Houston Houston Moving Guide

A College Student's Guide to Living Cheap in Houston

College students often have limited funds when it comes to entertainment, even after scoring a cheap place to live in Houston. Fortunately, Houston is home to many organizations looking out for them with discounts as well as opportunities at free festivals and venues.

Here is a "how-to" guide for cheap student living in Houston:

Take Advantage of Houston Student Discounts

Houston has several venues that offer college-student discounts. The trick is knowing that they are available. Here are a few of the best Houston student discounts out there:

Houston Zoo – Students attending specific colleges or universities in town get $2 off admission or free admission to the Houston Zoo, depending on the institution. One freebie per visit.

Giraffe at Houston Zoo

  • Free zoo admission: University of Houston, Rice University, St. Thomas University, and Texas Southern University.
  • $2 off zoo admission: Houston Baptist, Houston Community College System, and South Texas College of Law.

Houston Ballet – College students can get $10 rush tickets to specific Houston Ballet performances when they buy tickets 90 minutes before show time. Watch for the performances online that are eligible for the rush option. Tickets depend on availability. Tickets are not available for The Nutcracker.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – College students can purchase tickets for half price at the box office: $7.50 instead of $15 admission. They also are eligible for discounts to special exhibits: $13 Tuesday to Sunday and $10 on Thursday.

Alley Theatre – College students can get tickets for $16 to Alley Theatre performances. Enjoy the brand-new remodeled space downtown.

Enjoy Free Venues

Houston is blessed with a number of venues that offer free concerts, movies, cultural events, festivals, and more. Here are a few notable ones in the Loop:

Miller Outdoor Theatre – For nearly 100 years, Miller Outdoor Theatre has offered hundreds of events each year, and they are all free. These include performances by major cultural organizations including Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, and Theater Under the Stars. Follow the online calendar to browse for your favorite events.

Discovery Green – This amazing downtown space recently celebrated seven years. Discovery Green's calendar features hundreds of free events for Houstonians year-round, including outdoor fitness classes, outdoor movies, festivals, activities on Kinder Lake, and beautiful art installations. During the winter, the lake transforms into an ice skating rink for outdoor skating in downtown Houston! Located at 1500 McKinney.

GreenStreet – The downtown destination GreenStreet offers Friday Night Flicks, Games on the Green, free Wednesday morning yoga, and more. Located at 1201 Fannin.

GreenStreet Houston

Photo Credit: GreenStreet

Catch These Must-See Local Spots

Beer Can House – Rather than drinking beer, college students can take a gander at the effects of 50,000 beer cans, tabs, bottles, and more at the eclectic spot dubbed the Beer Can House. Beginning in 1968, local John Milkovisch spent 18 years transforming his home into a quirky art form. Today, the home is managed by Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts and open Saturdays and Sundays for $5 public tours. Located at 222 Malone off Memorial.

Beer Can House Houston

Photo credit: Vicki Powers

James Turrell Skyspace – Rice University campus houses an art installation known as Twilight Epiphany, a Skyspace by James Turrell. The spot hosts 45-minute sunrise and sunset light sequences for 120 people every day but Tuesday. Turrell's composition of light complements the natural light available at twilight and is a must see for any college student looking to try something new without breaking the bank. The LED light sequence projects onto the ceiling and through an opening in the 72-ft square roof. Reservations must be made online.

Discover Fall Events

Free Day of Yoga – Free Day of Yoga falls on Labor Day each year to encourage folks to give yoga a try. Texas Yoga Association sponsors the free community yoga at Rothko Chapel near Menil Park. As a bonus, 50+ classes are offered throughout the city for free. This is a great option for students looking for affordable exercise options in order to keep their cost of living in Houston down.

Houston Greek Festival – Experience Greek culture at The Original Greek Festival, held the first weekend of October. Admission is only $5 or free Friday from 11 am to 3 pm. It's a full weekend of amazing food, cultural performances, live music, cathedral tours at the venue (Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral), and more.

Houston Italian Festival – Held right on the University of St. Thomas campus, Houston Italian Festival is all things Italian! It's held the second week of October for four days. Don't miss the pasta eating contest, live music, cultural movie theater, adult Italian class, and loads of food! Admission is $6 in advance or $8 at the gate. Admission is free Thursday evening and Friday till 4 pm.

To keep the cost of student housing in Houston on the lower side, get creative with your living space. Living with roommates is always an option. If you prefer to live alone, you can box up some of your belongings and look for cheap storage in Houston, then find an affordable studio to call home. You'll soon find Houston is a great college town!

About the author

Vicki Powers

Vicki Powers, formerly of Houston on the Cheap, is a native Texan and freelance journalist. She loves helping Houstonians learn how to live in a big city without spending big bucks.

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