Houston Just as Expensive as New York City, Study Says

The extra costs of automobile dependency turn assumptions about affordability on their head, according to a recently published report by the Citizens Budget Commission.

2 minute read

January 21, 2020, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Houston Metro

CC0 / Public Domain / Good Free Photos

Peter Holley writes on the changes that rapid growth have brought to Houston, and the underappreciate costs of living in a sprawling city:

Though we don’t have up-to-date grotto figures, several million people found Houston’s sales pitch compelling enough to move to the Bayou City in recent decades, with the region gaining 1.1 million residents since 2010 alone, according to the Greater Houston Partnership. Outside a few ritzy pockets intimately tied to oil prices, the city evolved into a sprawling mass of suburban affordability—a Levittown on steroids for the new American South.

According to Holley, the "seemingly endless suburban growth" has had a "crucial downside" that doesn't have to do with repeated, catastrophic flooding: increasing housing costs.

While the seemingly endless suburban growth has traditionally offered the city the veneer of affordability, the sprawl has also spiked transportation costs, so much so that the city’s combined transportation and living costs now place it on par with New York City….

The conclusion comes from a report by the Citizens Budget Commission, titled "Rent and Ride."

"Monthly median housing costs in Houston in 2016 (the most recent year data was available) were $1,379, nearly $400 less than New York City. However, median transportation costs were $1,152, a figure 38 percent higher than for New Yorkers," according to Holley. "In total, the study found, living in Houston was only $79 cheaper each month than New York."

Planetizen blogger and founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute Todd Litman has done similar work to document a more clear and thorough picture of affordability based on transportation costs, as exemplified in the following posts, among others.

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