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If you’re a car owner and you live in one of the cities in this slide show, you’re probably used to paying high insurance premiums, sitting in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, wasting time trying to find a parking space, and paying more for gas than most of the country.

It may come as no surprise that several of the cities on this list are among the country’s largest and most visited. In fact, three of them rank highly in U.S. News’ top 100 Best Places to Live. While these cities have a lot to offer, they’re not prime destinations for car lovers. Using public transportation or hitting the bike lanes is the more affordable, and often less stressful, way of commuting in these metropolises.

So if you’re relocating to one of the cities in this slide show, selling your car before the big move will be good for your bank account and probably save you some headaches in the future.

Washington DC

Our nation’s capital sits in 8th place in the Best Places to Live rankings, but if you’re going to live in the DC area, be prepared to sit in enraging traffic twice per day. The average one-way commute time in Washington is 34.3 minutes, which is among the longest of any U.S. city.

Even if you get up early to beat the morning rush, you’ll still have to contend with gas prices that are 9 percent higher than the national average and annual insurance premiums that are 34 percent more expensive than the norm for the country. A trip to a mechanic in the District is also likely to cost you more than it would in most other cities.

Commuters in the DC area will be better off ditching the car and biking into work using the Capital Bikeshare program, which has 350 pickup and drop-off locations in DC, Virginia, and Maryland. If you can’t afford to get sweaty on your way to work, hop on a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority bus or train. While this mass transit system has its problems, it will generally get you to where you need to be.


A couple hours north on I-95 sits the former capital of the United States, Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love offers plenty of history and culture, but it’s not a great destination for car owners. Insurance costs (60 percent above national average), gas prices (6 percent above average), and high taxes will put a dent in your bank account.

Plus, Philadelphia’s slower-than-average commute time of 28.8 minutes and scarce parking downtown frustrate car owners on a daily basis. Fortunately, those who go into the city every day can rely on the Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) light rail, commuter rail, and bus system, which radiates out from the city center in all directions. Philadelphia is also one of the most walkable major cities in the country.

New York City

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If you like sitting in traffic (34.9-minute average commute), wasting time trying to find parking, and paying exorbitant taxes and insurance premiums, head to the Big Apple and bring your car with you. Gas prices are more expensive than the national average as well.

Even if costs were low, New York’s extremely high population density makes driving more stressful than in most other parts of the country. Packs of tourists saunter across the street without looking while crazy cab drivers weave through traffic and don’t think twice about cutting you off.

Commuters in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx should take advantage of NYC’s extensive subway system, which serves those four boroughs on 21 different lines. Residents of Staten Island have a separate train system, but need to take a ferry to Manhattan. There are also plenty of bike lanes in Manhattan and Brooklyn if you want to get in some exercise on the way to work.


Moving up the Eastern Seaboard, Boston is another major city that makes things tough for drivers. Unlike most metropolises, Beantown isn’t laid out on a north-south-oriented grid. Instead, roads twist and bend any which way they want, and some just come to an end when you don’t expect them to.

Navigation aside, car ownership costs in Boston also won’t please most drivers. Insurance premiums are 21 percent higher than the national average, and maintenance and repair costs are also more expensive than normal for the U.S. The average commute time in the Boston area is just under 30 minutes, which is better than DC and New York, but still over four minutes longer than the national average.

Commuters should consider riding the T, Boston’s extensive (although aging) subway system. Walking to work is also popular in the city, but the brutal winters make that less appealing for part of the year.


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Although it’s known as the Motor City and is the historical home of the American automotive industry, Detroit isn’t all that friendly to cars these days. That’s mainly due to hefty insurance premiums that are over double the national average. Frequent theft and vandalism in the Detroit metro area is one reason why rates are so high, while Michigan’s “no-fault policy” also plays a role.

You’ll also pay 7 percent more for gas in Detroit than the U.S. average. Commuting to work in the Motor City takes, on average, 26.5 minutes, which isn’t too bad compared to some other cities on this list, but it’s still a bit longer than the norm for the country.  

Unfortunately for residents of the Detroit area, there’s no subway system to count on as an alternative to owning a car. There is a public bus system though. If you live in downtown, you can use the People Mover, an elevated tram system that stops at some of the city’s most popular locales.  


The Windy City has higher-than-average gas prices and costly taxes on new vehicle purchases. Plus, high population density means commuting (30.9 minutes on average) and finding a parking space can be regular sources of frustration.

Nasty winters in Chicago also make driving more stressful and dangerous than it is in most other cities, and after a thaw, you’ll be greeted with plenty of potholes to make your stop-and-go commute a little bumpier.

The good news is that Chicago has an extensive public train system, known as the L, which provides service from the city center out to the suburbs in all directions. Several major streets in downtown also have bike lanes for those who want to combine their commute and workout.


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You won’t have to deal with treacherous winter weather in Miami, but there other factors that make car ownership costly and cumbersome. First and foremost, annual insurance premiums are 45 percent higher than the national average. Miami’s reputation for having some of the country’s worst drivers probably plays a role.  

Beyond that, taxes on car purchases are high in the Sunshine State, and Miami’s high population density leads to a slower-than-average commute (27.7 minutes). As alternatives, the Miami area has public buses and two train systems (Metrorail and Metromover), although they don’t serve several inland suburbs, meaning residents will have to bear the costs of car ownership to get to downtown.

Los Angeles

Out west, there are a few cities that manage to be congested and expensive enough to make this list, and Los Angeles is one of them. The LA metro area is notorious for its packed freeways, and while the average commute time in the region is better than New York and DC at 29.3 minutes, it’s still well above the national average.

To make matters worse, gas prices (23 percent above average) and insurance (61 percent pricier than average) will hurt your bottom line. Plus, if you get in a fender bender on the 405 and need some work done, you’ll have to pay more at the mechanic than you would in most other major cities. If you can ride the Metro rail to work, you’ll save money and maybe some time as well. It has 93 stations in greater LA.

San Francisco

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The Bay Area has a lot to offer, including natural beauty, outdoor adventure, a thriving job market, and a diverse and progressive culture, so it’s no surprise it’s No. 9 in U.S News' Best Places to Live rankings. Almost everything is expensive in San Francisco though, and owning a car is no different.

Gas and repair prices are about as high in the Bay Area as they are in LA. Insurance is a bit cheaper, although it’s still 32 percent more expensive than the national average. The average commute time in the San Francisco area is actually a little longer than LA at 30.3 minutes.

If you live in downtown, ditch the car and ride one of the famous trolley cars to work. Walking and biking are also popular on the peninsula. Commuters from outside the city limits can use the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART), which has six lines and 45 stations.


Moving to the Pacific Northwest, Seattle has many of the same attractive qualities as San Francisco, and it’s ranked seventh in the Best Places to Live report. High costs and congested roadways make driving a hassle in the Emerald City, however.

Repair costs and gas prices in Seattle are a bit lower than the California cities, but they’re still considerably more expensive than the national average. The city’s geography (it’s wedged between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington) mean that the few bridges there are to get out of town are regularly packed with motorists, creating a frustrating commute.

Many residents brave the hilly terrain and bike to work. Those looking for a less physically demanding mode of transportation can ride a public bus or use the relatively new Sound Transit light rail system. Currently, this train only runs from the University of Washington just north of downtown to the SeaTac International Airport 18 miles to the south, with 21 stations in between. Residents of the city’s eastern suburbs will have to wait until service is expanded in that direction.

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