Do Commute Times Matter When Buying a Home?

Is a Long Commute Worth the Tradeoff for the Perfect House?House hunters usually have several “must-haves” as they explore properties on the market. As they tick items off the list, one important attribute often overlooked is what the commute time to and from work would look like from their new house. After all, if the home is otherwise perfect, they'll be happy, right? Unfortunately, this typically doesn't turn out to be the case. The commute time and experience should be right up there on this list, along with the number of bedrooms, kitchen features, and closets when choosing a home.

Here are four reasons why commute times matter when buying a house.

Long Commutes Negatively Affect Work-Life Balance & Health

Long or arduous commutes can significantly impact a person's level of happiness, especially if it harms their work-life balance. The stress of a poor work-life balance can harm a person's health and lead to high blood pressure, migraines, or sleep deprivation—the latter of which can bring a whole set of other health-related problems.

When looking at an otherwise perfect home, it's important to consider if spending an hour each way to work daily or gridlocked in traffic will impact overall happiness or, worse, lead to a deterioration of health.

The Cost Commuting of Commuting Adds Up Quickly

During the home buying process, people sometimes mistakenly forget to calculate commuting costs into their budgets. There are gas costs, car maintenance, car repairs, wear and tear, auto insurance, public transportation costs, and parking fees to consider. After the monthly mortgage, taxes, insurance, and HOA fees are considered, the costs of commuting can be cumbersome to a budget. People need to determine if their salary will offset the commuting costs and afford their desired lifestyle.

Time Spent Traveling Can Cause Lifestyle Changes

Speaking of lifestyle, house hunters should carefully consider what they envision their daily life to look like. Do the neighborhood and its amenities matter more than a long commute? Will there be enough time in the day to actually enjoy those amenities? Will there be enough time to spend with important people? Always consider how many hours will be shaved off each day spent commuting and if that lost time will cause a major disruption in the desired lifestyle.

Disruption of Home Upkeep Due to Transit

Many people don't realize how the burden of a long commute time can disrupt household routines until it happens. Time spent traveling is time spent away from home. Daily upkeep is a vital part of owning a home, and it requires a few hours of attention every day. A well-planned commute allows for more time to spend on home improvements that improve ROI.

A house, its attributes, and neighborhood amenities aren't the only factors home buyers should consider when identifying their dream home. Excessive or stressful commute times can cancel out the happiness of finding the perfect property. For example, a 45-minute drive equates to 90 minutes of daily driving. That's 7.5 hours a week, which is practically a full workday.

Before making an offer and committing to a property, buyers should always ask themselves, “How far is too far?", do the math, and consider the tradeoffs. Ultimately, it might be determined that those tradeoffs do not make certain homes a secure investment.

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