Article Overview: Pros & Cons of Living in Houston, Texas
Thinking about moving to Houston? I’m here to help
I’ve been living in Houston for the past 8 years and have definitely learned a few things about calling “Space City” home.
With an impressive population of 2.3 million people, Houston is the most populous city in Texas (and the 4th most populous city in the country). You’ll be in good company if you choose to call this vibrant city home.
But I don’t want to get ahead of myself and give you a false impression. Living in Houston is not for everyone. Some of my best friends have moved out in recent years and seem to be happy in their new situations.
In this quick article I’ll give you a rundown of what I’ve found to be the most helpful pros and cons of living in Houston for folks considering moving here.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, I’m here to help!
Editor’s Note: As long time readers of this website will know, the fun lives in the comments. Don’t forget to take a look below to see what other locals are saying. We update this post regularly based on feedback received. Cheers!
Pros & Cons of Living in Houston, Texas
If you plan on visiting Houston before finalizing your decision, I highly suggest staying this (great) hotel. I recommend it to my own family and friends.
Table of Contents: Living in Houston
Table of Contents: Living in Houston
- Pros & Cons of Living in Houston, Texas
- First, the Pros of Living in Houston
- #1. You’ll Pay No State Income Tax in Houston
- #2. The Housing Market Is Still (Relatively) Affordable
- #3. The Overall Low Cost of Living in Houston
- #4. The Healthcare System Is Top-Notch
- #5. Houston Is a Foodie’s Paradise
- #6. Diversity, Diversity, Diversity
- #7. Constant Sunshine
- #8. The Locals Are Genuinely Friendly
- #9. Texas State Pride
- #10. Love Professional Sports? You’ll Love Living in Houston
- Cons of Moving to Houston
- Most Popular Neighborhoods in Houston
- Pros & Cons of Living in Houston (Post Summary)
- First, the Pros of Living in Houston
First, the Pros of Living in Houston
#1. You’ll Pay No State Income Tax in Houston
Let’s kick off this list by sharing one of best things about living in Houston: Texas residents aren’t subject to state income tax.
I can’t even begin to stress how advantageous this is in the long run. I moved to Texas from Oregon, which had a variable state income tax that went as high as 9%. Essentially, I now get to keep $90 more for every $1,000 I earn.
The absence of a state income tax is a huge perk of moving to Houston. In fact, it’s one of the reasons my wife and I moved here. We were at a point in our lives where most things felt unattainable (home ownership, eating out, affordable vacations, etc.).
Like a lot of folks, we made a goal to build up our nest egg with the hopes of buying a home. We spent a year researching various cities and ultimately landed on Houston, in large part because of the lack of state income taxes.
Goes without saying: Don’t assume we aren’t expected to pay our fair share in taxes while living in Houston. Far from it, there’s still federal income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes (8.25%) to consider.
We’ll cover the other taxes in detail shortly (because they’re steep and worth factoring in before moving to Houston).
#2. The Housing Market Is Still (Relatively) Affordable
Alright, I can already envision the hate mail getting stamped, but hear me out. First, no American city is immune from the housing crisis (save for Kentucky or something). Nobody can deny that home prices across the nation have soared to unfathomable highs.
I know this issue isn’t unique to living in Houston, but all things considered – houses in Houston are affordable. Heck, I’d bet that a lot of young couples are moving to Houston specifically to buy a home and start a family.
Better still, when considering the average salary in Houston ($67,000) the income-to-house price ratio is way more balanced than in most US cities.
Put another way: Houston’s housing costs rank as the second lowest of the top 20 most populous U.S. metro areas, coming in 19.4% below the national average. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
#3. The Overall Low Cost of Living in Houston
You’re probably not surprised to learn that affordable housing goes hand-in-hand with the reasonable cost of living in Houston. But don’t just take my word for it.
Houston’s living costs are 8.3% lower than the national average. Even more impressively, the cost of living in Houston is 36.2% less when compared to the most populous cities in America. What does this mean for the average Joe?
It means you can expect everything from groceries, entertainment, and restaurants to cost less after moving to Houston.
Couple the low cost of living with lack of state income tax and you’ll instantly see why so many millennials are moving to Houston in droves.
#4. The Healthcare System Is Top-Notch
Prior to moving to Houston, I had absolutely no idea that the city was home to one of the best hospitals in the country, Houston Methodist Hospital.
Houston Methodist Hospital is a well-established leader in heart and vascular treatment, but is best known for spearheading life-changing breakthroughs in cancer treatments, neurology and organ transplantation.
After learning about the hospital, I started being less surprised when a new coworker would show up and share their reason for moving to Houston: medical treatment for a spouse or themselves.
Turns out Houston ranks as one of the top 20 best cities in America for those in need of quality healthcare.
Apart from the impressive achievements of Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston is also home to the largest medical complex in the world — Texas Medical Center (TMD). Renowned for the MD Anderson Cancer Center (world’s largest cancer hospital), TMD employs 106,000 people and sees 8 million patients per year.
#5. Houston Is a Foodie’s Paradise
Some folks are surprised to discover that Houston often ranks as one of the best foodie cities in America. Our top staple is obviously heart-stopping barbecue (the best in the country!), but we’ve mastered all aspects of the meat market like true pros.
You’ll never go hungry for quality meats – juicy cuts served alongside comforting staples like mashed potatoes and cooked veggies.
My favorite dish is the classic slow-cooked brisket, which makes my mouth water as I type this. The stuff can’t be beat, especially when it’s perfectly seasoned and falls off the bone.
If you’re looking for proof of this then venture no further than Pinkerton’s. I am not alone in saying it is the best BBQ I’ve tasted in my entire life.
#6. Diversity, Diversity, Diversity
Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country and the benefits of diversity span the gamut. You’ll have access to top-notch cuisines, entertainment and art that you wouldn’t be able to find in more homogeneous cities.
In fact, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Houston is a very diverse city. Houston has a population of over 2.3 million people, and more than one-third of those residents identify as Hispanic or Latino.
African Americans make up about 20% of the population, while Asians make up about 10%. The city also has a significant Middle Eastern population, with about 5% of residents identifying as Middle Eastern or North African.
Additionally, Houston is home to a diverse immigrant population, with residents hailing from countries all around the world. Overall, Houston’s diverse population and cultural mix make it a unique and vibrant place to live.
#7. Constant Sunshine
Texas is encapsulated in a warm climate, so if you love sunny weather, you will find life in Houston enjoyable (almost) year round.
Winters in Houston are mild, warm and sunny. Snow is very rare, which is probably the biggest reason so many people ending up retiring in Houston.
But as you can imagine, pleasant winters typically mean super-hot summers and it’s true — Texas summers are very hot and humid (we’ll cover this shortly), but I’d happily sacrifice 3 months of hot temperatures for 9 months of pure bliss.
One thing is certain, it’s easy to enjoy the great outdoors while living in Houston thanks to the blissful weather and constant sunshine.
#8. The Locals Are Genuinely Friendly
The warmth of the people is, hands down, my favorite thing about living in Houston. In fact, of all the cities my wife and I have lived in, we’ve never found it easier to make friends.
If you’re open to striking up conversations and coming out of your comfort zone, you will find that Houston is a very friendly city. People are generally laid back and are strive to live a normal, no-frills life.
#9. Texas State Pride
There’s no place like Texas and Texans take great pride in that! I’ve never lived in a place with such a strong sense of culture and unabashed self-regard.
It’s not uncommon to see the Texas State flag flying high alongside (or instead of) the US flag. In many ways, Texas feels like its own country – from the vibrant and bold culture to the phenomenal festivals and entertainment. People love living in Texas and they want you to know it.
#10. Love Professional Sports? You’ll Love Living in Houston
The best professional sports teams in Houston have firmly established a place for themselves not only in the city of but also in the hearts of locals — seriously, the team loyalty is mind-boggling.
If you’re rusty on the professional sports teams in Houston, here’s a quick roundup.
- Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros,
- The National Football League’s Houston Texans,
- The National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets,
- Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo,
- The National Women’s Soccer League’s Houston Dash
Cons of Moving to Houston
#1. The Humidity & Heat Can Get to You
After moving to Houston, you’ll quickly learn that the intense summer heat is no joke, largely due to the state’s close(r) proximity to the equator.
The humidity and heat can be overwhelming and downright shocking for folks that move to Houston without doing proper research.
Most Houston residents stay inside their AC’d homes and offices 24/7 during the summer months because the heat is downright intolerable. In fact, the hottest temperature on record in Houston clocked in at 109°.
It’s not uncommon for summer highs to exceed 100°F and thunderstorms are all but guaranteed come spring. Hurricanes are also quite common in Texas and cause property damage year after year.
#2. Bugs & Pests
The worst part about the hot and humid summers while living in Houston? Mosquitoes consider it an ideal environment in which to live (and flourish), and the city itself is home to a healthy population of pests.
In fact, Houston is considered the second-worst city in the country for bug problems. It’s estimated that 1/3 of households have cockroach infestations.
To that end, you’ll need to get used to the smell of citronella candles and bug spray while living in Houston. The mosquitos are aggressive and prolific multipliers.
#3. You’ll Need A Car to Get Around
If you’re moving from a place like NYC or San Francisco then you’re in for a rude awakening in the transportation department.
This con of living in Houston probably doesn’t need much explanation. Simply put, you’ll definitely need to own a car while living in Houston because things are spread far apart and public transportation leaves much to be desired. Also, Houston residents love (big) cars, especially trucks.
Make sure to account for the cost of gas and vehicle maintenance if you’re moving to Houston from a city with decent public transportation.
#4. The Traffic Is A Nightmare
As mentioned, you’ll need a car to get around while living in Texas. And because the majority of residents living in Houston own a car, the city’s roadways, especially during peak travel times, are congested like you wouldn’t believe.
Getting from Point A to Point B at times feels like an exercise in pure aggravation.
Jokes aside, Houston is ranked the third worst in the country for traffic. It’s estimated that the average commuter spends 49 hours a year sitting in traffic, which is a hell of a lot of time.
So consider the role your commute will play in your daily life before moving to Houston.
#5. Poor Recycling Habits
Poor recycling habits may not be a big con of living in Houston for some folks, but for me it’s a hassle. I grew up in the pacific northwest where recycling is considered sport.
As such, I can’t shake the habit as an adult and constantly have piles of recycling accumulating in my home (which worsens the bug problem no doubt).
The effort required to recycle (driving it to a specific site) makes recycling a hassle. It adds a weekly errand to my to-do list that simply doesn’t seem necessary in such a large city.
As such, I wasn’t too surprised to learn that only 2.6% of waste is recycled in Houston. As a local, that number is embarrassingly low.
#6. Hurricanes Are A (Constant) Threat
One of my least favorite things about living in Houston is the constant threat of tropical storms from June through November.
Big storms tear through Houston on occasion, and some of these hurricanes have made national headlines (Hurricane Harvey 2017 and Hurricane Ike 2008 come to mind).
Hurricanes and flooding are something that cannot be avoided while living in Houston because it’s in a high-risk hurricane zone. As such, you’ll need to add flood insurance to your list of to-dos if you’re moving to Houston in the hopes of purchasing a home.
FAQ – Retiring in Houston
Is Houston a good place to live?
Houston, Texas is a large and diverse city with a thriving economy and a rich cultural scene. Boasting a booming job market and a plethora of fun things to do, you’ll be spoiled for choice while living in Houston.
Likewise, the affordable housing market and top-notch healthcare facilities made Houston an easy option for young families looking to settle down long-term. But you’ll need to be mindful of the terrible summer heat and constant hurricane threats before moving to Houston.
Overall, Houston is a good place to live for those who are looking for an affordable city with a strong job market and a diverse cultural scene.
Is Houston a good place to retire?
Between the quality healthcare, affordable housing and low cost of living, moving to Houston for retirement is a sound decision. The low cost of living is the most attractive perk for those thinking about retiring in Houston on a fixed income.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the disadvantages of retiring in Houston. The city is prone to extreme weather events, including tropical storms and hurricanes, which can affect the area during the summer and fall months.
Is marijuana legal in Houston?
No, marijuana is not legal for recreational use in Houston, Texas. Under Texas state law, possession of marijuana is a criminal offense, and it is illegal to use, sell, or cultivate marijuana in the state.
However, Texas has a limited medical marijuana program, which allows patients with certain qualifying conditions to use low-THC cannabis products with the recommendation of a licensed physician.
What are the best neighborhoods in Houston?
- Montrose: Located just west of downtown, Montrose is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, with numerous galleries, studios, and music venues. It is also home to many restaurants, cafes, and bars, making it a popular destination for foodies.
- River Oaks: Located west of downtown, River Oaks is an upscale neighborhood known for its beautiful mansions and tree-lined streets. It is home to many exclusive shops and restaurants, and it is a popular destination for high-end shopping and dining.
- West University: Located just southwest of downtown, West University is a family-friendly neighborhood known for its excellent schools and quiet, residential streets. It is home to many parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities, making it a great place for families with children.
- The Heights: Located just northwest of downtown, The Heights is a trendy neighborhood known for its historic homes, boutique shops, and vibrant nightlife. It is home to many popular restaurants, bars, and music venues, and it is a popular destination for young professionals.
- Upper Kirby: Located just southwest of downtown, Upper Kirby is a trendy neighborhood known for its shopping and dining options. It is home to many high-end shops, restaurants, and cafes, and it is a popular destination for those looking for a more upscale experience.
Most Popular Neighborhoods in Houston
|Neighborhood||Median Home Price||Median Resident Salary||Miles from Downtown|
Pros & Cons of Living in Houston (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the honest pros and cons of living in Houston, Texas.
- There’s no state income tax
- The housing market is still (relatively) affordable
- The overall low cost of living in Houston
- The healthcare system is top-notch
- Houston is a foodies paradise
- The city is diverse
- Constant sunshine
- The locals are genuinely friendly
- Texas state pride
- Love professional sports? You’ll love living in Houston
- The humidity and heat can get to you
- Bugs + pests
- You’ll need a car to get around
- The traffic is a nightmare
- Poor recycling habits
- Hurricanes are a threat
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