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Houston vs. California — Cost of Living

Houston vs. California — Cost of Living 

It’s a known fact that the average Californian faces higher living costs than the average Texan. Knowing this, hold off on calling the movers before you relocate to California if you’re worried about your wallet! 

Anyway, we’ve done the research and provided you with an analysis and comparison of the cost of living of four of the top cities in California vs Houston. 

All of the data below has been sourced from Expatistan, a cost-of-living calculator taking updated monthly data of cities worldwide. 

Housing Costs in Houston, Texas vs. California Cities

Housing Costs in Houston, Texas vs. California Cities

There are plenty of housing opportunities available in Houston and in the state of California. For example, in Houston, you’ll find a lot of elegant corporate housing available for rent. 

In contrast, in California, you can choose from luxury apartments or even consider purchasing your very own home. No matter if it’s Houston or a city in California, it is wise to consider the prices before making a decision for your new home.

Average Price of: HoustonLos AngelesSan FranciscoSan JoseSacramento
Monthly Rent for Fully Furnished Luxury Apartment (900 sqft)  $1675$3481$4885$2975$2975
Monthly Rent for Normal Fully Furnished Apartment (900 sqft)$1253$2498$3520$2373$2373
Utilities for One Month for Two People (90sqft) $237$162$150$157$157
Monthly Rent for Luxury Furnished Studio $1467$2622$3257$2358$2358
Monthly Rent for Basic Studio$987$1948$2271$1603$1603
Utilities per Month for One Person $122$124$80$95$95
Internet (one month 8mbps)$44$57$50$48$48
Cleaning Services Hourly Rate $25$29$47$27$27

Our Verdict:

Compared to all four cities in California, Houston’s rent is the cheapest out of all of them. The starting rate for rent in Houston is under $2,000, whereas in California, statistics above show the rent in some cities increases past $2000. 

On the other hand, the cities in California have cheaper utilities for larger apartments. If you’re someone who likes paying less for the electricity and water bill, living in California might save you some extra cash to put aside for things like a dentist or optometrist appointment. 

As for the Internet, a basic plan is cheaper in Houston.

Cost of Food in Houston, TX vs. California Cities 

Cost of Food in Houston, TX vs. California Cities

Grocery stores in Houston and in California may appear to be similar based on the food items down each aisle. Yet, the prices of common groceries may be the determining factor in deciding whether the stores in Houston or California are a good choice for you. 

While we are unable to list every single thing in the grocery store for you to compare, we have listed the prices of some essential groceries that you may find on your next trip to the grocery store.

This can give you an idea of what the cost of living is like in the cities below. 

Average Price of: HoustonLos AngelesSan FranciscoSan JoseSacramento
Basic Meal$16$22$20$19$19
Expensive Restaurant (2pax)$70$100+ $125$100$75
Chicken Breast (1lb) $4.16$7$7$4.79$6
Dozen of Eggs $3.29$4.66$4.82$5.08$4
1 Liter of Milk$.80$1.19$1.17$1.08$1.24
16 oz. of Local Cheese$6$7$7$8$7
1 kg of Potatoes$1.20$1.67$1.84$2.27$1.43
1 kg of Apples$2.65$4.98$4.15$4.36$3.79
One Bottle of Red Wine$16$15$17$22$18
16 oz Domestic Beer$2.53$5.06$3.05$3.29$2.54

Our Verdict: 

Amidst the ongoing inflation, the grocery stores in Houston manage to keep their prices reasonable. This is proven by the statistics above which outshine California cities. 

There are a few items where there are no significant differences between Houston and California stores. For example, the prices for 16 ounces of local cheese, a liter of milk, and a bottle of red wine are all within a dollar difference from the city of Houston.

Cost of Clothing in Houston, TX vs. California Cities 

Cost of Clothing in Houston, TX vs. California Cities

Clothing is another necessity needed for everyday life. The city of Houston and the state of California has no shortage of clothing stores.

Here are some average prices we found for the cities:

Average Price of: HoustonLos AngelesSan Francisco San JoseSacramento
Business Shoes $115$169$187$114$107
Sport Shoes$103$120$112$95$93
High Retail Clothing $50$46$40$57$39
Jeans $50$54$63$54$53

Our Verdict:

Sacramento, the capital of California, has the lowest prices in all clothing categories except for jeans. Jeans are cheaper to purchase new in Houston over the other famed cities in California.

There is little difference when purchasing sports and business shoes clothing from Houston instead of Sacramento. On the other hand, clothes from high retail shops are approximately $10 more in Houston.

Cost of Personal Care in Houston, TX vs. California Cities

Cost of Personal Care in Houston, TX vs. California Cities

Perfumes, cologne, medicine, deodorant all fall under the category of personal care items. Any product that makes you feel, smell, and look better can be considered self-care purchases. 

Personal care is not limited to health or skincare, but it includes important home items like soap and toilet paper. All everyday things we use to make each day more productive. 

During the pandemic, there was a shortage of personal care products in both Houston and California. People raced to the shelves to stock up on plenty of their personal self care products. 

In case you need to stock up on products for the future, it’s wise to know the prices of basic personal care items we all use. Notice the table below for a detailed overview of the estimated prices of self-care items in Houston and California. 

Average Price of: HoustonLos AngelesSanFranciscoSan Jose Sacramento
Antibiotics (12 doses)$21$16$11$37$20
Cold Medicine (6 days)$7$9$9$9$8
Doctors Visit (15 min)$100$120$132$123$113
Feminine Hygiene Products$10$10$7$9$7
Hair Shampoo/Conditioner$5$7$8$7$6
4 Rolls of Toilet Paper$4$4.83$5.24$3.98$4.08
Standard Haircut$22$39$35$25$24

Our Verdict:

Prices are all over the place in this category. Houston is cheapest for some things but clearly more expensive for some others. 

Probably worth noting is that Houston is the cheapest place to go visit the doctor for a brief consultation. San Francisco charges $132, compared to the solid average of $100 in Houston. 

Aside from that, Houston seems to have better prices on personal care products than the Californian cities.

Cost of Entertainment in Houston TX vs. California Cities 

Cost of Entertainment in Houston TX vs. California Cities

After being stuck inside during the pandemic, many people are itching to get back to normal life. Thankfully, things are beginning to return to normal. 

Which means plentiful movie nights with delicious buttered popcorn at the theater or drinks down at the local pub may be in your near future. 

Houston and California have plenty to offer when it comes to entertainment. California is home to the famed city of Hollywood and Houston has no shortage of dramatic theater arts to watch from down in the crowds. 

When planning your next night out in Houston or California, don’t forget to count the cost. Again, we did not list everything there is to do in California or Houston but some basic things to do to give you a price average of what to expect. 

Average Price of: HoustonLos AngelesSanFranciscoSan JoseSacramento
Basic Dinner for 2 at Pub$48$58$80$49$58
2 Movie Tickets$26$33$32$28$28
2 Theater Tickets (best seats)$192$83$247$261$139
Luxury Dinner for 2 $80$115$124$91$74
One Cocktail Drink$11$16$18$14$12
Cappuccino in Expat Area $4.95$5.87$5.67$6$5.93
One Beer (1pt) at Pub $5.81$9$8$8$7

Our Verdict:

Dinner for two down at the local pub is the cheapest in Houston but San Jose is not that far behind–$49. Movie tickets for all cities have a two dollar price difference compared to Houston’s movie tickets, which have a going rate of $26. 

If you’re craving a live theater experience, the city of Los Angeles, CA has cheap theater tickets for under $100. The most expensive place for theater tickets is San Jose which is $261. 

Other than the pricing for the best theater seats, though, Houston seems to offer slightly better entertainment costs for its inhabitants compared to the Californian locations.

Transportation Costs in Houston TX vs. California

Transportation Costs in Houston TX vs. California

Like the phrase goes, transportation makes the world go round. That is true of both Houston and California.

Since Houston is not a walkable city compared to California cities, they provide various transportation options to meet the needs of people who need a way to get to work–that is if they don’t drive. 

Even if you do drive, there’s nothing wrong with taking public transportation to get from one end of the city to another in a quick time frame. Many people in Houston and California take public transportation to avoid the rising gas prices. 

In the table below are the average estimated prices for Houston’s transportation. 

Average Price of: HoustonLos AngelesSanFranciscoSan JoseSacramento
One liter of gas $1.11$1.52$1.49$1.39$1.51
Public Transport Ticket (monthly)$45$89$81$79$89
Ride Share (5 miles) $17$19$20$18$20 

Our Verdict:

The cheapest place to still get a liter of gas for a dollar in Houston. The public transport monthly tickets and ride shares are also cheaper than for California.

The Cost of Living in Houston vs. California – Our Final Verdict

No matter where you decide to live: determining the cost of living is essential. 

After a thorough analysis of the cost of living in Houston and California, some things are similar in price. Other necessary items for a living are on the expensive side of the scale. 

For those concerned about rent, Houston has the lowest prices. Yet, California has a cheaper average for monthly utilities. 

The average cost of groceries in Houston and California is similar. But if you care about saving a few dollars, then grocery shopping in Houston will save you money without the extra coupons. 

As for clothing, some cities in California, like San Jose and Sacramento, might be the best place to shop for cheaper high-end shoes and clothes. 

The prices of personal care items bounce off the scale between being cheap or expensive in California and Houston. 

Yet, emergency doctor’s visits happen to us all, so if it’s something you’re concerned about, Houston might be a reasonable choice because of its flat rate of $100 compared to $113 in Sacramento—California’s city with the lowest average price.

Furthermore, according to the data, Houston appears to have better prices in entertainment. Although, for dramatic arts fans, theater tickets are the cheapest in Los Angeles.

So considering all of the above observations, what are our final thoughts? Houston and California are both ideal places to visit. 

However, for long-term living, you may want to give Houston a shot if you prefer spending less on rent, groceries, entertainment, and doctor’s visits. 

On the other hand, California may be great for people who enjoy watching live theater, paying lower monthly bills, and for scoring deals on high-end clothing.  

After analyzing the cost of living data, the decision of choosing between Houston and California is up to you. 

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