I live 36 miles from my job and if you’re thinking to yourself “holy cow that’s a lot”, well, it is. On average, it takes me an hour and 15 minutes each way; I absolutely hate my commute. It is the bane of my existence and every morning and every evening I curse the day we decided to move so far. I work on a barrier island and live in the middle of horse country. If that doesn’t paint the picture of how far I live, I don’t know what will.
As I was sitting in standstill traffic today, I couldn’t help but think how many other knuckleheads like me decided on the suburban life, but have city jobs. I mean based on the amount of traffic there are a lot of us knuckleheads. So, we’ve established that a lot of people move to the suburbs but most have jobs in the urban core. Now, the next question is why would they move so far from their jobs? Everyone has their own motive for the suburbs, but from my studies during my masters in public administration (which dealt a lot with community development) most people move further from the urban core due to home prices. For example, in Miami-Dade County, the further West you go from the Atlantic Ocean the more affordable homes are. But is it really?
Everyone considers mortgages, homeowners insurance, HOA’s and property taxes when they calculate home affordability, but more likely than not everyone overlooks transportation costs for the commute to and from work. In community development, there is a huge discussion about housing affordability and whether transportation should be taken into consideration because this line item directly impacts your month to month budget. Your mortgage payments or rents shouldn’t go above 30% of your monthly income, but if you’re living over an hour from your job you are most likely paying a pretty penny in gas, wear and tear on your car, and if you live in a state with highway tolls those add up real quick (trust me, I probably pay someone’s entire salary with the amount I pay in tolls). These are all necessary expenses which eat up your monthly budget!
My husband and I moved out of Miami-Dade County because housing was more affordable a county away, but when you consider the amount of transportation costs, did it really come out to be more affordable? There is a housing and transportation affordability index that you can check out here! This gives you statistics on the income ranges in the zip code and how much people are spending in transportation costs against their income. Really interesting stuff
The bottom line is when considering where you want to purchase your home don’t forget to take your transportation costs into consideration and see how it will impact your monthly budget. Don’t wait until you see those toll bills and gas expenses and realize you could have put your unborn children through college with that money.
If the suburb life style in horse country doesn’t work out, maybe you should consider renting closer to work to help shorten your commute.