Home Buying in San Francisco>Question Details

Andrew Wilki…, Trulia Community Manager in San Francisco, CA

What's a good way to think about the trade-offs of commute vs. living space and price?

Asked by Andrew Wilkinson, San Francisco, CA Tue Feb 21, 2012

Help the community by answering this question:


That's a personal choice and answers here can not fully satisfy the question without knowing more specifics. There are always trade-offs when choosing the best property for your needs. The only thing I can add to help is to look at the trend and pace of your lifestyle. Which direction is it going and what makes more sense in a year, 2 years or 5 years from now with respect to how long you plan to keep the property?

Best of luck,

Oggi Kashi - 415.690.3792 direct
Broker Associate, Paragon Real Estate Group CA DRE 01844627
All data from sources deemed reliable but subject to errors and omissions, and not warranted.
Web Reference: http://www.oggikashi.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
I'd say that other than the obvious thoughts, the greenest commute is obviously the shortest and the one that makes the most sense. It's what makes city life great. Living and working in a densely populated area and sharing the public spaces, transportation, services, restaurants, nightlife, etc. San Francisco is thriving with an abundance of all of the above.

The Peninsula, Marin and East Bay are generally noted for more space for the money but with an ecological and economic cost as well as time if you're commuting into the city. (Rising gas prices) There's also not a significant drop off in home prices for comparable neighborhoods until you get well away from the center of the Bay Area.

Spending less / finding value with a short commute in SF can be challenging and depends on how much flexibility you have in deciding which neighborhood works best for you.

Work with an agent that will listen to your needs, present different options and help you decide where best to spend your time and energy while buying your property. Best of luck!

Matt Ciganek
Barbagelata Real Estate
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
How much living space do you really need? Where do you spend the most time when at home? Are there areas in your current space that you rarely utilize? Can you easily adjust without them? Do you spend a lot of time at home? How long is your average commute? What's your cost of commuting..... gas, tolls, wear and tear on your vehicle with the extra mileage and your time? How long have you been commuting and is it wearing you down? How much time and energy might you save cleaning and maintaining a smaller space? Is your heart set on suburban areas? If so, would your employer consider flex schedules in order for you to avoid rush hours? Do you have children? Are school districts an important consideration? If you are open to a move closer to work, do you have an idea of what it might cost for a space that can work for you? After down payment, do you know what your monthly payment with taxes and insurance would be and is it feasible for you? Or, if you rent, what's the monthly cost differential and does it make sense when considering income and commute savings? Or, are you just plain sick and tired of commuting and want out?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
Depends on your age, situation, where you work. If you have a little one at home you will probably want to get home after work, stay with your child, not go out. If you are single and unattached, or even a young couple with no child, being closer to clubs, restaurants, bars will be important to you. Or, if you hope to someday be a home owner than maybe paying less in rent for a more remote location so you can amp your savings rate might be better for you.

Lots of trade offs. Sorry, but there is no one answer that fits all.

Astrid Lacitis
Keynote Properties
415 860 0765
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
I see you're writing from the Inner Sunset. I used to live in this neighborhood so I know it quite well. I both drove downtown and took the muni
as well - specifically, the N-Judah train, which is supposed to be one of the more frequently run lines in the city.

Driving took about 30 to 45 minutes consistently each day. Muni fluctuated from a minimum of 20 minutes to a maximum of 90 minutes at times. Of course, you'd have to factor in that you have to pay for parking in some cases and gas. However, the Muni fare, while inexpensive by comparison, comes with the externalities too - i.e., other passengers etc.

Thinking about it as a realtor, commuting and access to public transit is just one factor in the mix. Like the Muni, inconsistency and variety is the name of the game. Sometimes clients don't care, other times clients want to as far away from a Muni rail line as possible and others insist upon being near to Muni or Bart. Most realtors will focus on a location's Walk Score instead. Take a look at walkstore.com to see and 511.org. Hope that helps!
Web Reference: http://www.walkscore.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
Hi there,

All the respondents bring up valid points. Out of curiosity we did a quick Google search on your question and found an interesting blog post that tries to answer your question in a quantitative and qualitative method.


we also found what seems to be a thesis paper on the subject matter from someone at Iowa state:


Hope this helps!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 22, 2012
So, where are you planning to move, San Fransisco, or Atlanta? Are you looking at places that have a lot of traffic, or people talk about the terrible commute?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 22, 2012
The Bay Area has traffic congestion that can have you sit on the roads for long periods of time, especially during rush hour traffic. So how you commute - by car, MUNI, BART, Caltrain - and how you feel about that commute will affect the trade-off equation.

A simple way to think about it is in terms of what you really want and weighing that against what you'll have to do to get that. That's where the value lies for you. Of course, there are other considerations that may affect your thought-process as well. In the final analysis, it is about your personal choices.

However, a good agent can help you in making the right choices for you by informing you about the market, its trends, listening to you and focusing the search. An initial consultation with such an agent can be invaluable. Please set one up with an agent you feel a connection to.

Feel free to call me at 415-200-7202.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 22, 2012
Every extra minute you spend on the road is life time you will never get back?

Six extra minutes one way is an hour a week, fifty hours a year - three full days plus spent on the road?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
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