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Living in San Antonio vs Houston 🆚 | Pros and Cons of Houston vs San Antonio Living – Cost of Living + More

Last Updated on: 24th May 2024, 05:24 pm

Are you trying to choose between Houston and San Antonio? Both Texas cities offer a great quality of life with cultural attractions and job opportunities. While San Antonio is known for its rich history and the famous Alamo with a more laid-back atmosphere, Houston is one of the largest cities in the country with a fantastic food scene and strong aerospace and energy sectors. Of course, each city comes with its drawbacks, too.

To help you make your decision, here’s an in-depth look at the pros and cons of San Antonio vs Houston living with all the details about the cost of living, population, crime, and more.

Pros and Cons of Living in San Antonio vs Houston

Here are the biggest advantages and downsides to living in Houston versus San Antonio to help you choose between these two beautiful cities.

Living in San Antonio Pros

#1. San Antonio Offers Beautiful Surroundings & Outdoor Recreation

If you love the outdoors, one of the perks of San Antonio vs Houston living is the fantastic outdoor recreation the Alamo City has to offer. San Antonio is in the heart of Texas Hill Country, a region known for its outdoor adventures, including caverns, wineries, resorts, waterfalls, hiking, ziplines, and more. The region is home to six protected state natural areas and 12 state parks!

Life in San Antonio means enjoying limitless natural beauty and wonders in close proximity including:

  • The Natural Bridge Caverns, a network of chambers and tunnels 180 feet below the city with rock formations like the Chandelier and King’s Throne.
  • The Comal River, a popular summer destination in New Braunfels about 40 minutes away. Bring an inflatable and enjoy a float down the river!
  • San Antonio River Walk, one of the top attractions in San Antonio, stretches 15 miles through the city, passing through downtown, the Museum Reach, and the Mission Reach. Strolling along the river, take a boat cruise, or have a margarita at one of the lounges near Alamo Plaza.
  • 240 city-owned parks managed by the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, including dog parks, skate parks, disc golf courses, gardens, nature trails, and public pools.

#2. San Antonio Is a Family-Friendly Place to Live

Families weighing the San Antonio pros and cons will find many points in the city’s favor. There are many options to get a great education, with some of the top-rated school districts in Texas located in San Antonio and surrounding cities. BASIS Texas Charter Schools serving the San Antonio and Austin areas boasts the highest ACT and SAT scores in the state with twice as many students passing college readiness exams as the state average. The Shavano Campus is rated #64 nationally! Other highly rated schools include:

  • Young Women’s Leadership Academy (San Antonio Independent School District)
  • Health Careers High School (Northside Independent School District)
  • International School of America (North East Independent School District)
  • IDEA Carver College Preparatory (IDEA Public Schools)

If a solid education isn’t enough, San Antonio is also home to many family-friendly attractions and neighborhoods. Families love major attractions like the San Antonio Zoo, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and SeaWorld, all easily within reach.

#3. There’s a Strong Sense of History & Culture in San Antonio

San Antonio was the first civil settlement in the state. While Mexican American culture is strong in the city, it’s also been influenced significantly by its Spanish, German, and African American roots. The city is famous for its historical and cultural attractions, with more history packed into every square mile than you can imagine!

The Alamo is one of the most recognized Texas historic sites in the world. The Alamo is located on Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio and receives over 2.5 million visitors every year.

Another icon of the city is the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Just 15 minutes from downtown, history buffs will love exploring the five missions built during the 16th and 17th centuries with a Mission Trails system linking them.

San Antonio boasts a vibrant arts scene – the San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture even offers a map of public art in the city!

Many San Antonio neighborhoods retain their rich cultural heritage. The Southtown neighborhood is known for its art galleries, museums, and artists with unique architecture found in the King William Historic District. The Pearl District outside downtown offers a historic brewery, one of the country’s top farmers markets, the Park at Pearl, and other fun things to discover.


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Living in San Antonio Cons

#1. San Antonio’s Public Transportation Is Lacking

A major downside of living in San Antonio versus Houston? The city has very limited public transit, with only bus service. There is no light rail service in San Antonio despite its size.

#2. Limited Nightlife Options in San Antonio

While the San Antonio nightlife is fun, it doesn’t compare to other major Texas cities. When deciding between San Antonio or Houston, millennials and singles will find the nightlife in Houston is more exciting and varied. Of course, Austin usually beats them both. You can compare San Antonio vs Austin to see how the two cities stack up in other ways.

Living in Houston Pros

#1. Houston Is a Hotspot for Dining & Entertainment Options

Houston residents of all ages and lifestyles enjoy tons of quality entertainment options not to mention nightlife and a fantastic food scene. The Midtown Houston area is known for its trendy bars, restaurants, and nightlife while the Museum District is a great place for art lovers and history buffs to explore. The Theater District offers many cultural attractions like the Houston Grand Opera and Bayou Music Center.


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A post shared by Houston Grand Opera (@hougrandopera)

#2. Houston Has a Great Job Market

Houston has a famously thriving job market with many employment opportunities in top industries like oil and gas, aerospace, health care, and biomedical research. You’ll find better opportunities in these major industries in Houston vs San Antonio. Major companies in the Houston area include UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann Health System, UT Medical Branch Health System, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, and United Airlines.

However, job opportunities are expected to slow in Houston in the near future with increasing traffic congestion and increasing home prices.

Living in Houston Cons

#1. There’s a Higher Risk of Extreme Weather in Houston vs San Antonio

As you decide between living in Houston or San Antonio, make sure you consider the risk of extreme weather, including hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods.

The damage Hurricane Harvey caused in Houston is still fresh in the minds of many Texans. About 80% of victims did not have flood insurance and faced extensive losses. One-third of property in Harris County is in a floodplain, and extensive development that continues today exacerbates the problem. The annual cost of flood insurance is more than $1,300 in Houston!

#2. High Hidden Living Costs in Houston

On the surface, Houston seems affordable. However, there are many hidden expenses you will face. Terrible traffic and long commutes mean more spending on gas and car maintenance. Flooding and tropical storms mean expensive flood insurance or worse. Even though Houston TX is home to the world’s largest medical center, health care is more expensive than the national and state average.

Gulf Coast Houston vs San Antonio in Hill Country – Major Comparisons

Population: Is Houston Bigger Than San Antonio?

Houston is the largest city in Texas with 2.3 million residents and a metro population of 7.1 million. It’s also the more densely populated city with 3,598 people per square mile and a total area of 672 square miles.

San Antonio is home to 1.43 million residents with a metro population of 2.6 million. There are 2,876 people per square mile in the city which has an area of 505 square miles.

San Antonio vs Houston Cost of Living – Housing Costs & More

When it comes to the cost of living in San Antonio vs Houston, San Antonio is the clear winner. The San Antonio median home price is 21% lower than Houston and the average household pays 3% less in bills. Houston may be the Energy Capital of the World, but residents don’t enjoy lower energy costs as a result. San Antonio utilities are more than 30% lower than Houston. You’ll even save money on groceries in San Antonio.

Overall, the San Antonio cost of living is more affordable and about 6% lower than Houston’s cost of living, even without taking into consideration hidden costs of living in Houston like costly flood insurance premiums and related expenses of homeownership. Your income will go further in the Alamo City.

When it comes to property taxes, the issue is a little more complicated. In Texas, school districts are independent and not tied to the city or county. There are many districts in each city with very different tax rates that dramatically impact your tax bill.

Houston vs San Antonio Cost of Living
Houston San Antonio
Average household bills $2,232 $2,161
Average mortgage payment $1,823 $1,643
Average monthly rent $1,274 $1,217
Average monthly utilities $349 $267
Average monthly auto insurance $186 $206
Median home price $339,000 $269,000
Median condo price $161,000 $163,250

Crime: Is San Antonio Safer Than Houston?

Both cities have high crime rates, yet both have many safe neighborhoods with low rates of violent crime.

The San Antonio crime rate is 5,951 crimes per 100,000 people, with 883 violent crimes per 100,000. That’s 156% above the national average, with 139% more violent crime.

The Houston crime rate is 5,723 crimes per 100,000 people with 1,142 violent crimes per 100,000. That’s 146% above the national average, with 209% more violent crime.

When you compare the Houston vs San Antonio crime rate, you’ll see San Antonio has more crime overall, but Houston has more violent crime.

Professional Sports in Both San Antonio and Houston

For sports lovers, Houston is the clear winner in this category. It’s home to five professional major league teams:

  • Houston Rockets (NBA)
  • Houston Texans (NFL)
  • Houston Astros (MLB)
  • Houston Dynamo FC (MLS)
  • Houston Dash (NWSL)

San Antonio has just one major league team: the San Antonio Spurs (NBA).


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A post shared by Houston Astros (@astros)

Traffic & Transportation in San Antonio vs Houston

Unfortunately, Houston and San Antonio are both known for their traffic congestion, although Houston is a bit worse than San Antonio. Among U.S. cities with the busiest highways, Houston ranked #7, and San Antonio ranked #9 in the south.

A long commute also deserves consideration when it comes to living in Houston Texas pros and cons. Houston ranks #7 in the country for the worst commute. Most residents drive their own cars to work with an average commute of 29 minutes. San Antonio ranked #14 with an average commute of 26 minutes. You’ll probably pay more in gas living in San Antonio versus Houston.

Houston rates better overall for public transportation and air travel. While it has its challenges, Houston’s public transit includes buses, regional rail, and light rail. San Antonio is the largest U.S. metro area with no light rail and no BRT. It’s far more car-dependent. San Antonio’s airport rates better for traveler satisfaction, but it’s more expensive, smaller, and older than Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Climate & Weather in San Antonio and Houston

San Antonio and Houston have similar climates. Houston gets significantly more rain than San Antonio and fewer sunny days. With a higher elevation, San Antonio enjoys slightly cooler weather. Because it’s on the Gulf Coast, Houston is at risk of hurricanes and flooding.

How Far Is Houston from San Antonio?

No matter which city you choose, you can still enjoy everything the other has to offer. It’s 197 miles from San Antonio to Houston along I-10, or about 2.5 hours drive time. Both cities are also within road trip distance of the Dallas metro area. It’s 273 miles from San Antonio to Dallas or 239 miles from Houston to Dallas.

Where Are You Moving: San Antonio or Houston?

Have you made your choice between living in the Alamo City or the Space City? If you’ve settled on making the San Antonio area your new home, 2 College Brothers is here to help with seamless moving services. Call the best movers in San Antonio today at (210) 874-7010 to get started with a free, personalized estimate.


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