Cheaper Rents Mean Higher Commute Costs

Commute cost homeowners
Commute cost homeowners

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a nonprofit organization promoting more livable and sustainable urban communities, announced this week the results of its expanded Housing + Transportation Affordability Index, which looks at the cost of living in different metropolitan area neighborhoods based on combined housing and transportation costs as well as accompanying urban design. The Index examines 337 metro areas across the country, some 161,000 neighborhoods representing about 80 percent of the U.S. population.

When middle class flight to the suburbs was at its apex in the 1970s, the poorest members of most urban populations lived in the city center. Although the lost tax dollars meant that cities like New York and Detroit disintegrated into graffiti-strewn, crime-ridden wastelands, at least the subways and buses still made it easy for those without cars to get around.

Now, however, as America's city centers have been reborn as destinations for more affluent citizens seeking highrise condos and pedestrian-friendly environments, people earning less are facing a double-sized expense: the massive transportation costs of living on the outskirts.