Houston has one of the most competitive costs of living for individuals and families. The cost of living in Houston is about a quarter below national average for families and even lower compared to other metropolitan areas. One of the primary reasons that the city experiences lower cost of living is that it has a lower average utility cost, lower health care cost, lower grocery cost and a competitive housing market, making the city one of the most affordable cities in which to reside. Housing within Houston is roughly 29% lower than other major metropolitan cities in the United States.
The median household income for Houston families in 2008 was roughly $44,000, making the city an affordable option for residents and for those who are looking to move into the area.
Overall, the U.S. consumer price index has risen by 1.5 % in 2010.
A listing of price ranges for the average cost of living in Houston:
For a family with two children and looking for a 3-bedroom apartment, the average cost is around $2,000, averaging $ 1,200 in the outskirts to $ 3,000 in the River Oaks or Galleria area.
A single family home sells currently on average for around $157,000.
Utility bills include electricity, gas and water and range around $ 200 – 300 for a 3-bedroom apartment.
Basic food products are generally higher in the U.S. than in other countries, particularly for fruits and vegetables but below national average in Houston (due to close proximity to countries and states producing food and the fact that Houston has a port). Prices vary by store and depending on items currently on sale. The prices for fruits and vegetables also vary by season and weather conditions in the major production states such as California and Florida. A standard list of products and their costs are roughly:
- Milk: $2.99 – 1 gal
- Butter: $ 2.50
- Eggs: $ 1.50
- Bread: $ 2.50
- Rice: $ 2.00
- Potatoes: $ 3.00 per lbs
- Orange Juice: $3.00
- Coffee: $ 3.50
- Apples: $ 1.89 per lbs
- Bananas: $ 0.99 per lbs
- Lettuce: $ 1.29 per head
- Tomatoes: $ 1.29 per lbs
- Bottled Water: $0.99 – 1 gal
- Sliced Cheese: $ 3.50
- Sliced Meat: $ 3.00
Transport is one of the highest costs when living in Houston as one has to own a car and maintain it. The average cost of commuting is about 20% of annual income but no more than national average. Depending on oil prices, gas pump prices range from $2.30 to $3.30 per gallon of regular fuel. Diesel prices are slightly higher. While gas prices are lower than nation average, the distances driven the large city of Houston offset this cost.
The average taxi ride costs around $ 50 for a distance of about 25 miles.
There are no monthly bus passes but a METRO Fare card costs roughly around $40 a month for discounted commuting by bus.
To entertain in your free time, the average prices, which vary by location, are:
- Movie tickets: $ 10
- Movie with Popcorn and a Drink: $ 18
- Meal for 2 in luxury restaurant: $ 90
- Meal for 4 in an average family restaurant: $ 40
- Theatre/Orchestra tickets: $ 70
- Gym Membership: $30 per month
- Entry price in Reliant Center/Convention Center expos and shows: $20
- Sports event ticket: $ 20
- Open-air Concert ticket: $ 20
- Indoor Concert ticket: $ 80
General living costs are also below national average:
- Cable TV: $ 70/mo
- Internet: $ 40/mo
- Mobile phone: $ 70/mo
- Landline phone: $ 30/mo
- Dry Cleaning: $2.50/shirt or pants, $5.00/dress
- Babysitter: $30/hour
- Tutoring: $40/hour
- House cleaning: $ 65 for 3-bedroom house
- Yardwork/Mowing: $30
- Retail tax: $6.25 for Texas, add 1% for within Harris Country and 1% for within Houston
- Day care: $ 200/mo
- Private school fees: $ 10,000/year