In Which US Cities did People Save the Most Money by Cutting Commuting Costs During the Pandemic?

Story Highlights:

  • People saved the most money in California by reducing or eliminating transportation costs;
  • Palmdale, CA, landed as the #1 city where people saved the most money: $3,581 in 6 months;
  • Corona, Santa Clarita, and Vallejo are among the California cities where people saved over $3K;
  • In New York City, commuters saved $3,000 in 6 months by working from home;
  • In the Midwest region of the country, Chicagoans managed to save an average of $2,902;
  • Southern cities where people saved the most money are Washington, DC, Miami, and Houston;

At the very beginning of 2020, most of us did what we always do at the start of a new and promising year, namely set resolutions. For some, that might mean losing weight, becoming more active, traveling more, while for others, it might mean saving money and time in an increasingly busy world. Little did we know what this year had in store for us, and how much time and money we actually would end up saving just by working from home, cutting transportation costs and eliminating commutes for a good chunk of the year.

For those of us lucky enough to have had the opportunity to work from home and keep our jobs, we were fortunate to save up some money by eliminating commute costs, and we even ended up with more spare time on our hands. However, on the other side of the spectrum, some Americans had to rely on their savings to get through harsh times. Unfortunately, nearly 14% wiped-out their emergency savings.

According to a MassMutual survey, about 22% of U.S. citizens (that’s approximately 1 in 5 people) saved at least $1,000 during the pandemic. Apart from cutting transportation costs— from gas money to bus passes and everything in between—most Americans managed to save money by not spending so much on entertainment, food, or going out.

Figuring out where people saved the most time and money during the pandemic

Intrigued by these statistics, we did a little research and digging of our own, and we also collaborated with Roos Advisors and NYC Network Group to bring the entire study to fruition. We got curious about how the pandemic affected specific cities when it came to saving time and money in the past 6 months. From average daily commute times to gas prices, commute distance, and fuel efficiency when it comes to vehicles, we analyzed everything. 

Using every available dataset we could get our hands on, we managed to create a list that shows the cities where people saved the most money and time by cutting public transportation costs or car costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also created several regional pandemic savings rankings, to get a better picture of the differences.  

If you’re curious about the specific methods we used for our calculations, scroll down to the end of the article to read the detailed methodology. 

Now that the technicalities are out of the way, let’s see which are the cities where people saved the most money.

By reducing or eliminating transportation costs, people saved the most money in California

Seven out of 10 cities on our list are Californian cities, specifically cities around Los Angeles. Furthermore, more than half of the cities in the top 100 are also Californian cities orbiting L.A. This does not come as a surprise, as most people living in and around L.A, including Orange County, L.A. County or Riverside County all rely on personal cars rather than public transportation for commuting.

With driving to work using a personal car being far more expensive than using public transportation, it’s no wonder people saved the most money in L.A. once the coronavirus hit and essentially froze almost all activity in the city.

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