Chicago Vs. Houston: Which City Is Better To Live In?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

North or South? That seems to be the question of the day today. People are beginning to move across the country in record numbers. Some are choosing Chicago. Others decided to go with a city like Houston. Both cities recently saw a major influx of people moving in. In many cases, people are starting to see people who have the option of going to one or the other. Which choice is best?

It’s hard to say. Chicago has longer commute times but better entertainment options. The education system in Houston is somewhat worse than in Chicago. Both have decent cultures, but Chicago tends to have the better job market between the two. With that said, Houston weather is amazing compared to the cold of Chi-town.

There are a lot of perks and pitfalls to both cities. However, only one will come out on top. Do you want to find out which city is the best? If you’re curious or debating the overall chance of you going to either city, you might want to keep reading

Which City Is Better: Chicago Or Houston?

Houston and Chicago both offer a lot of goodies for the right person, but it’s still best to have a holistic look at each city. We’re going to look at all the major fields to give you a better idea of what to expect.

Not sure if Houston stacks up? Check out our guide comparing Chicago vs. Philadelphia, which is much more affordable to live in.

Quality Of Life

Though this can mean many things to many people, we tend to look at the overall rate of happiness and satisfaction. When it comes to quality of life, both Chicago and Houston tend to have equally happy people. While both towns have a tendency of getting complaints about crime and job quality, they’re still fairly decent places to live.

Winner: Chicago

Cost Of Living

The cost of living for both Chicago and Houston will be pretty close to average, despite the fact that they are both fairly large cities. Houston’s cost of living index clocked in at 96.5, meaning that it is actually cheaper to live here than it would be to live in a typical American town. When it comes to Chicago, the cost of living is 106.5, which means it’s 6.5 percent more expensive than an average town as a whole.

Overall, both are fairly average. However, it’s clear that Houston won the prize here. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a below-average cost of living in a big city?

Winner: Houston

Housing Costs

Neither Houston nor Chicago is particularly famous for having pricey real estate, which is honestly a good thing. This makes them pretty popular with people who want to own a home in a major city. However, there’s definitely one place that’s cheaper to buy (and rent) in than the other. That place is Houston.

Average Cost 1 BR Apartment$1,116$1,400
Median Home Price$185,500$229,100

Winner: Houston.

Job Market

Both Chicago and Houston have a rather bad problem with poverty. Chi-town has a poverty rate nearing 20 percent, while Houston has about the same amount under poverty lines. So, it all boils down to the median wages and unemployment for people who are new to the areas. Houston has a lower unemployment rate and slightly higher household wages.

Projected 10-Year Growth30.9%25.7%
Median Household Income$52,258$51,247
Median Personal Income$29,259$31,613

Winner: Houston


It’s really hard to compare these two cities in terms of culture. Chicago tends to have a slightly more gritty, inner-city attitude than Houston does. Houston, though it can be rough, still has a little Southern charm to the way people carry themselves. Chicago is faster-paced than Houston is, too.

When it comes to their area’s focus, Houston loves their country music and Latin music. Chicago loves their house and jazz. And they both like sports. It’s a way of life.

Winner: Tied.


Chicago is definitely the more entertainment-rich city of the two. While Houston might have some popular sports teams, Chicago has way more. Chi-town also has more museums, more major sports arenas, and more major lounges than Houston does. Besides, Chicago has two of the most active music scenes in America: one scene for jazz and one for house music.

Winner: Chicago.


Texas towns have large, open roads primarily because most cities were built outwards rather than upwards. This means that you got lower commute times, simply because there are fewer opportunities for major traffic jams. Chicago might have a bigger public transit system, but it needs it. Big time.

Chicago’s commute time ranges between 26 to 33 minutes on average, depending on your research source. Houston has a commute time average of 24 to 26 minutes, making it more in line with the national average.

Winner: Houston


Chicago and Houston are both fairly similar when it comes to their demographics. Both cities have a heavily mixed population that features a fairly large Latinx population. They also happen to have a positive, pro-LGBTQIA culture which tends to do well with people who value inclusivity.

With that said, technically diversity means (or alludes to) a more even distribution of people. That makes Chicago a better winner, simply because there is a more even mix of black, white, and Latinx individuals inside the city’s limits.

Winner: Chicago


We want to say that there is a winner here, but the truth is that both schools aren’t doing too well. In terms of Chicago has a high school graduation rate of 83.8 and a 4-year college rate of around 37. Houston fares even worse. Here, the student’s high school grad rate sits at around 77 percent, which means that around one of every four kids will drop out before they graduate high school.

The truth is that the college graduation rates in Houston are below average, and it’s partly due to the attitude people have about school here. Only 31.9 percent of students ever graduate from a four-year college. If you want to avoid giving your kid a lower chance at success, it might be a good idea to stick to Chi-town.

Winner: Chicago


What is there to say? Houston is right in the heart of Texas, a state that is known for having warm (or at least warm-ish) weather year-round. Chicago is in the northern part of the Midwest, a place that’s famous for having blisteringly cold winters and balmy summers. It’s like trying to compare apples to oranges.

Love the cold? Hit up Chicago. Love the heat? Head to Houston.

Crime Rates

Trying to compare both Houston and Chicago’s crime rates is tricky since there are rumors of both cities underreporting crimes. However, it tends to be the same issue across the board: both have above-average crime rates. Both cities also have notable gang activity, which means that they are cities where you always run some kind of risk for violent crime.

Numbers-wise, Houston has a slightly higher rate for both violent and nonviolent crime. With that said, there have also been allegations of Chicago fudging the numbers. However, we have no proof aside from what we saw others claim on online forums.

Winner: Chicago?

The Verdict

Between the better education, the safer streets, and the better entertainment, it’s easy to see why people are starting to see Chicago as the better city between the two. It might not have the best weather, but most families find it to be a better place to raise kids. Of course, this isn’t to say that Houston doesn’t have its own set of perks.

People who want to explore more job opportunities, set up their own business, and enjoy a low cost of living are going to find Houston to be more amenable to their situation. So, unlike most other decisions to move, this one might be a lot more situational than you would expect it to be.

Related Questions

How hot does it get during the summer in Houston?

The heat of a Texan sun is not exactly easy to deal with, especially if you’re from a northern state like New York or Minnesota. Though this city is prone to major heat waves, the truth is that summer here is going to be a bit on the warm side on average. Even if you’re from Texas, it can be rough.The average July high temperature in Houston clocks in at around 93 degrees. We suggest drinking lots of water since the heat can sneak up on you.

What foods should you try in Houston?

While Houston may not have the culinary reputation of a place like New York City or Los Angeles, it still has its own local flavor. Most people who want to get a taste of Houston can hit up a local Tex-Mex joint. This city is known for having extremely authentic, delicious Latin cuisine. We strongly suggest any of the spicy tacos.Another major food staple in Houston can be found in soul food. The city has some of the finest chicken and waffles you’ll ever taste. Don’t be shocked if you eat so much that you can no longer move after your meal. That just means it was extra tasty.

How cold does it normally get during winter in Chicago?

Much like other famous cities in the Midwest, Chi-town has a reputation for getting nippy during the winter. According to our sources, the average January low temperature in Chicago rests at a remarkably frigid 19.4 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that almost every day in January will have temperatures far below freezing.Needless to say, it seems like Chicago’s reputation for having cold weather is one that is well-earned. If you plan to move here, make sure that you buy a sturdy winter coat and bundle up on bedding. You’ll need it during the colder times in this icy city.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

More by Ossiana Tepfenhart