Commuting costs often outweigh savings from living in suburbs, researchers say

The cost of commuting more than 12 miles often nullifies the savings of cheaper suburban housing, says a new study by the Center for Housing Policy. Low- to moderate-income families are often pushed to outer suburbs by a lack of affordable housing near job centers; then, as public transportation is generally scarce, they drive not only to work, but on nearly every trip and errand. In 28 major metropolitan areas, families earning $20,000 to $50,000 spend an average 29 percent of their annual salary on transportation and 28 percent on housing, the study found. Earth-polluting aside, all that driving is just a damn waste, says Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth: “A three-car family puts a lot of money into depreciating assets, instead of into mortgages and college educations.”