So, you’re moving to Houston, and don’t really know what to expect. If you haven’t had the opportunity to study up on this eclectic city, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered!
Welcome to Houston! A City Overview
Welcome to the world capital of space exploration and the only major U.S. city to not have land-use zoning laws. That’s Houston for you!
This city has tons to offer, including a large population of 2.32 million people!
Outside of its prominent oil and gas industries, Houston is a cultural mecca. The city’s lively essence comes from its many museums, art galleries and entertainment, sports, and cultural events.
Houston has also perfected the craft of restaurant dining. Why do you think Houstonians eat out more than almost anyone else? You can find over 10,000 restaurants representing over 70 countries globally there.
Keep on reading to discover more of what this great Southern city has to offer!
1. Cost of Living in Houston
There is no news more exciting than discovering that Houston’s cost of living is actually low.
The city falls under the top 20 most populous U.S. metros. Despite this, Houston still manages to be affordable while keeping their quality of life high.
The Houston cost of living is 6.2% below the national average. To put things into perspective, other Texan cities like Dallas have a cost of living that is 4.3% above the average. You really get the best bang for your buck here!
We’ll go over the average resident income and the cost of items in Houston down below.
Income in Houston
The Department of Housing & Urban Development recorded that the median income in Houston for a single person was $55,450.
The median income for a 4-person household was $79,200. In contrast, the US median household income was $79,900 in 2021.
Although Houston’s income is lower than the national average, it's mediated by the low cost of living. Additionally, the city presented a 2.44% annual income growth which is always good news!
Average Cost of Items in Houston
Houston prides itself on having a lower cost of living. Groceries, healthcare, and transportation are all more affordable than the American average.
The city is more expensive in the housing and utilities department. The housing market in Houston is 5% above the national average whereas utilities are 11% more expensive.
Groceries present the biggest contrast. They can be as much as 13% lower than the average. That’s some great news for those who like cooking at home!
Check out the chart down below to see the average cost of items in Houston.
2. Renting in Houston
You’ll be happy to know that rent in Houston is more affordable than the American average.
The average rent price for a 1-bedroom apartment is $1,225. In 2021, studio apartments actually increased by 2% in rent price, making their average price $1,305. Renting a 2-bedroom apartment averaged around $1,502.
These prices were pretty affordable when compared to other Texas cities like Dallas and Austin. Dallas’ median rent for a 1-bedroom comes in at $1,425 while Austin’s is $1,500.
Let's be real. Finding a rental unit can be hard in such a large city. If you're relocating to Houston, Lighthouse can help you find your perfect rental home. Check us out to earn up to $1,200 in cashback.
3. Best Neighborhoods in Houston to Rent
Houston is filled with neighborhoods of different styles, atmospheres, and demographics. Each one offers its own unique quality.
Discover the best neighborhoods in Houston with our list, down below.
Most Affordable in the City: Midtown
Many of us want to save money while still living in the city. If those words speak to you then Midtown might be your best living location!
This neighborhood is located south of Downtown Houston. It offers rent prices around the $1,250 range.
Singles and young professionals love the area. That's thanks to its low crime rates and urban atmosphere.
Midtown also has easy access to public transportation, many job opportunities, and a vibrant arts scene. Join free dance classes or shop at the farmer's market to immerse yourself in the neighborhood culture!
Most Affordable Suburbs: Clear Lake City
Looking to get out of the hustle-and-bustle of Houston? Clear Lake City is a quiet neighborhood with lots of green spaces. To add to your peace of mind, it’s also one of the safest neighborhoods in Houston.
Many families and retired folks look to live here. It has many parks, fresh seafood, cultural festivals, and outdoor activities.
The NASA Johnson Space Center is also stationed nearby. As such, many aerospace workers and engineers live here too.
The average monthly rent is the best perk, averaging at the low cost of $795 per month.
Best for Young Professionals: University Place
This one is for the young professionals out there.
University Place is the perfect urban-suburban mix while offering tons of amenities. The area is also pretty quiet despite being near downtown Houston.
This location offers modern apartments and condos to rent. It’s near Houston Memorial Park and Texas Medical Center, making it very sought-out in Houston.
University Place also offers many activities to do. Head on down to West University Place to use their swimming pool, gyms, and sports courts.
Best for Families: Great Uptown
Great Uptown is a highly coveted area. That's thanks to its remarkable school system and family-friendly atmosphere.
Great Uptown is continuously being developed to add more office buildings. It’s the perfect place for those who work in an office but also have a family. Commuting gets substantially cut down and kids get to live in a safe area.
If you’re ever bored, the famous Houston Galleria Mall is also nearby. There you can grab a bite to eat or skate in their indoor rink.
Most Urban: East Downtown
This neighborhood is known as EaDo to the locals. It’s the entertainment mecca of the city- you can find many shops, dining spots, and attractions.
Young adults and professionals love this location since it’s so accessible. You’re close to the METRO Transit, METRO Light Rail Service, and many freeway entrances.
There’s also always something to do! Ethnic markets, restaurants, bars, sports centers, and nightclubs are sprinkled throughout the area.
Best for the History Enthusiasts: Museum District
It’s pretty much in the name. This neighborhood is filled with museums and new developments. You can find 19 museums within a few blocks of each other, and 11 of them are free!
The Museum District offers modern residences and easy access to the METRORail.
Keep in mind that the area is not ideal for those who have a car because of ongoing traffic congestion. However, you can always get to your destination by walking or biking.
Best for Entertainment: Neartown- Montrose
This neighborhood is rich in history and culture. It’s in an older part of town, meaning there are many historical homes and monuments around.
Neartown - Montrose is also the hub for the LGBTQ community. Their roots thrive in the unparalleled nightlife in the area.
It doesn’t stop there though. You have tons of bars, clubs, and entertainment spots to visit. Buffalo Bayou Park is also nearby if you want to get some fresh air.
4. Job Market in Houston
Over the years, the employment rate in Houston has not veered too far from the American average. However, these past two years, the job market in Houston has taken a slight hit.
In July 2021, the city's rate of job gain was 4.7%. In contrast, the national job gain percentage was 5.3.
On the bright side, Houston did see tremendous job market growth!
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total non-farm jobs increased by 136,400 in the area. Although the job market isn't booming, they’re still creating job opportunities in Houston.
The job market in Houston has a primary focus on the following supersectors.
- Leisure and Hospitality
- Trade, Transportation, and Utilities
- Business and Professional Services
- Educational Occupations
- Health Occupations
Houston is also home to many different companies. Some top employers in the area go as follows.
- Houston: Memorial Hermann Health System, H-E-B, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston Methodist Hospital, Schlumberger, Landry’s
- Spring: ExxonMobil
- Shenandoah: Kroger
- Galveston: UT Medical Branch Health System
These companies are just the biggest within the Houston area. If you don’t work in the previously mentioned sectors, don’t sweat it!
5. Houston Culture
The first words heard from the moon were “Houston, we have a problem.”
Well, Houston doesn’t currently have an impending problem, but this phrase did popularize the city’s name. From there, its culture and diversity only improved!
Houston has been on the up and up, attracting more residents every year. It exudes a cosmopolitan and down-to-earth atmosphere, which everyone likes.
Find a diversified job market, culture-filled neighborhoods, and cutting-edge cuisine in Houston.
Its arts scene is also commendable. They're one of the few U.S. cities to have professional theater, opera, symphony, and ballet companies.
If history is a little bit more up your alley, Houston’s Museum District is the fourth-largest in the U.S. You can find 19 different museums within a few blocks from one another.
Its multiculturalism has no bounds, translating to an overall culturally rich locale. You can find cuisine, art, and attractions from all over the world! So, even if you’re a ways away from home, you can still find a piece of it in Houston!
Let’s go over other qualities the Houston’ culture has to offer.
Hidden Gems & Famous Attractions in Houston
Houston has a variety of activities to do for families, friends, colleagues, or on your own.
No matter what your age or interests are, there's something for everyone!
Let’s go over some hidden gems in Houston you may not know about.
- Houston Botanic Garden. This brand new botanical garden opened back in 2020. Stroll around the 132-acre park that includes 8 different gardens. One of them is the Culinary Garden that features edible plants from around the world. This serene place is great for nature aficionados, families, or if you’re looking to clear your head!
- Lucky Land. Immerse yourself in Chinese culture and history at Lucky Land. By simply purchasing a ticket, this family-friendly attraction transports you to China. They offer dining, history lessons, picture ops, a coy pond, and a panda village.
- Railway Heights Market. This all-in-one market opened in Timbergrove back in 2019. The two-story building is jam-packed with stalls and shops. On the first floor lies grocers, locally-owned shops, and local market vendors. The upper level is for those who may not want to buy ingredients to cook at home. You can eat at any of the 10 market hall restaurants or buy specially curated art.
- Destination Mound Town (Hermann Park Train Tunnel). Experience a bit of Wonkatania at Destination Mound Town. The psychedelic morning colors and deep night hues make this mural art mesmerizing. Even though you can only view this tunnel by riding the train, it's still a one-of-a-kind attraction.
- Pitch 25 Beer Park. Looking for a nice spot to watch the game and have some great beer? Then come on over to Pitch 25 Beer Park. Enjoy their indoor soccer pitch, rustic patio, delicious food, and fun games!
- Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Also known as RodeoHouston, this livestock and rodeo show is the largest of its kind. You can watch seasoned professionals ride bulls or catch a music show. This annual festival is also the perfect opportunity to eat the carnival food we all love.
- Waugh Drive Bat Colony. This is a little bit of a funkier find. Watch an amazing display of nature as thousands of bats fly out from under the Waugh Drive Bridge. An estimated 250,000 free-tailed bats live under this bridge. Arrive after dusk to watch this best-kept secret unfold in front of your eyes!
- The Orange Show. In the east end of Houston lies The Orange Show, a fascinating work of art. Jefferson David McKissack built this 3,000 square foot monument by hand. He found a bunch of tractor seats, mannequins, wagon wheels, and other knick-knacks. From there, he put them together, creating this beloved folk-art environment! The Orange Show includes a pond, an oasis, a wishing well, museum, a gift shop, and upper decks.
- Palace Social. Who said people of all ages couldn't have fun under one roof? Not Palace Social. This entertainment spot offers a whole array of activities. You can bowl, play virtual reality games, or hang out at the arcade. They also have a lovely diner-style restaurant. If you’re feeling peckish, you can try one of their modern takes on classic Southern dishes.
- Rocket Fizz. Find thousands of unique candies, sodas, and gifts in this candy shop. They have over 500 soda flavors to pick from such as S’mores, Grass, and Bacon. They also have an endless taffy selection and rare candy flavors. This place is heaven to anyone with a sweet tooth!
Green Spaces in Houston
It may come as a surprise to many, but this city is heavily urbanized. As such, improvements can be made in Houston’s Green Spaces department.
According to The Trust For Public Land, Houston’s park system ranks #77 out of 100 on their ParkScore ranking.
In 2021, they recorded that 61% of residents lived within a 10-minute walk to a park. Why is this a big deal, you may ask? Other metro areas like Washington DC and New York have 98% of residents living near a green area. It's important to provide access to green spaces to improve the quality of everyone's life.
Now, not all is lost because of this news. Houston is making great strides to develop its green spaces. They currently have 66,600 acres of parkland, amounting to 580 parks.
One of the most popular parks, Buffalo Bayou Park, is right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. Think the Houston version of Central Park. It covers 160 acres of west downtown and is currently undergoing a 4-mile expansion east of downtown.
Memorial Park, Houston Botanic Garden, Hermann Park, and Bayou Greenways are also all being reimagined. Their development will offer more green spaces, outdoor activities, conservation, and gathering spots.
Weather in Houston
The climate in Houston is pretty straightforward. The city experiences very hot and humid summers but mild winters.
August is their hottest month of the year, the typical day averaging at 95F. January is the coldest month, bringing temperatures at around 43F.
The city’s wet season (May to October) is prone to flooding. Meanwhile, during the Atlantic hurricane season, Houston will sometimes experience tropical cyclones.
Are you wondering whether you’ll get snow in the city? Well, records show that since 1881, it has only snowed 94 times in Houston. Perfect for those who don’t like the winter!
6. Transportation in Houston
The truth is that Houston’s transportation system isn’t very large-scale. However, it still offers many alternatives to get around town.
Let’s go further into depth on the transportation in Houston.
Houston’s METRORail (Light Rail)
The METRORail provides light rail service from downtown Houston to the north, south, and east. The northbound Red Line service stops at the Northline Mall. The Red Line southbound service stops at the Texas Medical Center and Reliant Park. The Purple and Green Line both head east, stopping at Palm Center and Magnolia Park.
Houston’s METRO Bus System
METRO also offers many types of bus services throughout Houston. Their bus system offers 1,236 fleets that run on most city streets. Local service also stops at almost every corner along a bus route!
George Bush Intercontinental Airport
This is the biggest international airport in the Greater Houston area. Located north of downtown Houston, it’s the second busiest airport in Texas. This airport is also the largest hub for United Airlines.
William P. Hobby Airport
This international airport is located 7 miles from downtown Houston. It’s a secondary airport, next to Bush Intercontinental. It focuses on domestic airline services, cargo transportation, and private aviation.
Amtrak Houston Station
The Sunset Limited is an intercity passenger train. It travels from Los Angeles to New Orleans. Thrice weekly, it’ll stop at the Houston train station, located north of downtown Houston.
Similar to many large cities, Houston freeways are set up in a hub-and-spoke system. The major highways in Houston are the I-610, U.S. 290, U.S. 90, U.S. 59.
Texas highways, TX 288, TX 249, TX 225, TX 146, TX 99, Hardy Toll Road, Beltway 8, and Westpark Tollway also run through the city. Interstate highways I-10, I-45, I-69 respectively run east, north, and southwest.
If you’re a regular commuter, the Houston TranStar will save you tons of time. It’s a great alternative to beat traffic congestion throughout Houston.
Fun fact, the city of Houston implemented a flat taxi fare of $6 for any cab trip in the downtown area. If you ride anywhere around the Central Business District (between I-45, I-10, and U.S. 59) you’ll pay $6. Multiple riders can also ride in a single taxi for that fare price!
7. Pros & Cons of Living in Houston
Let’s go over a summary of the pros and cons of living in Houston.
There’s nothing like a list to put things in perspective, so let’s get into it!
Here’s a list of the pros of living in Houston.
- It’s an affordable city
- Low tax rates
- Large job market for newcomers
- Very multicultural city
- Many activities, entertainment, and nightlife options
- Legendary food scene
- Houstonians are very hospitable
Let’s go over the cons of living in Houston.
- You need a car to get around town
- Underdeveloped public transit systems
- Healthcare can be expensive
- It can get very hot and humid
- Lots of mosquitoes
Let’s recap on what to expect when moving to Houston.
Houston is a massive U.S. metro city but manages to have a low cost of living while maintaining a good quality of life. It’s a whopping 6.2% below the national average. Rent is on the more affordable end (especially for a large city), average at the $1,500 mark. The city’s neighborhoods appeal to many different lifestyles and interests. Pick from many options- living in the downtown bustle, an urban vibe, or the suburban tranquility.
Houston is a hub for culture and diversity. This also reflects in their culinary scene as they have over 10,000 restaurants to pick from. You can find over 15 museums in the Museum District or practice outdoor yoga in the Buffalo Bayou Park. Sports also thrive in the city! You can find the BBVA Compass Stadium, Minute Maid Park, and the Toyota Center downtown. Use the METRO Transit system to get around town. Do you have to travel farther? William P. Hobby Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport are also close by.
Even though Houston has some pretty cost-effective rent, it never hurts to save. You can earn cashback on rent if you sign a lease with us! We also partner up with you throughout the rental search process. That way, you can find your perfect home.
If you’re looking for rent in the Houston area, Lighthouse offers up to $1,200 in cashback when you sign a new lease.
What cultural fact about Houston was the most interesting in your opinion? Mention it down below in the comments!