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Great Home or Great Commute?

It’s no secret that commute time and traffic have both become major factors for home buyers In many cases, a longer work commute limits where buyers will consider looking. However, homes within buyers’ desired commute length may be out of their budget. If commute length is a top priority for you, here’s how you can weigh the pros and cons and ultimately find the home that fits your needs.

Ann Arbor Real Estate

Assess the current situation.  

Begin by having a discussion about your current commute.

If you are severely limiting your home search to only a small area that offers a reduced commute time and are not having luck, it’s time to ask three important questions:

  1. Is a job/career change a possibility in the near future?  If so, how will this alter your commute pattern? Often, people weigh a specific commute as a factor without taking into consideration that a commute may change.
  2. Is working from home an option, now or in the future? It could be possible that your employer offers flex or remote scheduling, which would help out.
  3. If available, would you be open to taking public transit or ride-sharing? Not being behind the wheel can take off loads of stress and open up time for relaxing or working on the ride.


Calculate the financial costs of a commute.

The second consideration involves the financial costs of the commute compared to the potential value and price of the home. Two main costs associated with commuting include the cost of fuel and wear and tear on the vehicle.

Take the time to do the math to evaluate if the cost of commuting is prohibitive. Commute Solutions provides an easy-to-use cost calculator that allows you to calculate your average monthly spend commuting, as well as see an estimate based on areas you are looking.

Once you have a dollar amount attached to your monthly commute, take a look at whether or not that amount is greater or smaller than the difference in estimated mortgage payments, as well as potential property value increases of a particular area.

It may be that while one home is closer to work and offers a shorter commute, the difference in the value of a home a little farther out is greater than the cost of commuting.

But, the decision may not always be an economic one. None of these calculations take into account the time spent in the car and the stress some suffer from commuting.


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Discuss quality of life.

This brings us to the third consideration – quality of life. Let’s say you will commute between 30 minutes and one hour each way, each day. This would equal an entire workday each week. A shorter commute from a slightly higher-priced home might be the better option if you don’t have the extra time to spend in a vehicle.

Some people will place more importance on urban amenities, time and convenience. For this reason, they are less likely to be attracted to moving farther from the center of a majority of their activities and work.

On the other hand, marriage and parenthood are what usually inspire people to move out of big cities to more rural and suburban areas.


The commuter’s paradox.

Looking at a nicer home at the cost of a longer commute begins to look a little different when all of the factors are added into the equation. There is actually a name for this; it’s called the “commuter’s paradox.”

The paradox is that, although one would expect that people balance the cost and hassle of commuting against benefits of other things like a larger or nice home slightly farther away, it just doesn’t happen. Research has shown time and again that people who have long regular commutes are not as happy as those who don’t.

Once the impartial factors are weighed out, the pros and cons are more realistically vetted and they can better decide on the home and neighborhood that is right for you.


There is no “right” answer.

Finally, there is no “right” answer: the factors involved are entirely personal. Going into the decision-making process with eyes wide open will make the end result one you can more happily live with. Should you ever want to talk things over with someone who knows a thing or two about making good real estate decisions, please contact us!



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For immediate assistance, call us at 734-845-9700 or email Andy Piper at

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