The Cost of Living in Florida vs. Texas

Texas and Florida are two of the most popular states to move to right now. If you are trying to decide whether to move to one of these two states, it is essential to know the costs and benefits. In this article, we have compiled a list of 7 critical points of comparison between these two states.

Texas (at 29.1 million) and Florida (at 21.5 million) have the 2nd and 3rd largest populations of any state in the U.S., behind only California. Both states are extremely popular because of all they have to offer, as indicated by the fact that their populations have grown by 15.9% (Texas) and 14.6% (Florida) from April 1, 2010, through April 1, 2020. These rates are much higher than the overall U.S. growth rate of 7.4% over the same period.

Moving to a new state is a big deal. While many people often relocate to be close to family, others move for economic reasons. In either case, affordability is at the forefront of most minds. Both Texas and Florida have a lot to offer in this regard.

Texas and Florida are vast and have hundreds of communities to choose from. But what are the pros and cons of living in each state?

Come with HOMEiA as we explore 7 crucial factors that reveal the true costs of choosing Florida or Texas as your new home

1. Affordability: Living Wage and Cost of Living

First, let’s look at the living wage required for individuals or families to make it in Florida and Texas, based on 2020 data. To complete the picture, we’ll also look at cost of living comparisons between the two states as of April 2021.

a. Living Wage

In Florida, a living wage for a single adult working full time is $14.82 an hour. An adult in Florida with two children needs to earn $38.04 per hour. With two children and a non-working partner, a single earner needs to make $32.28 per hour (or more than $67,000 a year) in their profession.

In Texas, a living wage for a single adult working full time is $14.01 an hour. A single adult with two children would have to earn $35.09 an hour to make ends meet at the living wage level. With two children and a non-working partner, a single earner needs to make $30.75 per hour (or just below $64,000 a year) to make a living in Texas.

The living wage requirements between the two states are close: Texas residents need roughly 5% less income than Florida residents to get by and raise a family.

b. Cost of Living

To clarify matters further, let’s compare the cost of living between the two states below:

Category Texas Cost of Living Index Florida Cost of Living Index
Overall 92.3 100.7
Housing 83.5 99.6
Utilities 103.3 103.1
Groceries 91.2 106.9
Transportation (incl. gas) 90.9 101.7

 

Florida has a higher cost of living index than Texas across most categories. This is consistent with the fact that Floridians need a higher living wage to survive.

Not only is Texas 8% cheaper than Florida overall, but housing, utilities and groceries all cost significantly less in the Lone Star State. (Utility costs in the two states are about equal.)

Overall, living in Texas is more affordable than living in Florida.

The Cost of Living in Florida vs. Texas

10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Florida

With year-round warm weather and over 8,000 miles of coastline, it’s no wonder Florida is a prime vacation destination. Filled with wildlife, beaches, lakes, rivers, amusement parks, diverse entertainment options and much more, the population of Florida is growing with people that want to call Florida “home,” soak up the sun…

2. Housing Costs

In this section, we will review housing costs and the relative affordability of owning and renting in Texas and Florida.

a. Housing Cost Index

Owning a home in Texas is much cheaper than owning a home in Florida, as their housing cost indices showed in the previous section. Texas’s index was 83.5 (16.5% below the U.S. overall), while Florida’s was 99.6 – not bad, but much higher than Texas’s.

To complete the picture, we will review the median home values in the two states and two specific indicators of affordability: the Home P/E ratio and the Income to Rent Ratio.

b. Median Home Value

The median cost of a home in the U.S. in 2019 was $217,500. In both Florida and Texas, the median home prices were lower.

In Texas, the median home price was only $172,500. This means that homes were about $45,000 cheaper in Texas compared to the national average. This is a huge advantage for Texans.

In Florida, the median home price was $215,300. This shows that in Florida, homes cost slightly less than the average in the country (but only by about $2,200).

c. Home P/E Ratio

To get the home P/E ratio (home price to income), we divide the median home price by the median household income.

In Texas, the home P/E ratio is 2.79, based on the median home price of $172,500 and a median household income of $61,874. The average P/E ratio for the U.S. is 4.0. This shows that, on average, it is extremely affordable to buy homes in Texas.

Florida has a home P/E ratio of 3.48, based on the median home price of $215,300 and a median household income of $55,564. This shows that it is relatively affordable to buy homes in Florida; however, homes generally take up a larger proportion of the budget in Florida than in Texas.

d. Income to Rent Ratio

To find the income to rent ratio, we divide the median income by the median yearly cost of renting (including utilities). A ratio of 3.33 or higher is considered affordable.

Texas has an income to rent ratio of 4.93, based on a median household income of $61,874 and an annual spend of $12,540. Therefore, it is considered very affordable to rent properties in Texas.

Florida has an income to rent ratio of 3.94, based on a median household income of $55,564 and an annual spend of $14,100. Therefore, it is also considered affordable to rent properties in Florida – though not as affordable as it is in Texas.

Based on the indictors above, Texas has lower housing costs than Florida. It is much more affordable to own or rent a home in Texas.

3. Economy

Both Texas and Florida have big economies, as we see below:

Category Texas Florida
Nominal GDP (2021) $1.88 trillion (2nd in U.S.) $1.15 trillion (4th in U.S.)
GDP Growth (2020-21) ↑ by 3.37% ↑ by 2.69%

 

If Texas were a sovereign nation, it would be the 10th richest in the world, while Florida would be the 17th richest. That makes both states attractive places to live and/or run a business.

We’ll look at some other important attributes of the two states below.

a. Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Florida is $8.65 (effective September 1, 2021) whereas it is only $7.25 in Texas. This disparity means different things to business owners, workers, young people and the elderly looking to supplement their income.

b. Minimum Cash Wage for Service Workers

The service industry is large in both economies. Both states allow employers to pay service workers less than minimum wage in roles where tips are expected – but the minimum rate differs between the two.

In Texas, servers receive a minimum of $2.13 per hour in cash wages and then are reliant upon tips to fill in the rest of their earnings. Florida has a significantly higher minimum cash wage of $5.63 an hour before tips.

c. Unemployment and Poverty

Texas has an unemployment rate of 6.5% (June 2021), which is above the U.S. national rate of 5.9%. Its poverty rate, at 13.6%, is above the national average of 10.5% in 2019.

Florida has an unemployment rate of 4.9% (June 2021), which is below the U.S. national rate, and also lower than the unemployment rate in Texas. The poverty rate in Florida, at 12.7%, is above the national average but lower than the rate in Texas.

d. Tax Rates

Neither Texas nor Florida has a state income tax. This is a huge benefit for many residents, and one reason for their popularity among retirees.

Sales tax in Florida ranges from 6.0% to 7.5%. In Texas, the sales tax ranges from 6.25% to 8.25%. This means Texans might pay up to 2.25% more in sales taxes, so large purchases like home appliances and cars can actually cost more in Texas.

Texas has the 7th highest property tax rate among U.S. states at 1.69%, whereas Florida is in the middle of the pack (#25) with 0.94%, based on 2018 data.

One of the big perks for retirees moving to Harris County (which includes Houston) in Texas is that residents above 65 have a property tax exemption of up to $160,000 and their taxes are assessed with a 20% rebate on market value. While Florida does have exemptions for seniors, you would have to live in the state for 25 years to be eligible – so people who are moving now cannot take advantage of it.

e. Transportation and Gasoline Costs

Texas and Florida are both large states, and many residents commute a long way to work.

A recent comparison (August 3, 2021) showed that the cost of regular gasoline averaged out to $2.84 per gallon in Texas and $3.01 per gallon in Florida. The national average was about $3.18. This means that, in general, both states pay less for gas than the national average, but commuters in Florida are paying about 5% more in gasoline bills.

This trend is consistent with what we saw in the cost-of-living transportation index earlier in this article, where Texas’s transportation index (90.9) was almost 10% lower than that of Florida (101.7).

f. Utilities, Groceries and Other Costs

Based on the cost-of-living figures in section one, we can see that utility costs are equivalent between Texas and Florida, but Texas is more affordable on every other count.

Based on the figures above, Texas has a larger economy than Florida and tends to be more affordable. However, Floridians pay less in taxes on average. Florida also has lower unemployment and poverty rates than Texas.

The Cost of Living in Florida vs. Texas

10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Texas

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and for good reason. From some of America’s largest and active metropolitan cities to the host of recreational activities for people of all ages across the state to the many bigger-than-life personalities who call Texas home, Texas has plenty to offer for everyone. here’s the list of 10 lowest cost of living places…

4. Safety

Safety and peace of mind are paramount for individuals and families looking to move to a new area. It is important to know the risks of living in the Sunshine State versus the Lone Star State. With the large populations in Florida and Texas (and with Florida having one of the highest population densities among U.S. states), increased crime numbers should not be surprising.

Texas and Florida are both about average when compared to the national rate for violent crime. Texas has an annual violent crime rate of 4.19 per 1,000 people, while Florida has a crime rate of 3.78 per 1,000 people. Thus, Florida’s rate is about 11 percent better than Texas’s, but both are comparable to the national average of 4 per 1,000 people.

In terms of property crime, both states are above the national average of 21.00 incidents per 1,000 people annually, but Texas’s rate (23.91) is about 11% higher than Florida’s rate (21.46).

The safest city in Florida is Marco Island, and the safest city in Texas is Fulshear.

On average, Florida is safer than Texas in terms of both violent and property crimes. In general, though, do not let the crime rates scare you away, as there are plenty of safe neighborhoods and communities in both states.

5. Geography

Texas and Florida are very different places in terms of their geographical features.

Florida has more miles of coastline than any other contiguous state in the U.S. That is one of the prime factors driving up real estate prices in the state. Coastal property is always in demand. Many people feel at peace relaxing near the ocean. Sitting on the beach listening to the waves crashing onto the shore is an activity that many Floridians regularly enjoy.

That isn’t to say that Texans lack such opportunities. The Gulf Coast in southeastern Texas is a broad swathe of land on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Galveston Bay, in particular, is a popular destination.

There are also many inland bodies of water – such as the Colorado River basin, Lake Travis and Lake Austin, the Guadalupe River network around New Braunfels, and Lake Texoma. These are hugely popular destinations for sailing, tubing, jet-skiing and other family activities. It’s just that Floridians are never more than 60 miles from a beach.

Both Florida and Texas have huge, urbanized areas as well as many small towns. Due to the disparity in total land area, though, the population density in Florida (384.3 people per square mile) is much higher than in Texas (114.0 per square mile).

Overall, Florida features more beachfront properties than Texas, while Texas has more room to spread out.

The Cost of Living in Florida vs. Texas

5 Best Places to Live in Texas

Each of the five large cities described are chock-full of neighborhoods that are favored by families with children, young professionals, and retirees. We’ll focus on eight critical attributes that often define a city: History and population, Lifestyle, Affordability, Housing market and neighborhoods, Healthcare and safety, Employment…

6. Education

Education is important. Public schools educate millions of Floridians and Texans each year, funded by tax dollars. Private schools and universities, though, vary widely in their tuitions. What can you expect to pay for private schools and colleges in these two states?

a. Cost of Private School

It costs more to attend private schools in Texas than in Florida. The average cost of attending a private school is $9,866 in Texas and $9,160 in Florida. The disparity widens a bit when we look specifically at high schools: on average, private high school costs $10,991 per year in Texas and $9,949 per year in Florida.

b. Cost of Undergraduate College

It is also more expensive to attend college in Texas as compared to Florida, as the table below summarizes.

Type of Degree Tuition and Fees (Texas) Tuition and Fees (Florida)
Private $24,088 $22,922
Public for In-State Students $6,520 $3,798
Public for Out-of-State Students $13,252 $13,672

 

The trends are clear. In general, education in Texas costs more at the undergraduate level compared to Florida. The state subsidies seem to make a large difference for in-state students, since the cost for them to attend college in Florida is almost 42 percent lower than in Texas.

One reason for the disparity in costs may be due to the quality of the universities. While Florida has many good universities, Texas has several that are ranked very high nationally, including Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University.

c. Education Levels

In Texas, 83.7% of the population has a high school degree, which is below the U.S. national rate of 88% (2019). Florida, on the other hand, has slightly higher graduation rates (88.2%) than the U.S. national average.

Both states show 29.9% of their population to be college graduates, which is lower than the national average of 32.1%.

Overall, private education and college are cheaper in Florida, and the state seems to have a better means of subsidizing in-state students at public universities. Some of the cost differences may be driven by the higher number of nationally ranked universities in Texas.

7. Childcare

Childcare is not cheap anywhere. It makes up a large proportion of out-of-pocket expenses for many families.

Texas and Florida are extremely similar in their overall childcare costs. In Texas, infant care costs about $9,324 per year, whereas 4-year-old care costs about $7,062. Floridians typically pay about $9,238 for infant care each year, and 4-year-old care is about $7,282.

Childcare is more expensive than college tuition in both Florida and Texas. The difference is especially stark in Florida, since childcare costs are more than double the tuition and fees for in-state students attending public colleges.

The Cost of Living in Florida vs. Texas

The 8 Best Biggest Cities in Florida

For each of these communities, we assign a HOMEiA Score, which provides an overall assessment – based on affordability, lifestyle, healthcare, education and other relevant factors – of the city’s appeal as a place to call home…

In Closing

Both Texas and Florida have advantages when it comes to relocating.

It is impossible to quantify the feeling of living in Florida compared to anywhere else in the world. With beaches galore, theme parks only a short drive away and warm weather all year long, it’s no wonder people are flocking to the Sunshine State.

That is not to say the prairies and deserts of Texas do not have their own charms. They do. Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio are among the most vibrant U.S. cities.

Both states boast a warm climate. Texas has an actual winter season, whereas many say that winter in Florida is non-existent. Some say that small towns in Texas move at a much slower pace than the average small town in Florida, but that’s a cultural factor that’s impossible to quantify.

Florida and Texas have both urban and rural places of great beauty with diverse communities and populations. In fact, both states are more diverse than the national average. In any given state, the average percentage of foreign-born people is about 13.6%. In Texas, foreign-born people make up 17% of the population, whereas that number increases to 20.7% in Florida.

There are pros and cons to living in both Florida and Texas, but it ultimately comes down to where one feels happiest, given the state’s amenities, affordability and family life.

Hopefully, HOMEiA has helped you parse the true costs of living in Florida and Texas. There is no right answer, and all of these factors will mean different things to different people. The best recommendation for you is, if you can, to stay in each state for at least six weeks to see how you feel about each of them before making your big decision.

We hope you find this article helpful. Please share it with your friends and family who are considering relocating to Florida or Texas.

HOMEiA is a city living guide site where visitors can find detailed information about communities of interest. HOMEiA’s City Living Guides, created in partnership with local writers, are curated lists of the best, safest, and most affordable places to live. The guides feature the HOMEiA Score, a proprietary index that rates communities on such factors as housing costs, education and employment.

HOMEiA.com aims to be the premier site for people planning to relocate, providing them with insightful content and connecting them with skilled real estate professionals.

We also empower real estate professionals to establish or strengthen their web presence by highlighting their experience, knowledge and achievements. If you’re selected to join our list of certified real estate professionals, you will distinguish yourself from your peers — and earn HOMEiA’s support.

If you believe in HOMEiA’s mission, please share the site with others.

Read more >>
I’m an avid writer who often focuses on real estate, business consulting, economics and finance. Before leading business and investment advisory services for over 25 years, I got a Ph.D. in Economics and taught at the university level. I have lived in Houston, Texas and Chicago, Illinois for a combined 35 years. I also traveled to 40+ states on business and pleasure, and love writing about the great cities and small towns across the US. Read more >>
Lisa Sinatra was born in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and has lived in the state her whole life. After attending the University of Central Florida and earning her Bachelors’s degree, she decided to stay in Orlando and start working. Lisa is currently a high school mathematics teacher in the public school system and loves working with her students daily. When she’s not teaching, Lisa loves spending time at theme parks and various nature trails or springs in the Central Florida area.… Read more >>