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Michael Corbett's Blog

By Michael Corbett | Real Estate Pro in Los Angeles, CA

Factoring in the Commute—a Major Location Consideration

Ah . . . the American Dream: a three-bedroom home in the suburbs. Argh . . . the American nightmare: an hour and a half drive to work! If you have the kind of job that punches the clock every day and puts you on the nine-to-five work schedule, this whole commuting thing is an enormous factor in deciding where you are going to buy or rent. You need to consider the pros and cons of a long commute, walking to work, and everything in between.

One of the biggest buyer’s blunder is not counting the commute! Neglecting to consider the cost of commuting when selecting a neighborhood and a house is foolish. This happens to be one of the items homebuyers most often forget to add into their monthly budgets. They often fail to take into account the impact of commuting on their quality of life as well

Adding Up the Cost of Commuting
  • Cost of gas—Let’s do the math to see how much every month you would spend on gas if, for example, you commuted forty miles each way to work, five days a week. If you got twenty miles per gallon and paid $3.25 a gallon, that comes out to $260 a month, or $3,120 per year just for the gas!
  • Wear and tear on your car—Now include the cost of the wear and tear of those 1,600 miles a month, or 19,200 miles per year, on your car. That could be worth thousands in repairs and decreased life span of your car. Wow.
  • What is your time worth?—This expense is one that speaks for itself. It’s one of those intangible costs that they talk about in the Visa commercials—priceless.

If you factor that extra money into your monthly budget, the slightly less expensive house farther from your job may not really be less expensive. You had better check. But keep in mind that even after you run the numbers and factor in the commuting costs you still may be getting much more home for your money and a lot more of your must-haves and should-haves. I just want to make sure that you don’t forget to add these costs in when making the decision and also planning for your monthly ongoing expenses.

To help you visualize the commute as you look for your next great place to live, Trulia has just launched commute maps to help you figure out the reality of a potential commute. Check them out here! 


For more great tips: check out Michael's 3 Bestselling Books: 

Before You Buy!  Find It, Fix It Flip It! and Ready, Set, Sold!

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