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Cost of Living in Texas, 2021

By: Davina Ward
September 21, 2021

As the second-largest state in the U.S., Texas has a lot to offer any prospective renter. Lone Star State residents enjoy a rich sports culture, country music, excellent barbecue, and generally mild weather. Moreover, Texas offers a unique southern charm and hospitality — the state's motto is literally "Friendship."

If you're tempted to make the move to Texas, you'll need to build an accurate budget to ensure the move is financially feasible.

This apartment guide will help. Here's everything you need to know about the cost of living in Texas to build your new apartment budget!

Texas Housing Costs

Generally, your monthly rent or mortgage payments will be among your highest expenses, which is why it's crucial to build your budget based on the estimated housing costs for your area.

Luckily, housing costs in Texas are relatively affordable throughout its major cities. Compared to similarly-sized cities across the U.S., Texas cities sit on the lower-than-average end. Here's a breakdown of the average rent prices for Texas's major cities, including Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

CityAverage 1-Bedroom RentAverage 2-Bedroom Rent
Austin, TX$1,450$1,770
Dallas, TX$1,109$1,330
Houston, TX$985$1,171
San Antonio, TX$991$1,212

Current rent trends show that Austin, Dallas, & San Antonio rent prices have increased over the past month in addition to showing a year-over-year increase. Houston rent prices have increased in the past month but have decreased by 11.9% in a year-over-year comparison.

Although rent prices in Texas cities aren’t wildly expensive, it’s still possible to save a bit by renting with a roommate. For example, renting an average-priced two-bedroom apartment in Dallas and splitting rent with a roommate can net you $288 in savings each month.

Many rentals within Texas’s major cities lie within high-rise apartment buildings and luxurious apartment communities. These are great options for those who want amenities and are willing to pay for them. If you’re okay with something a bit simpler and more affordable, you might opt for a unit in a split-level house in a suburban neighborhood.

Texas Transportation

As a result, the average Texas resident racks up $5,113 in transportation-related expenses each year, according to data from MIT’s Living Wage Calculator. A family of four, including two working parents and two children, can expect to pay $13,896 annually.

Although the state's major cities offer public transportation options, none of them are comprehensive or convenient enough to sway most residents away from owning and relying on their vehicles.

That said, annual public transportation expenses can be very enticing for anyone looking to save big. Here's what the annual cost of a local public transportation pass would cost you in Texas's major cities based on current fares:

  • Houston: $1,116
  • Dallas: $1,152
  • San Antonio: $365
  • Austin: $495

Keep in mind that many Texas cities currently have projects in motion to greatly enhance public transportation options, including Houston’s multi-billion dollar rapid bus and light rail project, which will make public transportation in the city an even more enticing option.

If you're working remotely, you may be able to save money on your commute to work. Luckily, Austin, one of Texas' major cities, is one of the best cities for remote workers.

Texas Food Costs

The average Texas resident spends $3,177 annually or $264.75 monthly on groceries. For a family of four, food expenses increase to $9,305 annually or $775 monthly.

You can catch deals on groceries by shopping at discount grocery stores such as Aldi or H-E-B, both of which have many locations throughout the state. If you’re a bargain hunter, shop sales and leverage the understated power of coupon clipping.

It is important to note that these numbers only represent food prepared inside the home. So, unless you're a meal prep superhero (seriously, good on you!) who can stick to cooking at home, you'll have to consider additional costs.

Of course, Texas residents have a hard time resisting the temptation of delectable Tex-Mex cuisine and savory barbeque, which is why your budget should include a line item for restaurant visits.

Here's a breakdown of the cost of a three-course meal in a mid-tier restaurant in Texas. We even added the standard 15% gratuity!

  • Houston: $55
  • Dallas: $62.50
  • San Antonio: $60
  • Austin: $60

Texas Healthcare Costs

Healthcare costs are can creep up on you and take a significant bite out of your budget.

The current average annual medical costs for a single Texas resident sits at $2,760. Families of four in Texas can expect to pay around $8,694 annually.

That said, healthcare is an essential feature of healthy living. Whether you're a once-a-year physical patient or suffer from a chronic illness, having health insurance can help to reduce the financial impact of rising healthcare costs across the country.

If you're moving from out of state, you can visit the federal healthcare marketplace to find coverage in your new area. Just make sure you report your move to a new state to ensure that you qualify for out-of-state coverage if it lies outside the enrollment period.

If you are under the age of 26 and are still covered under your parent’s insurance, you may still be eligible to remain under their insurance policy even after a move out of state. Just be sure to check whether there are in-network providers nearby.

Texas Utilities

Depending on where you live in Texas, your utility bill may be higher or lower than the national average of $240 per month for basic apartment utilities.

Here's a brief look at the average utility costs for different Texas cities.

  • Houston: $245.36
  • Dallas: $263.55
  • San Antonio: $223.14
  • Austin: $236.71

These totals will cover water, electricity, and gas for a single month. However, they don't reflect the cost of all utilities.

Although "utilities" traditionally refer to water, gas, and electricity, a growing number of people consider essential services, such as internet and cell phone service, to be utilities too.

That said, you're free to include them in your utility budget line item or create separate items for each — as long as you account for the costs.

The average American pays $94 for their cell phone bill and anywhere between $30-$60 for their internet service. Bundling these services can help you get a better deal.

Moreover, if you're a new customer, you might be eligible to receive additional new customer discounts and incentives, including free access to streaming services.

Fitness and Entertainment

There's no shortage of fitness and entertainment options for Texas residents. Whether you love to run outdoors or browse art galleries, there’s something that will pique your interest.

Of course, fitness and entertainment come with their own share of expenses that will impact your budget. Planning ahead can help you prepare for these costs before your move to Texas.

To help get you started, we've broken down some of Texas's top fitness and entertainment options and their costs.

Fitness

If you're a fitness buff who prefers to work up a sweat in a gym, you'll have to work membership costs into your budget. Luckily, memberships are affordable. Here's what you can expect to pay for a Texas gym membership:

  • Houston: $39.82
  • Dallas: $38.56
  • San Antonio: $31.09
  • Austin: $46

If you’re looking for a low-cost fitness solution, consider lacing up your sneakers for a run! Moreover, you could save on transportation costs and stay fit by taking up cycling as a hobby. Choose your fighter and get moving!

Head to a Museum

Museums offer a lot of bang for your buck. They're perfect for dates, family outings, or solo visits. Moreover, a museum visit is a great way to discover new things, explore history, or admire art.

Whether you’re an art lover or an amateur scientist, Texas offers residents many museum options to whet their appetites. Better yet, museums are very affordable! Here are some museum admission costs across the state:

  • Dallas Museum of Art: Free General Admission
  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science: $20
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science: $25
  • San Antonio Museum of Art: $20
  • UMLAUF Sculpture Garden: $7

Enjoy Texas Sports

With a bevy of professional sports teams, a plethora of competitive college-level sports teams, and, of course, the rodeo, sports are deeply woven into the fabric of Texas culture.

If you’re a sports fan, you’ll have to work game attendance and other fan events into your budget. Unfortunately, it’s not a low-cost hobby. Tickets to professional sports teams vary wildly.

For example, you can expect to pay $148 for a ticket to a Dallas Cowboys game or head out to a Houston Texans game for $87 on average.

However, your support for a Texas sports team can be as simple (and affordable) as heading to a local sports bar. Low-cost drinks, delicious food, and the company of your fellow fans — what’s not to love?

Other Expenses to Consider in Texas

When it comes to creating a budget, accuracy is key. You’ll have to consider the major common expenses like food and housing. However, you should also consider the so-called hidden costs that are often overlooked when building a budget.

Including these costs in your budget will help to ensure that you are financially prepared for your move. Below, we’ve broken down the hidden expenses you should consider when moving to Texas.

  • Sales Tax: The sales tax rate in Texas is relatively low at 6.25%, though it will still affect your budget. Not to mention, the state tax rate is combined with local-level tax rates, so you can expect to pay a higher rate depending on your city of residence.
  • No Income Tax: In excellent news for residents moving from states that collect income tax, a move to Texas means big savings. Both the state and local governments don’t levy income taxes.
  • Insurance: Certain areas of Texas are prone to severe weather. For example, the Northern section of Texas lies in the Tornado Alley, and other areas of the state are prone to severe storms. It may be worth picking up an insurance policy that covers natural disasters.

Determining whether a move to Texas will fit your budget requires you to take a look at your income. You'll have to determine whether you will earn enough to live comfortably in the state.

Living comfortably generally means that you earn enough to cover the necessities, contribute to your savings, and spend on fun.

The golden rule of budgeting states that an individual should earn at least three times the amount of their monthly rent to live comfortably.

This limit generally leaves more than enough left over to cover basic necessities, saving, and quality of life spending.

People often ask,

“What is a good salary in Texas?”

Well, for example, an individual renting a one-bedroom apartment in Houston at the average rate of $985 should have a pre-tax income of at least $2,955 monthly. This translates to a $35,460 annual pre-tax salary. If affordability is a concern for you, read about the cheapest places to live in texas.

Final Thoughts

Moving to Texas isn’t for everyone. However, the state has a lot to offer any prospective renter seeking fun, good eats, and country music.

Take our quiz to get started on your search for the perfect Texas apartment!

You can also learn more about:

Dallas:

Houston:

Austin:

San Antonio:

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AUTHOR
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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