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Factor in transportation and 'burbs not as affordable

Thursday - 3/8/2012, 10:17am  ET

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A new study finds the cost of transportation may outweigh the affordability of the exurbs. (AP)

MANASSAS, Va. - Homeowners who buy in Virginia's Prince William County or in Maryland's Frederick County get more home for their money than people in the inner suburbs, but a new study finds the cost of transportation may outweigh the affordability of the exurbs.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology reports people who live in D.C. or just outside of it pay far less to commute.

For example, someone who lives downtown in Dupont Circle pays an average $636 on transportation a month, while someone in Damascus pays $1,447 a month, according to The Examiner.

At $12,664 a year, D.C. ranks eighth in terms of the lowest annual commuting costs, the Center for Neighborhood Technology says. The center used Census data between 2000 and 2009 for its rankings

New York is the lowest at $10,158. The city with the highest annual commuting cost is Birmingham, Ala., at $14,928.

The Housing + Transportation Affordability Index analysis of nearly 900 communities concludes nearly three-quarters of American communities are unaffordable places to live once housing and transportation costs are combined. If just housing costs are used to calculate affordability, 76 percent of the communities are considered affordable.

People living in areas with access to transit, jobs and amenities saw smaller increases in transportation costs than those who lived in communities dependent on cars.

Since 2000, median transportation costs nationwide rose 39 percent and median housing costs went up nearly 37 percent. Income, though, only increased 22 percent.

Here are the communities with the lowest annual commuting costs:

  1. New York, $10,158
  2. San Francisco, $11,980
  3. Los Angeles, $12,154
  4. Chicago, $12,311
  5. Philadelphia, $12,365
  6. Boston, $12,394
  7. Denver, $12,662
  8. Washington, $12,664
  9. Miami, $12,822
  10. San Jose, $12,914

WTOP's Neal Augenstein contributed to this report. Follow Neal and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)