16 Things to Know Before Moving to Houston, TX
Considering moving to H-Town? Here’s what you need to know before you pack up your bags for Houston.
1. What’s it Like Living in Houston?
With a population of 2.3 million people, Houston is the fourth most populous city in the US. 39% of these residents speak Spanish as influenced by their close proximity to Mexico. Beyond Spanish, more than 145 languages are spoken in Houston, making it the place for the third most number of languages spoken in the US! Additionally, Houston has a large international community, making it the most diverse metropolitan area in Texas.
Houston was founded in 1836 and was named after former General Sam Houston, who won Texas’s independence from Mexico. Since then, Houston has served as Texas’s capital and trading center. Today, Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical city in the world, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the hub for human spaceflight activity.
Houston has developed into a global city with a mix of urban amenities, a diverse population, and a robust job market. All of these combine to make a trendy city and a desirable place to live. Houston residents also have endless entertainment options from nightlife to six professional sports teams. This keeps Houstonians busy in between trying a number of award-winning restaurants.
2. Cost of Living in Houston
According to Payscale, the cost of living in Houston is 2% lower, but the housing is 5% higher than the national average.
Here’s a breakdown of how much things cost when moving to Houston:
- Energy bill: $185.43
- Loaf of bread: $2.89
- Doctor’s visit: $100.97
- $2.54 for a gallon of gas
3. Who's Moving to Houston?
According to Apartment List's most recent migration report, the highest share of people moving to Houston are from Dallas, Atlanta, and Austin. Renters currently living in Houston are considering moving elsewhere, but still want to stay inside Texas. They’re currently searching for apartments in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio.
Learn about how to move to a new state.
4. Live Lavishly with a Modest Income
As the country's fourth most populous city in the nation, Houston is big on urban amenities and business with a reasonable price tag. You can still score some great deals on rent and real estate when moving to Houston.
According to our average rent data, the average rent in Houston rose to $1,368 for a one-bedroom apartment, and the average rent on a two-bedroom is now $1,918. To live comfortably in a one-bedroom apartment in Houston, you should have an income of approximately $54,720 a year or $27.36 an hour. For a two-bedroom apartment, you'll need to make at least $76,720 a year or $38.36 an hour.
The median income in Houston is $52,338 as reported by the Census Bureau in 2019. By comparison, the median income is $61,874 in the rest of Texas.
Compare these prices to other big cities and you can see why more and more renters move to Houston. As the country's fourth most populous city in the nation, Houston is big on urban amenities that you can afford with an average salary.
5. Know the Loop, Y’all
Locals talk "the Loop" to give directions and explain where they live in the city. Interstate 610 loops around central Houston and locals may disagree on whether or not living inside or outside of the Loop is best. But if you're not moving to Houston for the 'burbs, head inside the Loop for everything from museums to foodie-worthy restaurants and sports teams.
According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, expect to spend about $5,113 on transportation as a single adult. Families of two working adults and a child need at least $9,378.
6. They Call Houston “Bayou City” for a Reason
If you're not from Houston, you may not realize it's affectionately known as Bayou City. But Houston is full of boggy waterways winding right through the city, people's yards, as well as in unexpected areas. You can swing by the nearby Buffalo Bayou Park green space and enjoy the city views and running paths. However, be warned... they kind of breed mosquitoes.
7. Houston is a Rapidly Growing Food City
Houston does not mess around when it comes to its food scene; it’s there to dominate your taste buds. Sure, you can score some seriously amazing barbeque and Tex Mex, but Houston also boasts diverse dishes and James Beard award-winning chefs. Turn moving to Houston all about eating your way through the city's plates of Viet-Cajun Crawfish, and popular restaurants including Nancy's Hustle, TRIS, and Indigo.
8. Houston’s Job Market is Booming
The combination of the city’s reasonable rents and a booming job market means more money in your pocket when moving to Houston. The city enjoys a variety of thriving industries including oil and gas exploration, basic petroleum refining, medical research, and high-technology like aerospace. Have dreams of working for NASA? You can make it happen in Houston.
9. This Won't Be Your First (or Last) Rodeo
Houston may be a thriving metropolitan city, but the city stays loyal to its Texan roots. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, or Rodeo Houston, is the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world. Staged once a year, the 20-day-long event features everything you could want in a rodeo. Swing by for delicious barbecue cook-offs, live music, and even a carnival. By the time it’s all over, you’ll be planning for next year’s rodeo.
10. Houston Has No Zoning Laws
Drive around Houston long enough, and you may start to notice that there's something a little different and fabulous about the city. Among other things that make it so unique, Houston has no zoning laws. Development is still governed by codes on how property can be subdivided, but the lack of zoning laws has grown some of Houston’s most exciting and eclectic neighborhoods. Come and explore them all when moving to Houston.
11. The Beach is Less than an Hour Away
Houston summers are pretty hot, but the warm waters of the Texas Gulf Coast are just 45-minutes away. Pack a picnic, grab your swimsuit, and head to Gavelston for a day trip to escape the bustle of Houston. It’s like a coastal vacation without the need to splurge on airfare or stock-up on road trip games to keep you busy.
12. Humidity Will Become an Old and Unwelcome Friend
If you're not into dry heat, you're in luck. Houston summers are notoriously humid. Locals eventually get used to it, use extra bug repellent when they head out, and enjoy the relatively mild weather come winter. If you are not used to this type of climate, it might come as a shock when the humidity starts rolling in.
13. Go Underground in Houston's Pedestrian Tunnel System
There's an entire downtown underground in Houston that has nothing to do with insider's knowledge of the hippest nightclubs. Twenty feet below Houston's downtown streets, a system of tunnels winds more than 6 miles long. It once connected two movie theaters, but now services restaurants and retailers across 95 city blocks. That’s one way to escape the humidity.
14. Museums are Everywhere in Houston
You don't have to move to New York City to enjoy an amazing museum culture. Houston has its own Museum District with 19 museums to choose from stretching across four walkable zones. Come and see the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Moody Center for the Arts, and Houston Museum of Natural Sciences among other gems. Stroll through Hermann Park and you’ll find plenty of awesome museums to check out.
15. Houston is Beyonce’s Hometown
Did you know Queen B was born and raised in Houston? Beyoncé was born in the Third Ward of Houston where she learned to sing and dance her way to the top. This historic neighborhood also houses Texas Southern University, The University of Houston, and the 10-acre Emancipation Park. Put everything you own in the box to the left and pack your bags for Houston.
16. Houston Goes Big on Higher Education
Houston is home to more than 40 colleges and universities in the metro area, including University of Houston and Rice University. Texas Southern University is also located in Houston, and is the only independent state university in the city and is the largest historically black university in Texas.
The cost of living, nightlife, entertainment, shopping, and lower cost of living compared to similar metro areas are attractive to college students on a budget. You can study hard and play harder in Downtown Houston or on a trip to the beach. Learn more about the best neighborhoods for Houston’s college students here.
Finding Your Houston Apartment
Are you convinced moving to Houston is right for you? Start finding a place to call home with Apartment List.
If Houston isn't for you, consider Austin! Think about a short-term rental with Austin using Sunny. Sunny is a new dedicated marketplace for move-in-ready short-term rentals in Austin, TX. Seamlessly embark on an adventure or explore a new neighborhood – without breaking the bank.
You can also learn more about:
- Things to Know Before Moving to Texas
- Cost of Living in Texas
- Best Places to Live in Texas
- Cheapest Places to Live in Texas
- Things to Know Before Moving to Dallas
- Cost of Living in Dallas
- Average Rent in Dallas & Rental Price Trends
- Best Neighborhoods in Dallas
- Things to Know Before Moving to Austin
- Cost of Living in Austin
- Average Rent in Austin & Rental Price Trends
- Best Neighborhoods in Austin
What to Know Before Moving to Houston in 2022
What's the weather in Houston?
Houston is known for its intense humidity and relatively mild winters. Once you get used to it and keep your bug spray handy, you may ever want to go back to dry heat. Fortunately, you can escape the heat in an underground downtown system of tunnels that winds for six miles across 95 city blocks.
What's the timezone in Houston?
Houston is on Central Daylight Time. If it's 9 am in New York City, it's 8 am in Houston.
What to do in Houston?
There's plenty to do in Houston, including visiting 19 museums that stretch across four walkable zones. Biking and greenspace are available, but if you want to escape the heat, the Texas Gulf Coast is less than an hour away. Houston is also earning a reputation as an international foodie town, with options including Tex Mex, crawfish, BBQ, tamales, Pho, Banh Mi, and breakfast tacos.
What county is Houston in?
Houston is located in Harris County. It's the most populous city in Texas, the fourth-most populous city in the United States, and the sixth-most populous in North America.
What are the benefits of moving to Houston?
Soak up the benefits of moving to Houston, including a relatively low cost of living and the robust job market. Houston offers something for everyone from an international food scene and top-notch universities. Many neighborhoods are safe, quiet, and walkable, making them ideal for raising a family or heading into Downtown to enjoy live entertainment, pubs, and attractions.
What are the pros and cons of living in Houston?
The lower cost of living and housing compared to similar-sized cities are the biggest pros to living in Houston. You'll have more room in your budget to enjoy the cuisine, beer, big-brand retail shopping, and outdoors. On the downside, Houston is humid and hot in summer, which can shock newcomers. The traffic is also grim and lacks a cohesive public transportation system.
What's the best neighborhood to move to in Houston?
Houston neighborhoods are varied and eclectic, like the historic Third Ward where Beyoncé grew up. Other popular areas include University Place, East Downtown, the Museum District, and Great Uptown. You can get the scoop on Houston's best neighborhoods here.
What's it like living in Houston?
Houston is rapidly growing and is home to nearly 2.5 million people. It's the fourth-most populous city in the US, and 39% of residents speak Spanish, and 145 other languages can also be heard. Locals enjoy an eclectic mix of urban amenities, entertainment, and shopping between the international influence and global cuisine. The job market is also strong in Houston, sports are a fan frenzy, and the city is turning into a trendy destination to live in or visit.
What are the taxes in Houston?
Houston's minimum combined sales tax rate for Houston in 2022 s is 8.25% and represents the total state, county, and city sales tax rates. However, you don't pay any income taxes when you live in Texas and can use your spending power for a nicer apartment or savor the city's food scene.
What jobs are popular in Houston?
Houston's job market is thriving, with core industries that include aerospace and aviation, advanced manufacturing, energy, life sciences, biotechnology, and digital technology. The Houston area is also expected to add over 75,000 jobs in 2022 alone.
What universities are in Houston?
There are over 40 colleges and universities in the Houston metro area, including the renowned University of Houston and Rice University. Students enjoy a lower cost of living than similar-sized metro areas and have plenty to see and do when they're not studying. Learn more about the best neighborhoods in Houston for college students here.
What are things to do in Houston?
There's something for everyone in Houston, including taking in a game at Minute Maid Park or seeing a blockbuster concert at the Toyota Center. Get back to nature with the Cockrell Butterfly Center or see local cowboys compete at Rodeo Houston. Shopping at the Galleria is a must, or you can explore Downtown Houston for smaller boutiques.