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Houston vs. Austin: Which city is better?

Houston vs. Austin Which city is better

The cities of Houston and Austin are both popular tourist destinations in Texas. Living in either city can be a wonderful experience. 

Diverse ethnicities are a hallmark of Houston. Austin has its lovable quirks that give the city its popular catch phrase “Keep Austin Weird.” 

People can take advantage of plenty of services in both cities. Such as getting a massage, going to the barber shop, and visiting Houston and Austin’s biggest attractions 

Despite this, there are several differences between these two cities. 

In order to help you choose which city is best for you, we’ve compiled a series of comparisons to assist you with your decision. 

Cost of Living in Houston vs. Austin

Cost of Living in Houston vs. Austin

Both cities have similar cost of living levels despite Houston being generally cheaper. Statistics prove that Houston is 26.2% cheaper than Austin.

A major factor in the cost of living difference is the median home cost between the two cities. 

In Austin, the median home price is estimated to be $551,200. Whereas in Houston, it’s approximately $285,000.

We’ve compiled the data below from Expatistan, a cost of living database with user-contributed data from cities around the world, to provide you with a more detailed comparison of Houston and Austin.


Monthly Rent for Fully Furnished Luxury Apartment (900 sqft)  $1675$2,388 
Monthly Rent for Normal Fully Furnished Apartment (900 sqft)$1253$1,889
Utilities for One Month for Two People (90sqft) $237$248
Monthly Rent for Luxury Furnished Studio $1467$1,672
Monthly Rent for Basic Studio$987$1,197
Utilities per Month for One Person $122$136
Internet (one month 8mbps)$44$48
Cleaning Services Hourly Rate $25$38


Basic Meal$16$21
Expensive Restaurant$70$100
Chicken Breast (1lb) $4.16$5.18
Dozen of Eggs $3.29$3.54
1 Liter of Milk$.80$1.05
16 oz. of Local Cheese$6$8
1 kg of Potatoes$1.20$1.55
1 kg of Apples$2.65$2.89
One Bottle of Red Wine$16$17
16 oz Domestic Beer$2.53$2.62


Business Shoes $115$131
Sport Shoes$103$102
High Retail Clothing $50$63

Personal Care 

Personal Care
Antibiotics (12 dozes)$21$15
Cold Medicine (6 days)$7$5.38
Doctors Visit (15 min)$100$96
Feminine Hygiene Products$10$6
Hair Shampoo/Conditioner$5$4.51
4 Rolls of Toilet Paper$4$3.29
Standard Haircut$22$23


Basic Dinner for 2 at Pub$48$48
2 Movie Tickets$26$25
2 Theater Tickets (best seats)$192$258
Luxury Dinner for 2 $80$101
One Cocktail Drink$11$11
Cappuccino in Expat Area $4.95$5.80
One Beer (1pt) at Pub $5.81$7

Our Verdict:

The only area where Austin appears to be cheaper than Houston here is for basic personal care costs. 

In nearly all other categories, Houston is significantly cheaper. This is most clearly seen in the rent/housing costs for either city.

The rent in Austin is significantly larger than what you’d pay in Houston. So, if saving cash on rent or most core expenses is what’s important to you, then you might want to lean towards apartment hunting in Houston.

Safety and Security in Houston vs. Dallas

Safety and Security in Houston vs. Dallas

Crime affects us all, regardless of where we live. The crime rate of a city should be taken into account when choosing a place to live.

In the table below, you will find the violent crime rates and property crime rates of Houston and Austin, TX, calculated by bestplaces, which utilizes updated FBI data. 

Property Crime63.255
Violent Crime50.424.9

Our Verdict:

Since Houston is a popular city, it is no surprise that crime is high. Austin may therefore be a safer option for those who want a city with a higher level of security.

Social Services in Houston vs. Dallas

Social Services in Houston vs. Dallas

We will look at the most important facets of social services from Houston and Austin: Healthcare, the Job Market, and Education. 

Healthcare in Houston vs. Austin

Healthcare in Houston vs. Austin

The medical community in Houston is one of the most advanced in the world. Therefore, the fact that Houston has a large medical center in the middle of its downtown area is not surprising.

Houston provides a range of health care services, including dental care, vaccinations, fertility care, mental health care, etc. Houston healthcare’s only disadvantage is affordability.

As far as healthcare is concerned, Austin isn’t far behind Houston. Its healthcare system is becoming stronger as it competes with the surrounding metro areas. 

Job Market in Houston vs. Austin

Job Market in Houston vs. Austin

The job markets in Austin and Houston are booming, and they are important economic centers in Texas. In terms of job growth, each of these cities outpaces the rest. 

Houston Job Market & Industries 

Historically, Houston has been an oil town. There are 44 publicly traded oil and gas companies based in Houston today. 

It has been hard for Houston to attract businesses that do not relate to oil, which makes its job market different from Austin’s. 

Still, as a result of its hard work, Houston now hosts the HQ of the third Fortune 500 company in the country.

Some of Houston’s main job industries are oil, transportation, energy, healthcare, and government services.

Austin’s Job Market & Industries

There were 82,500 newly created nonfarm jobs in Austin as of the year 2022, the largest over-the-month job increase in the year. A total of 13,431,100 people were employed in Austin over the past year, a new record for the state.  

Indeed, for job seekers looking for work in a big city, Austin might be the best place to be.

Furthermore, business and financial services, defense and security, information technology and telecommunications, and manufacturing are some of the major job industries in Austin. 

Education in Houston vs. Austin 

Education in Houston vs. Austin

Families with children have many options when it comes to receiving a quality education. 

Before deciding which city their children should attend school in, we’ve compiled what families should know about the education offered in Houston and Austin. 

Education in Houston 

There are many educational opportunities available to students in Houston due to its diversity. More than 60 school districts, 200 private schools, and 781 state-approved charter schools operate in Houston.

Among the largest districts in Texas is Houston Independent School District. In terms of universities and colleges, Houston has more than 40 to choose from. 

Those who are not interested in college or university can also attend vocational and business schools. Every year, 20,000 students enroll in these specialized trace schools, according to the National Center for Education. 

See the following chart for more education statistics. Bestplaces is the source of all data. 

 Houston Expenses
Expend. per Student$10,310
Education Expend. per Student$8295
Instructor Expend. Per Student$4770
Pupil/Teacher Ratio18.7
Students per Librarian 2323.2
Students per Counselor 1569.7

Education in Austin 

Currently, Austin residents have access to a wide range of educational opportunities. Parents can choose from more than 100 private schools, 29 public school districts, and 27 charter school districts. 

Down below are the expenses for the school districts in Austin. 

 Austin Expenses
Expend. per Student$12,118
Education Expend. per Student$9,484
Instructor Expend. Per Student$5,522
Pupil/Teacher Ratio14.5
Students per Librarian 650
Students per Counselor 484.4

Overall Comparison of Social Services in Houston and Austin 

The table below shows the overall comparison of the social services in the cities of Houston and Austin. 

Education• Despite Houston’s large number of schools, school districts spend less on their teachers and students.• There are 29 public school districts, 27 charter school districts, and over 100 private schools that provide a wide variety of education options. 
Healthcare• The healthcare system in Houston is ranked among the best in the world.

• Houston has a variety of healthcare options, but it is quite expensive. 
• Austin’s healthcare is more affordable for normal residents. 

• Austin’s healthcare facilities are still growing. 
Job Market• Houston’s job market centers around oil, but they are known for healthcare, energy, etc.• The job opportunities available in Austin are vast and diverse.

Our Verdict:

Because there are more schools in Houston, Houston is an ideal place for families with children who want to take advantage of the options available. 

For families who prefer smaller schools, the smaller schools in Austin might be an option to consider too, though, as they can offer higher intimacy and individualized attention. 

Meanwhile, there are also advantages to choosing either city for healthcare. Houston’s positive healthcare system and patient quality might be a great choice for those who want healthcare that’s been established for years, as an example. 

On the other hand, Austin’s healthcare is still growing, yet families who want more affordable healthcare rates may lean towards looking into Austin’s healthcare programs. 

As for the job market, the two are fairly evenly split again.

 Austin has the advantage in terms of sheer vacancies. There are plenty of opportunities available for job seekers, so Austin may be a good place for people fresh out of high school or college looking for jobs.  

As for Houston, it may not have as many job opportunities, but it also offers even more jobs in some of the top industries in the world.

Demographics and Diversity in Houston vs. Austin 

Demographics and Diversity in Houston vs. Austin

An area’s demographics refer to the whole of its population. To gather demographic data for Houston and Austin, we used bestplaces, which compiles recent census data. 

The following table illustrates the difference in demographics between the two cities.

Population Density 3636.33,103.3
Median age of population32.932.7
Female Population49. 9%49.4%
Male Population50.1%50.6%

Ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, and gender are all aspects of diversity. As an indication of how diverse Houston and Austin are, here are some approximate figures. 

In this article, we provide statistics based on the most recent census using bestplaces.

White 24.9%48.6%
Asian 6.6%6.9%
Black 22.4%7.3%
Two or More Races1.2%2.3%

Overall Diversity and Demographic Comparison of Houston and Austin

Demographics• Houston’s population is over a million. 

• The age range of residents is slightly different than in Austin. 
• Austin’s population is less than a million.
Diversity• Houston contains a multitude of different cultural races. Most residents in Houston are Hispanic.• The majority of people in Austin are white. 

Our Verdict:

Based on statistics, Houston is a crowded city. So, if you prefer living in less populated areas, Austin may be a better choice for you. 

Yet, if you want to live in a more diverse area, Houston might be preferable instead. It offers more people, more proximity to various communities wherever you are, and more chances to get to know your neighbors.

Recreation in Houston vs. Austin 

Recreation in Houston vs. Austin

The state capital is Austin, but Houston is Texas’s largest city. Houston offers an endless amount of activities thanks to numerous popular areas within city limits and parks galore everywhere.

Houston’s Recreation 

Houston’s Recreation

A visit to Houston’s gardens is a great way to spend some time outdoors.

The Mercer Arboretum is located about 30 minutes north of Houston, and admission is free. Or you can choose an enchanting 14-acre garden, Bayou Bend Gardens, that is part of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is also an excellent place to visit. Approximately 150 acres are devoted to this nature sanctuary. 

Visitors can observe frogs, fish, and turtles along the five miles of walking trails. For both kids and adults, the center normally offers free guided hikes and classes.

In Buffalo Bayou Park, you’ll find city views, jogging trails, and bike trails. In addition, there’s a large dog park and Houston’s beautiful Dandelion Fountain along the bayou.

A popular destination for bikers of all ages, Terry Hershey Park is just a few miles from the city. There are more than ten miles of biking trails in the park, as well as gazebos for picnics.

For children, Discovery Green Park is a great attraction. Children can explore and play in the park’s fountains and playgrounds. 

Kinder Lake offers kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding within the park. Families can spend hours at Discovery Green Park playing shuffleboard, putting greens, and making use of their hiking trails.

McGovern Centennial Gardens & Hermann Park are right by the Museum of Natural History. In this park, you’ll find the Marvin Taylor Exercise Trail (covered with beautiful oak trees), a waterfall feature, Japanese Gardens, and so much more.

There is nothing cooler than Gerald D. Hines Waterfall Park if you’re looking for an outdoor water feature in Houston! You’ll love the giant, circular waterfall wall (and the chance to cool off as well)! 

 By the way, if you stand close to the waterfall wall, you’ll get wet from the mist.

There are two Major League Baseball teams in the city: the Houston Astros and the Houston Texans. Houston’s Minute Maid Park is home to the MLB teams. 

Clean, modern, and upbeat, the stadium is a great place to watch an event. Try catching a Houston Astros game if you are visiting Houston during baseball season!

The city of Houston also offers bike tours and Segway tours. The city’s bike trails make biking a popular pastime for both locals and tourists. 

There are also specialty tours available in addition to general city tours.

A guided tour of Houston’s architectural highlights is available for architecture enthusiasts. Try one of the nightly ghost Segway tours if you are looking for something a bit more adventurous. 

You can also take a food tour or a brewery tour. It’s a great way to sample some of Houston’s most popular upscale steakhouse restaurants or enjoy a beer at a brewery.

Austin’s Recreation 

Austin’s Recreation

Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Austin every year to participate in outdoor activities. Hiking trails and waterways are among the things Austin is known for.

There are more than 650 native Texas plant species on the trails and fields at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. At Zilker Botanical Gardens, you will  find lush gardens and gorgeous koi ponds. 

Austin’s highest point, Mount Bonnell, sits at 775 feet and offers great views of the city.

Lady Bird Lake is a great place for kayaking or paddleboarding. Kayaking is popular on the lake since motorized boats are not allowed. 

Around the lake is the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, a 10-mile trail that offers hiking and biking opportunities. Dogs are welcome on the trail, so grab your pup and head out.

Caves might not come to mind when people think of Austin, Texas. A surprising number of cave systems can be found in Austin and its surrounding areas.

For example, you can explore a large number of caves on the Barton Creek Greenbelt trails. If you wish, you can hire a guide to show you the caves, or you can explore some of the smaller ones on your own.

Our Verdict:

If you want diverse recreation options, check out Houston for things like nature trails, breweries, and tours. 

If you love nature, Austin may be the place for you. Austin is a little limited in its activities outside of nature compared to Houston, however, so bear that in mind.

Attractions in Houston vs. Austin 

Here are some of the must-see attractions found in Houston & Austin for your comparison. 

Houston Attractions

Houston Attractions

The attractions throughout Houston have something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a museum lover or prefer family-friendly activities, you’re bound to find something to do in Houston. 

Houston Space Center

Children can discover what it’s like to be an astronaut and the International Space Station during the Apollo missions. You can see what it takes to travel into space by viewing real rockets on display.

Lone Star Flight Museum

Aviation history and Texas history are merged at the Lone Star Flight Museum in particular. One of the country’s largest plane collections is housed at this museum.

Houston Zoo

In addition to zoo animals, there is an aquarium with exotic marine life that you can visit if you want to escape the heat. You can also get up close and personal with some interesting animals like giraffes with the giraffe feeding. 

Hurricane Harbor Splashtown 

Featuring 30 feet of water slides and a lazy river, this park is ideal for summer fun. Several food venues are located in the park, so you can spend the whole day there.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Every year, Houston’s Museum of Natural Science is one of the most visited museums in the country. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to prehistoric dinosaur skeletons, this impressive museum has something for everyone. 

Cockrell Butterfly Center is a popular attraction at the museum for many families. In a living butterfly sanctuary, children can learn about rainforests around the world. 

Austin Attractions

It’s no secret that there are gems to discover within the capital city of Austin, TX. The following are a few of the must-see spots to see if visiting Austin. 

Inner Space Caverns 

Inner Space Caverns offers tours of the best preserved cave systems. From a casual walk through a cave to a challenging hike through the deepest caves, spelunkers can choose from a variety of tours.

The Thinkery 

Located in the heart of Austin, The Thinkery is a premier museum for children focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Children and adults can discover how water moves things, light travels, and how wind shapes the weather.

Our Verdict:

If you prefer caves and mathematical museums, Austin has attractions that match your forte. 

Houston, on the other hand, holds an even wider range of attractions that cater to all in the family. So, families with children or members with different interests may lean towards Houston due to its diversity of attractions.

Food Scene in Houston vs. Austin 

Food Scene in Houston vs. Austin

Both Austin and Houston understand what it means to deliver quality food to the table. Still, the competition comes pretty close between the two cities. 


Food trucks and breakfast tacos are the highlights of this city’s food scene! There are hundreds of trendy local restaurants and food trucks in Austin.

Family-friendly Picnic Food Trailer Park offers nine food trucks. Food trucks are contracted for a year at a time, so visitors will have plenty of time to try them all. 

On site is also a pavilion that can be used for local events or picnics.

There’s also a food truck park called Thicket Food Truck Park in Austin. The park has a stage for live entertainment. 

Thicket Food Truck Park has ten food trucks, including a dog treat truck for your pup. Alternatively, there are a number of restaurants in Austin that offer a more traditional dining experience.

There is plenty of barbeque, Tex Mex, and classic American cuisine in Austin. It’s impossible to visit Austin without trying breakfast tacos at Juan in a Million or legendary barbeque at County Line on the Hill.


The best food in Texas may live up to Austin’s reputation, but Houston will certainly challenge it. There are more than 10,000 restaurants in Houston, and there are more than 70 different cultural cuisines to choose from.

 Check out The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation for a taste of Houston’s iconic Tex-Mex. Margaritas made with mango and habaneros are a specialty of this restaurant.

For authentic Italian pizza pies, Pizaro’s Pizza Napoletana is the perfect spot. As one of Houston’s best pizza joints, the restaurant’s pie is renowned for its deliciousness.

Seafood restaurants can be found all over Houston due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Surf and turf lovers will love Christie’s Seafood and Steaks. A more upscale seafood experience can be found at Brennan’s of Houston.

Also, don’t forget to pick up some chocolate chip cookies from Tiny’s Milk and Cookies!

Our Verdict:

Both cities offer amazing food, so we consider them equal here. If you love your pets, picnics, and food trucks, the food scene in Austin may be just what you’re looking for. 

Meanwhile, for those who prefer culturally diverse options varying from classic Tex-Mex to seafood, Houston has a variety of restaurants and cuisines to enjoy.

Specialties in Houston vs. Austin 

Houston and Austin both have specialties that make their cities stand out to visitors. 

Houston’s Art  

Houston’s Art

Houston is home to one of the southwest’s largest art museums. Spend an afternoon admiring the works of world-renowned artists including Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. 

This museum features permanent collections of art from around the world, as well as traveling exhibitions. You might enjoy visiting the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston if you like more modern art. 

There are few traditional or classical art galleries here, as opposed to The Museum of Fine Arts. A majority of the art in the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston was created in the last few years by local and international artists. 

Bringing art that shapes daily life to its visitors is the museum’s main focus.

Many art festivals are also held in Houston throughout the year. Several nonprofit organizations in the Houston area benefit from the festivals’ proceeds.

Austin’s Music 

Austin’s Music

There is a reason Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World. Live music can be found almost every day of the week at an outdoor venue. 

Austin has over 250 venues for live music. Nearly everywhere you look, you’ll find musicians playing.

Throughout the year, the city hosts several music festivals. Every month, there is at least one music festival. 

It doesn’t matter what kind of music you like, Austin likely has it.

Conclusion: Which city is better?

Both cities clearly have their attractions. There are reasons to pick either one, depending on your needs or your purpose for going to either city.

Let’s say you’re choosing one of these cities for a short-term visit.

In that case, Austin, Texas is a great choice if you’re looking for an outdoor-oriented vacation with a rocking food scene. With its proximity to the Texas Hill Country and laid-back vibes, this is the perfect vacation spot.

If you’re a little more laid-back and want more indoor action, though, Houston provides history with museums, art, and a lot of family-friendly attractions. Additionally, Galveston is nearby if you want a beach vacation. 

Now, what about long-term living and relocation?

Well, money is undoubtedly one of the first things to consider here. Relative to that, we think that Houston is a more cost-efficient city to live in due its lower rents and overall lower cost of living. 

But there are things even here that may have people thinking twice. For instance, Austin has slightly cheaper healthcare, is a safer city to live in, and has more job opportunities, especially for younger members of the workforce.

If you prefer to work in top industries, though, Houston is the place to be. 

Ultimately, both cities can fit a lot of people’s requirements. Try going over the categories where we’ve compared them to see if you can make a decision based on how they perform vs. each other. 

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