Is Houston's Affordability Just a Myth?

A new article argues unconvincingly that the sprawling Texas metro is less affordable than ultra-expensive New York City after accounting for higher transportation costs and lower incomes.


Houston has been held up as a rare example of an American city that is both large, thriving, and cheap, thanks to the minimal restrictions it places on building new housing. But is this affordability just a myth?

On Friday, Texas Monthly published an article with the provocative headline, "Houston is now less affordable than New York City." The piece argues that once the costs of transportation are factored into the equation, auto-dependent Bayou City becomes much less of a bargain.

"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," writes Texas Monthly's Peter Holley.

"When considering housing and transportation costs as a percentage of income," Holley continues, Houston, with its lower median income, appears "significantly less affordable than cities with much more expensive housing, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston."

Holley is relying on a new report from the Citizens Budget Commission, a New York-based non-profit. Its January-released "Rent and Ride" report used data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to compare the affordability of 20 large American cities. It found that when median housing and transportation costs are added up, Houston is just barely more affordable than New York City. When median income is taken into account, Houston becomes much less affordable.

This counterintuitive conclusion was polarizing, to say the least. Public transit advocates felt their complaints about "auto-dependency" were vindicated.

Others were a bit less credulous.

Indeed, a closer look at how affordability is measured by HUD reveals some serious problems with the Texas Monthly article's analysis, suggesting that the traditional view of Houston as a big, affordable place to live still holds up.

That's largely because the way HUD calculates transportation costs actually understates the costs of taking public transit, biasing its affordability measurements against auto-heavy cities like Houston.

HUD measures a city's cost of living by using a Location Affordability Index (LAI), which estimates median household housing and transportation costs down to the census block group level.

To calculate transportation costs, the LAI adds up the costs paid by motorists to own and operate their vehicles, as well as the fares that transit riders pay.

The trouble is that while it does a good job of capturing most of the costs commuters pay to get around by car, HUD's LAI does a bad job of calculating the costs that transit users pay for their transit trips.

With the exception of tolls and parking fees (which obviously can be substantial in some cities), HUD's calculation of auto ownership is pretty comprehensive, including the costs of fuel, "drivability" or maintenance, financing, and depreciation.

However, when measuring transit costs, HUD only looks at the fares commuters pay. Right away, that presents a problem, as fares cover only a portion (and sometimes a tiny portion) of the cost of each transit trip.

In New York City—which has one of the best farebox recovery ratios in the country—fares only cover about 40 percent of the subway's operating costs, and less than 30 percent of the operating costs of the city's bus service.

The difference is made up by taxes, including a special payroll tax, real estate transfer tax, and a surcharge on taxi and rideshare rides. The city and state also chip in additional tax-funded subsidies. These taxes are ultimately part of the transportation costs riders pay, but they are missed by HUD's affordability index.

The result is that HUD's LAI understates the transportation costs in transit-heavy cities like New York, while giving a more accurate picture of the transportation costs for motorists in Houston, who pay the full cost of operating their own vehicles (if not the roads they drive on).

Taken to extremes, New York could become the most "affordable" city in the country by just replacing private expenditures with tax-funded transportation subsidies. Conversely, Houston gets no credit for the money its low tax rates save residents, a point noted by Tory Gattis in a blog post published on the Houston Chronicle's website.

"If you move from NYC to Houston and spend the tax savings on a better house and car, your life got worse because their percentage of your income went up!" he writes.

Taxes aren't the only thing HUD's affordability index misses. Gattis' post, citing data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, also points out that Houstonians have higher buying power than their New York cousins.

Additionally, both the Texas Monthly article and the Citizens Budget Commission report weigh an already skewed measure of affordability by median income, which only distorts the relative affordability of Houston and New York City even more.

The median income in Houston is $61,000, while the median income in New York City is $69,000. That means each dollar a median-earning Houstonian spends on his housing or transportation is going to be a larger percentage of his income than the median-earning New Yorker, making Houston look more expensive by comparison.

What this misses is that Houston has a lower median income, in part, because it's a more affordable place to live, and therefore is able to attract lower-income people who've been priced out of more expensive metros.

New York City, meanwhile, has experienced a 40,000-person net population decline in both 2017 and 2018, with the high cost of living being cited as one of the reasons for the outflow.

Provided that the bulk of the people moving out of the city are low- and moderate-income earners, their departure would raise New York City's median income, thus making the city look more affordable on paper, even if it's actually getting more expensive in reality. If these same low- and moderate-income earners moved to Houston in search of a lower cost of living, they'd make that city look less affordable by lowering the city's median income.

So despite what a cursory look at HUD's LAI might have one believe, Houston in all likelihood still deserves its reputation as a success story of urban affordability.

NEXT: Facial Recognition and the Danger of Automated Authoritarianism

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  1. Houston continues to gain population while New York loses population. So either people have somehow decided they prefer a lower standard of living or this study is bullshit. I am going with the latter on that.

    1. True. Same with Chicago. Houston’s rate of growth is out-pacing Chicago substantially – to the point that H-Town could eventually become the country’s 3rd largest city.
      I’m from – and am living in – the Houston metro, so, no mistake: the commute situation is nightmarish at times (think, Atlanta). This is a problem partly with population density, but also a behavioral problem. In a metro this big, lotsa fuckers just don’t know/don’t care about how to drive.

      1. “This is a problem partly with population density”
        Houston’s a sparsely-populated town. I’ve noticed dense New York’s (surprisingly) a lot easier to drive in than LA, where everything was built around cars.
        LA recently spent $2 billion widening the 405 and traffic only got worse.

        The Reason article conveniently fails to mention that highways and wide roads are “subsidized” (read: entirely paid for) by taxpayers and collect no toll. Fortunately Texas’s governor has announced Texas will probably not build anymore highways.

        1. Houston proper has 2.3 million while the metro has around 7 million. That’s not terribly sparse. The Houston area has many toll roads. While it’s true Houston doesn’t toll its drivers like the northeast US, a la turnpikes galore, it does toll them nonetheless.

          1. Moreover, all of the new roads are going to be toll roads with HOV options. Fairly certain they’ll take free road lanes out to make room for toll ‘Express’ lanes. Like Dallas.

            They still don’t have enough roads, nor real mass transit. Bring in heavy rail or an elevated option—zero chance a subway works with the flooding Houston gets—and now we’re talking, but no one really wants to spend the money to do that. They’d rather piss it away on bayou beautification, more trolley routes, and electrified bus routes.

            1. Some of the planners are doing their due diligence in trying to make the proverbial lemonade. But, Houston’s buses don’t go outside of Houston and there are no partner transit systems to connect them to. Dallas is a shitshow, so if Houston tries to take a page out of the DFW book, taking away free commute lanes and not replacing them with a viable alternative as you mentioned, the city might take cars off the streets only by pushing the residents that drive them out to other cities. Mayor Turner is not equipped to deal with this.

              1. “Mayor Turner is not equipped to deal with this.”

                That part’s certainly true.

                FWIW, in my very limited experience with them, the metro commuter buses weren’t bad. Those are the ones that go straight from some far flung transport center into Downtown. Or from Downtown to either airport. Usually on time. Somewhat clean. Relatively comfortable.

                The main bus lines? Forget it. They beat walking.

                For as much as Houston seemingly wants to emulate L.A., they don’t have anywhere near the controlled access road amounts the LA basin does. Further, I’ve mentioned ‘the UN of Houston’ before. With all of those foreign drivers come a lot of foreign driving habits (but not German, sadly), in addition to the plague on considerate driving that the smartphone has brought upon us.

                The poster citing bike lanes made me LOL. Have they tried walking around outside here 7 months out of the year? And bicycling in Houston is like driving to drive in the snow and ice in Houston: you might know how to do it, but none of the other drivers around you do. Take your life in your hands riding in traffic or downtown. Even with the idiotic green bike lanes that Parker put in.

                1. “With all of those foreign drivers come a lot of foreign driving habits”
                  Heh. I was trying not to go there, but you are spot on. After 25 years in the USN, I’ve done my fair bit of globetrotting and I’ve seen how people drive all over the world. That, IMO, exacerbates the traffic problem in Houston (among other places *cough* Tidewater Virginia) grossly.

            2. Houston is currently building a massive light rail expansion.
              I’m glad texans are finally realizing that no amount of highways will solve the traffic problem.

      2. I agree. I live in League City (little south of Houston). Traffic stinks. They are trying to increase the lanes but that will take a long long time. The other issue is they did some new lanes in the middle of downtown but went from 5 lanes down to 3. What the hell!

        1. Adding more lanes doesn’t help traffic. Tends to make traffic worse, actually.
          See: atlanta, los angeles, houston, etc.

          1. Agree. I wish city planners would realize that. Houston roads are filled with people who are convinced that driving is nothing less than Thunderdome rules, jockeying for pole position. No amount of lane expansions will change that.

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      3. Yes, technically Houston may become the third largest city, but it’s a meaningless designation when you account for the fact that it’s three times larger geographically. If Chicago covered the same amount of land as Houston, it’d probably be a city of 5-6 million people.

        1. I agree, and I wasn’t claiming it was a meaningful designation. Merely pointing out the fact that Houston is growing at a higher rate than Chicago. Chicago could conceivably go the way of Detroit, where – anecdotally – the population has dwindled down to less than 700k. Chicago will never be that thin, but it’s not an insignificant thing that it shrinks to the point that it is no longer the third-largest city in the US (never mind what city takes over that place).
          Projecting Chicago’s population based on a what-if, is a meaningless exercise and not a very scientific one. LA metro has 2x the population of the Houston metro, but covers 4.5x the square miles.

    2. I once whiled away some hours in a downtown Houston cigar store. 98% of the conversations were about the commute.

      you may be able to afford and $189k 3 Bdrm/3 bath but likely as not you commute 1-2 hours a day if traffic is flowing. You cannot read a paper or do your nails. its just time wasted and lost.

      your wife works to and so you collectively commute 2-4 hours a day. a car is required for every adult so you 2-3 cars per house plus insurance + gas ($150/week +) plus repairs and depreciation Houston pot holes and humidty means you get half the usual life of car.

      1. Let’s not get carried away. There’s no snow or road salt. The roads are absolute shit though, at least on surface streets, like they did get frost heaves. Though I suspect it’s shitty, stereotypically Southern neglect of civil engineering, with a heap of corruption involved, along with clay soils that don’t drain so much as they swell and shrink. They had to stop pumping groundwater because it was causing the city to sink.

        Oh, and the elevation off roads onto parking lots can be severe. Hope your Lambo can rise six inches or so.

      2. And you don’t hear exactly the same stories and complaints and worse about commute times to New York?

        Note that according to the US Census, NYC has the longest average commute time of any city in the country. Houston doesn’t even make the top 10.

      3. Funny, since I’ve been here 23 years and the cars my daughter hasn’t smashed have lasted 14+ years without major issues. I don’t know what pot holes you see but when I go to visit family in PA they are much much worse. The cold/salt/ice really wrecks the roads up there.

        Now if you want to say no-one knows how to drive, most only drive trucks, and a yellow light is to floor it… I’m right there with you on that complaint.

        1. Go drive down Richmond and get back to me. The surface roads are shit.

          The freeways OTOH, after lots of work, aren’t that bad. The Katy is fine after the renovations. I mean, traffic still sucks, but the road itself is all right. Even if my car hates grooved pavement…

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    3. Texas elected Ted Cruz and voted for Donald Trump so the Rev will be along shortly to explain to you why you’re wrong to assume the latter. If people are too stupid to know what’s for their own good, it’s entirely appropriate – laudable, even – for their betters to attempt to nudge them, as this Texas Monthly writer seems to be doing. If the nudges don’t work, of course, further steps may unfortunately be necessary, as sad and solemn and prayerful as those necessary further steps may be to those selfless individuals burdened with the necessity of administering those further steps.

    4. It’s total bullshit. But Houston is one hell of a lot more expensive than it was 20 years ago, and there’s a shit-ton of Californians, New Yorkers, FIBs, and every other shitty leftist state and countries’ former presidents here. You can go shopping and, without trying hard, hear five languages or more as you go. Spanish, Hindi, Vietnamese, Russian, Urdu are the ones I hear most, with a smattering of Arabic, French, and Mandarin.

      It really is the United Nations of Houston. Because everybody needs oil.

      1. Oh, and if you’re broke, there’s probably a lot fewer in the way of subsidized services for the poor than NYC. Which is a feature, really.

  2. “New York is super-affordable because look at how many rich people live here. Houston is super-expensive because it only has poor people.”

    I think they got some problems in their heads.

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  3. Provided that the bulk of the people moving out of the city are low- and moderate-income earners, their departure would raise New York City’s median income, thus making the city look more affordable on paper, even if it’s actually getting more expensive in reality.

    The average income in a place like Aspen, Colorado or Sea Island Georgia is likely in the millions. By the logic these clowns are using, those places are affordable places to live.

  4. You know what else HUD doesn’t cover in the cost of mass transit, having some nut job scream in your face or passing bodily fluids.

    1. The fact that trips take longer when you have to change buses or trains, the fact that you are limited to only going places where the trains and buses go, that they might only run once an hour at night or on weekends…

      1. Yes, as usual, pro-mass-transit activists forget that the fundamental currency isn’t money, it’s time.

        1. Not having mass transit forces more people to drive, which makes car traffic slower.
          Adding protected bike lanes and buses helps everyone get around quicker (multimodal streets move more people, faster, than car-only streets).
          Also, Houston is great for not having zoning, but they need to get rid of their parking minimums.

  5. No, no, they’ve got a point.
    The point is to print whatever you can to make sure people from New York don’t move to Texas.

  6. what they don’t tell you is half of N’Ollans moved there post-Katrina

    1. But totally didn’t commit any crime while they were here, per Rice University sociologists. Pinky-swear. They wouldn’t lie, would they?

      1. “But totally didn’t commit any crime while they were here, per Rice University sociologists.”

        Clearly, those sociologists never talked to my sister-in-law or her neighbors.

  7. No, no, no. Houston is really expensive compared to New York or California, only a crazy person would want to move to Texas. Please Reason, don’t advertise for Texas, only backward thinking rednecks could possibly want to live here. Plus it’s really, really hot, no one wants to be this hot on purpose.

    For the record, my wife works for Texas DPS driver license division and tells me horror stories of all the Californians and New Yorkers she sees on a daily basis. Sadly they are an infestation.

    1. Not to mention Mayor Turner

    2. And Texas is the reason JFK was killed.

      1. Early 90’s I went to Germany and a lady there asks where I’m from. Since Dallas is the closest real city to the podonk town I live in, I say Dallas. She makes finger guns and goes, pew, pew so I laugh thinking cowboys and Indians. She says “JFK” and my heart sank, thinking damn, I just laughed at an assassination.

  8. On Friday, Texas Monthly

    I’ve read Texas Monthly… and it seems like it’s edited by the same people that created Lonestar 9-1-1.

  9. In New York City—which has one of the best farebox recovery ratios in the country—fares only cover about 40 percent of the subway’s operating costs, and less than 30 percent of the operating costs of the city’s bus service.

    The difference is made up by taxes, including a special payroll tax, real estate transfer tax, and a surcharge on taxi and rideshare rides. The city and state also chip in additional tax-funded subsidies. These taxes are ultimately part of the transportation costs riders pay, but they are missed by HUD’s affordability index.

    Thank you. When reading the headline, I came here to say that.

  10. I don’t have a dog in the fight between NYC and Houston, but the whole tax/income things seems easy enough to take into consideration.

    Just look at gross income minues transportation costs. That will also account for the differences in state income taxes, property taxes, and so-on, looking just at “after your housing, taxes, transport are spent, what’s left?”

    That said? You couldn’t pay me to live in either. I like my little slice of heaven on 20 acres in a town of 1000 people. Sure, my commute is a bit longer then if I lived in town (20 minutes one-way), but I like it.

    1. er, minus transportation and housing.

      1. I assume you mean net income instead.

        1. Wow, yeah, I was not on the ball yesterday.

          Point being, the question is how much money do you have left after all the costs, and how much time do you have left after all the commute. They account for property tax when looking at housing costs, why can’t they look at income tax when looking at income?

          1. I agree. I assumed that was how they did the initial analysis, so I was confused by Reason’s response. I can’t think of any justification for failing to include taxes (income, property, sales) in assessing the cost of living.

            And, of course, including property tax in the analysis (which Texas has) but not income tax (which Texas does not have) will skew the analysis in favor of New York (which has both).

  11. Is Texas Monthly trying to convince liberals form other states to not go there now?

    1. Texas Monthly is a far leftie mag out of Austin..they hate real Texans…total wokes

  12. I thought you might be being unfair to NYC in that you’re failing to consider the value of the smugness in being able to say you use mass transit, but then I realized you could just move to Houston and buy a Tesla.

    1. Well then, the value of smugness from being able to say you’re from “The City”. This based on the apparent assumption that the qualities (wealth, cosmopolitanism, culture) thought to make New York “great” are somehow automatically dispensed to the citizens thereof, thereby elevating them to…well, the nature of the superiority thus achieved is not obvious to anyone else, but universally assumed by New Yorkers.

  13. I reference my username as my source.

    No. It’s not. The chemical plants especially provide an excellent living for us all. As an engineer, I can afford a better lifestyle than managers elsewhere The conclusions of the original article are baffling at best

    1. As an engineer, you’re way beyond the median to start with, so your situation isn’t representative of the median worker at all.

      To be clear, I’m not saying anything about the affordability of Houston, just that your experience is well beyond what they’re talking about.

  14. Houston is minting blue collar jobs in health care and oil/gas. So much so that we’ve got three separate ring roads circumnavigating the city: I-610, Beltway 8, and now Highway 99 aka the Grand Parkway. This place is massive.

  15. I just had to deal with visiting a customer on long island and had to fly into LaGuardia…then renting a car. What a find nightmare. Construction everywhere around the airport (mostly PA and contractors standing around not doing anything). When I fly into Bush or say even DFW/Love in Dallas..you get a car and are anywhere pretty quick for a major city. Jobs are a plenty in Houston and Dallas…property taxes are low..people are nice and you don’t have what Howard Stern would say “yenta busy bodies” screaming for more govt, more regulatotions, more taxes to support a shitty public transportation system. Houston is about liberty..NYC is like an old Eastern European City…of wokes..crony, corrupt and preachy. Texas is a free state. NY is a bolshevik nightmare.

    1. property taxes are low

      In Texas? You sure about that?

    2. +1, Reason should have a like/thumbs up/rating system.

  16. The hidden costs of urban sprawl creep up on you in a million ways.

    And let’s not forget car-dependency is a product of big government.

    1. “And let’s not forget car-dependency is a product of big government.”

      As opposed to mass transit-dependency, I presume? Meh.

      1. And to be clear- I have no problem being dependent on my car. It goes where I want, when I want. Mass transit? It goes where the government wants, when the government wants. As long as its union slugs show up for work.

        1. Metro (the name of the transit agency) light rail isn’t too bad, punctuality wise. Still stupid expensive for what you get, but it shows up when it should. The busses? Other than the airport shuttles, the scheduled buses are late, dirty, crowded, and frequently broken. The schedules are creative fiction. You can live without a car, but it’s a giant PITA. I don’t recommend it.

        2. ^This^. What these bean counters and econutz ignore is the inherent value of owning a car and the freedom to go where you want, when you want. Yes, there are costs involved, but good cars are a lot cheaper, less polluting, and more reliable than they were 20-30 years ago, and you would still need to pay for a rental car, bus, plane, or train tickets if you want to get out of the city for a weekend, which can add up to more than owning a car

        3. Car dependency is definitely a product of social engineering from the government. You should read about American history sometime.

          Planners in the 20th century deliberately separated uses in cities, said “this area is for this use (e.g. residential) and if you want to shop, you’ll use a car to get to the retail area I’m designating, and if you want to work you’ll go to the office zone I’m designating for you.”
          They strictly controlled land use to make sure you were dependent on a car and couldn’t use other modes of transportation.
          To support this lifestyle the federal government paved highways and subsidized oil.

          1. Not applicable in Houston, which has been proudly free of zoning for a century now. You want to put a strip mall or strip club smack dab between a preschool and a church. Have fun.

            1. Houston has no zoning, but some of the biggest parking minimums in the country.
              That’s why, for a long time, when you went downtown it was so shitty; parking lots everywhere.
              Government creates sprawl and market urbanism is the (only) solution.

          2. “They strictly controlled land use to make sure you were dependent on a car and couldn’t use other modes of transportation.”

            You expect me to believe the government is trying to make people dependent on cars when every city with a population over 100 wants to build trains and trolleys? You know- those transportation systems government can’t afford to build unless they take a portion of the taxes people pay for gas that would otherwise cover road expenses?

            You might want to rethink your argument.

            1. ^ what an amazingly delusional and bullshit post. I doubt even you believe it.

  17. I’m from Philly but moved to Houston to work at NASA 23 years ago. Yes, the city has grown..insanely large. Traffic used to be great but now is horrible at rush hour. Other than rush hour, traffic moves great and you can get anywhere fast. Speed limit on I45 is 60 to 75 mph. You can take 610 if you don’t want downtown. You can take Beltway 8 with tolls if you want further around town.

    Yes an accident will stop your day but honestly compared to the north they are cleared quickly. Plus we have feeder roads. Finally, there are buses and HOV lines so there is public transport.

    I live 10 miles from work. Takes me about 25 minutes to get home in rush hour in Houston.

  18. The article being criticized reflects the amount of lunacy required to be on the Left these days.

    A criticism I don’t see mentioned yet is the imagining that a Houston resident who moves to New York would immediately see his salary scaled up in accordance with the ratio of the two cities’ medians. This is not true. Many people will have about the same amount of money regardless of where they live, so it behooves them to choose lower-cost areas.

    1. I don’t know about that. You won’t move up in compensation percentage-wise along with the median, but you’ll likely have more money overall. Housing costs will be higher, but just about everything else will be quite similar in costs. Yes, most things are a little more expensive in big cities, but not by all that much and certainly not the same percentage as housing. So, if you make more money and not all of the difference is going to housing, you’re coming out ahead in the expensive city if you have a similar job, but being paid more.

  19. While the Texas Monthly article is absurd, so is Reason’s response. In particular:

    The difference is made up by taxes, including a special payroll tax, real estate transfer tax, and a surcharge on taxi and rideshare rides. The city and state also chip in additional tax-funded subsidies. These taxes are ultimately part of the transportation costs riders pay, but they are missed by HUD’s affordability index.

    Taxes are already factored into the cost of living in any location; factoring them into transportation costs as well amounts to double counting.

    1. Taxes are already factored into the cost of living in any location […]

      You sure? I looked at that “Rend and Ride” link, and the only mention of taxes was specifying that they were comparing pre-transfer and pre-tax income.

  20. Skimming the report, it looks like they compared transport costs of people living inside NYC with people who live in Houston, including Houston’s suburbs.
    I don’t see them accounting for people who live outside NYC, in the Jersey “suburbs,” and commute in every day. The folks who drive to the train station, ride the train to the subway, then take the subway to their work, and reverse the process at COB.

    1. How do people make that kind of commute? I’d be exhausted by the time I got to work.

      1. The same way people in the SF Bay Area who live in Tracy, Modesto, and points east do. Carpool, lots of caffeine, and a titanic commute. Guess it’s worth it for a home they can afford and schools that aren’t horrible. Versus sharing an urban rabbit hutch with cockroaches, gladiator academy schools, and being forced to take mass transit everywhere.

        Makes it easy to see why so many moved East.

  21. What is the socialist obsession with trains? It’s like a mental disorder, arrested development or something.

    1. They can shut down trains if they need to. Once the train is the only way to get anywhere, TPTB can raise the price to keep mobility down, yet use subsidies to reward the party faithful.

      The nomenklatura will still have other ways to get where they need to go.

  22. In my Capt. Obvious role, and without looking at other comments, I have to say that the bullshit Texas Monthly article fails to consider that owning a car has fantastic non-monetary value in freedom, travel options other than commuting, convenience and pure personal pleasure. Riding public transit has none of that, and may indeed have negative “quality-of-life” effects. As you may be aware if you have had the ‘pleasure’ of using said options. The inconvenience, wasted time and forced association with people one might otherwise choose not to share a room with, are non-financial aspects that are also not taken into account.

    tl,dr version: Fuck that guy.

  23. My nephew has a 10 year old, 2500 square foot house on a quarter acre of land in the Houston metro area and it set him back about $300K 7 years ago. A house like that in NYC would be at least a million.

  24. “Affordability” is not measured by money out the door. It is measured by money spent on things desired. I may spend less in a totalitarian state on transportation because they don’t allow me to go where I want when I want. In a highly regulated (not totalitarian) state, many of the same things occur. I spend less for x, because I don’t have choices or because the Government makes alternate choices for me. It allocates the money to things I’d rather not spend on — like buses and other mass transit.

    What I really want is freedom and mobility, but the cost of that is placed out of reach.

    Affordability measured just by money believe that all goods are equally valuable no matter who your are.

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