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Retiring in Houston: Pros and Cons for Space City Seniors

Houston, the home of billionaire oil tycoons and R&B queen Beyonce, is one of America’s hottest destinations. Warm weather, cultural diversity, and amazing food are just a few of the reasons so many people – 2.1 million, to be exact – call Space City home. If you’re considering hanging your hat in this Texas metropolis, read on for pros and cons of retiring in Houston.

Houston, Texas, skyline and park

Houston, Texas, is the fourth most populous city in the United States.

Pros of Retiring in Houston, Texas

The World on Your Plate

Houston is America’s most diverse city. One of the many benefits of that diversity is a cornucopia of delicious cuisine. From Cajun to Vietnamese, German to Moroccan, you’ll find it in Houston’s restaurants. You’ll also enjoy some of the region’s best Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican eats. Not to mention Shipley Donuts, a Houston-based chain that’s giving Dunkin’ Donuts a run for its money.

Warm Weather

Sure, you’ll have to sweat through some blisteringly hot summer days (see below). But that means you’ll never have to shovel snow or worry about falling on ice. Houston is warm or temperate most of the year. The average high even in January is 62 degrees Fahrenheit. On average, the temperature dips to the freezing mark just 18 days a year.

Galveston, Texas

Galveston, Texas, is just about an hour from downtown Houston.

Dozens of Day Trips

Houston is located near the Gulf of Mexico, which boasts beautiful beaches comparable to those in Florida. Galveston and Galveston Island, just 50 miles from downtown Houston, are especially popular. Venture a little to the south or east and you’ll find two major wildlife refuges, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, which are also worth exploring. To the north lies Sam Houston National Forest.

Low Cost of Living

If you want to live in the core of Houston, you might suffer sticker-shock when looking into rental prices. However, the overall cost of living in Houston is 10 percent lower than the national average. Housing costs are 22 percent below the national average. Furthermore, there’s no state income tax in Texas. Just realize that the tradeoff can be a higher sales tax and property tax. Fortunately, however, both Harris County and Houston City offer generous property tax exemptions for residents ages 65 and older.

Cons of Retiring in Houston

Houston, Texas, aerial photo of sprawl

Prepare to drive. Houston is synonymous with sprawl.

Lots of Sprawl

As the fourth most populous city in the country, Houston puts the “sprawl” in urban sprawl. Although many neighborhoods are walkable, don’t expect to do much outside your immediate area if you don’t have a car. Houston also isn’t as lively as its hip cousin, Austin, so it might not be right for transplants from happening places like New York City or Los Angeles.

Lots of Traffic

Traffic can also be a hassle in Houston, as it is in many big cities. Houston is often ranked among the most traffic-clogged cities in the country. However, as a retiree, you have an advantage over the 9-to-5 crowd since you may be able to avoid rush hours altogether. If you prefer not to drive, the city has been expanding its METRORail, which can get you to downtown, the theater and museum districts, the Texas Medical Center, and NRG Park.

Lots of Humidity and Pollution

With all that traffic and hot summer weather come the miseries of humidity and pollution. By one measure, you can expect “miserable” humidity for good parts of July and August. The other parts will be merely “oppressive” or “muggy.” If pollution irritates you, you also might be out of luck – and breath – here. The American Lung Association, in its 2017 State of the Air report, ranks Houston the 12th worth metro area in the country for ozone pollution and 16th worst for particle pollution.

Ready to Retire in Houston?

If after considering the pros and cons, you’re up for retiring in Houston, has you covered! You’ll find dozens of retirement communities in the Houston area, from 55+ apartments to assisted living facilities. If you’ll be new in town, you might also want to check out’s Things to Do in Houston guide for more insight into the city.

What do you think? Do you live in Houston, or have you lived there in the past? Share your thoughts on retiring in Houston in the comments below.

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    1. Marian Ramirez says:

      Useful Post!

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