The high costs of living in suburbia

Via Yahoo! Finance, the New York Times looks at the costs of living in the suburbs vs. living in the city. The verdict: unless a family is sending kids to private school (particularly at middle-school age and above), the suburban life costs about 18% more.

The basis for the analysis – and Manhattan is not part of the figures:

While our analysis was by no means scientific, our goal was to recreate the type of decision a hypothetical family of four earning $175,000 a year might encounter. We chose an upper-middle-class income because that’s generally what our family needs to earn, conservatively, to afford a median-price home in Park Slope, a section of Brooklyn that is family-friendly, has good schools and is generally more affordable than Manhattan.

The two-bedroom, one-bathroom co-operative apartment that we’re using as a model in Park Slope is listed at $675,000, close to the median price for the neighborhood, as calculated by Zillow.com.

We stacked that against a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home in South Orange, N.J., just a 30-minute train ride from Manhattan, where the two parents work. The house is selling for $595,000.

Some experts have been talking a long time about the hidden costs of suburbia due to more driving and sprawl. Homes may be cheaper (and bigger) but there are added costs from lower density living.

If homeowners were presented with this sort of evidence (assuming it would hold up across cities), would they chose the suburbs in lesser numbers? Or would people still be willing to pay a premium for the amenities that suburbia can offer?

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