City Guide

What Is the Cost of Living in Houston, TX?

By Bri Hand | Jan 10, 2022
Night view of Houston, Texas.

As the Lone Star State’s most populous city and the fifth-largest in the country, Houston, Texas, is a booming metropolis with a diverse population, rich culture, and lots of job opportunities.

Thinking about putting down roots in Space City but want to crunch the numbers before making the move? Here’s everything you need to know about the cost of living in Houston, Texas: 

What is the cost of living in Houston, TX?

From a robust music scene and art on every corner to a flourishing startup community and year-round warm weather, there are many reasons to settle down in the Bayou City. But how much does it cost to live there?

While the numbers break down differently for different people, families, and households, the cost of living index refers to how much money you need to afford basic expenses as a resident. This includes housing, utilities, transportation, food, and entertainment.

Houston’s cost of living is roughly 2% lower than the national average. That said, you can expect it to fluctuate year over year, depending on things like inflation, taxes, and the real estate market. What you can afford while living in town will also depend on what your salary and annual income is.

Read on for more detailed insights.

Rent prices and real estate in Houston

Not including housing and school tuition, monthly expenses in Houston are around $2,900 for a family of four and about $800 for an individual. The reason we’re noting costs without rent or a mortgage is that housing prices vary drastically depending on the neighborhood and home size.

The good news is that housing costs in the metro area are nearly 15% lower than the nation’s average. Renting a one-bedroom apartment is just over $1,200 per month on average, a slight drop from last year, and three-bedroom homes in Houston proper are about $2,500.

However, in popular Houston neighborhoods like Uptown-Galleria, Greater Heights, and Texas Medical Center, renters pay closer to $2,500. In the suburbs, you’re looking at an average rent of $1,000 per month for a one-bedroom place and roughly $1,750 for a three-bedroom home.

Planning to buy? You’ll be pleased to learn the median home price is also lower than average. In Houston, it’s $333,000 ($168 per square foot), compared to $375,000 across the entire U.S. 

What’s more, residential home prices are substantially lower than in other major cities in Texas. For example, Austin’s median has recently shot up to $585,000, and in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it’s closer to $419,000.

Utilities costs in Houston

What about electricity, water, and waste management? Utility expenses in Houston are about 11% higher than average. This is partly due to the region’s year-round heat and humidity. You can expect your bills to spike in the summer, though there’s a good chance you’ll use air-conditioning all 12 months of the year.

Monthly utility costs can range anywhere from $80 to $250, depending on the season, the size of your home, and how energy-efficient your dwelling is. If you add internet and cable, you’re looking at an additional $50 to $200 per month.

Like most municipalities in Texas, Houston uses a privatized energy model. This means residents can often cut down on their heating and cooling costs by shopping around for quotes from multiple providers.

Transportation costs in Houston

Houston is a city of commuters. The MetroRail is a light rail system with routes through downtown Houston and the Texas Medical Center. Then there’s a modest bus system with Park & Ride services for suburbanites.

You can load a Metro Q Fare Card and use it like a debit card to pay for various transportation services, which range from $1.25 for a local train ride to $8 for Park & Ride fare. While there have been some expansion efforts in recent years, Harris County’s public transportation is still relatively underdeveloped.

You might be able to get around without a car if you live close to downtown, but most Houstonians need their own set of wheels. Hovering around $3 per gallon, the price of gas has risen in recent decades, though it’s still slightly lower than the national average.

Additionally, those who drive to work might have to pay a toll to cross major roads, which will cost about $1 per trip. And, if you need a monthly parking pass while living or working downtown or in the city center, you’re looking at anywhere from $50 to $350 per month.

Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber operate in Houston, but like in most urban hubs, the prices are getting steeper. All things considered, though, H-Town’s transportation costs are almost 5% lower than average, making it affordable to get around town.

Food and entertainment costs in Houston

Food and entertainment are where individual living expenses can really fluctuate, especially considering all the fun things to do in Houston. For instance, a single person without children who eats out twice a day could theoretically spend way more on food per month than a family of four that cooks all meals at home.

With that said, taking a look at the average prices for various foods, meals, drinks, outings, and “extras” can give you an idea of how much your unique lifestyle will cost.

Restaurants costs 

  • Eating at a food cart or buffet: $15 per person
  • Fast food combo: $8 per person
  • Happy hour: $19 per person
  • Dinner at a mid-range restaurant: $27 per person
  • Latte: $4
  • Pint of beer: $5
  • Bottle of water: $2
  • Mid-range bottle of wine: $12

Grocery costs: 

  • Gallon of milk: $3
  • Fresh baguette: $2
  • Carton of eggs: $2
  • Meat-counter chicken: $4 per pound
  • Meat-counter beef: $5 per pound
  • Various produce: $1 per pound

Entertainment costs: 

  • Movie ticket: $12 per person
  • Houston Zoo entry: $18 per person
  • Space Center tour: $28 per person
  • Children’s Museum Houston admission: $12 per person 
  • Museum entry: $16 per person
  • Concert ticket at a small venue: $39 per person
  • Concert ticket at a large venue: $90 per person

Other expenses: 

  • Lyft or Uber ride: $2 per mile
  • Taxi ride: $3 per mile
  • Gym membership: $45 per month
  • Basic haircut: $17

Overall, the cost of food and entertainment in Houston is relatively affordable when compared to other Texas cities and major U.S. cities like New York and San Francisco.

Moving to Houston, TX, with Landing

Your cost of living in Houston, Texas, won’t be the same as the next person’s. As you can see, average monthly expenses depend on where you live, what you do for work, how you get around, your eating habits, and what you like to do for fun.

All that said, Landing is here to take the pressure of moving to Space City. Our incredibly comfortable, fully furnished units are located throughout the choicest neighborhoods in the metro area. With convenient concierge services, flexible lease terms, seamless transfers, and all the amenities you need, we offer a new way to move.

Your next Landing is just a few clicks away. Check out our furnished apartments in Houston, or get in touch with us to learn more.

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.