It’s a common misconception that suburban life is much cheaper than an urban one. True, you may get more money per square foot for a house in Naperville, but how much money do you spend on transportation? The amount you spend on transportation could end up costing you more than the amount you save on your house. This is a important factor if your considering real estate in the suburbs. A piece of Chicago real estate might actually be better for your wallet.
Last year, the Center for Neighborhood Technology developed the Housing + Transportation Affordability Index that explores “the impact that transportation costs associated with location have on a household’s economic bottom line.”
The index calculates the percentage of income a person spends on housing and transportation by dividing housing and transportation costs by median incomes provided by the 2000 Census. These calculations considered mortgage payments, insurance, utilities, taxes, neighborhood density, job location, transit usage and availability, and car ownership and usage.
Below are the percentages of income a person spends on housing and transportation based on location. You might be surprised.
Wilmette – 78%
Geneva – 58%
Naperville – 63%
Economic factors aside, commuting to the city for work every day can take its toll on your quality of life. Whether you drive to work or take the Metra, commuting replaces quality time that could be spent with friends and family or participating in your favorite hobby.
This lack of time to cultivate relationships or have time for yourself can lead to increased amounts of stress, as reported by Scientific American, which can manifest itself physically. “Physical symptoms range from headaches to high blood pressure. Mental ills include sleep disturbances and poor concentration.” These factors, in addition to the possible economic benefits, make it clear that suburban life isn’t always better than an urban one.