Many people move into their dream home but are then dismayed to learn they have a long or frustrating daily commute. Suddenly, due to stressful commutes, they find they're no longer living the dream. Before bidding on a home and signing on the dotted line, it's important to consider what a daily commute would look like. Important transit factors to think about when buying a home should include the following.
Access to Roadways
Living near a major roadway has its perks and downsides. Convenience is a huge factor, but tradeoffs usually include noise and extra traffic. For commuters, however, convenience will usually trump everything else. Traveling through several back roads and traffic lights to reach the main roads can make for a long commute. Before buying a home, it's a good idea to think about what a workable commute would be and if the experience from the house's location would fit into that vision.
Drive Times—Rush Hours and More
Many people are unpleasantly surprised to learn what rush hours look like compared to weekends or other off-peak times. Before choosing a house, be sure to travel from the neighborhood to the workplace during peak hours. This will provide a rough idea of what a daily drive would look like. The difference could be like night and day and may not fit into a buyer's desired lifestyle. It's better to figure this out early on before it's too late.
Access to Public Transportation
Is easy access to public transportation important to the household? If so, extensive research should go into accessibility to different types of transportation, how much it'll cost in monthly expenses, and how it would affect the commute time. While Austin continues to improve public transit, current accessibility to public transit may still require several transfers or other hurdles that might not be initially apparent. Be sure the public transportation available connects everyone to where they need to go at a cost-efficient price.
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Why Commute Times Matter
Each year, the average commuter spends at least one week on the road. Many spend considerably more hours than that traveling to and from work. Let that sink in for a minute. The daily time some commuters spend traveling to work might conceivably exceed their annual vacation hours. Is the house you're looking at worth the tradeoff of a further distance from work?
Over time, long commutes could negatively affect a healthy work-life balance, disrupt household routines, and cause general friction (e.g., reduced time together or leaving more responsibilities to someone who works from a home office). Additionally, the stress associated with lengthy commutes can also negatively impact one's health. Consider how a commute would impact daily living.
Long commutes, regardless of method of travel, could be expensive. There is gas, maintenance, wear and tear, and potential parking costs to factor in when driving to work. Even if you have the cheapest insurance in Texas, your auto insurance rates will also be impacted by the distance of your commute. When commuting in public transportation, longer commutes mean higher fares and, if applicable, parking fees if driving to a rail station.
The location of a house can drastically impact a commute. Much like looking at a home's curb appeal and interior features, buyers shouldn't discount other aspects of living. Regional weather should also be considered; climates in which heavy snow or rain is likely to occur will also negatively affect a commute.
The house itself is only one part of the equation when buying a property. Granted, this should be a huge consideration, but commutes should be considered as well, even if the ideal house is found. All buyers should give it careful and deliberate thought before putting in a bid or making a down payment. The tradeoffs may not be worth it in the long run.