Houston is the largest city in Texas and has received several notable awards in recent years. It was ranked the #10 “Best Metro Area for Millennials” by Business Insider in 2017. It was also ranked in Forbes’ top 12 destinations in the world the same year. With a metro population of about 7 million, Houston was third in overall population growth in the U.S. in 2018.
With a warm climate and plenty of job opportunities, this is a trend that’s likely to continue. In this post, we’ll highlight all the important information you need to know about living in Houston, including costs, neighborhoods, attractions, and more.
Cost of Living in Houston
Houston’s cost of living is 2% below the national average. Although housing and utility costs are higher than the rest of the U.S., lower food (13% lower) and healthcare (9% lower) costs make it more affordable overall.
Here are more details about average costs you’ll find, including:
- Home prices around $363,656
- Rent is around $1,139
- Gas is about $2.54 a gallon
- A gallon of milk is about $1.68
- A carton of eggs is around $1.57
- A doctor’s visit is roughly $100.97
- A dentist’s visit is around $86.74
For more information on how much you can expect to pay to live in Houston, use Payscale’s cost of living calculator.
Neighborhoods in Houston
Houston is known for its diverse and vibrant neighborhoods — each one unique in its own way. Here are some of the most notable:
- The Heights is short for Houston Heights and is in the northwest-central part of the city. This neighborhood is very walkable, and you’ll find lots of historic homes, along with parks and trails.
- East Downtown (EaDo) was previously Houston’s Chinatown. As the name suggests, this is on the east side of downtown and is home to arts, entertainment, and co-working studios.
- The Museum District is the go-to neighborhood for everything cultural in Houston. Located on the southwest corner of downtown, it has music venues, the Houston Museum of Natural History, and the Houston Zoo.
- River Oaks is located right in the heart of Houston near the city’s center. It’s known for its upscale shopping and international cuisine.
- The Woodlands is a master-planned community just north of Houston. Several large corporations like Chevron Phillips Chemical and Woodforest National Bank have operations here.
- Sugar Land is located approximately 20 miles southwest of downtown Houston. It’s known for several attractions, including The Houston Museum of Natural Science and Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center.
- Cypress is about 25 miles northwest of downtown Houston. It’s home to three major hospitals, including HCA Houston Healthcare North Cypress, Memorial Hermann Cypress Hospital, and Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital.
- Bay Area is southeast of downtown Houston along Galveston Bay. It’s a beautiful waterfront spot with attractions like the Bay Area Park and Kemah Boardwalk.
Houston Job Market
The average pay in Houston is $72,000, which is slightly below the U.S. national average of $74,000 and increased by 0.6% in the last quarter of 2020. The unemployment rate was 3.8% in 2019, which was just slightly higher than the national average of 3.7%. It should also be noted that over 140,000 jobs were lost in 2020, which was largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the job market appears to be stabilizing, and there should be plenty of job opportunities in the long-term.
Here are the top jobs in Houston and how much they earn on average, per annum:
- Project managers earn $83,000
- Operations managers earn $72,000
- Mechanical engineers earn $78,000
- Project engineers earn $79,000
- Financial analysts earn $67,000
- Software engineers earn $82,000
- Office managers earn $52,000
And here are some of the top employers in Houston, along with the average salary range:
- Schlumberger pays $63,000 - $140,000
- M. D. Anderson Career Center pays $34,000 - $122,000
- ExxonMobil Corporation pays $69,000 - $190,000
- Baker Hughes Inc pays $61,000 - $157,000
- National Oilwell Varco pays $50,000 - $114,000
Things to Do in Houston
Another big part of this city’s appeal is its entertaining attractions and places to visit. Here are some of the more notable:
Even though it’s a metropolitan area, you’re never far away from the outdoors in Houston. You can easily get your outdoor fix at:
- The Houston Zoo is a massive 55-acres with more than 6,000 animals. It’s the second most visited zoo in the United States.
- Houston Arboretum & Nature Center allows you to explore nature right in the city and offers free admission to the public.
- Brays Bayou Trail is a nearly 34-mile greenway that connects multiple neighborhoods throughout the city.
- Discovery Green is a nearly 12-acre urban park in downtown Houston that features several amazing art installations.
Parks and Attractions
Some of the more popular parks include:
- George Bush Park is a huge expanse of land to the west of Houston covering 7,800 acres.
- Eleanor Tinsley Park offers a beautiful slice of greenery with the Houston skyline as a backdrop.
- Hermann Park consists of 445 acres near Rice University.
- Memorial Park is nearly 100 years old, and covers over 1,460 acres, making it one of the largest public parks in the U.S.
And some of the top attractions are:
- Houston Space Center is one of the country’s leading science space exploration museums.
- Houston Museum of Natural Science features a wide range of interesting exhibits, including ancient Egypt, dinosaurs, and Texas wildlife.
- Museum of Fine Arts Houston offers a stunning collection of nearly 70,000 objects.
Food and Drink
This city is synonymous with TexMex and barbecue. But it’s also a premier dining destination with plenty of great restaurants, with some of the standouts being:
- La Griglia offers outstanding seafood and international cuisine.
- Pappas Bros. Steakhouse is a classic American steakhouse known for large portions and out-of-this-world cheesecake.
- Roost has the ultimate mix of American and Southwestern foods.
Things to Know Before Moving to Houston
Ready to make Houston your new home? Here’s what you need to know and how to prepare before making the move:
- Houston has the METRORail system, which offers affordable public transportation throughout the city.
- Having a car, however, is recommended because public transportation is still fairly undeveloped.
- May through August is peak tourist time and when the city is most crowded.
- Houston has a hot, humid climate with mild winters.
- Hurricane season lasts from the beginning of June until the end of November.
Storage is also a worthwhile concern for many people when moving to the area. If you need to store items while transitioning into your new home, using a storage unit is a great solution and offers air-cooled, climate-controlled units. You can search for your own storage facility here. Alternatively, here’s a list of specific storage locations throughout the Houston area: