Housing is generally anyone's largest expense, but it's not the only factor you should consider when buying a home. Sure, you may find a cheaper home the further you move from Boston, but the transportation costs of getting to and from work everyday offset some of those gains, according to an index compiled by the Center for Neighborhood Technology.
The group, funded by the Brookings Institution, developed the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index to examine how transportation costs, when added to housing costs, affects the overall affordability of a community (you can read about the methodology used here).
The rule of thumb adopted by the study states that housing is affordable if it's 30 percent or less of your total income. Transportation costs should account for 15 percent or less. Taken together, your combined housing and transportation costs should total 45 percent or less of your total income.
An interactive map of the region shows that many Greater Boston communities have housing costs that average less than 30 percent of income, but when combined with transportation costs, the number exceeds the 45 percent threshold. That makes seemingly affordable neighborhoods tougher than expected on family pocketbooks.
The following chart compares Malden with surrounding communities. At 24.6 percent, the town's average housing cost falls below the 30 percent level. Adding transportation costs, the percentage stays below the 45 percent combined percentage.
|City/Town||Housing as percentage of income||Housing + Transportation as percentage of income|
Are you below the 45 percent threshold? Do you think Malden is an affordable place to live? Tell us in the comments!