Living in Houston: 15 Pros & Cons (Video & Prices)


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 essential 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
2,310,432 3332.90%
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Pro: Affordable cost of living

Houston, TX – Median Home Price in October 2021
Median Home Price
$222,540
Data sourced from Zillow Median Home Sale Prices

Houston, TX – Average Cost of Utilites in October 2021
Utilities (Monthly)Prices
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment$144.53
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)$59.41
Data sourced from Numbeo.com

Houston, TX – Average Cost of Transportation in October 2021
TransportationPrices
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)$1.25
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)$40.00
Gasoline (1 gallon) $2.62
Data sourced from Numbeo.com

Houston, TX – Average Cost of Groceries in October 2021
GroceriesPrices
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)$2.95
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)$2.18
Rice (white), (1 lb) $1.36
Eggs (regular) (12)$1.81
Local Cheese (1 lb)$4.48
Chicken Fillets (1 lb)$3.50
Beef Round (1 lb) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)$5.27
Banana (1 lb)$0.54
Tomato (1 lb)$1.36
Potato (1 lb)$0.81
Onion (1 lb)$0.91
Lettuce (1 head)$1.36
Water (1.5-liter bottle)$1.41
Data sourced from Numbeo.com

Con: Heavy traffic and congestion

Night traffic in Houston Texas
Night traffic in Houston Texas
(Source: Kevin Hernandez via Unsplash)
Houston vs. U.S. Commuting Time
Median Houston Commuting Time Median U.S. Commuting Time
27.7 Minutes26.9 Minutes
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

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 more accessible. However, 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 constantly expanding, but so is the population, so be mentally prepared to deal with traffic on Houston roadways. If you have to drive, you should try to avoid some areas in the city, 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.

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. Houston is also an excellent option for scientists, engineers, and professionals in the education field.

Some of the top industries in Houston include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Life sciences/ medical
  • Distribution
  • Aerospace and Aviation
  • Energy

Con: The weather takes some getting used to

Houston weather
Houston weather
(Source: Adrian N via Unsplash)

Houston has a sweltering 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 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.

MonthTemp. Low. Avg.Temp. High Avg.
Jan46℉63℉
Feb52℉70℉
Marc57℉73℉
Apr63℉79℉
May68℉86℉
Jun75℉93℉
Jul77℉95℉
Aug77℉95℉
Sep75℉91℉
Oct68℉84℉
Nov57℉73℉
Dec50℉66℉
Data sourced from numbeo.com – October 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 accepts 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 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 town 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

Concert in Houston
Concert in Houston
(Source: Terren Hurst via Unsplash)

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

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.

Museum District

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.

Theater District

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

Little league ballplayer looks to the umpire for a ruling after sliding into second base. - Houston Texas
Little league ballplayer looks to the umpire for a ruling after sliding into second base. – Houston Texas
(Source: Keith Johnston via Unsplash)

High school sports

Are you 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.

College 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.

High school receiver pulls away from a defender after catching a pass in a pre-season game in Houston Texas
High school receiver pulls away from a defender after catching a pass in a pre-season game in Houston, Texas.
(Source: Keith Johnston via Unsplash)

Professional teams

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.

Houston’s Astrodome

Also known as the NRG Astrodome, or simply The Astrodome 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.

Lunar Module LTA-8: last means of transport of the longest journey in human history. - Space Center Boulevard, Houston, Texas, USA
Lunar Module LTA-8: last means of transport of the longest journey in human history. – Space Center Boulevard, Houston, Texas, USA
(Source: Mark König via Unsplash)

Houston Zoo

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. 

Downtown Aquarium

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

Houston - Rice University
(Source: Cameron Durham via Unsplash)
Houston – Rice University

Depending on the area you choose to live in Houston, 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 opportunity 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

A young woman chooses from a selection of artisan breads at the grocery store
A young woman chooses from a selection of artisan bread at the grocery store.
(Source: @rebekah via Twenty20)

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

Plate of beef tacos on flour tortillas with a cold Lone Star Rio Jade beer on top of a rustic wood outdoor table
A plate of beef tacos on flour tortillas with a cold Lone Star Rio Jade beer on top of a rustic wood outdoor table
(Source: Thomas Park via Unsplash)

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 unique dishes that 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 to build new parks, restore old ones, and improve access to nature trails and wildlife conservation areas.

Final thoughts

Houston is a great place to live, but it’s always best to consider the upsides and downsides, especially if you want to make the city your home.

Houston compared to other cities (October 2021 rent price data from Zumper national rent report)
Cities1-BR Avg. Rent 2-BR Avg. Rent
Charlotte$1,400$1,610
Chicago$1,500$1,760
Columbus$930$1,140
Denver$1,690$2,190
Houston $1,220$1,530
Indianapolis$960$1,020
Jacksonville$1,100$1,330
Philadelphia$1,360$1,730
Phoenix$1,200$1,520
San Antonio$1,040$1,300
San Diego$2,060$2,730
Seattle$1,750$2,340
Washington$2,240$2,960
Data sourced from Zumper national rent report October 2021

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