NYC is the 8th most affordable big city in America*

Citizens Budget Commission says low transportation costs balance out expensive housing. Sort of.

TRD New York /
Jan.January 14, 2020 11:15 AM
Due to relatively high income levels and low transportation costs, New York City is the eight most affordable of 20 major cities (Credit: iStock)

Thanks to relatively high incomes and low transportation costs, New York City is the eighth most affordable of 20 major cities, a study found (Credit: iStock)

UPDATE, Jan. 14, 2020, 2:33 pm: It may sound hard to believe, but New York is the eighth most affordable city of the 20 biggest cities in the U.S.

That’s in part because low transportation costs balance out high housing costs, according to a new study from the Citizens Budget Commission, a business-backed, fiscally conservative watchdog group, which used data from the 2016 census to measure “location affordability” based on housing costs, transportation costs and income.

Click to enlarge (Credit: Citizens Budget Commission)

Click to enlarge (Credit: Citizens Budget Commission)

The study found that housing costs in New York were the fifth most expensive, with the median household spending 30.8 percent of its income on housing. (A median household is defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development as a couple making the area’s median family household income and who have two children.) Transportation costs, on the other hand, were the lowest of the group — the median household spending was just $832 a month — while household income ranked eighth highest.

The study found that median households in 15 of the 20 cities spent more than 45 percent of their household income on housing and transportation costs. By this measurement, Chicago was the 10th most affordable, Los Angeles 12th and Miami 18th.

Only Washington, D.C., San Jose, San Francisco, Boston, and Minneapolis-St. Paul fell below the 45 percent level and could be considered “affordable,” by the study’s measurement, because they had relatively high household incomes.

In other words, despite placing eighth, New York isn’t really all that affordable. And despite New York’s relatively competitive position on the list, the study warned that it might not stay that way.

“High housing demand in relation to slow housing production and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s fiscal and operational woes may increase costs and negatively affect New York City’s location affordability competitiveness,” the report said.


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