Housing affordability isn't just about your monthly mortgage or rent payment. Utilities can be a stealth budget buster.
Median spending on utilities is $2,715 per year – or $226 per month – for single-family homes, according to a new analysis from real estate website Trulia. Even when you're comparing homes of similar sizes and prices in the same region, it found, energy costs can vary widely based on factors like the local utility providers' rates, the age of your home and the size of the lot it sits on.
"If you're moving to a single-family home for the first time, or moving to a new area in general, this is definitely something you should be paying attention to," said Felipe Chacon, a housing data analyst at Trulia.
(Trulia's analysis used July data from UtilityScore, tallying water, natural gas and electricity rates into a single price per square foot. It also looked at climate data as a predictor of energy bills at the local and metro levels, but per the report, "the correlation was underwhelming.")