Looking to trade the snow in Chicago for the year-round sunshine of Houston? Along with the balmy weather, there are so many reasons why moving from Chicago to Houston is super common! This Gulf Coast Texas city offers unbelievable affordability, a great job market, stellar schools, and an infinite list of fun stuff to do! As the most culturally & ethnically diverse metropolis in the state, Houston offers a vibrant, high quality of life. But before you start boxing up your belongings in Chi-Town, check out our handy guide comparing the Windy City and Space City.
What to Know About Moving from Chicago to Houston
Offering a long list of benefits, including better opportunities and diversity, moving to Houston from Chicago is a great choice! Just be sure to familiarize yourself with the following points.
Great news! Texas does not collect personal income tax! That’s more money in your wallet. As for sales tax rates in Houston, the minimum combined tax rate is 8.25%, two whole points lower than Chicago’s 10.25%. Are you interested in homeownership? The City of Houston has an average county property tax rate of 2.090% or $4,180 per year (based on an assessed home value of $200,000). For comparison, Chicago has an average county tax rate of 2.117% or $4,234 annually for a property of comparable value.
Economy and Job Growth
The City of Houston has a thriving & dynamic economy, fueled by industries like energy, aerospace, defense, tech, and bioscience. The city also has the largest concentration of petrochemical manufacturing on the planet, along with some of the world’s biggest oil & gas companies.
Now, let’s take a look at some economic stats. As of the beginning of 2020, Houston had an unemployment rate of 4.2% (compared to the US average of 3.9%). For comparison, Chicago had an unemployment rate of 4.4% during the same period. Future job growth in Houston is projected to be nearly 31% over the next ten years, while Chicago is expected to see an increase of 25.7%.
Are you looking for a job in Houston? Great starting points include Houston Jobs (“local talent… local jobs… local success”), City of Houston Careers, and the Texas Workforce Commission job search page.
Weather and Climate
Coming from Chi-Town, it’s safe to assume you want to escape the cold, snowy winters. Houston is a great pick! The Texas city gets about 53 inches of annual rain, zero snowfall, 204 sunny days, a summer high of 93°F, and a winter low of 43°F. For comparison, Chicago sees 38 inches of rainfall, 35 inches of snow, only 180 sunny days, summer high of 84°F, and a winter low of 19°F.
And how about average wintertime weather? The average temp hovers around 62°F! No snow shoveling or de-icing your windshield anymore! The only downside is that you’re going to need to switch up your wardrobe for the warmer year-round weather, which is very humid thanks to the Gulf and often feels downright sticky.
Obviously, you’re well-acquainted with Chicago. It sits on a relatively flat glacial plain along the shores of Lake Michigan in the Midwest state of Illinois. Houston, found in the eastern portion of Texas, is approximately 50 miles northwest of the Gulf of Mexico. Low-lying and relatively flat – it was built on swamp and marshland and is home to an assortment of rivers, creeks, and waterways.
Housing and Cost of Living
All you really need to know are these four words: low cost of living. Now, Chicago isn’t particularly expensive – it scores a cost of living index of 106.9 (compared to the US index of 100) – but the cost of living in Houston is only 96.5! Even though 62% of residents rent their homes here, homeownership is more than achievable. In fact, it’s downright cheap! Currently, the median list price in Houston is only $283,000 (along with a median rent price of only $1,500 per month). Chicago, while also reasonable, is slightly more expensive, with a median list price of $329,000 and a median rent price of $1,761. Simply put, buying a home in Houston is affordable!
Things to Do
From endless outdoor activities to stellar nightlife to the NASA Space Center, Houston offers so much fun stuff to do! Love sports? The city has no less than six professional teams, including the Houston Rockets (NBA) and Houston Texans (NFL). Into dinosaurs, Texas wildlife, and even ancient Egypt? Visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science, one of the most popular museums in America. And if you’re looking for nightlife in Houston, get ready to be spoiled! From Downtown to Rice Village, there are many vibrant nightlife districts with everything from energetic dance clubs to classic TX honky-tonks.
Along with an assortment of fine dining, amusement parks & fun centers, high-end shopping, live entertainment, and so much more, the City of Houston truly has something for everyone!
Ranked as the seventh-largest school district in the country, Houston Independent School District (HISD) is home to 13,000 teachers and over 210,000 students. No less than 60 high schools in Houston get the nod as some of the best high schools in the country. Not too shabby!
Are you considering colleges & universities in the Houston metro area? The top picks include Rice University (#17 among the best national universities), University of Houston (#185), University of St. Thomas, University of Houston – Clear Lake, University of Houston – Downtown, Texas Southern University (#293), Houston Baptist University, and Prairie View A&M University.
Culture, Diversity, and Demographics
Which city do you think is among the most culturally diverse cities in America? Both Houston and Chicago land in the Top 50, but Houston wins this one by clinching 28th place. Chicago comes in 40th place. The City of Houston prides itself on its high diversity!
Next, let’s take a look at race & ethnicity demographics. The City of Houston is 37.8% White, 35.9% Hispanic & Latino, 17.2% Black, 7.3% Asian, and 1.9% mixed/other. The City of Chicago is 32.3% White, 30.9% Black, 28.7% Hispanic & Latino, 6.1% Asian, and 1.9% mixed/other.
Transportation and Traffic
Yes, Chicago has pretty good public transportation. When it comes to Houston, there’s room for some improvement, but overall, the options are still pretty decent. According to WalletHub, the Texas city comes in at #68 among cities with the best public transportation. Chicago currently ranks #22.
As far as getting around Houston, METRO is the city’s public transportation system. This system includes light rail, local bus lines, cab service, and The Wave (a jitney service that caters to nightlife-heavy areas like Downtown, Midtown, and Montrose).
As for average commute times in major US cities, Houston ranks #30 with an average commute of 27.4 minutes. Chi-Town takes the #4 spot in the country (behind only Newark, Jersey City, and New York City) for the slowest commute time with an average of 35 minutes.
Coming from the City of Chicago, you might be interested in the crime rates of Houston. Currently, the city has a violent crime index of 50.4 (compared to the national average of 22.7) and a property crime rate of 63.2 (compared to the US average of 35.4). Right now, Chicago has a violent crime index of 49.9 and a property crime rate of 46.3 – both lower than Houston.
As the fourth largest city in America, crime is an unfortunate reality in some parts of Houston. The silver lining is that there are also many safe neighborhoods in the metro area, including West University (currently #1), Far Northwest, and Midtown (which offers a ‘downtown’ vibe with a lower crime rate). To delve in more in-depth, check out the ten safest neighborhoods in Houston for 2020 by HomeSnacks.
Best Neighborhoods in Houston
Here are the top communities to call home in H-Town.
Looking for a more mellow atmosphere, far enough away from Downtown Houston but still within reach? Braeswood Place offers seven subdivisions that are home to its 35,000 residents. Amenities include ranch style to new construction homes, gyms, clubhouses, swimming pools, a shopping mall, green spaces, a library, and several parks. Get more info here.
Clear Lake, named after the surrounding lakes, is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re into hiking, boating, fishing, running, or just some fun exploration, this suburban neighborhood offers a ton of nature adventures. As one of the top communities for raising a family in the Houston area, this is a perfect neighborhood for employees of the nearby space center. Discover more about Clear Lake here.
What to know which neighborhood is considered the best in Houston? Yep, you guessed it – Memorial! With more of an urban vibe, the community offers a nice balance of great housing, phenomenal schools, and lively nightlife. The neighborhood includes a large commercial zone and residential area that’s home to numerous green spaces and parks perfect for growing families. Find out more here.
Situated southwest of the downtown area, Midtown is a prime pick for growing families and younger professionals. Ethnically diverse and affordable, the neighborhood was first established in the 1800s. It now has an assortment of homes – everything from attached townhouses and ranch style spreads to immaculately renovated Victorians. Learn more about Midtown here.
Close to Downtown Houston, Montrose is a hip & historic neighborhood. Dating back to the humble beginnings of the city, this community is now home to creatives, artists, and free spirits. There’s a varied selection of housing – from quaint cottages to new townhouses – along with a host of quirky & fun boutiques, galleries, and cafes. Get more details on Montrose here.
Situated approximately 14 miles west of downtown, Spring Branch is coming into its own. Offering a decidedly suburban and family-friendly feel, the neighborhood is home to a diverse population of 36,000. And since housing prices have dropped lately, there are excellent opportunities for those looking to buy a new home. Find out more about this up-and-coming neighborhood here.
West University Place
West University Place – this neighborhood is also nicknamed “West U” and “The Neighborhood City” – is known as a bedroom community for affluent families. Historic and charming, West U offers gorgeous homes with tree-lined streets and manicured landscaping. There’s also a host of great restaurants, beautiful parks, and high-end shopping. Discover more here.
Cost of Moving from Chicago to Houston
On average, it costs about $2500-$3000 to move from Chicago to Houston. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 1082 miles across the country. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination zip codes, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best Chicago to Houston movers now!