Report Examines Housing, Commuting Tradeoffs

We've been making the tradeoff for years: moving to farther-out suburbs where the housing is cheaper, then paying for it with longer commutes.

The Urban Land Institute'sTerwilliger Center for Workforce Housing is out today with a report that breaks down the cost of these choices in the Washington area, The Post's Elizabeth Razzi reports.

The takeaway: In many parts of the region, lower housing prices are largely offset by higher transportation costs.

The city of Fredericksburg has the region's lowest combined housing/transportation cost at $25,404 per year. That's because many residents are not making the morning migration north to a job in or near the District.

"Fredericksburg is a compact, walkable community where jobs are plentiful relative to its population size, and residents have access to work, amenities, and services locally," the report says. However, Fredericksburg residents also have the lowest median income of the metropolitan area, at $46,007.

Residents of Loudoun County pay the highest combined price, $46,435 per year, but they also enjoy the highest median income, $101,289.

Where can you find a better balance of high wages and relatively low combined spending?

The report says it's in Arlington, where combined housing/transit spending hits $33,938 per year, on average, and median income is $87,398. It also cites Montgomery County, where costs are $38,478 and median income is $89,628.

District residents are tops for walking, biking and using public transit. Only 41.3 percent drive their own vehicle to work, the lowest in the area. The biggest fans of the internal combustion engine can be found in Warren County, Va., where almost 93 percent of residents drive themselves to work.

And you can file this under Statistics You'd Rather Not See: Throughout the metro area, which stretches from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, we spend an average of nearly $23,000 each year on housing and $13,000 on transportation, accounting for almost 47 percent of median household income.

Even worse: We waste an average of 60 hours each year stuck in traffic.

Look for a detailed report in this Saturday's Real Estate section.

By Dan Beyers  |  February 9, 2009; 9:30 AM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch
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Fredricksburg also has the highest number of people who SLUG so there is no cost to report either by the folks who slug or who pick up SLUGS. It is a statistic that nobody factors in. Also, Warren County has no real opportunity to commute with any one...not convenient for catching PRTC in Manassas or the VRE, so that is a given and not too much of a mind blowing statistic around here....

Posted by: planetbillboard | February 9, 2009 11:54 AM

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