The first snow is always exciting and beautiful, but as the season progresses, New York City winters can be harsh. Are you weary of having to bundle up against frigid arctic air and polar winds that cause temps to plummet December through February? When the thermometer runs in the 30s four days in a row, like in December 2019, do your thoughts stray to the idea of lower latitudes?
Sitting on the Gulf of Mexico, Houston, TX, “the most air-conditioned city” in the U.S., will embrace you with year-round warmth. The thriving job market and low cost of living will also warm the cockles of your heart. But before ditching your snow gear, here are some New York City – Houston contrasts and comparisons to consider.
What to Know About Moving from New York City to Houston
Here are some things to consider as you plan your move from NYC to H-Town.
Housing and Cost of Living
Did you perk up when you read the words “low cost of living”? It’s true, you’ll save bundles compared to New York City expenses, particularly in housing. The median home cost in NYC is $680,500, and in Houston, it’s $185,500 – almost $500,000 lower! Plus, Houston homes have appreciated 42% in the past five years compared to 28% home appreciation in New York City.
The majority of residents in both Houston and NYC rent their housing, but New York City rent is steeper. In Houston, 62% of the residents rent, paying an average of $1,208 for a two-bedroom apartment or home. By comparison, in NYC, 72% rent and pay an average of $2,049 for a two-bedroom.
Houston’s cost of living is 94% lower than New York City’s and about 4% lower than the overall U.S. cost of living. In addition to dramatic housing savings, you’ll also pay a lot less for groceries and food, health, transportation, and utilities than what you’re currently paying in NYC.
Economy and Job Growth
The energy sector drives Space City’s economy, but industries like aerospace and defense, bioscience and life-sciences, high-tech, and government are also extremely robust.
In 2019, Houston’s job growth was 3.2% compared to NYC’s anemic 0.5%. However, depending on your job, your Houston paycheck may be a bit smaller than what you’re bringing home in NYC. The family median income in NYC is $64,565 compared to Houston’s $54,682.
Because Houston has no zoning laws, five business districts have developed throughout the city. Each district is particularly productive and includes Uptown, Greenway Plaza, Westchase, Greenspoint, and Texas Medical Center. The country’s second-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies is spread out among these districts.
In addition to the low cost of living, moving from NYC to Houston will involve another benefit – Texas doesn’t assess state income tax.
However, if you buy a home, your property taxes will be higher than in NYC. Property tax in NYC varies borough to borough but averages .90%, whereas Houston’s Harris County assesses 2.259%.
Houston sales tax is 8.25%, just slightly lower than the average NYC sales tax of 8.875%.
Transportation and Traffic
If you commute in The Big Apple, you spend 41 minutes one way; in Houston, it would take you 27 minutes to get to work. Even though the Houston METRO system is efficient, residents rely on their cars for commuting and running errands. Only 4% of Houstonites use public transit compared to 57% in NYC, putting the transit score at 37 compared to Manhattan’s 100 out of 100.
Being spread out and somewhat sprawling, Houston’s overall walk score is 49 compared to Brooklyn’s 98 rating. And although the BCycle bike share program boosts Houston’s bike score to 48, it’s still well behind Brooklyn’s 95.
If you’re thinking of moving to Houston from NYC, you’ll need to consider the possibility of owning a car. However, if you prefer to live car-less in Texas, consider the more walkable neighborhoods. Neartown – Montrose has an 85 walk score, 55 transit score, and 73 bike score. Midtown has an 83 walk score, 80 transit score, and 69 bike score.
Weather and Climate
Moving from NYC to Houston will involve a wardrobe adjustment. Houston’s winters are delightful with average highs of around 62-63° F – great for all kinds of recreation that you simply can’t do as comfortably in NYC winters. And snow simply won’t be a part of your life since the thermometer doesn’t drop below 40.
Summers are sweltering, with July and August highs averaging about 92-93° F compared to average July highs of 84 in NYC. Even though you’re already accustomed to summer humidity, at close to ten degrees hotter, Houston humidity can be intense.
Typical rainfall averages 53 inches annually compared to NYC’s 47 inches. The Gulf of Mexico’s warm waters impact Houston’s climate, so be aware that Houston gets severe tropical storms that can turn serious, such as the infamous 2017 Hurricane Harvey.
Crime is quite a bit higher in Houston than in NYC. Violent crime in Space City ranks 50 out of 100 and property crime rates 63. In New York City, violent crime ranks 28, and property crime ranks 25. It’s wise to choose your neighborhood carefully. The Houston Police Department crime map, plus other online maps, can help give you an idea of the types and frequency of crimes around the city.
Culture, Diversity, and Demographics
Cosmopolitan Houston is home to 2,267,340 people who are just about as ethnically diverse as New York City’s 8,400,000 residents. The percentage of Houston’s Hispanics, at 45%, is much higher than New York City’s 29%. However, the African American population in both cities is just about equal at 22%. About 25% of Houston’s population is White compared to 32% in NYC, while Houston’s Asian population is 7% compared to NYC’s 14%.
While the majority of both NYC and Houston voters are registered Democrat, the percentage in NYC is 80%, and in Houston, it’s 54%. With 41% of residents registered Republican, Houston is considered a battleground city.
Both NYC and Houston, sitting at 33 feet and 50 feet above sea level respectively, share some similar geographical features. Both coastal cities are relatively flat and interwoven with waterways, rivers, and creeks. New York City’s rivers are wider and freer-flowing while Houston’s rivers, known as bayous, are rather swampy and slower-moving.
A significant difference between the two cities is that NYC was built on a finite amount of land – the main reason why, at 28,500 people per square mile, it’s one of the most densely populated cities in the country. Houston was built on open land northwest and west of Galveston Bay. This abundant space has allowed for an extensive expansion and a much lower density of 3,560 people per square mile.
Manhattan, NYC’s most densely populated borough, was built on a hard metamorphic rock that supports the weight of its skyscrapers. Houston was built on marsh and swamp, and resource extraction has caused Houston to sink up to ten feet in some areas. With the many small creeks that weave throughout the region and sinking land, Houston is prone to flooding.
Things to Do
NYC has an overwhelming number of things to do, and you may wonder what Houston can offer in comparison. Actually, in Houston, the spectrum of things to do is vast. If you love the performing arts, Houston offers permanent ballet, theater, opera, and symphony companies. World-class museums, professional sports, parks, and top-rated cuisine are just outside your doorstep. And throughout the year, you can play golf or enjoy outstanding gulf water sports in beautiful surroundings.
Best Neighborhoods in Houston
Here are some of the best communities to call home in the Bayou City:
Seven subdivisions are home to 35,000 diverse residents in Braeswood Place. Suburban living ranges from 1950s ranch styles to new construction and apartments with terrific amenities like clubhouses, pools, and gyms. A large shopping mall, library, parks, and green spaces add to Braeswood Place’s appeal. If Braeswood Place sounds like your kind of neighborhood, get more information here.
Many Clear Lake residents work at the 1,620-acre Lyndon B Johnson Space Center campus, a hub of the area. Gorgeous lakes surround the neighborhood and provide all kinds of water sports and recreation. Highly rated schools and friendly, ethnically diverse residents make Clear Lake an excellent choice for families and professionals. Learn more here.
Considered the best neighborhood in Houston, Memorial offers a great balance of housing types, excellent public schools, and exciting nightlife. Affluent, mixed-use Memorial has an urban vibe, combining a large commercial, business, and corporate zone plus residential areas, parks, and green spaces. Find out more details about Memorial here.
With about 13,660 residents, Midtown sits southwest of Downtown. About 73% of residents rent their homes, which vary from single-family houses, townhomes, condos, and apartments. Historical Midtown was established in the 1800s, so once in a while, a restored Victorian will come on the market. Ethnically diverse Midtown is an excellent choice for young professionals and young families hoping to buy a home. You can find more Midtown information here.
Happening Montrose is a historic neighborhood close to Downtown. With roots that go back to the founding of Houston, today, Montrose is the epicenter of the city’s counterculture and creatives. Homes come in all types – from cottages, apartments, townhomes, and condos – to even some restored mansions. Hip cafes, unique boutiques, and galleries line the leafy streets. Here’s more Montrose info.
About 14 miles west of Downtown, Spring Branch has a family-friendly suburban feel. About 36,000 ethnically diverse residents enjoy the parks, restaurants, and independently-owned businesses. Home prices have dropped in the past several years, providing great potential to purchase a home in this up-and-coming neighborhood. Get more Spring Branch details here.
West University Place
Over 15,400 people live in historic and affluent West University Place. Homes, built in a variety of architectural styles along leafy tree-lined streets, are beautifully maintained. The median household income is $243,226, and almost 90% of residents own their homes. Although mainly residential, you’ll find beautiful parks, high-end shopping, and popular restaurants. Click here for additional information.
Cost of Moving from NYC to Houston
On average, it costs about $3000-$5000 to move from New York City to Houston. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 1627 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 New York City to Houston movers now!