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Living in Dallas vs Houston Which is cheaper

Living in Dallas vs Houston: Which is cheaper?

Texas is one of the cheapest states to live in in the US, and Houston and Dallas are the most populated cities in the state thanks to their high level of development. But which one’s cheaper?

Houston is the overall cheaper place to live than Dallas. The average Houston resident spends $62,183 a year, while Dallas residents spend $62,672 a year.

However, Dallas has cheaper schools.

For a better overview of how Dallas and Houston’s expenses compare, here’s a table with all the information you need.

Living FactorDallas Average CostHouston Average Cost
Housing$1,568/month (Rent)
$259,000 (Homeownership)
$255.34/sqft (Apartment Ownership)
$1,304/month (Rent)
$220,000 (Homeownership)
$217.99/sqft (Apartment Ownership)
Education$11,278/year (Private Preschool)
$10,091/year (Private Elementary)
$11,643/year (Private High School)
$5,944/year (In-State Bachelor’s Degree)
$18,504/year (Out-of-State Bachelor’s Degree)
$9,518/year (In-State Graduate Degree)
$15,464/year (Out-of-State Graduate Degree)
$13,029/year (Private Preschool)
$14,203/year (Private Elementary)
$17,557/year (Private High School)
$54,100/year (Bachelor’s Degree)
$26,035/year (Graduate Degree)
Taxes8.25% (Sales Tax)
2.22% (Property Tax)
8.25% (Sales Tax)
2.13% (Property Tax)

To add, while Houston has a lower cost of living than Dallas, Dallas has a higher average salary. Dallas pays an average of $31 per hour while Houston only pays $29 an hour.

Let’s delve deeper into why Houston is cheaper to live in.

Housing in Dallas vs Houston

Housing in Dallas vs Houston

Housing is cheaper in Houston than in Dallas. Houston’s average rent is $1,304 a month, while Dallas’ is $1,568. Homeownership in Houston is cheaper too. 

Houston’s median cost is $220,000 while Dallas’ is $259,000. However, the average cost to build a home is cheaper in Dallas by $36.64 per sqft.

For apartments, the price of ownership in Houston is $217.99 per sqft while it’s $255.34 per sqft in Dallas. 

Property tax rates are higher in Dallas at 2.22% while Houston has a rate of 2.13% of the assessed property value. However, interest rates for 20-year fixed-rate mortgages are lower in Dallas than in Houston by 0.21%.

It’s also worth noting that Houston’s houses are generally newer than Dallas’ homes. 22% of Houston homes were built from 2000 and beyond, while Dallas only has 17.7%.

This also means that Houston has fewer older homes than Dallas. 29% of Houston homes were built from 1960 and earlier, while 34.4% of Dallas homes were built in the same period. 

Most newer homes aren’t as structurally sound as older ones, with many being built with drywall and plaster. So while renting a home in Houston is much cheaper than in Dallas, Dallas has sturdier homes. 

The table below compares the prices of different properties in Dallas and Houston.

Rental PropertyDallas Average RentHouston Average RentDifference
Studio Apartment$1,030/month$894/month$136
1 Bedroom Home or Apartment$1,101/month$960/month$141
2 Bedroom Home or Apartment$1,304/month$1,144/month$160
3 Bedroom Home or Apartment$1,662/month$1,518/month$144
4 Bedroom Home or Apartment$2,182/month$1,949/month$233
Home ConstructionDallas Average CostHouston Average CostDifference
Luxury Home$431.44/sqft$512.85/sqft-$81.41
Semi-Luxury Home$262.20/sqft$311.68/sqft-$49.48
Best Standard Home$168.16/sqft$199.89/sqft-$31.73
Good Standard Home$123.71/sqft$147.05/sqft-$23.34
Average Standard Home$100.33/sqft$119.26/sqft-$18.93
Minimum Standard Home$79.16/sqft$94.10/sqft-$14.94

Utilities in Dallas vs Houston

Utilities in Dallas vs Houston

Dallas’ utilities are cheaper than Houston’s. For a 915 sqft apartment, residents can expect to pay $160.71 per month in Dallas and $164.90 per month in Houston.

Plumbing and internet and phone bills are also cheaper in Dallas than in Houston, while all the other utilities are much more expensive.

To be specific, electricity, water, HVAC maintenance, and cleaning services are all more expensive in Dallas.

To give you a better view, here’s a comparison of the prices for common utilities and home services in Dallas and Houston.

UtilityDallas Average CostHouston Average CostDifference
Electricity¢9.72/kWh (Commercial)¢14.47/kWh (Residential)¢9.72/kWh (Commercial)
¢15/kWh (Residential)
¢0 (Commercial)
-¢0.53 (Residential)
Water (One Person)$50/month$27/month-$23
HVAC Repair$397$300$97
Cleaning Services$17.16/hr$16.80/hr$0.36

Transportation in Dallas vs Houston

Transportation in Dallas vs Houston

Public transportation in Houston costs half of it in Dallas. Dallas residents spend $10,967 a year on transportation while Houston residents spend $11,006.

Gas is also cheaper in Houston at $0.84/ liter while Dallas charges $0.91/ liter. However, Dallas taxis and car rentals are more affordable.

Both cities are somewhat walkable, but they both heavily rely on cars to get around. Walk Score ranked Houston as the 24th most walkable large city in the U.S., while Dallas ranked 26th.

They both received walk, transit, and bike scores of below 50 for the same reasons. That is, public transportation does not cover much area and there aren’t enough bike lanes throughout the cities.

Here’s how much to expect in both cities for each mode of transportation.

TransportationDallas Average CostHouston Average CostDifference
Bus/Train$2.50 one-way, $96 monthly pass$1.25 one-way, $40 monthly pass$1.25 one-way, $56 monthly pass
Taxi$2.80 starting fee, $1.12/km$2.95 starting fee, $3.1/km-$0.15 starting fee, -$1.98/km
Car Rental$68/day$75/day-$7

Food in Dallas vs Houston

Food in Dallas vs Houston

Food in Houston is cheaper than in Dallas. The average price of a week’s worth of groceries in Houston costs $7.4 less than in Dallas, while restaurant meals cost $4 less for cheap restaurants and $15 less for mid-range restaurants.

Here are the most common grocery items along with their prices in both Dallas and Houston for you to better compare.

Grocery ItemDallas PriceHouston PriceDifference
Milk (1kg)$0.8$0.8$0
Bread (500g)$2.8$2.7$0.1
Eggs (one dozen)$2.2$2$0.2
Cheese (1kg)$9.9$11-$1.1
Water (1.5L)$2$1.8$0.2
Domestic Beer (500mL)$2.7$3-$0.3
Imported Beer (330mL)$2.8$3.1-$0.3
Cigarettes (one pack)$7.6$8-$0.4
Chicken Breast (1kg)$9.6$7.8$1.8
Apples (1kg)$4.3$4.6-$0.3
Oranges (1kg)$4.2$3.3$0.9
Potatoes (1kg)$2.9$1.9$1
White Rice (1kg)$3.6$3.5$0.1
Tomato (1kg)$3.3$3.8-$0.5
Bananas (1kg)$2.1$1.3$0.8
Onions (1kg)$2.6$2.3$0.3
Beef Steak (1kg)$17$13$4
Pears (1kg)$5.1$5.6-$0.5
Cucumber (1kg)$1.8$2.1-$0.3
Sausages (1kg)$22$18$4

Health in Dallas vs Houston

Health in Dallas vs Houston

Houston has cheaper common healthcare services except for physical therapy and ambulance rides. On average, Houston residents spend $5,223 a year on healthcare while Dallas residents spend $6,374. 

Ambulance rides with the Houston Fire Department used to cost just $1,076, but the price was raised to $1,826 in 2019.

Meanwhile, Dallas has some of the worst medical debt in the country, largely due to the expensive medical bills. Hospitalization in Dallas costs an average of $2,500 a day while it costs just $2,000 in Houston.

ServiceDallas Average Price (Without Insurance)Houston Average Price (Without Insurance)Difference
Ambulance Ride $1,578 (Resident)
$1,678 (Non-Resident)
$1,826 (Fire Department, Resident)
$2,500 (Private EMS, Non-Resident)
-$248 (Resident)
-$822 (Non-Resident)
Wellness Visit (1 Session)$120$98$22
Doctor’s Appointment$129.78$96.87$32.91
Dentist’s Appointment$130.42$113.28$17.14
Optometrist Appointment$116.56$104.28$12.28
Physical Therapy (1 Home Visit)$87$102-$15
Therapy (Individual, 50 Minutes)$185$155$30
MedicineDallas Average PriceHouston Average PriceDifference
Cold Medicine (6 Days)$9$7$2
Antibiotics (1 Box)$29$21$8

Education in Dallas vs Houston

Education in Dallas vs Houston

Dallas education from preschool to graduate school is generally cheaper than in Houston by thousands of dollars.

When comparing college tuition, the University of Houston is nearly twice as expensive as UT Dallas for in-state students, and nearly $10,000 pricier for out-of-state students.

Dallas preschools charge an average of $11,278 a year in tuition, while Houston preschools charge $13,029. 

Meanwhile, Dallas elementary schools charge an average of $10,091 per year while Houston schools charge $14,203. 

High schools are cheaper in Dallas too, with Dallas high schools charging $11,643 per year while Houston high schools charge a whopping $17,557. 

Dallas’ top university is the University of Texas at Dallas while Houston’s is Rice University. UT Dallas’ undergraduate tuition is priced at $5,944 a year for in-state students and $18,504 per year for out-of-state students.

On the other hand, Rice University’s undergraduate tuition is at $54,100, but balloons to $69,963 if students avail of the on-campus dormitories. 

While Rice is tens of thousands of dollars more expensive than UT Dallas, it also performs much better.

The Times Higher Education world university rankings put UT Dallas on the 351-400th spot, while Rice sits at 136th globally.

UT Dallas’ graduate school costs $9,518 per year for in-state students and $15,464 for out-of-state students, while Rice University charges $26,035 for all graduate students.

For a better view of both cities’ tuition fees, check out the table below.

Level of EducationDallas TuitionHouston TuitionDifference
Preschool (Private)$11,278$13,029-$1,751
Elementary (Private)$10,091$14,203-$4,112
High School (Private)$11,643$17,557-$5,914
Undergraduate$5,944 (In-State)
$18,504 (Out-of-State)
$54,100-$48,156 (In-State)
-$35,596 (Out-of-State)
Graduate School$9,518 (In-State)
$15,464 (Out-of-State)
$26,035-$16,517 (In-State)
-$10,571 (Out-of-State)

Taxes in Dallas vs Houston

Taxes in Dallas vs Houston

Taxes in Houston are cheaper than in Dallas. Houston’s property tax is lower than Dallas’ by 0.09%.

However, both cities have the same sales and federal income taxes.

Given this, the take-home pay for an annual average salary of $65,276 after taxes would be $51,045 for both cities.

If you plan to build a home, however, and it’s valued at $250,000, an additional $5,550 would be collected in Dallas while $5,325 would be collected in Houston. 

Both cities charge a local sales tax of 2% on top of the 6.25% state tax, bringing the total sales tax to 8.25%.

Salary Differences between Dallas and Houston

Salary Differences between Dallas and Houston

Dallas has a higher average salary than Houston. Dallas pays an average of $5,440 per month or $31 an hour, while Houston pays $5,000 per month or $29 per hour. 

The most common jobs in Houston are cashiers and customer service representatives (CSRs), each with more than 20,000 employees. The average salary for a cashier in Houston is $1,835 per month, while CSRs earn $2,145.

Dallas’ most common jobs are also cashiers and CSRs, but cashiers earn $1,815 per month while CSRs earn $2,131 in the city. 

Both cities’ highest-paying jobs are in the medical field, with Dallas paying $30,630 per month at most while Houston pays $29,692.

While Dallas pays higher on average than Houston, it’s mostly reserved for the more specialized professions. Common jobs like customer service representatives don’t get paid more in Dallas than in Houston.

What salary do you need to live comfortably in Houston?

Singles and couples with kids would need an average wage of $16.6 per hour to live comfortably in Houston, while single parents and sole breadwinners would need an average of $32 an hour.

For more specific households, refer to the table below.

Household SizeLiving Wage
1 Adult (No Children)$14.26
1 Adult (1 Child)$27.77
1 Adult (2 Children)$34.06
1 Adult (3 Children)$43.75
2 Adults (1 Employed, No Children)$22.45
2 Adults (1 Employed, 1 Child)$27.84
2 Adults (1 Employed, 2 Children)$32.95
2 Adults (1 Employed, 3 Children)$35.14
2 Adults (Both Employed, No Children)$11.22
2 Adults (Both Employed, 1 Child)$15.51
2 Adults (Both Employed, 2 Children)$19.65
2 Adults (Both Employed, 3 Children)$22.33

Is the cost of living in Houston considered low?

The cost of living in Houston is low, and it’s considered the second most affordable city among the country’s most populous cities. 

Its cost of living index averages 91.8, meaning it is 8.2% cheaper than the national average.

For comparison, Dallas’ cost of living index is 103, and New York — the highest on the list — is at 237.6. 

Here’s a better view of Houston’s cost of living for each consumer good and service with data from C2ER.

Living FactorCost of Living Index Score
Misc. Good and Services96.6
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