What is the cost of living in Houston?

1 min readLast updated January 18, 2024by Rachel Carey

We take a closer look at the cost of living in Houston, exploring taxes, housing, utilities, groceries, and other aspects of life in Space City.

Summary 

  • The cost of living in Houston is 4.7% below the national average and 28% below the average of the country’s most populous metro areas. 

  • There is no state income tax, and groceries, over-the-counter medication, and prescription drugs are exempt from the combined 8.20% state and local sales tax. 

  • Housing, transportation, utility, grocery, and childcare costs can impact the cost of living significantly. 

  • Speak to a financial advisor about getting and staying on top of your finances. 

What is the average cost of living in Houston? 

Space City, or Bayou City, Houston, has the fourth lowest living costs of the most populous metropolitan areas in the US. According to the C2ER Cost of Living Index 2023 Q3, the cost of living in Houston is 4.7% below the national average and an impressive 28.0% below the average of the most populous metro areas in the country. 

The average cost of living in Houston, Texas, should only be seen as a basic guide. Your actual living costs will depend on your location, as some areas of the metro are more urban while others are more rural.  

Your unique circumstances and purchasing/spending choices also influence your living costs. According to Numbeo, the monthly average cost of living is $1,446.40 for a single person (without rent) and $5,173 for a family of four (without rent). 

If you’re thinking about or planning a move to this world-class Texan city, it’s essential that you understand living costs. When you have a good idea of what you can expect to pay for housing, food, utilities, and more, you can plan and budget effectively.  

How much will I pay in taxes in Houston? 

One of the pros of living in Houston is that Texas is a tax-friendly state.  

The Lone Star state does not have individual income tax or corporate income tax, although it does levy a gross receipts tax. The state sales tax rate is 6.25% and the max local sales tax rate is 2.00%. 

 The average combined state and local sales tax rate is 8.20%. However, groceries, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medication are exempt from sales tax.  

Let Unbiased match you with a financial advisor who can help you manage your taxes. 

How much does housing cost in Houston? 

Housing costs can greatly impact how you experience the cost of living in Houston. Prices for housing options vary significantly depending on location, with apartments in the city center commanding the highest rents. The average apartment is 882 square feet in size, and the average rent for an apartment of that size is $1,342. 

If housing costs are too steep in your preferred area, see if you can find more affordable options in the outer suburbs. However, depending on where you work, you may need to spend much more on transportation. Get a basic idea of housing costs in Space City in the tables below: 

Apartment typeRent per month
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre $1,839.33
Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of Centre $1,567.06
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre $3,706.88
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre $2,577.42
Apartment locationPrice per square feet
Price per square feet to buy an apartment in City Centre $6,008
Price per square feet to buy apartment outside of Centre $3,683.10

Source: Numbeo

How can I manage the cost of living in Houston? 

Not every Houstonian can make it to the end of the month with ease. If you are concerned about the cost of living in Houston, learning how to manage it can be the starting point to less financial stress.  

Start with the following tips: 

  • Experts often recommend aiming to spend more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay on monthly rent or mortgage payments. Spending more than that on housing could leave you without enough money to save for goals, emergencies, or retirement. Think about moving to a more affordable ZIP code. 

  • Take note of your expenses and use the information to create a detailed budget. Find ways to increase your monthly income and decrease your expenses so you can redirect that money to more important goals. 

  • Speak to a trustworthy financial advisor about how you can gain better control of your finances. 

What is the average cost of utilities in Houston? 

It’s important to be aware of the cost of utilities, such as the average water bill in Houston. Although some of these monthly expenses might not seem all that high, they can and do add up.  

Discover the average cost of water, gas, electricity, cable, and internet in Houston: 

UtilityAverage monthly bill
Water $108
Gas $114.70
Electricity $148
Cable/internet $85 cable + $60 internet

What are the average grocery and food costs in Houston? 

Your grocery bill is another factor that can impact your Houston cost of living. While the Lone Star state exempts groceries from sales tax, you may pay significantly more for the milk or other items in one shop than in another. 

Here’s a comparison of the cost of basic groceries such as milk, bread, apples, and potatoes in Houston: 

Food itemAverage cost in Houston
Milk (1 gallon) $1.07
Bread $3.50
Apples (1 lb.) $5.09
Potatoes (1 lb.) $3.18
A head of lettuce $2.01

What are the average transportation costs in Houston? 

Covering an area of 640.4 square miles, Houston is a massive city. Although reliable public transportation is readily available, you may find it easier to navigate the urban sprawl with your own vehicle. It’s vital that you consider how transportation costs can impact the average cost of living in Houston for you.  

Take a glance at average costs in the table below: 

ScenarioAnnual transportation expenditure
One adult, no children $5,477
One adult, one child $9,851
One adult, two children $12,045
Two adults (one working), no children $9,851
Two adults (one working), one child $12,045
Two adults (one working), two children $14,484
Two adults (two working), no children $9,851
Two adults (two working), one child $12,045
Two adults (two working), two children $14,484

How much does healthcare cost in Houston? 

Healthcare can be one of the biggest influences on living expenses for many Americans.  

The good news is that healthcare costs in the metro are approximately 5% lower than the national average. Remember, your costs will be influenced by the type of medical insurance you have. 

For the average person, healthcare shouldn’t be one of the biggest expenses when it comes to the Houston cost of living. The table below shows average annual healthcare costs for various scenarios: 

ScenarioAnnual healthcare expenditure
One adult, no children $3,058
One adult, one child $9,474
One adult, two children $9,484
Two adults (one working), no children $7,097
Two adults (one working), one child $9,484
Two adults (one working), two children $9,409
Two adults (two working), no children $7,097
Two adults (two working), one child $9,484
Two adults (two working), two children $9,409

What is the average childcare cost in Houston? 

How childcare influences the cost of living in Houston will vary depending on your situation. There’s a variety of childcare options available in the metro, and fees can vary considerably. 

However, this does mean you have a huge amount of flexibility in terms of how much you spend on childcare. You can also turn to state resources such as the Texas Workforce Commission’s child care subsidy program for low-income families.  

The table below shows average yearly childcare costs in Houston: 

ScenarioAnnual childcare expenditure
One adult, no children $0
One adult, one child $8,657
One adult, two children $17,314
Two adults (one working), no children $0
Two adults (one working), one child $0
Two adults (one working), two children $0
Two adults (two working), no children $0
Two adults (two working), one child $8,657
Two adults (two working), two children $17,314

How much does it cost to live in Houston? 

The amount of money you need to cover the cost of living in Houston and maintain what you consider to be a comfortable lifestyle depends on a variety of factors. Where you live, the size of your family, your personal preferences, and your lifestyle options are some of the main influences. 

Considering the city’s median income offers something of a benchmark. According to recent data, the median household income in Houston for the period 2017-2021 was $56,019. 

Get expert financial advice and learn more about the cost of living and how to manage it with an SEC-regulated advisor. Let Unbiased match you with the best financial advisor for your needs. 

Senior Content Writer

Rachel Carey

Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.