We meticulously test and assess everything we review. Learn more about why you can trust us.

Which is better, Houston or Chicago? 

Which is better, Houston or Chicago

For the ultimate showdown between the Windy City and the Bayou City – a face-off that’s as spirited as a Chicago hotdog and as spicy as Houston’s crawfish boil. If you’re torn between choosing which city is better, then this comparison is for you. 

For an easier move, Houston’s more affordable cost of living and lower real estate prices allow for a bit more financial leeway. The more diverse population in the city and wider collection of job opportunities also make for a more easy transition. 

Come with us as we weigh the pros and cons of living in these two vibrant metropolises in terms of the diversity of residents, costs of living, the state of the job market, and the types of lifestyle to expect from each!

Cost of Living in Houston vs. Chicago

Cost of Living in Houston vs. Chicago

Featured Image Source: Carolina Grabowska on Pexels Official Website

The cost of living in Houston is about 4.99% cheaper than it is in Chicago. 
The more notable differences lie in Chicago’s slightly higher cost when renting, buying fresh produce, and paying for international primary school tuition. 

The average cost of living in Houston is $2,655 for an individual and $6,271 for a family, while it costs about $2,791 for a person and $6,954 for a family living in Chicago.

To get a more in depth look at how the costs for various living expenses in Chicago and Houston compare to each other, check out the data in the table below:

Expenses Chicago Cost Houston Cost 
Housing (Average Rent per Month) 
1 bedroom apartment  (downtown)$ 2021$ 1552
1 bedroom apartment (outside the city center) $ 1363$ 1292
3 bedroom apartment (downtown)$ 3661$ 3300
3 bedroom apartment (outside the city center)$ 2680$ 2271
Utilities and Internet Services
Utility bill for one person $ 122$ 148
Utility bill for a family $ 190$ 230
Internet plan for a month$ 65.8$ 87.7
1 way ticket for local transport ticket$ 2.51$ 2.37
Monthly pass for local transport ticket$ 87$ 94.3
Taxi Fare (standard side for 8 km or 5 mi)$ 23.8$ 32.2
Gasoline for 1 Liter$ 1.2$ 0.86
Daycare and Preschool for a month $ 2041$1697
International Primary School tuition for a year$ 31,463$ 14,016
Milk, bread, and eggs supply for a week $ 14.17$ 14.02
Protein per kg$ 12.4 – $ 19.9 $ 12.7 – $ 19.2 
Fruits and Vegetables for a week$ 22.88$ 19.29
Toiletries for a month $ 7.34$ 6.96
Fitness and Entertainment 
Gym memberships and movie tickets for a month$ 90.40$ 81.90
Meal out with food and a drink$ 22. 94 – $ 86.78$ 23.2 – $83.92
Date Source: Living Cost

As the data shows, the cost of living in the 2 cities do not differ too much from each other, with Chicago’s costs being more expensive than Houston by a few dollars in most categories.

The major difference is Chicago’s average tuition for international primary schools being more than double that of Houston. This factor can be an especially big consideration for families with children. 

Although the cost of transportation and utilities is lower in Chicago which may be because of the more developed public transportation system and supply of power companies there, it doesn’t make up for the higher costs in the other categories. 

Real Estate Prices in Houston vs. Chicago

Real Estate Prices in Houston vs. Chicago

Featured Image Source: RDNE Stock project on Pexels Official Website

Houston has lower real estate prices compared to those in Chicago regardless of property type from homes to apartments and location. 
Property TypeChicagoHouston
Average Single Family Home $359,000$327,000
Condo Apartment $ 6763$ 6405
House in the Suburbs$ 5185$ 3752
Mortgage Interest Rates over 20 years6.85%7.16%
Date Source: Living Cost Website

The average cost of buying a house for a single family in Houston is 9.33% cheaper compared to buying a similar property in Chicago. Houston maintains its lead with condo apartments. The ones you can buy in Houston are 5% cheaper.

This difference between the prices in both cities goes up dramatically in the suburbs, properties here in Houston houses are 32% cheaper than those in Chicago. 

Although Houston’s mortgage interest rates are 0.31% higher than Chicago, a difference of less than 1% translates to an additional mortgage payment of $30 a month which doesn’t make up for the properties being cheaper in Houston. 

Diversity and Demographics in Houston vs. Chicago

Diversity and Demographics in Houston vs. Chicago

Featured Image Source: Fauxdels on Pexels Official Website

A study by the American Community Survey suggests that Houston is just a little more diverse with a diversity index score of 0.77 which is closer to the perfect score 1, compared to Chicago’s 0.75. 
Houston’s population is also less dense and younger. 

Houston occupies 3 times the landmass of Chicago but has a smaller population. Chicago has a population density of 12,059 people per square meter while Houston’s sits more comfortably at 3,598 per square meter. 

In essence, this means that Chicago is 3 times more packed or crowded than Houston is. 

In terms of gender, the 2 cities don’t differ by a lot with both being only a bit more female dominated in terms of population percentage. 

According to a study by the Houston Greater Partnership, Houston has the lowest median age among America’s major cities, while Chicago trails a bit behind. This makes Houston’s population younger and indicates a higher fertility and population growth rate. 

Geographic LocationTexas Illinois
Size (Area)1,659 square kilometers 591 square kilometers 
Population 2,302,8782,665,039
Female Population 50.2%51.2%
Male Population 49.8%48.8%
Median Age 35.3 years old38.5 years old
Life Expectancy at Birth 82 years old 85 years old 
Data Source: United States Census Bureau Website 

Both the populations in Chicago and Houston can be considered relatively diverse. Studies have shown that the presence of different races in one city promotes innovation, growth, and a richer culture. 

To understand the breakdown of races that make up the population in both cities, we can take a closer look. 

Houston’s population is 45.5% white including Hispanics while Chicago’s is 45.9%. Both cities also hold minorities like Asians, Native Indians, and Pacific Islanders. The percentage of these minorities are also neck and neck between the 2. 

Racial Composition HoustonRacial Composition Chicago
White only23.2 %White only33.7 %
White (Hispanic)22.3 %White (Hispanic)12.2 %
Black or African American22.1 %Black or African American28.8 %
Hispanic12.1 %Hispanic10.3 %
Asian 6.75 %Asian 6.75 %
Multiracial (White) 8.78 %Multiracial (White) 2.25 %
Multiracial (Non-white) 2 %Multiracial (Non-white) 5.15 %
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.5 %American Indian and Alaska Native 0.48 %
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander0.1 %Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander0.1 %
Others0.7 %Others0.87 %
Data Source: Data USA Website 

Career Opportunities in Houston vs. Chicago 

Career Opportunities in Houston vs. Chicago

Featured Image Source: Pixabay on Pexels Official Website

The pros and cons of Houston and Chicago make the cities tied in terms of career opportunities and financial advancement. 

According to a study conducted by the United States Census Bureau, the unemployment rate in Houston is 2.80% lower than Chicago’s. The number of jobs added per year in Houston is also 64.35% higher than the jobs added in Chicago. 

Chicago citizens earn about 14-15% more money than Houstonians do.

In terms of career opportunities, there is no clear answer as to which city has more to offer. 

On one hand, if you are looking to find a new job in either city as you recollate, there are more jobs in Houston and the rate at which these jobs are getting added is also here in this city as well. 

On the other hand, the average earnings is 14.88% higher in Chicago. The per capita income in Chicago is also 15.79% higher compared to Houston. 

Median Household Income $ 56,019$ 65,781
Per capita income$ 35, 578$ 41,821
Poverty Rate 19.5 %17.1 %
Employed Population 1,120,0001,380,000
Unemployment Rate 4.80%7.60%
Jobs added per year76,600 (Ranked 6th)39,400 (Ranked 12th)
Data Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Website

A better way of looking at it is by seeing if the industry or sector you’re in matches well with the job opportunities in the city. 

According to the Greater Houston Partnership, listed below are the top industries in the city. 

  • Advanced Manufacturing – a third of Texas manufacturers are in Houston 
  • Aerospace and Aviation – with over 18 Forbes Global companies
  • Energy – with 44 of the 113 publicly traded oil and gas companies in the city

The sectors that make up majority of Chicago’s economy are listed by the City of Chicago’s government as follows: 

  • Freight and movement – with about 25% of freight trains and half of intermodal trains in the country passing by 
  • Construction and manufacturing – accounting for one fourth of the region’s economy

Crime and Safety in Houston vs. Chicago

Crime and Safety in Houston vs. Chicago

Featured Image Source: Download Tong on Pexels Official Website

Chicago is much safer than Houston According to live data gathered from local police departments and FBI databases, Houston’s crime rate is 103% higher than Chicago for violent incidents and 55.97% higher for crimes involving property. 

According to NeighborhoodScout’s Crime Data which are sourced yearly from 18,000 local law enforcement agencies, in Chicago, you have a 1 in 115 chance to be a victim of violent crime and a 1 in 42 of property crime. 

In comparison, there is a 1 in 81 chance that you fall victim to a violent crime in Houston and a 1 in 24 that you are involved in property crime in the city. This is a huge difference and illustrates how often crime occurs in Houston. 

Below are more statistics on each type of crime in both cities to get a further look into what crime is like in Houston and Chicago. 

It’s also noteworthy that although violent and property crimes occur more often in Houston, there are 38% more homicides in Chicago. 

Violent Crimes (Physical and Sexual Assault)Per 100,000 residents1224.5694.7
Per year28,37023,449
Crime Rate12.40 %3.95 %
Property Crimes (Theft, Auto theft, Burglaries)Per 100,000 residents4,152.1
Per year96,86564,221
Crime Rate42.33 %23.82 %
Total Incidents of Crime per 100,000 residents per year5,396.71,846.7
Date Source: ABC13 New Channel Live Crime Statistic Database

Lifestyle in Houston vs. Chicago

Lifestyle in Houston vs. Chicago

Featured Image Source: destiawan nur agustra on Pexels Official Website

The standard of living in Chicago is better than Houston in terms of weather and healthcare access. Even though there seem to be more things to do in the more spacious Space City, the 2 factors push Chicago over the edge. 

In a study done by Best Places through surveying locals, Houston was dubbed more comfortable than Chicago based on weather. H-town was rated a 6.6 on the comfort index based on weather, while Chi-Town got a score of 7. The perfect score is 10. 

Houston, Texas is known for its heat which can be both a blessing and a curse. With 189 sunny days per year, you can count on being able to explore the outdoors majority of the time, while Chicago averages around 189 days of good weather. 

The heat reaches a peak of 93 degrees Fahrenheit during the hottest months from July to August in Houston, while 43.4 degrees is as low as it gets in January with the exception of rare winters with snow. 

Chicago experiences summer in the same months but with temperatures only reaching 83.9 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicago has colder winters at 19.2 degrees with an average of 35.1 inches of snow per year. 

Rain is temperamental and frequent in Houston with an average rain of 53 inches per year, which is notably  higher than Chicago’s 38.2. 

With more space, Houston arguably offers a more diverse set of attractions and entertainment opportunities. 

You can find everything from a long list of restaurants to sample local dishes like Texan Barbeque and pubs to grab Houston’s draft beers. You then have a variety of nature and cultural spaces to walk around in like the Museum District or Hermann Park 

There are also plenty of iconic spots to visit here like the Space Center Houston. Not to mention attending the The Official Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for a dose of cowboy culture. 

Chicago is mostly known for its great food like deep-dish pizza.The city is also a lively music scene and serves as the birthplace of house music, urban blues, and modern jazz. 

Architectural feats are also scattered around Chicago where you can find the famous The Bean Cloud Gate

90.02% of the people in Chicago are under some sort of healthcare coverage, which is 24% higher than the 76.2% of Houstonians who have the same access. 

The average number of patients in Houston is 47.13% higher for every primary physician and 79% higher for healthcare professionals compared to Chicago. 

This translates to the healthcare providers in Houston being spread out thinner across more people which can result in a less focused and dedicated service provided to the patients. 

Percentage of people with healthcare coverage 76.2 % 90.2 %
    Under employee plans 39.5 %49.1 %
    On Medicaid 19.1 %22.5 %
    On Medicare8.04 %9.39 %
    On non-group plans 8.9 %8.62 %
    On military or VA plans 0.714 %0.607 %
Healthcare spending per capita $ 6998 $ 8262
Patient to primary care physician ratio1691 to 1 1046 to 1 
Patient to mental health care provider ratio731 to 1 314 to 1
Data Source: Houston, TX | Data USA

Houston vs. Chicago: The Final Verdict

It’s important to note that variables and external factors must also be considered and may ultimately affect your choice depending on your own standards. 

But, based on the ones we have researched and listed, Houston comes out on top as the more favorable city to move to or live in. 

Choosing a city to move to is often not easily done by just a few tables of statistics, but information and data do help in making a better informed decision. Below, you’ll find each category along with the city that won it and the reason why. 

Factors The Better City Why 
Cost of Living HoustonThe cost of living in Houston is 4.99% cheaper than Chicago. 
Real Estate HoustonA home in Houston is 5-9.33% cheaper than one in Chicago depending on the type.
Diversity and DemographicsHoustonHouston’s population is more diverse, less dense, and younger. 
Career Opportunities TieMedian income is 14.88% higher in Chicago, but Houston’s unemployment rate is 2.80% lower. 
Crime IndexChicago The crime rate in Houston is 80% higher than Chicago across different types.
Lifestyle ChicagoChicago has a more stable climate and reliable healthcare. 

Related topics