Houston remains one of the most affordable big cities in the U.S., even if it no longer feels like it

The latest Household Pulse Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed roughly four out of five Houstonians are stressed out about recent price increases. This raises the question of whether Houston still deserves its long-held reputation as one of the most affordable large cities in the country.

Housing is typically the largest expense any Houston-area resident faces and is the key factor in determining affordability. For this reason, changing homes can be an extremely stressful event, right up alongside changing jobs. Manda Rogers recently did both.

"I literally got the keys for this house on Friday," Rogers said, standing in the bare dining room of her new home in Southeast Houston on a recent Sunday afternoon. The power hadn't been turned on yet. She and her two children had just moved from an apartment in the Alief area, where Rogers is a first-year teacher.

"I was looking for a house that I can afford," Rogers said. "I wanted the kids to have their own bedroom and stop fighting over space in one. And I grew up in this area, many, many moons ago."

While Rogers was able to afford the mortgage, her new home came with a tradeoff that pushes her budget to the edge affordability.

"I was working with some counselors on trying to get into a house that was 30% of my income," Rogers said. "Right now, I think I’m sitting at like 40-45% with the taxes and stuff included."

That's still a smaller portion of her salary than Rogers was paying to rent her former apartment. "Actually, my rent just went up in Alief to $1,100," Rogers said.

So, Rogers is saving money, but she's still paying at least 40% of her income on housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines as "cost burdened" anyone who spends at least 30% of their household income on rent, mortgage, or other household needs. Plus, Rogers took on a new expense when she moved.

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