DC Tops List of Most Affordable Cities

However, housing and transportation are still soaking up 51 percent of average household income, says a new study

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    You may feel like laughing (in horror) as you read this, but a new study says the District tops the list of the most affordable metropolitan cities for middle-class families.

    Yes, really.

    Of the 25 largest metro areas in the country, the study found that the Washington region places the lowest housing and transportation burden on its residents.

    That's because the study (PDF) -- conducted by the Center for Housing Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology -- factors in median income, and D.C.'s is about $89,000.

    That doesn't necessarily mean the livin' is easy, though.

    Housing and transportation costs are soaking up 51 percent of the region's average household income. And in "real dollars" -- without factoring in income -- D.C. housing costs are among the highest in the country.

    And that rate's been going up.

    The study notes, "Housing and transportation costs rose faster than income during the 2000s, increasing the burden that these costs placed on already-stretched budgets."

    That's true of all 25 cities in the study. In the D.C. area, household income rose 35 percent between 2000 and 2010. But housing and transportation costs rose 50 percent -- the highest jump of all 25 cities.

    And if a median income of $89,000 sounds high to you, a quick note: The study actually examined households making from 50 to 100 percent of each area's median income.

    In our region's case, that was roughly $44,000 to roughly $89,000 -- and that hardly means everyone's raking in that much.

    The study notes, "...[T]here are households in each metro are earning far less, living in poverty, and paying much higher percentages of income on housing and transportation."

    In the D.C. area, 11 percent of households still earned less than $25,000 a year.

    Rounding out the top five "most affordable" on the list were Philadelphia, Baltimore, Minneapolis and Boston. 

    The five least affordable are Miami; Riverside, Calif.; Tampa; Los Angeles and San Diego. In the Miami region, residents pay an average of 72 percent of their income on housing and transportation. D.C. is sounding a little better to you now, isn't it?