15 cities with the most expensive commutes, based on gas prices

With US gasoline prices hitting an all-time high of $4.43 a gallon on Friday, some commuters may be feeling the budget even worse than others.

With gas prices, location matters: The difference in gas costs for drivers who commute to work in the largest U.S. cities ranges up to $651 per year per driver, according to a recent survey by Clever, an online real estate brokerage.

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

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

  1. Riverside, California: $1,225
  2. Phoenix: $1,224
  3. The Angels: $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 for all light vehicles — 22.9 miles per gallon — and then multiplying that by the average gas price per gallon in March.

The average annual gas cost for commuting between all metro areas is $867. It’s worth noting that this amount doesn’t include gas costs for all driving, just commuting.

Total annual gasoline costs for driving, according to 2019 data, average about $2,100 per household, accounting for an average of 3.3% of drivers’ total budget. That number may be higher now, however, with rising gas prices.

The factors that affect commuting costs 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 particular region, as it tends to be cheaper in cities near oil refineries.

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