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Cost of living in Houston

Expats are not only lured by the low cost of living in Houston, but the essential fact that Texas has no state income tax.

Expats can take full advantage of no state income tax and Houston's colourful and diverse culture that makes it one of the best places to live in the US. 

Accommodation 

From large urban areas to a laidback lifestyle in the suburbs, Houston offers a wide variety of accommodation. The average monthly rent for a studio apartment costs USD$620.00. For a one bedroom apartment, the cost is USD$802.00, while a two bedroom apartment is at USD$1,089. A three bedroom apartment would average around USD$1,480.00. 

High-rise apartments are found in the River Oaks and Galleria areas which are priced at a premium. Rents in Rivers Oaks range from USD$1,278.00 to USD$6,000.00 or even up to USD$8,500.00 for top of the line amenities. 

Other prominent places include Midtown Area, West University Place, Rice Military, The Woodlands, and residential areas near Texas Medical Centre. 

Buying a Property 

Houston landed on the top spot as the healthiest housing market for 2009 by the Builder magazine. In the third quarter of 2009, Houston's housing market increased significantly bringing the average home price to USD$213,117.00. 

Expats wanting to live close to the city business establishments may opt to live at West University Place. Due to its proximity to the city, the median home cost is at USD$ $578,320.00.  

Also in the third quarter of 2009, the average selling price of the Rice Military real estate market is at $382,342.00. The neighborhood of Rice Military consists of newly constructed townhouses with picturesque surroundings. 

Utilities 

Expats can allot approximately USD$200-$300 budget for home utilities. Expats can have a number of electric providers and energy contract plans (3 month, 6 months, 12 months, 24 months, and 36 months) to choose from in Houston. One of the cheapest energy providers is StarTex that charges a service fee of USD$4.95 if a consumer uses less than 500 kilowatt hour a month. Usually, a one-year plan rate is 10.0 cents per 1,000 kilowatt hour as of August 2009. 

Taking into account that Houston is summer all year, a single person living in a one bedroom apartment will pay approximately USD$65.00 to USD$105.00. 

Phone and high-speed internet are offered in bundled services that can cost approximately USD$40.00 or less on a monthly basis while basic cable package is at USD$58.00. 

Food 

The cost for eating out is reasonable, which is why most Houstonians choose to dine out. A fast food meal only costs USD$4.92 while dining in a middle range restaurant is around USD$27.50 for two people. 

Buying groceries in a local market is cheap. A loaf of fresh bread costs only USD$1.60, a dozen of eggs at USD$1.70 and a litre of milk is less than a dollar or USD$0.94. 

Transport 

Taking a cab for short distance trips can be quite expensive. The authorized flat rate for taxis in Houston costs USD$6.00 and the norm for tips are 10% of the total fare. 

For one-way fare in buses, fee is at USD$1.25. MetroRail in Houston is accessible service in downtown Houston. 

Expats are required to have auto insurance prior to driving a car, specifically liability insurance. In general, the cost of auto insurance varies depending on the age and previous violations. In Houston, the cost of auto insurance for drivers over 25 and who does not have any traffic tickets or accidents is at USD$300.00 to USD$400.00 per year. Those who have road records may have to pay twice the amount.  To apply for a Texas Driver's License, visit http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/driver_licensing_control/rolodex/search.asp for more information.

 

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