Should Commuting Really Be a Concern When Shopping for a Home?

For those who don’t work at home, and let’s face it, that’s most of us, making the daily commute into the office should be as stress-free as possible.  So, why wouldn’t you factor that time into your house hunt? Sure, it can be tempting to ignore a long commute if all other factors in finding your dream home fall into place.  But, trust us, it’s not worth it! After all, if you’re spending all of your time on the road back and forth between work, stuck in traffic, you won’t even be able to enjoy much of your perfect home.

It is for this reason that commute time should take high priority on your house hunting list.  In fact, for families, it should be secondary on your checklist just behind schools. Of course, if you’re buying a new home, you want it all.  But, getting everything you want might not be very realistic. So, let’s take a look at a few things you should take into consideration to better factor in your commute into your home-buying decision:    

  • Price – Looking for homes in the suburbs, away from the inner city, is a good way to find a more affordable home.  However, looking too far out may not help your commute at all. Even if you are factoring in and looking for a short commute, your options of where you can actually afford to buy, and we’re not just talking price, may be limited.  Thus, looking for the right price and right commute may affect where you can realistically shop. So, don’t be afraid to drive around until you find that nice balance between time and money.
  • Commute Cost – Another thing you have to factor in is how much your commute will actually cost you each day.  The national average commute is around 25 minutes. But, commute times can and often do vary based on location and levels of congestion.  While shopping around, you must keep in mind that as the minutes add up, so do your travel costs. So, take into consideration things like gas, car maintenance, commuter cards, toll fees, etc.    
  • Flexibility – These days, many workers have more flexible positions and can set their own hours.  If you are one of these lucky people, you may be able to adjust your work schedule around rush hour traffic when there’s heavy congestion and commute times double.  If your position isn’t as flexible with the hours, you might consider asking about telecommuting opportunities to cut down on some of those commute costs.
  • Stress Levels – If the thought of commuting already stresses you out, then you need to pay attention to this feeling!  How long you’re willing to commute will ultimately depend on how frustrated you get from sitting behind the wheel for any given time.  Do keep in mind that long commutes can have consequences that hit far deeper than the road itself.
  • Lifestyle – At the end of the day, you must take into consideration what matters most to you in addition to home price.  What is it that you are looking for? Does your lifestyle crave outdoor parks, access to restaurants and shopping, nightlife?  Do you want to be surrounded by people or more off on your own? Do you have a family? These are all important factors that will play into how and where you look for a home.  If you have kids, for example, then a shorter commute is likely a priority so that you can spend more time with them.

Before you create your home buying checklist, be sure to weigh all of the pros and cons to see what really matters to you most.  This will help you make informed decisions and compromises so that you can find the commute and home that’s right for you.

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