Are Commute Times Important When Buying a Home?

Why Commute Times are Important When House-HuntingLocation is one of the most important aspects to consider when purchasing a new home. Still, many hopeful homebuyers focus on a home's space, the number of bedrooms, updates in bathrooms and kitchens, and any amenities that come with the property. However, one important factor they sometimes forget to consider is what their commute time will be.

Not considering commute times is a big mistake. Purchasing a home that requires excessive commute times costs homebuyers money, time, and health.

When shopping for a home, keep these five transit takeaways in mind to maximize quality of life and maintain a manageable cost of living in Ontario.

A Short Commute Can Still Be Challenging

New homeowners are often shocked to learn their commutes are terrible. Long commutes can be attributed to high volume or simply lack of access to major roadways. Even if a home is located in a central area, poor surrounding infrastructure can multiply the difficulty of travel.

For many commuters in North America, the amount of time spent on the road equates to about a week—and some commuters spend more than that! If a home is located in an area distant from places that homeowners frequent or is not supported by quality infrastructure, the commute experience may not make it a worthy option.

The Expenses of Commuting Add Up Quickly

A home purchase involves considerable planning for a budget. Sometimes, homeowners don't realize how expensive commuting actually is. Homeowners should factor the cost of commuting into their monthly expenses.

Drivers must consider fuel costs, maintenance, repairs, wear and tear, parking fees (if applicable), and higher automobile rates. Likewise, people taking public transportation must consider the cost of their ticket/pass each day and the cost of parking at the train or bus station. The inaccurate assessment of commuting costs can tip the scales in the wrong way on a dedicated budget.

The Perfect Balance of Accessibility to Major Roadways

Access to major roadways is an important consideration for commuters. While living near a highway isn't always the most desirable due to noise and traffic congestion, it typically makes for an easier commute. People travelling long distances to work often prefer the ease of major roadways because driving through winding backroads with lots of traffic lights and stops can add significant time to a trip. Additionally, extra hours spent commuting each week can negatively impact one's work-life balance and disrupt household routines.

The Health Impact of a Stressful Commute

Long and stressful commutes often create a negative impact on an individual's level of happiness. This, in turn, can have a ripple effect on the people around them. A house can be the perfect home, but if it's in a location that causes stress, it can negate the whole experience envisioned when the home was purchased. Although commuting may not seem related to health, excessive commute times can actually impact internal and mental wellness.

How to Evaluate if a Home is Worth the Commute Time

Before bidding on a house or considering any mortgage types, determine if a property is worth the tradeoffs that come with commute times. Here are a few ways to get a real feel for the experience.

  • Test-drive the commute. Instead of calculating the commute through Google or with other online tools, actively do the commute. Get the experience. Learn how long it takes, see traffic conditions, determine if public transportation is reliable, and know how much gas is used.
  • Explore alternate routes. The shortest way isn't always the best route to work. Talk to a trusted real estate professional or future neighbours familiar with all the ins and outs of local roadways.
  • Understand public transportation. Public transportation often offsets the drawbacks of driving, but unreliable or expensive bus and rail services might negate the benefits.
  • Consider road and weather conditions. Communities in colder climates are typically prepared for winter, but milder winter states usually aren't, which can severely impact commutes. Additionally, mountainous areas can be hazardous driving in any season.

In some cases, even a seemingly perfect home isn't worth the tradeoffs linked to stressful or long commutes. So before buying a home, always perform due diligence to ensure it's the right location.

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