Home buyers may look at many attributes in a home before putting in a bid. Common things they look at include upgrades in the kitchen or bathroom, number of bedrooms, presence of smart technology, useable yard space, and green features. One thing that's sometimes overlooked is commute time—but overlooking this is a big mistake.
Many new homeowners are shocked to learn how long it takes to commute because of high traffic volumes or lack of proximity to major roadways. Commute times matter. Here are four questions to consider before making a seller an offer.
How Long Will the Commute Take?
Perhaps the most important question to ask oneself is how long the commute will take. In North America, many commuters spend about a week on the road each year, and some commuters spend much more time than that. For those commuters, the time spent going back and forth to work each year can exceed their annual vacation allotment. Is this something that the buyer can live with? Consider how long commutes can wreak havoc on a healthy work-life balance, especially if hours are spent weekly fighting traffic, sitting in standstill jams, navigating through winding back roads, or encountering accidents. The stress from facing any or all of these events regularly can be detrimental.
How Much Will the Commute Cost?
Buying a home involves considerable budget planning. It's important to factor commute costs into the equation and ensure enough money is set aside to cover this expense. Whether driving or taking public transportation, costs can quickly add up. Expenses to factor in include:
- Fuel costs
- Car maintenance and repairs
- Wear and tear on the car
- Higher automobile insurance rates
- Public transportation costs
Parking costs, either at the train/bus station or at the location of the job itself, is another important expense to account for. Once all the costs are factored in, do a cost analysis and decide if the home's desirable attributes are worth the tradeoffs. Can a similar home be found that's closer to work and involves a less expensive commuting experience?
Is There Good Access to Roadways?
Living close to major roadways has both advantages and disadvantages. Convenience makes for an easier commute, but the tradeoff is usually noise and light pollution. Commuters are often likely to live with the latter. Before purchasing a home, buyers should determine criteria for a workable commute and if the road access from the chosen neighbourhood would fit the bill.
How Easy is Access to Public Transportation?
If relying upon public transportation, how easy is it to access? When household members count on public transportation, it's important to have proximity and reliability. Before making an offer on a property, extensive research should go into accessibility to all types of transportation. Also, think about the type of transportation. If previously used to riding a non-stop train, will the commuter be just as happy sitting on a bus or making multiple transfers to other lines or types of transportation? If relying upon public transportation, it's important to know what potential hurdles or details are involved that could make for a wretched commute.
Careful Consideration Now Can Save Commuting Headaches Later
Oftentimes new homeowners move into their ideal home only to learn their commutes make for a miserable experience each day. Statistics suggest more Canadian commuters walk or bike to work rather than take public transportation. Before buying any house, carefully evaluate the above questions and consider how a commute would impact daily living. As the old saying goes, it's all about location, location, location!