Expats and Americans from elsewhere in the US moving to Houston will be glad to know that their hard-earned dollars will have higher buying power here than in many other major metropolitan areas in the country. The cost of living in Houston is significantly cheaper than other major US cities such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. In Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2020, Houston is ranked 51st out of 209 cities worldwide. 

While the cost of living in Houston is more economical in comparison to other US cities, there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved in various activities and recreational pursuits – naturally, this can cut into one's budget a bit. Therefore the ultimate cost of living in the city is likely to vary according to each individual expat's priorities and lifestyle choices.

Cost of accommodation in Houston

Accommodation in Houston is plentiful, though in some areas the cost of purchasing a house is outpacing salaries. An alternative is renting, which tends to be much more affordable.

For some, renting may even be preferable if they're only planning to be in Houston for a limited time. Most rental accommodation in Houston comes fully furnished. Even rental homes that are advertised as unfurnished will include some basic appliances such as a washing machine, dishwasher and fridge. 

Cost of nightlife and entertainment in Houston

Entertainment and nightlife are cheap in Houston and there are lots of activities that new arrivals can do without paying a fortune, such as visiting one of the city’s many parks. Houston is also home to a number of outlet malls which allow expats to purchase designer clothing at discounted rates.

The cost of eating out is reasonable in Houston. Newcomers are also likely to find that portions at restaurants in Houston are large and therefore good value for money.  

Cost of getting around in Houston

One expense that people relocating to Houston should budget for is the cost of owning and maintaining a car. While Houston does have a public transport network which is reasonably cost effective to use, it is limited and most of the city’s residents find that having their own car is essential to life in Houston.

Cost of education and schooling in Houston

There are a number of good public schools in Houston, which children can attend free of charge. However, expat parents planning on sending their children to a private or international school will need to shoulder high fees.

Cost of living in Houston chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

USD 1,400

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

USD 960

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

USD 2,500

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

USD 1,650


Eggs (dozen)


Milk (1 litre)

USD 0.80

Rice (1kg)

USD 3.30

Loaf of white bread

USD 2.50

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 7.70

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)


Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 7.90

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 1.70



Bottle of local beer 


Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

USD 50


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)  

USD 0.20

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 63

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 153


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.45

Bus/train fare to city centre

USD 1.25

Petrol/gasoline per litre

USD 0.50