The Hidden Cost of Your Commute

When buying a new house, you have to factor in a lot of potential expenses.  From mortgage payments, to property taxes all the way down to utility costs, buyers have a lot of financial variables to weigh.  Sadly, most house-hunters don’t put much thought into the actual costs of a commute.  Commuting costs often outweigh utility costs and can even be more expensive then property taxes, so it would be in your best interest to take a second look at the potential commute.

<calculate your actual commute costs here>

The cold, hard truth is that here in the Seattle area, you sacrifice space for location.  You can spend $400,000 and get a townhouse in a walkable neighborhood with a 5 – 10 mile drive to work.  Or you can spend $400,000 and get a brand-new, 2500 square foot house with a two car garage and a yard for the kids (or dogs).   But that house is going to be a lot farther from the city.

So when deciding on the small home in the city or the spacious and shiny house out in the suburbs, here are few key things to think about:

1) Traffic in Seattle is 22% worse than it was in 2012.  The most popular stretches of roadway have doubled in time they take to navigate during rush hour.

2) The IRS estimates it costs $0.51 per mile to drive.  So increasing your daily commute by 10 miles each way adds up to $10 a day, $200 a month, and almost $2,500 per year.

3) The average Washington resident spends 25 minutes each day getting to and from work.

4) Although we can often associate a number with the amount we make per hour, can you really put a price on the time you are losing with friends and family?  Is it worth it to have the big house that is great for entertaining if you are spending all your free time sitting in traffic?

I love a big house in the suburbs.  If I had a job near that big house I might just move.  But for now, I sacrifice space for location, and enjoy a leisurely walk home from work on a nice day.