Saturday, January 1, 2011

What does it really cost to get around in the US today? By get around, I mean car, subway, bus and not planes or hotel expenses. Data from 4 million users tell us that it is cheaper in cities and more expensive in states where you have to drive long distances.

I've been interested in aggregate data from for a while now: 4 million users across the US, real data, from their credit cards and bank accounts, not remembered data. And of course, my statistical self has to recognize that there is sampling bias of some kind with mint users. And it doesn’t take your cash expenditures into account either. If I had to guess, because these numbers are low, they don't include the cost of insurance (around $1100/yr), and obviously not depreciation (around $1500+/year). Regardless, the comparative data is interesting.

But we can assume that for your car related purchases – i.e. the car, the maintenance, the fuel, the tires – most people do most of them with credit cards and primarily at stores that are actually vehicle-only retailers, so the data must be relatively clean.

I broke Mint's system (or rather it timed out) when I tried to get Mint to give me the aggregate data for the whole US. This isn't one of their queries. I edited the URL in search of it. But Mind does let you query state by state, and for specific cities.

So here it is: comparative “Auto & Transport” data of average monthly (yearly) expenditure – as eyeballed because the graphs don’t give precise tick marks.

NYC: $250/mo ($3000/yr)

Boston: $250 ($3000/yr)

San Francisco: $340 ($4080/yr)

NYstate: $310 ($3720/yr)

Texas state: $390 ($4680/yr)

Massachusetts state: $300 ($4000/yr)

California state: $410 ($4920/yr)

If anyone manages to get the US data set to load, I'd love to see what those numbers are. Or if you can get this data in Mint's piechart format, that shows you what fraction of household budgets are spent on what, I really want to see that.

1 comment:

Michael, Portland Afoot said...

Neat idea. But "car ownership" isn't the only cost reflected here. The #1 recipient of "auto and transport" costs here in Portland, for example? Our public transit agency.