Gas Price Math: Charlottesville City vs Albemarle County

Gas prices and commute times/distances matter. Shorter commutes have been proven to be better both for happiness and budgets. For those of us who do this every day, gas prices are something we evaluate frequently, from different angles and perspectives – those of our clients’.

My friend and colleague at Nest, Keith Davis, shared this with me recently and I thought I’d share it with you.

“If you want to talk about tax differences between city and county… try this on for size…

Spending $300k on a home in the city generates a tax burden of $237.50 a month. Spending $300k in Albemarle generates a tax burden of $204.75 a month.

A difference of $32.75.

A new home in the city can save the owner more than $30 a month in taxes over a resale in the county, no questions asked. (note: the agent to whom I wrote this email had a client looking at a new construction home in the city and was going to pass on it to buy a resale in Crozet because the taxes were lower.) If you own two cars and each gets a respectable 22 MPG at $2.69/gal (very low estimate, but right now you can find gas priced like this) … this equates to 2 cars living 3.35 miles further for work. That’s it…

Head to Crozet…. The Mudhouse in Crozet is 15 miles from the King Building downtown… Assume that this is only 12 miles further from home than if you live in the city.

– 12 x 2 ways (back and forth each work day)

– And assume only one spouse making the trek.

– And assume they NEVER come to Charlottesville other than once a day for work.

– This is 6,000 miles per person.

– At only $2.69 a gal at 22 MPG, you just spent $733.64 to save $32.75 a month…

Oh, and that $33 a month is tax deductible. And there is no HOA in most City neighborhoods …

So, how much will your client be saving by living in the County?

Oh, and one last thing… Since I moved to Charlottesville 19 years ago, not once has Charlottesville City changed their residential tax rate. The County has bumped theirs repeatedly… What was once a difference of 35% is now only 13.1% off.
Keeping everything in context, each location offers benefits and detractions.

Earlysville offers better proximity to NGIC and DIA.

Pantops/Keswick offer better proximity to Richmond.

Crozet offers proximity to mountains, hiking and two major arteries into downtown Charlottesville.

Ultimately – what are your locationally important triangles? Or, asked differently, why do you choose to live where you do?

Coming Friday – a look back at a gas price math post from 2008.


West Main Street in Downtown Charlottesville

Morning on West Main.

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  1. Jim Duncan August 6, 2015 at 12:24

    From an email commenter:

    Interesting math, and analysis. Schools schools schools is what drove me to Crozet, and this was a few years before kiddos even came into the picture. I heard they were great, and that was reason enough. I had a 30 minute commute living in the NCR, and now have the same. My wife on the other hand is not used to commuting to work …. and misses her short drive. However, once the kiddos are in school, and they are in such close proximity to where we live, her calculus and perspective might change.

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  3. Mark August 11, 2015 at 16:25

    Compared to Albemarle, I think the current 12.1-cent tax difference is worth it due to the free recycling and cheap trash pickup, not to mention access to city natural gas and water. I like being closer to everything and having the roads plowed more quickly due to there being fewer roads, etc. I like being close to my kids’ school. No HOA is sweet too.

    On the downside, the City is very far left and I personally don’t feel represented at all in its government.

    On the other side of it, that $300k gets you more house and land in the County, so it’s probably well worth it for County residents. However, I don’t think they’re getting their 83 cents’ worth in terms of services. Other surrounding counties’ rates seem to be far lower.

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