Houston, Texas, is synonymous with NASA and the USA’s pioneering space program – it was the first word spoken by Neil Armstrong on the moon after all. However, there is much more to the city than simply being the location of Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center.
As the fourth most-populous city in the USA and home to more Fortune 500 headquarters than any other US municipality after New York City, Houston boasts a thriving and robust economy. Given its high status as a global city, teeming with innovation and entrepreneurship, there are numerous British expatriates moving to Houston for business.
Moving to the USA has its inevitable costs, as does any international relocation. In this Houston city guide, we explore the main moving costs to consider, the cost of living in this expansive region and top tips to make your move go smoothly.
Houston is a large global city and one of the biggest cities in the whole of the USA. Therefore, its cost of living is higher than the national average, though lower than other major cities such as New York.
However, for British expatriates moving to the city from London, the cost of living is considerably lower. According to the expat website Expatistan, the cost of living in Houston is 32% cheaper than the cost of living in London. The biggest saving comes in housing. Figures quoted on the website show that the monthly rent for a 900 sq ft furnished apartment comes in at $1,645 a month, which is around £1,352. This is almost half the cost of a similar apartment in London, where the average cost is listed as £2,585 a month. Utilities and electrical goods are also significantly cheaper, but you should expect to pay more for internet and cleaning services.
Clothing, transportation and entertainment also come in much cheaper in Houston than in London, based on the Expatistan figures. Some areas are more expensive in direct comparison, including personal care. This category includes things like medicines, even over-the-counter ones, and particularly those on prescription – antibiotics, for example, are 176% higher in cost. Food is also generally more expensive to buy, whether eating out or grocery shopping.
One of the biggest costs to take into consideration when moving to Houston is packing and shipping. These costs vary depending on your chosen shipping container options, and the types and volume of items you need to transport. Contact Cadogan Tate today for a tailored quote for your specific circumstances and budget.
You will also need to consider the cost of flights to and from Houston. The average direct flight time is over 10 hours, so frequent trips to see family and friends are costly in both time and money.
Taxes are a story of two sides. The sales tax, which combines all the state, county and city rates, is higher than the average at more than 8%. However, there is no state income tax, just the federal income tax, which can be favourable to higher-earning expatriates resident in the state. Calculating the correct tax as an expat can be frustrating, so it’s worth factoring in a good accountant, one with specific experience in wealth management and expatriate finances.
Houston does have a high salary rate, which can offset many of the relocation costs. Combined with a lower overall cost of living and rental costs when compared to London, moving to the city can be quite profitable. Many expatriates in Houston work in the aerospace, oil and gas, healthcare, energy, transportation or manufacturing industries.
When moving to Houston from London, one thing that will strike you is just how expansive the city is. While London’s urban centre is relatively compact, Houston spans a total area of over 600 square miles and is home to more than six million people throughout its wider metropolitan area. The main city has a population of around two million. This in itself comes with certain considerations, most prominently looking for suitable accommodation near to work.
While there are superhighways connecting different parts of the Greater Houston area, traffic can build up rapidly, so it’s wise to live within a reasonable commutable distance to save spending a large portion of your day sat in the car. Having a car is a must in this city, however. While other prominent global cities have well-used public transportation systems, services here are slower and inefficient, especially further out from the main centre. Houston has one of the longest commuting times in the country.
When looking for a suitable property, as well as proximity to work, it’s also worth researching schools for children to attend and ensuring that they are also accessible. There is a very large and diverse schooling system in Houston, including the popular but competitive British International School of Houston.
Air conditioning is a necessity; moving from London, the high temperatures and humidity can come as a shock and be rather uncomfortable. It’s not unusual for temperatures to reach and exceed 30°C frequently. The air quality is also quite poor, which can be problematic for anyone with respiratory issues – it is one of the more polluted cities in America.
Luckily, one area in which Houston excels is healthcare. There are almost a hundred hospitals and the city is home to the Texas Medical Centre, one of the best in the world. Of course, healthcare in the USA is notoriously expensive, so factoring in a good and comprehensive healthcare policy is essential.
If you’re relocating to the Houston, see our in-depth guide to moving to the USA and find out how Cadogan Tate can aid you with your packing and shipping requirements.