Why You Need to Consider Commute Times During Your Home Search
Finding one's dream home with the right layout, space, and location is essential during the home search. One thing home seekers should always keep in mind during the house hunting process is what the commute might look like.
New homeowners are often surprised to find rush hour traffic might look extremely different than when they first visited a home during a weekend or other off-peak time of day. Suddenly, what seemed like a dream a few weeks prior turns into a nightmare because of exhausting and expensive commutes.
If you're already preparing for a move, think about the following considerations to ensure stress-free, low-cost commutes.
Cost of Commuting
Long commutes, which might involve driving, bus, rail, rideshare, or a combination of the four, can get expensive. Motorists must consider gas, wear and tear, auto insurance rates, vehicle maintenance, and, if applicable, tolls and parking costs. Public transportation involves fares—the further away, the more expensive it'll probably be—and parking fees if needed to drive to a bus or rail station.
Some employers might offer compensation to offset the cost of commuting, but this isn't a given. Before issuing a down payment, calculate all commuting costs and salary to see if the distance makes these long trips worth the effort. An online commute calculator can help you do the math by factoring in the type of car, gas prices, parking costs, and other variables.
Every year, the average commuter spends approximately 10 days driving to and from work—with a one-hour-per-day commute. For many people, that's how much time they might get in PTO for the entire year! Some spend considerably more time than that, depending on where their new home is located.
Time-consuming commutes, which for the average American equates to 408 days throughout a lifetime, can seriously affect a person's work-life balance. Long commutes can be stressful, exhausting, and frustrating. Household members are also likely to be affected since they'll be the ones picking up the extra chores and other things owning a home involves. High stress can often lead to health problems, which is something to consider.
The time involved in daily or weekly commutes is something to consider. Individuals working remotely, or at least on hybrid status, are likely to find the distance less important.
Living near major highways to help speed up commutes has both advantages and disadvantages. The convenience is nice, but that means extra traffic and noise and light pollution. Some people want to get away from all that, but their commutes might involve long, narrow backroads with lots of traffic lights and low-speed limits, which can tack on a lot of commute time.
The weather might also be a factor in the winter since backroads are often not as quickly cleared as major roadways. Before buying a home in a more remote area, check to see what the roadways look like during peak hours to ensure commutes are feasible.
Potential Lifestyle Changes
People who go from short to long commutes sometimes don't anticipate the lifestyle changes this involves. Morning or after-work gym routines may be interrupted, parents might miss their kid's ball games, and meals may turn into fast food in the evenings instead of using that new kitchen. Furthermore, long commutes might cause people to forego using the amenities in their community that appealed to them when they bought the home in the first place. Either because they're too tired or don't have the time.
Find the Perfect Commute For Your Perfect Home
Many people mistakenly believe that finding the perfect home will offset any drawbacks. Unfortunately, most often, this is not the case. The home should only be one part of the equation when purchasing it; commute times should also be considered when finding the ideal home. After all, if long or tiring commutes impact one's lifestyle or create household friction, the home no longer satisfies the dream lifestyle.