"At $4 per gallon gas, $125 per barrel oil and $10 per million Btu natural gas, a lot of activity becomes uneconomical,'' says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com in West Chester, Pennsylvania.Though this blog is mostly about gardening, I wander into related issues of sustainability, community, public planning, and the economy as a whole from time to time. Times are tough for people who made bad choices, like buying cars that guzzled, and houses that were too large and too far to be practical. They were egged on by interested entities in the greater economy, told by advertisers and developers and friends that they deserved everything for nothing. But the consumers share a major part of the blame for their own bad decisions. We'll all pay the price in the long run.
The lifestyle of the exurban commuter may be one casualty.
Emerging suburbs and exurbs -- commuter towns that lie beyond cities and their traditional suburbs -- grew about 15 percent from 2000 to 2006, nearly three times as fast as the U.S. population, as Americans moved further out in search of more affordable houses or the bigger ones that are sometimes derided as McMansions.
``It was drive until you qualify'' for a mortgage, says Robert Lang, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech in Alexandria, Virginia. ``You can't do that anymore. Your cost of transportation will spike too much.''"
When I moved to my present house almost six years ago, I drew a small circle around my workplace that represented a walkable distance, something I decided arbitrarily was ten minutes or so. This priority was paramount -- and I made it when gas was a couple dollars a gallon. I can walk to work, Publix is less than a mile up the road, and there are a dozen restaurants (some of them even acceptable) within a walk from my house. But I also deal with living on a busy noisy street, in a very old house, on a small plot. All decisions have opportunity costs.
My money could have gone much further had I been willing to live outside my "urban" zone, but I counted other things as more important.