In light of the tight economy, people have become increasingly cognizant of the costs of living, and, in many cases, are seeking more affordable lifestyles. From commuting to grocery shopping or meeting friends for dinner, the financial implications of getting from “point A” to “point B” can vary widely from one community to the next.

Transportation costs can play a significant role in determining housing affordability. The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) recently launched a beta version of a powerful new tool that can help reveal those costs. Abogo – which derives its name from the words “abode” and “to go” – was designed to help people get an accurate picture of the transportation costs for a specific metro area, says Adam Mays, Social Ventures Associate with the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

Abogo includes transportation costs for 337 metro areas across the country, which is where 80 percent of the nation’s population resides. But that’s just the beginning. According to Adam Mays, metro area refers to “a Census-defined Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses a major city and all the surrounding suburbs.” Abogo, therefore, has data for over 11,550 municipalities.

And that’s what makes this tool so unique: Abogo has the ability to pinpoint the average costs and impact for specific addresses within communities. While data comparing transportation costs for one metro area to another is available from a variety of public resources, Abogo is far more powerful than any we’ve seen to date.

The tool is based on the CNT’s Housing + Affordability Index (see “Transportation Costs Impact Housing Affordability”), but in a much simpler format, geared toward the general public.

How does it work? Abogo takes into account the attributes of a given metro area – percentage of the population that uses public transportation, population density, proximity to retail establishments, etc. – and factors them into the costs associated with local transportation. These variables include public transportation options, fares, and gas prices, to name a few.

“Where you live directly impacts your cost of living,” says Adam Mays. By shedding light on transportation costs, Abogo can help consumers determine the true affordability of their housing options.

Abogo also provides the carbon emission level associated with driving a car in that particular area, thereby revealing not only transportation costs, but also environmental impact.

Because Abogo can determine average costs all the way down to a specific address, it allows for comparison among various communities – and then between specific locations within a community. It’s one thing to be able to compare transportation costs for Chicago with those for Scottsdale, but to see the variance between specific addresses within the same neighborhood is nothing short of impressive.