Houston is a dynamic blend of economic vitality, cultural diversity, and aerospace innovation. As the fourth-largest city in the United States, Houston stands out as one of America’s most ethnically diverse metropolises, continuously attracting both domestic and international immigration. Houston’s economy is deeply tied to the energy industry, serving as a crucial hub for numerous oil and natural gas pipelines that connect it to the global market through the Port of Houston.

The city is also renowned for its biomedical research and aerospace development, with NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center contributing to its nickname, “Space City.” In recent years, Houston has emerged as a growing hub for technology startups, making it the fastest-growing sector of the city’s economy. This pursuit of innovation and profit positions Houston as a leading city for economic growth and opportunity in the 21st century.

But how does Houston perform in terms of economic performance, city brand strength, and reputation, according to leading rankings and indices?

Let’s explore:

  • Houston’s competitiveness and financial performance
  • Houston’s brand strength and global attractiveness
  • Livability: Houston’s appeal for digital nomads and locals

Houston’s Competitiveness and Financial Performance

In the 2thinknow’s Innovation Cities Index 2022-2023 Houston remains a powerhouse, despite a slight drop of two places. Houston is ranked 10th, between San Francisco (9th) and Berlin (11th), underscoring its significant role in driving innovation.

Houston’s Brand Strength and Global Attractiveness

Which subfactors hurt and help the brand of Houston?

Resonance‘s 2024 World’s Best Cities Report places Houston 66th, between Atlanta (65th) and Busan (67th), a decrease of 24 positions since 2023. Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States and ranks 9th in GDP per capita, making the city attractive to both domestic and international population groups. Consequently, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities, ranking 27th for culture.

Kearney’s 2023 Global Cities Report ranks Houston 39th, between Vancouver (38th) and Stockholm (40th). Although Houston’s overall ranking dropped by one position, the Global Cities Outlook Ranking shows a slight increase in three positions, placing the city 69th.

Brand Finance’s City Index 2023 positions Houston 37th, between Frankfurt (36th) and Brussels (38th), reflecting Houston’s strong global brand and attractiveness for business.


Which aspects of Houston’s urban living make it an attractive place to live and work?

The Mercer Quality of Living City Ranking places Houston 62nd, between Rome (61st) and Nagoya (63rd). The Mercer Cost of Living Ranking places the city 61st, between Oslo (60th) and Hamburg (62nd). Despite an increase in cost of living rankings for all U.S. cities, Houston’s ranking has notably risen by 24 positions. However, Houston remains relatively affordable compared to other global urban centers and continues to offer a balanced quality of life.

The Arcadis Sustainability City Index 2022 ranks Houston 59th, between Prague (58th) and Melbourne (60th). Houston’s pillar rankings are the following: Planet 86th, People 69th, Profit 13th, indicating the city should focus on long-term environmental factors and invest in sustainable energy infrastructure.

In 2024, the Times Higher Education ranking placed the University of Houston in the 500-600 bracket. This university, educating nearly 50,000 students annually, is noted for being the second most ethnically diverse major research university in the U.S. The QS World University ranking positions the University of Houston in the 641-650 bracket.

Last updated in June 2024. More city profiles here

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