Escaping the rat race and moving to the suburbs for peace and quiet – it’s something many people dream of. However, as with all dreams, it’s not all good, and life in the suburbs has its drawbacks.
While living in the suburbs may work out cheaper in many ways – housing costs, local taxes and recreational facilities are often cheaper outside the city – there are hidden costs you need to be aware of, and these can impact seriously on your budget. Perhaps the most important of these hidden costs is transportation.
It’s not a major issue if you’re retired, but if you’re working, and have children at school or in college, you need to get there every day. That may sound pretty obvious, but how are you going to get there? The most convenient option is to drive yourself to work, but gas is a very expensive commodity these days. Even if you’re only based 10 miles from home, that’s a 20 mile round trip, 5 days a week. Depending on the vehicle you drive, that could mean two, three or even more gallons of gas just to get you to work and back.
With an average price of at least $2.60 per gallon in America,* and a whopping 5.32GBP in the UK, * that’s some hidden cost, when you multiply it by the number of weeks you work during the year. Assuming that’s 46 weeks, and your car averages 50 miles per gallon of fuel, the annual cost of getting to work from the suburbs is $239.20 in America (2.6 x 2 x 46). In the UK, it would cost a staggering 489.44GBP. The more distant you are from your workplace, the higher these costs will be – do the math, if you’re brave enough.
If, as is more likely, your car averages 33 miles per gallon the journey to work is more expensive at $358.80 (2.6 x 3 x 46). And if you’re commuting in the UK, brace yourself for a fuel bill of 734.16GBP. These figures take no account of the wear and tear on the vehicle – more tyres, the need for more frequent servicing, etc. And the increased mileage will impact on the car’s trade-in price when you upgrade it.
If you use your car for work, your partner is stranded in the suburbs without transport, so will have to rely on public transport. This involves yet more cost. Should you have a family, it may be necessary to run a second vehicle in order to get them where they need to be when they need to be there. In this instance, you may have no alternative but to purchase a second vehicle, which means two sets of insurance, vehicle excise duty if applicable, and maintenance and fuel costs.
Running a car in the suburbs may be the most convenient option for getting around, but it’s expensive, and not all of the costs are obvious. Before you make that move to the suburbs, take time to consider the hidden costs of the move, otherwise that suburban dream could soon become a living nightmare – financially at least.