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D.C. Looks More Affordable In Light Of Commuting Costs

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D.C.'s Office of Planning found that if people factor in the high cost of commuting to the city from the suburbs, living in the District close to public transportation actually becomes more affordable.
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D.C.'s Office of Planning found that if people factor in the high cost of commuting to the city from the suburbs, living in the District close to public transportation actually becomes more affordable.

Despite higher housing costs, it may be actually be cheaper to live in the District and other urban centers, according to a D.C. government report released Aug. 3.

The study PDF, commissioned by D.C.'s Office of Planning, finds when transportation costs are factored in -- gas prices, tolls and the costs of maintaining one or more vehicles -- living in the city or near a public transit station can be more affordable than the outlying areas where land is much cheaper.

"You probably have heard the expression 'drive to qualify' -- that's what a lot of households have done in our region looking for affordable housing," says Office of Planning director Harriet Tregoning. "What people are not so aware of is that transportation costs vary extremely in our region."

The report notes some families in the outlying areas can end up spending more of their household income on transportation than on housing. Conversely, in the District, transportation costs can be extremely low if work, shopping, and public transit stations are nearby.

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