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There are lots of things to consider when buying a home, and they don’t all relate to square footage and counter top types. So many things in fact that it is rather easy to overlook some important considerations, especially if they don’t seem, at first, to relate directly to the properties you are/will be viewing. One of those things is the future commute to work.
Anyone stuck in traffic can tell you just how important commute time is. And you likely know yourself how frustrating it can be, especially as according to the government’s National Household Survey commute times for Canadians have increased every year since 2011.
This factor does sometimes encourage homebuyers to consider passing on larger houses and longer commutes for more modest properties closer to work. Others refuse to give up on square footage, a big backyard, and other suburban amenities bite the bullet and accept that longer drive time to the office.
But whatever you are looking for, the impact of your future commute time to work is an important part of the house-hunting puzzle. Here’s a few tips for figuring out it out before you buy.
Map Out the Route From Home to Work
When you are doing your research on a property that has caught your eye add in a quick Google Maps search to calculate your potential future commute. It’s easy to do, simply enter the address of the property and your office into the directions box and Google will map out all kinds of routes with time estimates based on real time traffic.
One neat thing that Google does with these searches is offer you all the different routes available. You may find that the fact that a home that has easy access to a large highway actually shaves more time off your commute than you imagined, making that home you thought was a bit too far out not such a bad option after all.
Once you have an idea of how long it takes others, if you are really interested in the home try a dry run trip. Try out the commute in both the morning and the evening and then ask yourself, is this honestly something you can handle every day?
Factor in Work Life Balance
Your commute time can have a big impact on your lifestyle, especially if it will be increasing. But will it all be bad? Would a longer commute really put you in such a bad mood that it would outweigh the benefits of having the large master suite you always wanted or that incredible deck to enjoy when you do get home?
Before you say of course, take a moment to figure it out properly. If you have to drive an hour into work 300 times per year, versus the 15 barbecues you’re going to have on your yard each year, you may be overestimating how much joy you are going to get from those barbecues versus the negative experiences from all that driving.
Career Stage Matters Too
If you are not planning to stay in your current job for tool long then a commute may become less of a factor, especially if you are looking for a property that will be suitable for starting a family. Take the time to properly evaluate how long you plan to stay in your current job versus how long you intend to live in their new home.
Calculate All the Costs
While you should definitely figure in commuting costs such as gas, tolls, parking, train tickets and perhaps extra daycare time for the kids you also need to consider the psychological costs of a longer commute as well. You may really love a house now but if you won’t have the free time to enjoy it will you love it so much in a year or so?
In the end, commute times are just one of many things that you’ll need to consider, there are many others and many of those things may be more important to you. Just don’t forget to at least give it a little thought before you make that final offer.