Homebuyers often mistakenly believe that they have to “drive ‘til they qualify” to be able to find affordable housing, often eschewing a move to the city center because they assume it’s too expensive. An increasing number of studies, however, indicate that once one adds the cost of transportation into the equation, the move to the suburbs ends up being less financially sustainable than living near work and amenities, with transportation costs adding an additional $8,500 to $25,000 to the total cost associated with one’s neighborhood choice.
The DC Office of Planning recently teamed up with the Center for Neighborhood Technology to produce a new report exploring the relationship between communities with close proximity to jobs, amenities and transit and the average household’s financial health and sustainability. One section of the report compares the relative costs of transportation in two different DC neighborhoods, Tenley Town and Columbia Heights, to illustrate the impact that various land use and transit elements have on household finances. Researchers found that Columbia Heights households spent $160 less per month than did residents of Tenley Town due to higher resident density, a significantly shorter commute to jobs and access to four additional bus routes.
The significance of the study points not only to a recommendation for house hunters, but also serves as a guideline for how city planning officials should proceed in terms of building mixed-use developments and increasing transit accessibility. And the report couldn’t have come at a better time: the link to improved financial health for residents is all the more compelling and timely in light of our nation’s current economic struggles. Director of the Washington DC Office of Planning Harriet Tregoning states, “In the end, this is the big question. How can we grow the region and become more resilient to economic ups and downs—whether it’s a credit crisis or volatile fuel prices? The Region Forward Coalition is working on this right now and this report, and the data behind it, will help inform the discussion.”
Have you recently made a move to lower your transportation costs? Does this report ring true to you? Please let us know your experience!
By Anne Factor at goDCgo