Here's a great illustration of how the costs of urban and suburban infrastructure and transportation services vary greatly, with sprawling communities on the more expensive side of things. This handy infographic (click to expand) from environmental think tank Sustainable Prosperity, neatly displays the gaping differences between annual costs per household found in a study by the Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia. In total, the difference in annual city costs between suburban and urban homes in the region is $2,046 CAD, or $1,623 in U.S. dollars.
The Halifax Regional Municipality found the cost of building infrastructure and providing services was proportionate to how far apart homes were located. Researchers calculated costs per capita, and looked at how travel distances correlated with costs of services like fire-fighting, which is twice as expensive in suburban neighborhoods. Obvious differences include services affected by distance-related factors like transportation, roads, sidewalks, and school busses. Less obvious differences? Libraries. Even the cost of libraries is almost double in suburban areas.