Are you considering a move to either Atlanta or Houston? Both are powerful forces in their region with strong economies, culture, lifestyles, and distinct reasons to consider a move. Here you’ll find a topline comparison. You can find helpful details in our Atlanta and Houston city guides. By the way, we’re Bellhop Movers, experts at local and long-distance moves. We’d love to help with affordable moves to either city.

Pros and Cons of Living in Atlanta or Houston

Houston Skyline | Bellhop

Living in Atlanta – Benefits

  • Known for its active nightlife, restaurant, and bar scene, it’s easy to have a good time.
  • Diverse outdoor recreational opportunities with mountains, whitewater canoeing and camping nearby. Over 300 parks in the city. The coolest may be the sprawling Piedmont Park with its sports fields, an aquatics center, community garden, and dog parks. Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown is conveniently located in the entertainment district.
  • Incredible neighborhoods make walking around fun and offer a great choice of places to live.
  • Hip, active lifestyle rocks
  • Diversified economy – Makes it easy to find a job and job switch.
  • Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport is the home of Delta and a major hub for Southwest, offering mega flights to get you out of town to global destinations.

Living in Atlanta – Cons

  • Home prices – slightly higher than the U.S. average home price of $346,000.
  • Commuting times – Can be a long 30-minute drive from the surrounding towns and suburbs.
  • Weather: Typical southern weather with humid summers, mild winters
  • Lifestyle: If the beach is your thing. it’s a long drive to the ocean.

Living in Houston – Benefits

  • Low cost of living – Overall lower though energy costs are much higher.
  • Affordable homes – Average prices are well below the national average, and Atlanta’s.
  • Lifestyle – diverse culture & food scene given the population’s epic cultural diversity.
  • Beach and water recreation – beaches and water are nearby.
  • Energy industry sector jobs are strong. There are plenty of healthcare jobs thanks to the Texas Medical. Houston is an anchor location for the space / aeronautical sector.

Living in Houston – Cons

  • Houston has a flat terrain and sprawl without the beautiful scenery of Atlanta. It has lots of beach and ocean access, if that’s your thing.
  • With its Gulf of Mexico location the city has two extra months of hot humid weather
  • Electrical utility prices are higher than average elsewhere.
  • Hurricanes and flooding can happen.
  • Flood insurance is expensive but should be seriously considered given its low, ocean-facing landscape.
  • Commuting times are long.
  • Climate change is likely to play a big role in its livability long-term as catastrophic storms may increase in frequency and intensity.
Ponce City Market in Atlanta, GA - Bellhop

Comparing the Cost of Living in Atlanta and Houston

Home Prices & Property Taxes in Atlanta and Houston

in greater Houston the average home cost $284,000 according to Census info, $260,000 according to the latest Zillow info. In Atlanta the average home cost $362,000 with Zillow showing $379,000. That’s a sizeable difference.

Transportation, Food, Entertainment and Healthcare Costs

It costs more to live in Atlanta: 3-9% says Nerdwallet’s calculator. Forbes’ calculator shows costs as 5% higher on average with higher out-of- pocket for homes (+20%), transportation (+8%), but lower for utilities (-19%). (Texas is not connected to the national power grid, so electricity can cost more).

State Income Taxes for Georgia and Texas

Hey, in Texas there is no state income tax! Pretty cool! Georgia is moving to a flat tax rate of 5.49 percent in 2024, according to AARP.

Atlanta and Houston Sales Tax

Houston’s retail sales tax is 8.25%. The 2023 sales tax rate for Atlanta, is 8.9% %

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Comparing Jobs and the Economies of Atlanta and Houston

Atlanta is a powerhouse in the South with a bunch of well-known Fortune 500 companies calling it home, including Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, and Home Depot. The economy is highly diversified with finance, tech, media, and healthcare being strongly represented. Atlanta has 16 companies that make the list.

Houston is an energy king and boasts more: 26 Fortune 500 companies, nearly all in the energy sector: ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips among them.  Waste Management and Hewlett-Packard Enterprises make the list too. NASA has a big presence in the community with its NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. So does healthcare. The Texas Medical Center is the largest life sciences destination in the world. With 106,000 employees, 61 institutions

Other Factors to Consider Between Atlanta and Houston

Population of Atlanta versus Houston

Texas’ population grew by 3.% since 2020, driven in part by the attraction of no state income tax.

Both Houston and Atlanta count as major cities. The city of Houston is much bigger. It sprawls with low population density: 2.3 million within 637 square miles compared to 500,000 in Atlanta within 134 square miles. Both look a little more alike when counting the metro populations: Houston’s is 7.3 million. Atlanta’s 6.3 million.

Size only tells part of the story. Houston is incredibly diverse, much more so than Atlanta. (It may surprise you to learn that Texas is ranked as the 2nd most diverse state). Houston’s been called one of the most diverse in the country. It ranks #1 among big cities (ahead of New York City and Los Angeles) and 4th overall.  Atlanta is ranked 71st in the same WalletHub report.

The cities are racially different: both have the same percentage of white population at 40%. Houston is more Hispanic (44% versus 10%). Atlanta has a greater proportion of African Americans (47% versus 22%) – Source.

The city reports 145 languages spoken with Vietnamese as its 3rd largest group. Major foreign languages spoken in Houston include Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Hindi, French, and Urdu. Houston the country’s third largest Vietnamese population. Among major cities Houston is ranked 6th for foreign-born population. An amazing 1.6 million foreign-born residents call it home. That’s 23%!

Climate: Atlanta’s Weather Compared to Houston’s

If weather is important to you, count on being hot a lot in each city. Average temperatures: Atlanta: 35°F to 89°F, Houston: 47°F to 95°F. Both cities experience hot summers with high humidity. Houston’s extends two months longer. Your air conditioner will be running a lot.

Houston can get hurricanes and tropical storms given its Gulf of Mexico location. Flooding is a major problem in Houston. The most recent major storm was Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Atlanta is shielded from hurricanes given its inland location. If you think long-term, climate change may have a great impact on the city.

Atlanta Traffic versus Houston Traffic

In both cities your best bet is to drive your own vehicle. Public transit in both cities (like most in America) doesn’t offer a viable solution, and then took a hit during Covid, losing revenue and pinching service. Atlanta’s downtown is highly walkable with bus and rail links.

Commuting Times

In Atlanta the average commute is 19 miles and takes 39 minutes one-way according to locals. Forbes magazine ranked Houston as the 4th worst commute. U.S. Census info shows the average one-way commute time the same for both cities at 27 – 30 minutes.

Public Transit

The rating site AllTransit ranks Atlanta’s public transportation 19th and Houston’s 38th. Coverage is sparse at best given their sprawl. In either city count on using your own car.

Both Houston and Atlanta have public transportation combining bus and light rail, but they don’t really cover the city. Houston’s : Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) light rail system spans only 23 miles with three lines and mostly serves core downtown neighborhoods. Atlanta’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)system has almost 48 miles of heavy rail line.

Commute Times to the Airport

From ‘downtown’ the commute time to the airport in both cities is 20 or so minutes.

Bicycling

Neither city scores well on bike-friendly ratings by PeopleForBikes. In Houston city speed limits can be as high as 50mph, which can be highly dangerous for biking.

The Better Way to Move

Airports

In Houston folks fly from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). The Houston airport serves a lot of South American destinations. Atlanta is famous for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), one of the busiest airports in the world with mega international connections.

Crime

Safety is a key consideration of any move. It’s worth mentioning that crime can vary drastically by neighborhood. The overall measures here are not necessarily reflective of all city areas.

Both Atlanta and Houston rank as more dangerous for violent and property crime that the U.S. average, based on FBI. compiled data as reported by the cities. (Most big cities rank higher too).

Violent Crime: In both cities the rate of violent crime has trended down over the past ten years.

  • U.S. average – 22.7 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2019
  • Atlanta – 55.3
  • Houston – 50.4

Property Crime:

U.S. average – 35.4 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2019

  • Atlanta – 75.4
  • Houston – 63.2

Based on local law enforcement reporting and demographic information neighborhoods to avoid include:

  • Atlanta – “… with the most dangerous areas in Atlanta located in the Southwestern part of the city.” Mechanicsville, Vine City, English Avenue, and Adair Park.
  • Houston – Sunnyside, MacGregor, Sharpstown.

Atlanta Lifestyle and Houston Lifestyle

Outdoor Recreation

Which city is best for outdoor recreation: Atlanta and Houston? It all depends on you. As an ocean-town Houston recreation is focused on beaches and water, particularly during the hot and humid summer months. The sprawling, inner-city Buffalo Bayou Park offers great escape. Hermann Park offers free gardens to tour. Nearby opportunities include Brazos Bend State Park (45 miles from downtown) and the 2,000-acre, coastal Galveston Island State Park at 60 miles distance.

Atlanta offers more varied outdoor recreation (though longer drives to the beach)! There are over 300 inner city parks in Atlanta. Here at Bellhop we’ve done a great job detailing the best. Nearby is the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area:  a 48-mile chain of river parks for canoeing and kayaking, fishing, and hiking. Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina is 4 hours away. Sweetwater Creek State Park just fifteen miles outside the city offers family picnicking, boating & wooded trails along the gently cascading stream.

Downtown Atlanta Skyline at Night

Nightlife & Dining

As the largest city in the South, Atlanta has always been a go-to destination for fun. Early on it attracted a diverse set of fun seekers. Great places to go for entertainment include the Downtown, Buckhead and Midtown areas. The LGBT community has long been welcomed in Atlanta and will feel at home in Buckhead, Decatur, East Atlanta Village, Grant Park and Cabbagetown.

Houston has a thriving nightlife in areas like Downtown, particularly between Commerce Street and Dallas Street. Other areas include Washington, Montrose (considered to be a gay meetup area) and the Richmond Avenue Entertainment District on Richmond Avenue.

The restaurant scene in both cities rocks. Atlanta has long been a destination city with top class restaurants. Michelin just published a guide to the town and offers tips on 3-star places. Houston’s ethnic diversity means you will enjoy great ethnic choices.

Sports in Atlanta Versus Houston

Choosing between Atlanta or Houston, it’s hard to say which city is better for sports.  Both make the list of 14 cities with four or more major sport teams. Atlanta is home to the Atlanta Falcons (NFL), Atlanta Braves (MLB), Atlanta Hawks (NBA), and Atlanta United FC (MLS). Houston is home to several major league sports teams: Houston Texans (NFL), Houston Astros (MLB), Houston Rockets (NBA),  and Houston Dynamo FC (MLS).

Comparing Schools in Atlanta and Houston

Atlanta outpaces Houston in the latest WalletHub’s report of education in major cities. Atlanta ranks 25th beating out Houston which ranked at 91. High school graduation rates were similar with Atlanta at 86.6% and Houston at 83.8%.  These are system-wide rates. Schools vary by district and neighborhood. Parents seeking the best possible education options can find plenty of great schools in either city.

Top Atlanta Schools

US News ranks these schools as among the best in the greater Atlanta area:

  • Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology
  • DeKalb School of the Arts.

The rating website Niche.com ranks these public schools in Atlanta as among  the best:

  • Midtown High School
  • David T. Howard Middle School
  • Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

Houston Schools

The Houston public school system is significantly bigger than Atlanta and Niche ranks these schools highly:

  • Pin Oak Middle School
  • Eastwood Academy
  • Briarmeadow Charter Middle School.

USNews includes these among top-ranked:

  • Carnegie Vanguard High School
  • DeBakey High School for Health Professions
  • Challenge Early College High School.

Learn More about Bellhop’s Moving Services in Atlanta or Houston

After that summary you may be ready to consider the move. We’ve got you covered in both great cities. For Atlanta check out our local movers, as well as long-distance moving services. For our Houston long-distance and local moving services.  We would love to help.

If you need more information to decide, we have a bunch of guides of both cities: Atlanta, Houston. Thanks again!

Warren Sly
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