CNT Includes Transportation as a Variable for Measuring Affordability

For many years, homeowners have purchased their homes without transportation costs as a consideration.  The price of the home was the primary indicator in the home purchase and whether it would be affordable or attainable.  Unfortunately, there are many other smaller costs associated with the choice of a home.  The following is an analysis of the costs that I endured when I lived in suburban Omaha:

* Urban Living assumes that only one car is necessary, travel amounts are minimal and SID’s are not necessary.

  • SID (Sanitary & Improvement District Tax):  I owned a home in an unincorporated location where the cost of infrastructure for the neighborhood was paid for with SID’s, which equated to a tax greater than the school tax  Total:  $896 per year (Urban Living Savings $896* per year)
  • Automobile FuelTotal $1434 (Urban Living Savings $1000* per year)
    • My Personal Vehicle:  Each day, I had a 30-45 minute commute to my place of work where I would travel 25 miles round-trip each day, plus at least 2 more miles for lunch.  On top of trips to and from work, gas was also necessary for general needs such as groceries and restaurants (Average an additional 4 round-trip miles per day).  This adds up to a minimum of 31 miles per day which is well over one gallon of gas in stop and go traffic for a conventional sedan.  (Average $3/ day * 250 days = $750** per year)
    • Family Car:  My wife would use on average ¾ gallon of gas in trips to and from work and miscellaneous trips throughout Omaha every day.  (Average $1.88/ day * 365 days = $684** per year)
      • **Gas prices at an average of $2.50/gallon; Gas Mileage around 28 mpg.
  • Automobile Maintenance (Oil, Tires, etc):  I spent on average $25 per oil change for each car, every 3 months.  This comes out to $200 per year plus an average of $500 per year for other car maintenance (timing belt, tires, batteries, etc.)  Total:  $700 per year (Urban Living Savings of $500* per year)
  • Automobile Registrations:  In Nebraska, the costs for registrations were pretty reasonable and averaged at about $150 per year per car.  Total:  $300 per year (Urban Living Savings of $150* per year)
  • Automobile Insurance:  2 Car Total:  $1200 per year (Urban Living Savings $600* per year)

The summary of this analysis shows a savings of $3,146 per year for living in a more urban neighborhood in Omaha.  That is an amazing $262 more that could have been put toward a mortgage payment per month for an urban home.

So you may be asking, “What is the point of all of this?”  Well, my response is that it costs a lot more money to live in a place where you are dependent on the automobile than you think it does.  Even though, on the surface an urban homeowner with a home priced near $300,000 seems like they must be paying more per year than a suburban homeowner with a house priced near $200,000, it just may not be so.  The following website is a fantastic reference for affordability comparing the conventional method of comparing affordability by only “Housing Costs” vs affordability by “Housing and Transportation Costs”:  Housing and Transportation Affordability Index  The CNT index, (or Center for Neighborhood Technology) uses 45% (percentage of total income) as the affordability rate for the Housing and Transportation in contrast to simply 30% (percentage of total income) as the rate for Housing only.

For your own benefit, I encourage you to check out where you live and see what category that you fall under.  Next, do the math of where you live and see if you are above or below the 45% rate for transportation costs and housing costs per year.

This map from CNT shows Colorado Springs' Affordable locations (shown in yellow) stretching well into the suburbs.
When Transportation Costs are incorporated into the equation, Affordable locations in Colorado Springs are limited closer to the downtown areas.
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