How Houston stacks up against other Top 10 cities in America

HOUSTON – Houston is currently the fourth largest city in the United States, but how does the Bayou City compare with the rest of the top ten cities in America?

A report by the city of Houston's planning and development office attempts to answer that question.

Here is how Houston compares with the rest of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. in terms of demographics, social, economic and housing characteristics.



Of the 10 most populous cities in the U.S., Houston ranks fourth, with 2,240,582 people, after New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Houston experienced a 10 percent increase in population between 2010 and 2016. Houston’s population has increased 13 percent from the start of the millennium to 2016, while San Antonio leads with the most population change at 20 percent.

Houston’s very large Hispanic population is behind San Antonio, which is the largest Hispanic population in the state at 63.6 percent. Houston sits at 44.3 percent.

Houston is tied in second place with San Antonio at 18 percent for the “going to school” age population (5 to 17 years old).

Sitting at 75 percent, Houston is one of the lower-ranked voting age cities. Houston is tied for second with Dallas for having the most millennials in its population (18 to 34 years old), while Chicago and Philadelphia are tied for first. In the middle-age population (35 to 64 years old), Houston has a 36 percent rate in its population, tied with Philadelphia and San Antonio. Overall, Houston’s median age is 33, making it one of the most youthful cities in the U.S.


Houston’s economy is strong. Its positive economic indicators include strong job growth, affordable housing and low cost of living. For most of the large cities, economy opportunity is the driving force for demographic and social changes. Opportunity cities have the ability to provide affordable housing and decent amenities at a reasonable cost to their growing populations.

Houston has a 69 percent native-born population, and is ranked third, with 31 percent native and foreign born. In Houston, English is the most-spoken language at home, with 52 percent speaking it. Spanish is the second most-spoken language, at 38 percent.

Houston’s educational attainment of persons with less than a high school diploma sits at 23 percent as well as those with a high school diploma. College graduates and those with professional degrees, including a master’s degree, medical degree, doctoral degree and other advanced professional degrees. Houston is tied with Dallas at 12 percent, and San Antonio has fallen to 8 percent.

Ranked fourth on the list, Houston has a total of 831,166 households in the city, coming in behind Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, which has the most households at 3,128,246.

Married couple families come in at 38 percent, which is the median number among the other cities. San Jose is the city with the most married couples, at 56 percent.

For female-led households, Houston is tied with New York for second, at 18 percent, while Philadelphia, at 21 percent, is the city with the most female-led households.

Tied for second with San Antonio, Houston has a 30 percent rate for households with children under 18 years old.

The average household size for the United States is 2.65 and Houston comes in right ahead of the average with 2.66.

Houston rivals itself in martial status numbers to people who have never been married before with a 42 percent to 40 percent rate.

Houston is ranked fifth in terms of police officers, with 222 police officers per 100,000 population.


Houston’s median household income is $48,064, ranked seventh of the 10 cities.

Houston’s household income levels fall as follows:

  • Household incomes under $25,000 are 23 percent.
  • Household incomes of $25,000 - $49,999 are 25 percent.
  • Household incomes of $50,000 - $99,999 are 26 percent.
  • Household incomes of over $100,000 are 26 percent.

Individuals below poverty level in the city of Houston fall at 21 percent. Philadelphia is the city with the most individuals below poverty level, at 26 percent.

Houston has the lowest percentage of individuals not in the labor force, at 31.9 percent, meaning just under 70 percent of the city is employed.

Houston falls below the median level for employment in educational, health and service fields, at 18 percent.

Houston’s classes of workers are as follows:

  • Private class of workers rank at 84 percent
  • Government workers rank at 9 percent
  • Self-employed workers rank at 7 percent

Houston ranks fairly close to Dallas in having no health insurance coverage, with Houston ranking at 25 percent and Dallas at 26 percent.


Houston’s housing occupancy is 90 percent occupied to 10 percent vacant.

With most homes being occupied, 41 percent of Houston homes are owner-occupied while 59 percent are occupied by renters. Overall, in the United States, 63 percent of homes are owned while 37 percent of homes are rented.

Median housing values for the city of Houston start at $152,200, making them some of the most affordable homes in the United States. The average housing value for the United States starts at $194,500, which is a $42,300 higher than the value in the city of Houston.

Houston’s housing values fall as follows:

  • Houston’s house values less than $150,000 is at 49 percent
  • Houston’s house values of $150,000 to $299,999 is at 24 percent
  • Houston’s house values of $300,000 to $499,999 is at 14 percent
  • Houston’s house values of over $500,000 is at 12 percent

The median sale price of single-family homes in the Houston metro area is $217,400, making Houston the city with the second most affordable homes in Texas, compared to San Antonio at $206,900. Overall, the median sale price of single-family homes in the United States is $235,500, which is $18,100 higher than Houston.

Median rent for the city of Houston is $923, making it the city with the third-most affordable rent price in Texas, compared to Dallas at $903 and San Antonio at $901. Overall, the U.S. median rent price is $959, which is $36 higher than Houston.

Eighty percent of homes in Houston were built before the year 2000. Twenty percent of homes in Houston were built after the year 2000.

Vehicles available in Houston households:

  • 8 percent of households have no vehicle
  • 44 percent of households have 1 vehicle
  • 48 percent of households have 2+ vehicle(s)

Houston’s commute to work:

  • 76 percent of people drive alone to work
  • 12 percent of people carpool to work
  • 4 percent of people use public transportation to work
  • 2 percent of people walk to work
  • 3 percent of people work at home
  • 2 percent of people use other methods of transportation or none at all