past, but luck can change. If you wish to be in the Toyota Center when it happens, prepare around $100 for a seat that’s not great, not terrible.
  • Houston Texans – Another champions-in-waiting, Texans are the darlings of the locals. They are also the most expensive to watch, with an average seat starting from $110.

In the end, we can’t talk about Texas and not mention the biggest attraction in town. Attending the famous Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo will cost you from $20 to more than $120 if you wish to observe the action from the front row. Clearly, there are many advantages to moving alone to another state because here, you’ll never have a dull moment.

Texas is the best place for fun after work if you know where to look for it

How the Cost of Living in Houston Fares When You Compare It to Other Texas Cities

There you have it. As you could see, prices in Space City are quite OK when compared to the national average. But how does it fare when you compare it to fellow Texans? We’ll compare prices of home and rent with those in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio.

CityAverage Apartment Cost per sq ft DowntownAverage Rent For Small Apartment DowntownYearly Mortgage RateAverage Monthly Salary
Houston$209$1,4504,18%$4,210
Austin$268$1,4703,33%$4,570
Dallas$250$1,5554,23%$4,630
San Antonio$170$1,1804,54%$3,155

All in all, Is Houston a Good Place to Live?

All in all, when you were deciding where to move, you picked the right spot. H-Town is a great place to live, with great opportunities, so don’t let the anxiety about moving out cause you relocation depression and check out some helpful moving day tips, it will help you avoid common moving mistakes. The chance to experience it all shouldn’t be missed no matter if you are moving for a relationship or in pursuit of knowledge. And when you know that it can all be done at relatively low moving expenses, especially if you choose the cheapest time of the year to relocate, it gets even better because there’s no room for moving stress. The best time of the year to move here is now. So figure the cheapest way to move out of state, come to the H-Town and live at least a bit closer to the stars.