A study of Washington and 27 other metropolitan areas by the Center for Housing Policy found that the costs of one-way commutes of as little as 12 to 15 miles — roughly the distance between Gaithersburg and Bethesda — cancel any savings on lower-priced outer-suburban homes.

More below.

It’s not that I enjoy boasting to suburbanites about how much I save by living in an expensive downtown core, but this is data that needs to be shouted from the rooftops. This won’t be news to the readers here, but the long-obsolete urban planning that emphasizes widely dispersed suburban tracts that require long commutes is positively harmful to the environment, the economy, and people’s wellbeing.

The problem, of course, is social expectations. Can proponents of New Urbanism reach families whose ideal is the suburban 3-bedroom with a big back yard?

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I found this statement at the end of the article very interesting:

Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, said the data highlight a disconnect between where people live and work. Those with the highest commuting costs generally live on the eastern side of Washington, while many of the jobs are on the northern and western sides.

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“A three-car family puts a lot of money into depreciating assets, instead of into mortgages and college educations,” he said.

An important point. Cars depreciate rapidly, and every dollar you’re putting in to that 1998 Civic is a dollar that isn’t being put in to your children’s health or education.