Why Does Commute Time Matter When Buying a Home

With average commute time in big cities like New York and Washington DC at around 34.7 and 32.8 minutes, respectively, people living in large, busy cities spend a lot of time commuting to work. The other cities are not far behind, with Buffalo averaging 20.3 minutes. 

For people working at an office, the commute time is the deciding factor while choosing a house. You may have to reject the best homes available at bargain prices solely because it will take too long to get to work and back daily. That’s why you should avoid buying a home with a long commute, regardless of where it is located and how tempting the price is.

What Most Families Consider Important?

When buying a house, most families consider schools first on their priority list, followed by commute to work coming next. Although most home buyers want everything within a stone’s throw, that’s mostly wishful thinking. Thinking on more realistic lines, here are a few things that get affected by your commute time:

Distance and Prices

It’s a vicious circle; with longer the distance, the lower the prices. The truth is it is impossible to have your cake and eat it too. For instance, the approximate prices in Washington DC that hover at around $450 to $600 per square foot. 

It is beyond the reach of most people who would prefer to look at someplace further away, like Rockville, where you may find some prime property at a more reasonable $275 to $350. In such cases, there’s no other go, and you’ll have to spend more time commuting to work.

The only way to strike a balance between short commute time and affordable prices is to keep driving until you reach an affordable neighborhood that’s not more than a 30-minute drive to work. 

Average Commute Costs

As mentioned earlier, the average commute time hovers around 25 minutes but would depend on the location. While folks working in the New York metro spend the longest commute time, office workers in LA, Atlanta, and Boston are not far behind. It is not surprising that over 10 million Americans spend more than an hour daily commute to work. 

With each additional commute-minute, you spend extra. Research on commuting costs indicates that for every mile you live away from work, you spend $795 per year.  Imagine investing that money in a house that is located closer to your work-spot – you could spend $15,900 more on a house that’s just one mile closer to your place of work. 

It would help if you kept in mind that commuting every extra hour is an extra hour’s pay lost. Hence, avoid buying a home with a long commute, although you’ll be spending more than you planned on your home. 

More Quality Time with Family

When you buy a home within a 20-minute drive to your office, you get to spend more quality time with your family. Besides having easy access to outdoor parks, a choice of restaurants, shopping, and other recreational avenues, you spend more time on leisure activities if you commute a shorter distance to work. 

If you have young children, you need to be spending more time with them, which is possible only with a short commute.

Summing it Up

The commute time and price of your home are always inversely proportional. Hence, while buying your new home, striking the right balance makes all the difference.