Is everyone moving to Houston? Well, not everyone, but plenty are making Houston their new home. It is now the fourth-largest city in the United States, after New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
This dynamic city’s population grew 10.7% to 2.3 million people between 2010 and 2019 — almost double the national average — and it’s easy to see why. Houston offers a competitive cost of living, a strong job market, and affordable house prices.
Whether you’re moving to Texas from another state or swapping your current Texan home for a new home in Houston, our guide will help you become a true “Houstonian.”
We’ll cover everything from the city’s diversity and neighborhoods to its electric rates and choosing an electricity plan. Learn how to make moving to Houston a lot easier to do.
Moving to Houston, Texas: An Overview of the City
Houston is known as Bayou City because of the waterways that flow through it, including the Buffalo Bayou river. It’s a large city with varied and energetic neighborhoods connected by ever-improving public transportation and bike lanes.
Houstonians enjoy great weather most of the year, with mild winters and beautiful springs and autumns leading to a very active, outdoor lifestyle. Summers are hot and humid, and there is a hurricane season from June to November. Hurricane Harvey caused Houston’s worst flooding in August 2017, dropping 26 inches of rain in 24 hours on nearby Beaumont and Port Arthur .
There is a museum district, a theater district, and a plethora of professional sports teams. The city of Houston offers something for nearly everyone, which is why it was voted the most diverse city and diverse big city in America in 20201.
What Is the Average Cost of Living in Houston?
Major cities like Austin and Dallas cannot compete with the cost of living in Houston, with Houston being 8% cheaper than the national average.
Healthcare took up 6.6% of Houston residents’ salary in 2018-19 compared to 8.1% nationally.
What Is the Price of Real Estate in Houston?
Houston has very competitive and wide-ranging real estate options, especially given its populous city status — big city living at suburban cost.
In October 2021, Realtor listed Houston as having a median home price of $335,000, or $167 per square foot. By comparison:
- Dallas: $400,000, or $224 per square foot.
- Austin: $585,000, or $313 per square foot.
- New York City: $865,000, or $723 per square foot.
While prices can fluctuate, it’s clear that Houston has more affordable housing compared to other major cities in the U.S.
What Are the Job Market Prospects in Houston?
Houston has booming medical, tech, aerospace, and oil and gas industries. Many big players, such as Google, United Airlines, ExxonMobil, Shell, and the University of Houston, have Houston locations.Houston has booming medical, tech, aerospace, and oil and gas industries. Many big players, such as Google, United Airlines, ExxonMobil, Shell, and the University of Houston, have Houston locations.
The Texas energy market is a cornerstone to life in the Lone Star state. Texas produces more electricity than any other U.S. state. Its deregulated energy market offers new Houstonians (aka “Newstonians”) a great way to save money while enjoying a fantastic lifestyle.
Moving to Houston: How to Get the Best Electricity Rates
Houston is not only home to some of the United States’ biggest energy companies; it’s also home to some of the best energy rates.
How? It’s all because of energy deregulation in Texas. Whether you’re moving to Houston from within Texas or from out of state, you’ll need to understand how to pick an energy provider to get the best energy plan for you.
In this section, we’ll focus on Houston electricity rates. We’ll cover everything you need to become a saver on your electricity bill, from pricing to renewable energy. You’ll find electric plans with free nights, free weekends, and much more.
Houston’s famous summer humidity means you may reach for the air conditioning. To help you out, we’re sharing how to avoid costly surprises on your electric bill.
Why Is the Houston Energy Market Deregulated?
Texas has had energy deregulation since 1999, and almost all Houston residents and the majority of Texans (85%) can choose their electricity provider. Those who cannot choose their electricity provider — called Retail Electric Providers (REPs) locally — are supplied by local utility companies.
There are more than 120 electricity companies (REPs) in Texas, and people in deregulated areas must choose a supplier.
Another essential acronym is the TDU, which is your Transmission and Distribution Utility. A TDU is responsible for delivering electricity from the power plant to your home and measuring usage. They are not your electricity company, though. You contact your TDU when there is a power outage or for line or pole emergencies.
Why Is Choosing an Electricity Provider Important in Houston?
On average, Texans enjoy lower electricity prices than the rest of the U.S. However, the average Texan household pays a higher average bill because Texans consume more electricity each month.
People moving from out of state into Houston will most likely need to choose their provider. It’s also a good move to ask your realtor to supply an approximation of your new home’s energy usage levels.
People moving from within Texas to Houston need to see if their existing deal can transfer to their new home or if it’s worth looking for a new contract. We’ll cover both scenarios to help you find the best plan among the many Houston electricity rates.
What Type of Electricity Rate Deals Are There in Houston?
When answering this question, we are referring to residential Houston electricity plans. The first thing to note about Houston electric companies is they advertise their prices in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Eligible customers can choose from three rates.
- Fixed-rate electricity plans: This type of plan means you pay the same fixed kWh rate throughout the contract’s term length.
- Variable-rate plan: Your electric rate (kWh) can fluctuate — it follows the price set by your electricity provider with reference to the market. For example, using a washing machine on the same cycle at the same time every day may cost more or less each day, depending on your supplier’s rate on those given days.
- Indexed rate: For this plan, the kWh price varies, as with variable-rate plans. But prices are linked to a publicly available index rather than set by a company.
There are many variables to think about when trying to find the cheapest electricity rates. In general, a fixed-rate average price is higher kWh than a variable-rate or indexed-rate plan. Still, there are valid reasons for choosing any of these plans.
Lower rates don’t always result in lower electric bills — much depends on your electricity usage patterns (e.g., when or how you use much at certain times). Suppose your energy plan’s low rate is nighttime, but you constantly use air conditioning during the day. In that case, you may experience higher bills. It’s crucial to really think about your lifestyle and your electricity habits.
How Do I Find Houston Electricity Providers and Energy Plans?
Thankfully, it’s straightforward to find energy suppliers in Houston. The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC or PUCT) has built the Powertochoose.org website to help. Power to Choose only lists PUCT-registered electricity companies that comply with strict rules, making the website a powerful, independent tool.
On powertochoose.org, you can find and compare Houston electricity providers, so you are not reliant on private price comparison websites.
Pro tip: Read our guide on how to use the Power to Choose tool
For people moving to Houston from out of state, the first thing to do when visiting the Power to Choose website is enter your ZIP code to check if your home is in a deregulated area.
For people moving from somewhere else in Texas to Houston, call your current provider and ask if you can transfer your deal to your new home. Check for any involved costs like early termination fees or what happens with any bill credits you may have.
Filters on the site allow you to compare:
- Rate types (e.g., fixed or variable)
- Kilowatt-hour prices
- Your home’s energy usage levels: 1,000 kWh a month is a good starting point because it is close to a household’s national average use
- Contract term length: Choose from month-to-month to 36 months and many in between
- Electricity generation source: Search for green energy plans that use solar energy or other renewable energy
- Customer reviews: You can see what other customers think about companies
How Can I Find the Best Electricity Rates in My Area?
We did a quick Powertochoose.org search (Oct 14, 2021) for a home in Montrose, ZIP code 77098, fixed-rate plans for 12 months using an average of 1,000 kWh each month.
- 35 plans
- Prices starting at 11.9 cents per kWh up to 17.5 cents per kWh
- Cancelation fees from $100-250, or $20 per month remaining on the contract
- Company ratings from one to five stars
- Renewable energy levels from 0-21%
- Some offers were for new customers only
Note: Examples and rates may change as companies update their products.
The first 10 cheapest deals came from companies with one-star ratings. There were lots of exciting deals after that.
Tara Energy offered a “Time of Use” deal with 12.9 cents per kWh at certain times, including free electricity at night. Next comes Amigo Energy 一个健壮的四星级评级和12.9 cents per kWh price and a similar free nights deal, echoing Just Energy’s offer.
Spend a bit of time looking at different scenarios, and you’ll soon get the hang of market rates. Keep a note of those that look interesting. Before you commit, there’s one more essential step — reading the Electricity Facts Label (EFL).
Why Are Electricity Facts Labels So Important?
It’s very tempting to pick the lowest kWh price on the Power to Choose website. But the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) may persuade you otherwise.
The EFL details all the contract conditions, which may have severe consequences to your energy bill and your final choice. Perhaps you are in Houston on a three-month contract? Maybe you’re moving into temporary accommodations first then into your dream home? Do you use the air conditioning a lot, or are you away from the house during the day? Or do you have a large, growing family that needs to know exactly what you’re going to pay every month?
Consider all of the above factors when thinking about the day-to-day of your energy use, monthly bills, and how you like to organize your finances. And get familiar with the following details that you will find on the EFL:
- Early termination fees: Some deals have low kWh prices but very high termination fees. Suppose you cancel early for whatever reason. In that case, all those savings on your monthly bills may be wiped out by the early termination fee.
- Deposits: How high is the deposit, and what are the return terms? Think about whether you can complete these and the impact if you can’t.
- Contract term length: Does it suit your needs and plans? A higher month-by-month rate may not suit a family making long-term plans. Likewise, a lengthy deal won’t work for someone who moves frequently or is unsure of their long-term plans.
- Bill credit: What happens if you overpay or want to change electricity suppliers within Texas? Companies have varying bill credit policies.
- Hidden charges: Aptly labeled, you’ll need to look for these. Check the cost of things like “general charges” and “electric service charges” as well as “base charges.”
- Credit check: Will one be needed? Some people prefer prepaid electricity. (Helpful tip: Amigo Energy offers prepaid plans with no credit check or long-term contracts.)
- Minimum usage levels: Many companies offer low kWh prices to people who use a lot of electricity on the condition that you use a certain amount of electricity. If you don’t use that much electricity every month, the electricity company may charge you a much higher rate. These rates can offer value to people who know exactly how much energy they use every month.
I Own a Business, So What Do I Do About Electricity Providers?
This guide covers cheap electricity rates for residential properties. Businesses and companies looking for information about retail electricity should check our commercial electricity rates.
At a Glance: More Top Tips for Moving to Houston
Check out our guide on Moving to Texas to find out more about setting up utilities, getting your driver’s license, registering to vote, and more.
Here are even more great reasons to move to Houston:
- The food scene offers something for everyone’s taste buds, from the famous barbecue and Tex-Mex to Asian dishes like Viet-cajun
- Visit the world’s largest livestock exhibition at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
- Wish upon the stars at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and learn all about NASA’s work and discoveries
- The Houston Astros baseball team and the Houston Rockets basketball team are the figureheads for a bustling sporting scene at all levels
- Shop until you drop at The Galleria shopping arcade or go alternative at Westheimer Curve
- Check out the Museum District with 19 museums packed into a walkable area, including the excellent Museum of Fine Arts
- Enjoy culture in Houston’s theater district, with various theaters, halls, and arts organizations adding to the city’s nightlife
- Feel the freedom of green spaces, from the verdant and central Memorial Park to the 445-acre Hermann Park situated next to the 2.1-square-mile medical district and Texas Medical Center
- Immerse yourself in the global community with some 145 languages spoken in the Greater Houston area
- Visit Galveston for its beaches and seaside fun
What Is the Easiest Way to Commute in Houston?
The Houston metropolitan area is vast, sprawling over 665 square miles.
The 610 circular highway that divides the city is known locally as The Loop. Anything within The Loop is called downtown Houston. Most people who live and commute within The Loop use the Houston metro system.
For longer journeys not possible by metro, there is a light rail and bus system to connect downtown with midtown. Many people do not use public transportation and prefer to drive. Journeys can be lengthy. Many people recommend making sure your vehicle’s air conditioning works well and you have some music to accompany you.
Moving to Houston: Which District Is Best for Me?
Generally speaking, the homes inside The Loop are apartments and townhomes. There is more space outside The Loop, and so single-family homes are more common. Also, there are no zoning laws in Houston, so eclectic mixes of buildings in different areas are common.
Here’s a quick overview of some Houston neighborhoods:
The Woodlands: Family-friendly, upmarket area to the north of the city with lots of open spaces and trees.
River Oaks: Houston’s most exclusive area, this green zone features mansions and estates inhabited by CEOs and celebrities.
Montrose: Bohemian meets modern in this pedestrian-friendly zone full of restaurants and character.
Katy: This suburb to the west of Houston is becoming popular thanks to its affordable prices and high-ranking school district.
The Best Electric Rates When Moving to Houston
Moving to a new city or state is an exciting time, opening the door to new possibilities and opportunities. It’s a life-changing time.
We want anyone moving to Houston to find it as smooth a journey as possible. The deregulated energy market in Texas may be confusing at first glance, but we hope our guide to electricity rates in Houston will help you to find a great deal.
All images licensed from Adobe Stock.