Has the Commute Become the New Housing Deal Breaker?

The latest National Association of Realtors® 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that buyers are taking their commute to work into account when purchasing a home. Reaffirmed by a report from the Urban Land Institute, the shift to a shorter commute will change the way our communities are built. For many, particularly Millennials, the thought of travelling an average of 45 minutes per day to and from work by car is not an attractive one. [I’ve had two jobs where my commute was 40 minutes each way and it was horrible—in the second job, it wasn’t unusual for my commute home to be an hour and a half on a Friday, which left me in frustrated tears spewing F-bombs at my fellow commuters.] Whether it’s for the environment or for their sanity, people are choosing homes closer to work or public transit, if they must commute a distance.

Cars are supposed to equal freedom, right? How many of us feel free when we’re trapped in our vehicles during rush hour traffic, watching the guy in the Volvo next to us clip his nasal hair in the rear view mirror and the mom in the SUV on the other side of us yelling at her children in the backseat? Millennials and other working professionals are shunning this fate, instead choosing to live in smaller spaces that afford them a better lifestyle and allow them the time to pursue their hobbies. Better still, many professionals who work for technologically progressive companies are working from home—the easiest commute of all.

The McMansion: A big house in suburbia is no longer the American Dream for Millennials

Time will tell if this trend is a flash-in-the-pan or one that’ll last. Who knows—when the economy recovers or energy prices decrease, people may go back to their McMansions in bedroom communities 40 miles away from their jobs. Guess we’ll have to see.

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