The 15 Cities With the Most Expensive Commutes, Based on the Cost of Gas

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With gas prices in the U.S. hitting an all-time average high of $4.43 per gallon on Friday, some commuters may be feeling a budget squeeze worse than others.

With gas prices, location matters: The difference in gas expenses for drivers commuting to work in the largest U.S. cities ranges by up to $651 annually per driver, according to a recent study by Clever, an online real estate brokerage service.

The most expensive market to drive into work is Riverside, California, with an average annual gas cost of $1,225. In comparison, the cheapest-ranked city is New Orleans, with an average cost of $574.

These are the top 15 most expensive metro areas for commuters, based on the average price of gas:

  1. Riverside, California: $1,225
  2. Phoenix: $1,224
  3. Los Angeles: $1,211
  4. Atlanta: $1,180
  5. San Diego: $1,156
  6. Houston: $1,080
  7. San Francisco: $1,077
  8. Chicago: $1,058
  9. Dallas: $1,055
  10. Sacramento, California: $1,039
  11. Nashville, Tennessee: $1,019
  12. Seattle: $1,001
  13. Detroit: $989
  14. Birmingham, Alabama: $924
  15. Washington, D.C.: $903

Using government data, the study calculated the price of gas in the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas by dividing the average distance to work by the average gas mileage across all light-duty vehicles — 22.9 miles per gallon — then multiplied that by the average gas price per gallon in March.

The average annual gas cost for commutes amongst all metro areas is $867. It's worth noting that this amount doesn't include the gas costs for all driving, just commutes to work.

The total annual gas cost for driving averages about $2,100 per household, according to 2019 data, accounting for 3.3% of drivers' total budgets, on average. However, that number might be higher now, with rising gas prices.

The factors that affect the cost of commuting can vary from city to city, even within the same state. These include urban sprawl, the availability of public transportation and the cost of gas in a given region, as it's typically cheaper in cities close to oil refineries.

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