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Suburban Excess

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Suburban Excess

To many, the suburbs represent a chance to escape expensive city living. But that all depends on which suburb you choose. While you might not spend as much on taxis or parking, many suburbs can be just as, if not more, expensive as the city you left—especially if you want Wisteria Lane-like homes, strong schools and parks and recreation departments, and carefully mowed lawns. The recession has only made things harder as residents struggle to pay mortgages in the face of job losses and shrinking stock portfolios. BusinessWeek worked with data analytics firm OnBoard to identify the suburbs in each state where such expenses as mortgage and utility payments, clothing, food and beverage, property taxes, health care, and home prices were the highest. To see if your suburb made the list, read on.

Editor's Note: BusinessWeek's list of the Most Expensive Suburbs to Live In Now was calculated by weighing several factors: cost of living, nonretail expenditures (mortgage and utility payments), median home price, and median property tax.

The result was reached by taking a weighted average of nonretail expenditures (50%), cost of living (30%), median home price (10%), and median property tax (10%). In some states, property tax and median home sale information were not available, in which case we gave nonretail expenditures a 60% weight and cost of living a 40% weight. If either the median property tax or median home price was unavailable, we gave the other measure a 20% weight.

The nonretail expenditures index factors in expenses such as mortgage payments and utility payments and compares it to the state average. The cost-of-living index factors in spending on such expenses as education, entertainment, food and beverage, health care, insurance, and clothing and compares it to the state average. All indexes are 2009 estimates based on an end-of-2008 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. The indexes in the slide show refer to the percentage above the state average for cost of living and nonretail spending.