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The Green Life: Car Costs: How Does Your Neighborhood Measure Up?

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July 11, 2008

Car Costs: How Does Your Neighborhood Measure Up?

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Day by day, it's becoming more expensive to own and drive a car. But according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, or CNT, and Forbes magazine, residents in the 10 neighborhoods mapped above spend less on car-related expenses than people living anywhere else in the country. Brooklyn Heights hipsters hand over an average of $643 per month, while folks living in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston cough up $760 every month. (If your neighborhood didn't make the cut, find out how it measures up on CNT's interactive Affordability Index)

Even in these top 10 neighborhoods, however, driving hardly qualifies as a bargain--especially when you pull numbers from the wayback machine. In 2000, the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership put out a similar report on household transportation spending for 28 metropolitan areas. At the time, the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria area of Texas won the dubious top slot with transportation costs--about $737 per month--making up more than 22 percent of households' total spending. That would make it relatively inexpensive today.

So what makes these neighborhoods so special?  Many of them have fairly accessible public transit options, which means cars have to compete with more affordable alternatives. SFGate blogger Cameron Scott (a former resident of San Francisco's $746-a-month Mission District) suggests another factor: Residents in many of the top-ranking neighborhoods spend less on car-related expenses simply because they "aren't rich enough to gas up their Hummers and pay for garage parking. I mention this" he writes, "because climate change promises to affect the poor disproportionately, despite the fact that their greenhouse gas contributions are disproportionately low."

How much do you spend on car-related expenses every month? Have rising costs inspired you to favor a different mode of transportation? Send us numbers and stories from your neighborhood, and we'll add them to the map.

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