Houston is one of the largest cities in the United States, and like with any other metropolitan city, there are a few drawbacks mixed in with advantages to living there. If you’re considering a move to Houston, it’s important to consider both pros and cons to help you determine if it’s the right place for you.
Houston, Tx – Quick Stats
|Population||Median Age||Bachelor Degree or Higher|
Pro: Affordable cost of living
Data sourced from numbeo.com – Jul 2021
Con: Heavy traffic and congestion
Houston vs. U.S. Commuting Time
|Median Houston Commuting Time||Median U.S. Commuting Time|
|27.7 Minutes||26.9 Minutes|
|Means of Transportation to Work/School||Percentage %|
|Working from Home||2.20%|
Data sourced from numbeo.com – Jul 2021
Houston is a large city, and the ideal way to get around for most people is by car. Like any sprawling metropolis, you need a car in; traffic is inevitable. The only way you can avoid it is by working from home and buying items on online platforms, which of course, isn’t a suitable solution for everyone.
Houston, in general, isn’t particularly walkable, and the public transportation system isn’t reliable either, despite the city’s efforts to deal with the problem. The METRORail light rail system – for Houstonians who live downtown – and Park & Ride services – for suburban commuters – make moving around easier, but it’s still behind in terms of development compared to other metropolitan areas.
Typically, traffic into downtown Houston between 7 am and 9 am and traffic leaving the area between 4 pm and 7 pm is exhausting. The freeway system is vast and always expanding, but so is the population, so be mentally prepared to deal with traffic on Houston roadways. If you have to drive, there are some areas in the city that you should try to avoid, such as The Galleria area.
Pro: Plenty of job opportunities
Houston is renowned for its thriving job market. The city has the gas and oil industry, as well as the aerospace and manufacturing industries. Houston is also home to the largest medical center in the world. There are plenty of medical opportunities to work in adult and children’s healthcare-related fields, as well as opportunities to work in medical specialty fields like infectious diseases, cancer research, and veteran’s healthcare.
Houston is also a great option for scientists, engineers, and professionals in the education field. There is an influx of young talent in the Greater Houston area that has created an entrepreneurial environment. The flourishing startup scene is being propelled by co-working spaces like Station Houston and Novel Coworking ready to provide office spaces.
Some of the top industries in Houston include:
- Life sciences/ medical
- Aerospace and Aviation
Con: The weather takes some getting used to
Houston has a very hot and humid climate. In the summer, temperatures have been known to soar into the triple digits, and the humidity levels are almost always higher than 90%. The trade-off is that the winter months are not very cold, with mild weather throughout.
Houston gets more rain than other cities in Texas. The weather in the wet season (May, June, and July are typically the wettest months) is a bit more unpredictable. For instance, you might experience a pleasant sunny day one day, and the next will be filled with torrential rain. Or you might even experience hail and sun at the same time.
Houston, TX Temperature Table
Best months to visit Houston: January, February, March, April, May, October, November, December.
|Month||Temp. Low. Avg.||Temp. High Avg.|
Data sourced from numbeo.com – Jul 2021
Pro: Houston has a fascinating mix of cultures and ethnicities
When it comes to culture and ethnic diversity, Houston is right up there with Los Angeles and New York. You will find people from diverse backgrounds living in the city, with many ethnic groups like African Americans, Asian, and Hispanic populations. This helps create a culture-rich environment that is more accepting of each other’s differences and creates the unique opportunity to live close to various cultures.
Con: The city is a breeding ground for mosquitoes
As previously mentioned, Houston is part of a hot and humid climate. The city also has plenty of mash lands and waterways and is also close to rice fields and bayous. As a result, it is a prime spot for mosquitoes to live and breed. Houston mosquitoes are a bit larger and more aggressive than the mosquitoes found in other states. Therefore, if you’re moving to the city, you might want to invest in bug spray and citronella candles to keep these critters away. Residents in the city also have window screens installed on their windows and screen doors to help keep insects from getting into their homes.
Pro: Many fun and educational activities to participate in
You’ll always find things to see and do in Houston. From the museums to various sports teams and even family-oriented activities, you won’t run out of things to keep you busy in your downtime.
Events for all ages
The Galleria is an enormous mall in the city that welcomes over 30 million visitors each year. It has over 400 stores and restaurants, and there are plenty of things to keep you occupied, including an indoor ice skating rink.
Although you may need a car to move around and explore in Houston, you won’t need one to explore the Museum District. If you’re a museum fan, you’ll enjoy walking to the different sections – if you’re up for it, tour up to 19 museums within a 12 block radius.
Underground Tunnel Tour
Houston doesn’t have an elaborate subway system, but it has one of the most extensive collections of pedestrian tunnels in the world.
This downtown area of Houston has seen a lot of revitalization over the past couple of years, offering residents easy access to entertaining shows in the handful of venues found in the location.
Houston Sports and athletics
High school sports
Looking for a real-life Friday Night Lights experience? Head out to the Houston suburbs of Katy or The Woodlands for unforgettable high school sports.
The city is a great place to be if you’re a fan of college sports. With two renowned hometown universities, the University of Houston and Rice University, you can always catch a home game in Houston.
There are all sorts of professional sports teams to support as a Houston resident. Some of these teams include the Houston Texans in the NFL and the Houston Rockets in the NBA. Houston is also home to the Houston Astros.
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
For 20 days out of the year, you can take part in celebrating Texas heritage and culture at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo with fellow Houstonians.
Also known as the NRG Astrodome, or simply The Astrodome, it is the world’s first multi-purpose, domed sports stadium. In 2017, the site was made a State Antiquities Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission.
Activities for kids
Space Center Houston
The NASA Johnson Space Center is a fascinating place where visitors can learn more about NASA’s discoveries.
Houston Zoo is home to over 6,000 animals and insects that are on permanent display. The zoo aims to educate and change practices to protect and preserve wildlife.
In addition to a wide variety of fish species and an unforgettable underwater adventure, the Downtown Aquarium also offers a breathtaking view of the Houston skyline from its Ferris wheel as well as an impressive white tiger exhibit.
Con: Driving in Houston can be a pain
As previously mentioned, Houston is a large city. Even without the traffic and congestion on the roads, driving as a means of getting from one end to another can be a pain due to the sheer vastness of the city.
Pro: Access to top schools
Depending on the area you choose to live in the Houston city, there is a range of school districts to explore. The Houston Independent School District is one of the largest in Texas, operating 283 schools.
While primary-age kids will be limited to schools in the Houston area, secondary-age kids have more options than the multiple top-rated universities in texas. College-age students residing in the city will have the option of all the colleges within the state and will qualify for a discounted in-state tuition rate. Some of these top texas universities include:
- The University of Houston – in Houston
- Texas Tech University – in Lubbock
- Texas A & M – in College Station
- The University of Texas – in Austin
Con: Hurricanes are a common occurrence
Houston’s gulf coast location leaves the city vulnerable to natural disasters. Houston experiences hurricanes from time to time, and some of these hurricanes can create a lot of high waters and damaging winds, as seen in August 2017 with Hurricane Harvey. If you plan to move to Houston, you’ll want to buy flood insurance as well as have an emergency disaster kit on hand.
Pro: Houston has zero income tax
As a city in Texas, Houston has no state income tax.
Con: It has a higher sales tax
Houston has a higher than average sales tax. Most purchases in the city carry an 8.25% sales tax. You may also find that property taxes in some areas of Houston are higher than average.
Pro: You can easily fly in and out of the city
Traveling in and out of Houston by air is very easy, thanks to the two major airports in the city. The William P. Hobby International Airport and the William P. Hobby International Airport serve as key airports for United Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
Pro: Houston has impressive culinary offerings
Because Houston is a melting pot of cultures, you can expect there to be all sorts of mouth-watering cuisines in the city. While TexMex and BBQ options are just as good as you might expect, there is so much more to explore. Houston offers ethnic cuisine from different parts of the world, James Beard award-winning chefs, and dishes so unique that they only exist in the city ( the Viet Cajun Crawfish is a great example). The city also has a wide variety of cafes, pubs, and cocktail bars. Here are some of the best places to eat and drink in Houston:
- Mala Sichuan
- Rodeo Goat
- Killen’s Steakhouse
- 8th Wonder Brewery
- Blacksmith Coffee
- True Anomaly
- Holler Brewing Company.
Pro: It is one of the greenest cities in the United States
Houston is one of the greenest cities in the country, with over 50,000 acres of parks within the city limits. The city has been hard at building new parks, restoring old ones, and improving access to nature trails and wildlife conservation areas.
Houston is a great place to live, but it’s always best to consider both the upsides and downsides, especially if you want to make the city your home.
Houston compared to other cities (June 2021 rent price data from Zumper national rent report)
|Cities||Studio||1-BR Avg. Rent||2-BR Avg. Rent||3-BR Avg. Rent||Median Home Prices||Median Household Income|