Kaid Benfield | Switchboard
Highly enlightening new data from the New York City-based Citizens Budget Commission demonstrate the immense importance of walkability and transit in shaping how affordable large US cities are for a range of household types. When typical housing and transportation costs are considered together and measured against incomes, cities generally thought to be relatively unaffordable because of high rents – such as San Francisco and New York – actually turn out to be more affordable than sprawling cities because of the high cost of driving in spread-out locations.
For example, San Francisco, Washington, DC and New York City have relatively high housing costs, all ranking in the top seven of 22 large US cities studied by the CBC. But all also rank among the lowest-cost cities for transportation, because of their relative urban density, facilitating walking, and their extensive and heavily used mass transit networks.
The authors explain:
“Because low transportation costs help balance the relatively higher price of housing in New York City, it ranks ninth lowest among the 22 cities in combined housing and transportation costs. Location costs total $20,452 in New York City compared to the lowest costs in Philadelphia ($19,283) and the highest costs in San Jose ($29,337).