What Is The Entire Cost Of Living For Your Location?

A new study shows that neighborhoods considered as "affordable" may turn out to be a lot more expensive when you factor in the cost of transportation. According to the figures, some people in the Houston area find themselves paying more to get around than they do for a place to live.


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Scott Bernstein with the Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology says if you live in a city’s core, you’re probably paying a good bit of money for housing.  Now as for what you pay for transportation, those costs are fairly low. That’s because of shorter commutes and public transit. 

But if you want a larger home that’s more affordable, you may have to look some distance away from the city. It’s a situation known as “drive until you qualify.” 

“All of a sudden you’ve found the more affordable house, but you might need to go to one to two cars per household.  And if you have a teenager in the house, and an extended family, maybe three cars per household.”

Bernstein says for many Americans, the cost of transportation is now almost equal to the cost of housing.  He cites figures from 2009 showing people in the Houston area pay around 25.4 percent of income for a place to live, but average transportation costs are closer to 26 percent.

“Bay City, Matagorda, the Bolivar Peninsula, some parts of Katy — it peaks out at 36 percent of income for transportation.” 

Figures show people around Houston pay on average about $14,000 a year for transportation. But Bernstein says the problem is that a lot of people don’t take these figures into consideration when putting together their financial plan.  He says financial literacy programs need to do a better job of teaching people how to factor in the costs of getting around when deciding where to live.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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