Thinking about moving to Houston? If so, you’re in good hands.
I’ve lived in this bustling city for the past 8 years and have definitely learned a thing or two about the honest pros and cons of living in Houston.
Home to a population of 2.3 million residents, Houston is the most populous city in Texas (and the 4th most populous city in the country). Needless to say, 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 so let’s cover everything you need to know about living in Houston, based on firsthand experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, I’m here to help!
Pros & Cons of Living in Houston
If you plan on visiting before moving to Houston, I highly suggest this great hotel. It’s the one I recommend to my own family and friends when they visit me.
Note: This post is part of the Local Living Series, wherein locals share honest insights of living in a specific city through comprehensive pros and cons lists. If you’d like to reach out to the author directly with questions, please do so in the comments below and our team will ensure it gets to the right person.
Pros of Living in Houston, Texas
#1. There’s no state income tax
Let’s start this list properly by mentioning one of the best things about living in Houston — Texas residents aren’t subject to a state income tax.
And 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 $100 more for every $1,000 I make.
So yes, speaking from personal experience, the lack of state income taxes is a huge perk of moving to Houston. In fact, it’s one of the reasons my wife and I moved — it was an attempt to build up our nest egg with the hopes of buying a home some day.
To be clear: Folks living in Houston are expected to pay their fair share of federal income tax, property taxes and a sales tax of 8.25%, but state income tax is off the table. We’ll cover the other taxes in detail shortly (because they’re steep and worth factoring into consideration 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 city in America is immune from the housing crisis (save for Ohio or something)– home prices across the nation have soared to unfathomable highs. I know this issue isn’t unique to living in Houston.
Secondly, I have stats.
Put another way: Houston’s housing costs rank as the second lowest of the top 20 most populous U.S. metro areas — 19.4% below the national average. That’s 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 a reasonable cost of living in Houston. But don’t just take my word for it.
Houston’s living costs are 8.3% below the nationwide average and 36.2% less than the average cost of living in the country’s most populous metropolitan areas. You can expect everything from groceries, entertainment and restaurants to cost less while living in 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 (before moving to Houston) that our city 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.
Expect to find large quality steak — juicy cuts served alongside comforting stables 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.
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.
#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 strong state pride.
In fact, 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 and 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 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 Texans stay inside their AC’d homes and offices 24/7 during the summer months because the heat is 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, causing a headache and a half.
Hell, it’s possible that your insect spray may become your new go-to fragrance.
#3. You’ll need a car to get around
Well, 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 Texas because things are spread far apart and public transportation leaves much to be desired. Also, Texans 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. But 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 at times feels like an exercise in pure aggravation.
Jokes aside, Houston traffic is ranked third worst in the country. It’s estimated that the average commuted 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.
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 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 when living in Houston because it’s in a high-risk hurricane zone. As such, you’ll need to consider flood insurance if you’re moving to Houston in the hopes of purchasing a home.
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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