How to Evaluate Transportation When Buying a Home

Posted by Lauren Schneider on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 at 9:59am.

4 Ways Transportation Affects Home Buyers' PrioritiesLocation is one of the most important considerations that buyers think about before they buy a home. While the position of the home in relation to work, dining, entertainment, shopping, and other amenities is key, transportation is another aspect of the equation. The ways that homeowners get to and from their homes affects their driving time and the quality of the trip. By evaluating these conditions before making an offer, buyers can be more certain that the home's location will meet their needs in relation to their lives outside it.

Transit and Commute Times

Buyers contemplating a move that is a significant distance from their current housing should consider how this will affect their time spent driving. The average commute time to and from work in the United States is about 27 minutes each way. Roughly an hour of drive time extends the work day. For some people, this might be a great time to get ready for work or unwind, particularly if they take public transit. For others, this one-hour or longer commute might take away from the time they need to rest or complete tasks at home. People may also want to think about the distance they will have to travel to get to necessary services, like a hospital, clinic, or emergency repairs.

Access to Public Transportation

Public transportation can help to cut costs and make getting to a different location easier, but it must be relatively accessible. Many homeowners can avoid car ownership by taking advantage of good public transportation. People who are buying a home should compare the time they spend and the cost of the transit with alternatives. They may want to start by searching for transit options based on the neighborhood. Even regions with extensive public transit systems may have gaps in coverage. Buyers might try different combinations to see which works best for them. For example, walking a mile to a train line might not be as time-consuming as waiting for a bus.

Alternate Driving Routes

Practically speaking, a neighborhood in an area with a moderate population should have multiple roads that homeowners can take to get to any given location. In practice, however, ease of movement is not always prioritized in street planning. Sometimes, buyers will look at homes in neighborhoods where every other street stops at a dead end and there are only a couple of ways out. For accidents, traffic, or emergency maintenance services, the blockage of the main travel route can create longer commutes or significant detours. Buyers who are planning to move to small towns or cities without several main streets may want to factor in more time for transport.

Vehicle Expenses and Maintenance

As with many aspects of homeownership, there are several concerns about transit that can affect what homeowners pay. People who have a longer commute may need to factor in these costs, which will likely be higher than they are for homeowners with a shorter commute:

  • Fuel
  • Oil changes and other maintenance
  • Auto insurance
  • Wear on the vehicle

Buyers often search for properties in the suburbs or rural areas to minimize the cost of housing. They should add up the increase in costs in these areas and see how it compares to higher prices on properties with a shorter commute.

Buying a home in the right location involves a discussion of the transit options available, and how they will affect homeowners in the long term. By considering each of these aspects, people will be able to determine which locations will be best for them.

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