The cost of living in a specific house is much more than the monthly mortgage check. When you purchase a house, you also need to take into account the cost of transportation to work and other locations you frequent. Once you begin to factor in these additional transportation costs, many houses which are defined as affordable, 30% or less of median income, become unaffordable.
While I think we all understand that the farther we live from our work, the more expensive transportation will be, we are often dismissive of the actual cost. This map provides a good argument for incorporating actual transportation costs into a home buying decision. My town isn't incorporated into the mapping utility, it is clear that for the closest "big" city, living in the suburbs quickly crosses into unaffordable once transportation is considered. This is somewhat surprising due to the increased cost of owning or renting in areas closer to the center of town, though with gas prices going nowhere but up, this affordability index will be even more useful in the years to come.
Living in a location where transportation cost is lower, not only reduces the cost of home ownership over time, it is better for the environment. While we all like to talk "green", this map may get more individuals to lower their environmental impact by saving them everyone's favorite kind of green! Honestly, that's what it will take to get the majority of the population behind an environmental movement. Well, that or a new ice age.
What transportation costs mean for home affordability