Here's how big your nest egg needs to be in Texas if you want an early retirement. Photo via Pexels

Many working adults have asked themselves whether or not they'll be able to achieve an early retirement, but the reality is: It's not attainable anywhere in the U.S. without a substantial nest egg (and the income to go with it).

In Texas, that nest egg would have to be at least $1 million in the bank, according to a new annual report by personal finance website GoBankingRates.

The report, "Early Retirement: Here’s How Much Savings Is Needed To Retire by 40 in Every State," examined each state's cost of living and Social Security benefits to determine exactly how much money you'd need to have stocked away to achieve an early retirement.

According to the study's findings, the total cost of living expenses for the average Texan adds up to $3,362.63 per month, or $40,351.50 a year.

Based on those numbers, GoBakingRates calculated that a Texas resident retiring by age 40 would need a jaw-dropping $1,278,894.70 saved up if they were to live until they were 80 years old.

If a 40-year-old Texan lived to be 90, that nest egg would have to be $1,458,966.13, and if they lived to be 100, they'd need $1,639,037.55 in their savings for those remaining 60 years.

Texas came in at No. 20 on the list. Texans can breathe a (small) sigh of relief they aren't retiring in Hawaii, which came in at No. 1 on the list, with the highest amount of savings needed to retire early. The annual cost of living in Hawaii is nearly $107,000, which means a 40-year-old Hawaiian would need more than $3.94 million to retire early and enjoy 40 years of retirement.

California came in second, followed by Washington DC, Massachusetts, and Washington state.

The states with the least amount of savings required to retire by 40 are:

  • No. 1 – West Virginia
  • No. 2 – Mississippi
  • No. 3 – Oklahoma
  • No. 4 – Arkansas
  • No. 5 – Kentucky
  • No. 6 – Louisiana
  • No. 7 – Alabama
  • No. 8 – Kansas
  • No. 9 – Iowa
  • No. 10 – Michigan

GOBankingRates sourced cost of living data and national average expenditure data for retired residents from the Missouri Economic and Research Information Center, the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure for Retired Residents, and Zillow’s Home Value Index. These three data points were combined to determine the average annual cost of living for retired residents, and used the typical retirement age of 65 to factor in the full Social Security benefits, thus calculating the average income to be expected in retirement.

The report echoes national ongoing financial strife in regards to inflation and cost of living increases, where not even Houston is immune.

The full report can be found on


This article originally ran on CultureMap.

How many quarters do you need? Photo via Getty Images

Here's how much money Houstonians need in case of emergency

get to saving

With nearly 40 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, many Texans are scrambling to afford their basic needs. A new study on how much money you need in your emergency fund should be a wake-up call.

The report, from personal finance website, suggests that residents living in Houston should be stockpiling a minimum of $17,461 to cover six months' worth of expenses in the event of an emergency.

The report analyzed the annual average expenditures and cost of living in the 50 most populous U.S. cities, and ranked them based on the estimated minimum emergency savings needed for three to six months to cover basic living expenses.

According to the study's findings, the average Houstonian's total expenditures add up to $34,828 per year. That includes the average cost of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and other miscellaneous costs.

The minimum emergency fund estimates in Houston are:

  • For a 3-month emergency fund: $8,707
  • For a 4-month emergency fund: $11,609
  • For a 5-month emergency fund: $14,512
  • For a 6-month emergency fund: $17,414

Houston ranked No. 37 out of all 50 U.S. cities with the highest projected emergency funds, so it could be a lot worse. In San Francisco, for example, which is No. 1 on the list, you'd need to put aside $52,000-plus for a six-month emergency fund.

Since these estimates are "minimum," the actual figures for Houston could tick slightly higher. But even so-called affordable cities present a challenge.

"While the emergency savings you need will vary depending on the cost of living where you live, even in the most affordable major cities in America, $500 won’t be enough to keep you afloat for one month, let alone six," the report said.

In the event of a real emergency, Texans should search, the online database for Texas Health and Human Services, featuring information on food banks, electric bill assistance, domestic violence resources, and more.

Around Texas

The Texas city with the highest six-month emergency fund is, predictably, Austin (No. 13) where annual expenses average $52,052, or $17,224 more than Houston. In Austin, the minimum six-month emergency found would need to be $26,000.

Texans living in Arlington (No. 30), Dallas (No. 31), and Fort Worth (No. 32) would need nearly $19,000 saved up to cover six months of expenses.

In San Antonio (No. 38), the estimated six-month emergency fund adds up to a little more than $17,000. El Paso (No. 48) is the Texas city with the lowest amount of money needed for six months, at $15,005.

California cities dominated the top 10 with the highest annual expenses and highest emergency funds. San Francisco took the No. 1 spot, with average annual expenses at $104,729, and an emergency six-month fund of $52,365.

The top 10 U.S. cities with the highest estimated minimum six-month emergency funds are:

  • No. 1 – San Francisco, California ($52,365)
  • No. 2 – San Jose, California ($46,258)
  • No. 3 – Oakland, California ($38,106)
  • No. 4 – Los Angeles, California ($35,160)
  • No. 5 – Seattle, Washington ($34,455)
  • No. 6 – San Diego, California ($34,396)
  • No. 7 – New York, New York ($32,363)
  • No. 8 – Washington, D.C. ($32,132)
  • No. 9 – Long Beach, California ($31,528)
  • No. 10 – Boston, Massachusetts ($31,297) collected its data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, cost of living indexes from Sperlings BestPlaces, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.

The report and its methodology can be found on


This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston college lands $5M NASA grant to launch new aerospace research center

to infinity and beyond

The University of Houston was one of seven minority-serving institutions to receive a nearly $5 million grant this month to support aerospace research focused on extending human presence on the moon and Mars.

The $4,996,136 grant over five years is funded by the NASA Office of STEM Engagement Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) program. It will go toward creating the NASA MIRO Inflatable Deployable Environments and Adaptive Space Systems (IDEAS2) Center at UH, according to a statement from the university.

“The vision of the IDEAS2 Center is to become a premier national innovation hub that propels NASA-centric, state-of-the-art research and promotes 21st-century aerospace education,” Karolos Grigoriadis, Moores Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of aerospace engineering at UH, said in a statement.

Another goal of the grant is to develop the next generation of aerospace professionals.

Graduate, undergraduate and even middle and high school students will conduct research out of IDEAS2 and work closely with the Johnson Space Center, located in the Houston area.

The center will collaborate with Texas A&M University, Houston Community College, San Jacinto College and Stanford University.

Grigoriadis will lead the center. Dimitris Lagoudas, from Texas A&M University, and Olga Bannova, UH's research professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Space Architecture graduate program, will serve as associate directors.

"Our mission is to establish a sustainable nexus of excellence in aerospace engineering research and education supported by targeted multi-institutional collaborations, strategic partnerships and diverse educational initiatives,” Grigoriadis said.

Industrial partners include Boeing, Axiom Space, Bastion Technologies and Lockheed Martin, according to UH.

UH is part of 21 higher-education institutions to receive about $45 million through NASA MUREP grants.

According to NASA, the six other universities to received about $5 million MIRO grants over five years and their projects includes:

  • Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage: Alaska Pacific University Microplastics Research and Education Center
  • California State University in Fullerton: SpaceIgnite Center for Advanced Research-Education in Combustion
  • City University of New York, Hunter College in New York: NASA-Hunter College Center for Advanced Energy Storage for Space
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee: Integrative Space Additive Manufacturing: Opportunities for Workforce-Development in NASA Related Materials Research and Education
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark:AI Powered Solar Eruption Center of Excellence in Research and Education
  • University of Illinois in Chicago: Center for In-Space Manufacturing: Recycling and Regolith Processing

Fourteen other institutions will receive up to $750,000 each over the course of a three-year period. Those include:

  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
  • West Virginia University in Morgantown
  • University of Puerto Rico in San Juan
  • Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
  • Oklahoma State University in Stillwater
  • Iowa State University in Ames
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks
  • University of the Virgin Islands in Charlotte Amalie
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu
  • University of Idaho in Moscow
  • University of Arkansas in Little Rock
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City
  • Satellite Datastreams

NASA's MUREP hosted its annual "Space Tank" pitch event at Space Center Houston last month. Teams from across the country — including three Texas teams — pitched business plans based on NASA-originated technology. Click here to learn more about the seven finalists.

Booming Houston suburb, other Texas towns among the fastest-growing U.S. cities in 2023

by the numbers

One Houston suburb experienced one of the most rapid growth spurts in the country last year: Fulshear, whose population grew by 25.6 percent, more than 51 times that of the nation’s growth rate of 0.5 percent. The city's population was 42,616 as of July 1, 2023.

According to U.S. Census Bureau's Vintage 2023 Population Estimates, released Thursday, May 16, Fulshear — which lies west of Katy in northwest Fort Bend County - ranked No. 2 on the list of fastest-growing cities with a population of 20,000 or more. It's no wonder iconic Houston restaurants like Molina's Cantina see opportunities there.

The South still dominates the nation's growth, even as America’s Northeast and Midwest cities are rebounding slightly from years of population drops. The census estimates showed 13 of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. were in the South — eight in Texas alone.

The Texas cities joining Fulshear on the fastest-growing-cities list are:

  • Celina (No. 1) with 26.6 percent growth (42,616 total population)
  • Princeton (No. 3) with 22.3 percent growth (28,027 total population)
  • Anna (No. 4) with 16.9 percent growth (27,501 total population)
  • Georgetown (No. 8) with 10.6 percent growth (96,312 total population)
  • Prosper (No. 9) with 10.5 percent growth (41,660 total population)
  • Forney (No. 10) with 10.4 percent growth (35,470 total population)
  • Kyle (No. 11) with 9 percent growth (62,548 total population)

Texas trends
San Antonio saw the biggest growth spurt in the United States last year, numbers-wise. The Alamo City added about 22,000 residents. San Antonio now has nearly 1.5 million people, making it the the seventh largest city in the U.S. and second largest in Texas.

Its population boom was followed by those of other Southern cities, including Fort Worth; Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Fast-growing Fort Worth (978,000) surpassed San Jose, California (970,000) to become the 12th most populous city in the country.

Meanwhile, population slowed in the Austin area. Jacksonville, Florida (986,000), outpaced Austin (980,000), pushing the Texas capital to 11th largest city in the U.S. (barely ahead of Fort Worth).

Population growth in Georgetown, outside Austin, slowed by more than one-fourth its population growth in 2022, the report says, from 14.4 percent to 10.6 percent. It's the same story in the Central Texas city of Kyle, whose population growth decreased by nearly 2 percent to 9 percent in 2023.

Most populated cities
New York City with nearly 8.3 million people remained the nation's largest city in population as of July 1, 2023. Los Angeles was second at close to 4 million residents, while Chicago was third at 2.7 million and Houston was fourth at 2.3 million residents.

The 15 populous U.S. cities in 2023 were:

  1. New York, New York (8.3 million)
  2. Los Angeles, California (4 million)
  3. Chicago, Illinois (2.7 million)
  4. Houston, Texas (2.3 million)
  5. Phoenix, Arizona (1.7 million)
  6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1.6 million)
  7. San Antonio (1.5 million)
  8. San Diego, California (1.4 million)
  9. Dallas (1.3 million)
  10. Jacksonville, Florida (986,000)
  11. Austin (980,000)
  12. Fort Worth (978,000)
  13. San Jose (970,000)
  14. Columbus, Ohio (913,000)
  15. Charlotte, North Carolina (911,000)

Modest reversals of population declines were seen last year in large cities in the nation's Northeast and Midwest. Detroit, for example, which grew for the first time in decades, had seen an exodus of people since the 1950s. Yet the estimates released Thursday show the population of Michigan’s largest city rose by just 1,852 people from 631,366 in 2022 to 633,218 last year.

It's a milestone for Detroit, which had 1.8 million residents in the 1950s only to see its population dwindle and then plummet through suburban white flight, a 1967 race riot, the migration to the suburbs by many of the Black middle class and the national economic downturn that foreshadowed the city's 2013 bankruptcy filing.

Three of the largest cities in the U.S. that had been bleeding residents this decade staunched those departures somewhat. New York City, which has lost almost 550,000 residents this decade so far, saw a drop of only 77,000 residents last year, about three-fifths the numbers from the previous year.

Los Angeles lost only 1,800 people last year, following a decline in the 2020s of almost 78,000 residents. Chicago, which has lost almost 82,000 people this decade, only had a population drop of 8,200 residents last year.

And San Francisco, which has lost a greater share of residents this decade than any other big city — almost 7.5 percent — actually grew by more than 1,200 residents last year.


This article originally ran on CultureMap.

How this Houston clean energy entrepreneur is navigating geothermal's hype to 100x business growth

houston innovators podcast Episode 237

Geothermal energy has been growing in recognition as a major player in the clean energy mix, and while many might think of it as a new climatetech solution, Tim Latimer, co-founder and CEO of Fervo Energy, knows better.

"Every overnight success is a decade in the making, and I think Fervo, fortunately — and geothermal as a whole — has become much more high profile recently as people realize that it can be a tremendous solution to the challenges that our energy sector and climate are facing," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

In fact, Latimer has been bullish on geothermal as a clean energy source since he quit his job as a drilling engineer in oil and gas to pursue a dual degree program — MBA and master's in earth sciences — at Stanford University. He had decided that, with the reluctance of incumbent energy companies to try new technologies, he was going to figure out how to start his own company. Through the Stanford program and Activate, a nonprofit hardtech program that funded two years of Fervo's research and development, Latimer did just that.

And the bet has more than paid off. Since officially launching in 2017, Fervo Energy has raised over $430 million — most recently collecting a $244 million series D round. Even more impressive to Latimer — his idea for drilling horizontal wells works. The company celebrated a successful pilot program last summer by achieving continuous carbon-free geothermal energy production with Project Red, a northern Nevada site made possible through a 2021 partnership with Google.

Next up for Fervo is growing and scaling at around a 100x pace. While Project Red included three wells, Project Cape, a Southwest Utah site, will include around 100 wells with significantly reduced drilling cost and an estimated 2026 delivery. Latimer says there are a dozen other projects like Project Cape that are in the works.

"It's a huge ramp up in our drilling, construction, and powerplant programs from our pilot project, but we've already had tremendous success there," Latimer says of Project Cape. "We think our technology has a really bright future."

While Latimer looks ahead to the rapid growth of Fervo Energy, he says it's all due to the foundation he put in place for the company, which has a culture built on the motto, "Build things that last."

“You’re not going to get somewhere that really changes the world by cutting corners and taking short steps. And, if you want to move the needle on something as complicated as the global energy system that has been built up over hundreds of years with trillions of dollars of capital invested in it – you’re not going to do it overnight," he says on the show. "We’re all in this for the long haul together."