Houston is the US’s fourth biggest city and home to NASA. It is big, bold and vibrant, like everything in Texas should be. It is a busy, cosmopolitan city which offers much to those that live there.
If you are considering moving to Houston, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in this wealthy city.
Quick Houston Facts:
- Population: 2,239,558 (2016 estimate). The wider metropolitan area’s population is over 6 million.
- Official Language: English (de facto) with over 145 other languages being spoken in the city, including Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, German, French and Urdu.
- GDP Per Capita: $74,324 USD (estimate)
- Houston: “Houston” was the first word spoken by Neil Armstrong on the moon.
- Currency: US Dollar (US$). As of early 2017, £1 = $1.30, €1 = $1.08, $1 CAD = $0.75, $1 AUD = $0.77
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Houston
- New York City – $373+
- Los Angeles – $425+
- Canada (Vancouver) – $1,301+
- UK (London) – $1,731+
- Australia (Sydney) – $2,493+
- Ireland (Dublin) – $1,897+
- New Zealand (Auckland) – $2,965+
- Hong Kong – $1,506+
- Dubai – $2,831+
- Singapore – $3,267+
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2. Houston Housing Costs
Surprisingly, house prices in Houston are not as high as other Texan cities such as Austin. A word of warning if you intend to buy in Houston, there are no zoning laws so you could find a high rise block being built next to your beautiful house.
Monthly Rental Prices in Houston
- 1 bedroom apartment in City Centre: $1,000+
- 1 bedroom apartment outside the City Centre: $700<+
- 3 bedroom apartment in City Centre: $1,600+
- 3 bedroom apartment outside the City Centre: $1,200+
Houston Home Purchase Prices
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: $1,800+
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: $1,000+
Houston Housing Cost Comparison
This is how rents in Houston compare with other cities around the globe.
London is 64.72% more expensive
New York is 132.97% more expensive
Los Angeles is 56.93% more expensive
Toronto is 6.43% cheaper
Sydney is 53.64% more expensive
Paris is 0.36% cheaper
Dubai is 70.03% more expensive
How to Save on Housing Costs
- Share an apartment or house. Have a look at the following sites to find your perfect roommate: Easyroommate, Craigslist, Metro Roommates and Kangaroom.
- Different areas – different price: Like all cities, Houston has its cheap and expensive areas. Houston is a vast, sprawling and, some say, badly planned city which covers 655 square miles. Due to its size it’s vital that you know where you are going to work before deciding on where to live. If you are wealthy, then the mansions in River Oaks are for you. At the other end of the spectrum is the East End which is a former industrial area which is being redeveloped into affordable living and working spaces. Montrose is an area suited to arty people who enjoy a more bohemian type of life.
3. Houston Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Houston boasts having over 10,000 restaurants from your local greasy spoon to fine dining. These restaurants cover food from over 70 different countries and regions in America. The variety of restaurants is reflected in the diversity of foods available in the shops.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: $10 – $18
- Takeout Coffee: $2.75 – $5.00
- Bottle of Coke: $1.25 – $2
- 1L of milk: $0.53 – $1.15
- Loaf of Bread: $1.93 – $3.31
- 12 Eggs: $1.50 – $3.99
- 1kg Chicken: $5.03 – $13.23
- 1kg Beef: $6.51 – $17.64
- 1kg Apples: $2.20 – $5.45
- 1kg White Rice: $2.20 – $6.61
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- London restaurants are 22.55% more expensive and groceries are 16.61% cheaper than Houston.
- New York restaurants are 34.96% more expensive and groceries are 37.39% more expensive than Houston.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 10.46% cheaper and groceries are 4.92% more expensive than Houston.
- Toronto restaurants are 10.58% cheaper and groceries are 12.31% cheaper than Houston.
- Sydney restaurants are 0.12% cheaper and groceries are 10.51% more expensive than Houston.
- Paris restaurants are 9.94% more expensive and groceries are 9.30% more expensive than Houston.
- Dubai restaurants are 12.43% cheaper and groceries are 19.55% cheaper than Houston.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries
- Know your supermarkets: Houston has a good selection of independently owned grocery stores as well as the usual supermarket chains. There are also some excellent farmer’s markets and organic and health food shops. The most popular and reasonably priced supermarket in Houston are Trader Joe’s, Phoenicia Foods (for speciality, gourmet food), Jusgo (Asian food specialists) and HEB Houston.
- Find Cheap Eats: With all the restaurants in Houston, you will always be able to find somewhere good but cheap to eat. Even the fine dining restaurants have occasional specials. Go to the following website to explore your options – Visit Houston, Thrillist, Houstoniamag and Houston Eater.
4. Houston Alcohol Costs
Bars, nightclubs, live music are everywhere in Houston. They are an important part of life in the city and place where people meet socially and for business.
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: $2.50 – $4.99
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: $3.50 – $7.00
- Pint (0.5L) domestic beer at a supermarket: $1.25 – $3.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: $1.50 – $4.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: $8.00 – $15.00
How to drink for less in Houston
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays.
- Try Ripchord on a Sunday and treat yourself to $1 vodkas. Rudyard’s British Pub also have good Sunday specials on bloody mary’s and beer. Visit Stone’s Throw which offers drinks for $4 at 4pm, $5 at 5pm, $6 at 6pm and $7 at 7pm. Have a look at the following of the websites to see where you fancy going for a night out – Four Square, Houston Press, Houston Eater and Drink Owl.
5. Houston Transportation Fares
The public transportation system in Houston is run by Metro and consists of an efficient road and rail system. As Houston is such a large city, it is probable that you may need to take several busses and/or trains to get to and from your destination.
Here are some examples of ticket costs.
- Adult Single Metro – $1.25
- One day ticket – $3.00
- Monthly season ticket, unlimited – $45.50
How to save money on public transport
- Buy a Metro Q Fare card for various discounts
- Get free transfers and 5 free rides per every 50 journeys
- Buy a bike. Depending on where you live and work, cycling around the city may be an option. Houston has a good network of cycling only lanes.
- If you happen to be lucky enough to live near where you work, then walking is an option
6. Cost of Internet in Houston
Internet prices in the States are expensive compared with many other countries in the world. Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early 2017 for unlimited downloads, based on a 12-month contract:
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
The climate in Houston is described as humid, subtropical. At the height of the summer in August, the average temperature is 85°F (29°C). January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 53°F (11.7°C). May is the wettest month with an average of 4.4 inches (112mm) of rain falling.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: $29 – $59
- Summer Dress: $20 – $60
- Running Shoes (Trainers): $50 – $100
- Business Shoes: $60 – $150
- Short Doctor’s visit (15 mins): $108
- Deodorant: $3.47
- Shampoo: $5.74
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): $2.82
- Gym membership: $15.95-$55 per month
- Movie (cinema) ticket: $9-$12
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Houston
Driving in Houston in the rush hour can be a nightmare but many people choose to do it rather than change bus or train a few times.
If you’re moving to Houston from within the US, you’ll be able to keep your license but need to update your address to your new one.
You can drive on a foreign license for up to 12 months as a tourist but after that you will need to get an American license. If you are working or studying in the US, you can drive on your foreign license for 30 days. If you want to exchange your foreign driver’s license you have to follow the process here.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Houston:
- Volkswagen Golf: $20,000
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of gas (petrol): $0.53
- Other fees (if any): The average cost of state and local taxes, license, title and registration fees is $665 per annum
Ways to save money driving in Houston
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Car Pool World, Zipcar, Enterprise Car Share and eRideshare.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber.
Need your car/vehicle moved to Houston? Then read our guide to: Car Transport & Vehicle Shipping
9. Taxes in Houston
Sales Tax in New York is 8.25% and is added to most goods and services. Generally, the price you see on an item does not include sales tax.
If you own your home, you will be subject to property tax based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Learn more about property tax in Houston at Smart Asset Property Tax.
Finally, if you decide to buy a flat or house in Houston you’ll have to pay real estate transfer tax.
10. Flight Costs from Houston
If you do make the move to Houston, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2017:
- London: $310
- New York: $97
- Los Angeles: $58
- Toronto: $149
- Vancouver: $122
- Dubai: $673
- Sydney: $782
- Melbourne: $774
- Cape Town: $803
- Hong Kong: $353
Other Houston Relocation Tips
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Houston but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Relocating to Houston Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about settling in Houston.
- Meetups: Houston has many Meetup groups covering a wide range of activities from wine tasting to sporting activities.
- Attend local events: There is always something going on in Houston and many of the activities are free. Have a look at these sites to get inspiration on what to do during your free time – TripAdvisor, 365 Houston, Visit Houston, Planetware and US News.
12. Moving to Houston with a Family
Houston has a lot to attract families. There are museums, one of which was designed especially to enthral children, art galleries, shows, plays, swimming, parks and, of course, the Space Centre.
- New parents (or parents to be): Check out Expectant Mothers Guide and Motherhood Centre for advice, courses and ways to meet other parents or parents to be.
- Live in a family friendly area: Briargrove is a good are raising children, with ranch style homes on large plots and good schools but it is expensive. Memorial/Spring Branch are also good for families but are expensive. The Woodlands is a family oriented area, with good schools and lots of open space and is a lot more affordable. Try this Neighbourhood Quiz to find out which area is right for your family.
- Find things to do with the kids: There is so much for children in Houston. Have a look at Visit Houston, Kids Out and About, 365 Things and Houston Nannies.
- Take advantage of free and cheap activities: Houston is a big city with plenty of family-friendly activities for people on a budget. Want to visit a museum? You can get free entry to many of them, including the Children’s Museum and the Museum of Natural Science, every Thursday. Want to see a play? Picnic at the Miller Outdoor Theater with the entire family. And don’t forget to take advantage of wonderful parks like Discovery Green and Levy Park. Check out Houston On The Cheap for more of these types of events.
13. Moving to Houston for Work
Moving to a new city for work is one of the most common reasons people choose to move. While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move.
Houston has a strong economy and low unemployment. The main areas of employment in the city are aeronautics, oilfield equipment manufacturing, healthcare, energy, manufacturing, transportation the service industry.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries in Houston are high. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea, how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How to find work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Houston, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start: Monster, Indeed, Snag a Job, Craigslist and Career Builder. You may also want to google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Houston from Australia
There are around 1,500 Australian born Aussies living in Houston so if you are thinking of moving from Australia to Houston and joining them, here are a few things to consider.
- Size comparison: If you compare the population size of Houston with a city in Australia, then the closest would be Brisbane. If you include the whole metropolitan area, then the closest would be Sydney.
- Join expat groups:Meetup, Internations and Tanzot offer ways of meeting up with other Australians and New Zealanders in Houston.
15. Moving to Houston from Canada
There are a fair number of Canadians living in Houston. If you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.
- Size:If you look at the population size of Houston and a city in Canada, Vancouver would be the nearest.
- Expat groups: Meeting up with fellow Canadians helps the moving process. Link up through sites such as Internations, Meetup and Canadian Expat Network.
16. Moving to Houston from the United Kingdom
There is a small contingent of Brits living in the city, so if you’re considering joining them, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: If you look at the population size of Houston compared with a city in the UK, then it is about twice the size of Birmingham.
- Expat groups: If you want to get together with others from the UK who are experiencing life in Houston, then go to Internations and MeetUp.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Houston you can start by comparing moving quotes here.
Guides to other cities in Texas
Guides to moving and living in other American cities