Opponents of sprawl argue too many people buy cheaper homes further from the city without considering the added transportation costs. Here is a new tool to help address this issue:
More than 3 in 4 home buyers polled in the National Assn. of Realtors’ latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers said commuting costs are either “very” or “somewhat” important to their ultimate purchase decisions. After all, the combined cost of housing and transportation consumes close to half of the typical working family’s monthly budget…
The Location Affordability Portal from the Housing and Urban Development Department and Transportation Department enables users to estimate the combined housing and transportation costs for a specific region, neighborhood and even street.
LAP is actually two tools: one, a map-based Location Affordability Index, is a database that predicts annual housing and transportation costs for a particular area. The other, My Transportation Cost Calculator, enables users to customize data for their own household and potential residential locations.
LAP includes diverse household profiles — which vary by income, size and number of commuters — and shows the affordability landscape for each one across an entire region. It was designed to help renters and homeowners — plus planners, policymakers, developers and researchers — get a more complete understanding of the costs of living in a location given the differences between households, neighborhoods and regions, all of which affect affordability. The data covers 94% of the U.S. population.
Use the tool here. Some good info here. I plugged in some quick numbers of our housing and transportation costs and the yearly transportation costs were about 57% of annual housing costs. Driving, even with commutes that aren’t that far, add up quickly. Here is what the Location Affordability Index looks like for much of the Chicago region:
On this map with combined housing and transportation costs, I feel like you can quickly see places where the housing is more expensive (some places on the North Shore) and other places where transportation costs are higher (and where there may be fewer jobs – Will County, western DuPage County).
The idea here is that more people need more information about commuting costs when making housing decisions. If they had the commuting costs, they would choose differently. For how many people would this be true? I suspect some Americans would place more emphasis on a cheaper house, even if the commuting costs are higher. In other words, these aren’t equal considerations when Americans, particularly of certain incomes, have to make a choice.