If you reside in or even near a large metropolitan area, chances are that you have a pretty lengthy commute to and from work each day. Have you ever stopped to think about how that commute could be affecting your overall life? Research shows that a long, stressful commute could have a negative impact on your health, work performance and family life. If possible, you may want to consider making a change with hopes of improving your quality of life. Is where you currently live affecting the time it takes you to get to work? It may be time to rethink where you lay your head at night. Consider factoring in your commute time when it comes time to hunt for a new place.
Moving closer to work isn’t always the immediate answer. Some people need to stay a little further away. Others may just prefer it.
Define what a reasonable commute is for you
How long are you willing to sit in traffic every morning and evening? If you have been driving to and fro for a while, you probably have a good idea of just how long is “too long” of a commute for you. Once you know this, you will be better equipped to gauge what areas you can move to that will make for a comfortable commute. So if you know that you want to your drive into work to take less than an hour, you know that you probably shouldn’t live 50 miles away from your work site.
Factor in your daily routine
Of course, most people do not spend their days simply driving to and from work. What stops do you tend to make along the way? The gym? School? Daycare? Grocery store? Go ahead and map out your typical route. If you see that your usual stops are clustered in a particular area, you may have your new neighborhood already pre-determined based on your travel habits and lifestyle needs.
This may seem like a silly topic to ask around about, but it won’t hurt. If you have family, friends or coworkers who commute back and forth to work each day, find out what their drive is like. How long is their commute? Is the traffic heavy? Around what times are they traveling? You may get some real-life insight as far as what areas are ideal for you, and which ones you will want to steer clear of.
Do your online research
Resources such as Google Maps do a pretty accurate job of showing you just how heavy rush hour traffic is at any given moment. Take a peek at what traffic looks like during the times that you are typically on the road (but not while you’re behind the wheel, of course). You should probably do this for an extended period–a few weeks, perhaps–to get an accurate picture of what traffic looks like, in real-time, in the areas you will be driving through.
Don’t discount public transit
There are lots of benefits that come along with utilizing public transportation to get to and from work each day. It’ll reduce your carbon footprint. It’s a worthwhile investment in your own community. And in many cases, it can be more affordable than owning and/or driving a car when you factor in the cost of gas and general maintenance. Even if you don’t have any luck finding a desirable apartment that is conveniently located near a railway or bus line, do your research. Metropolitan areas are always in the midst of improving and even expanding city public transportation options. You might be able to score a great (ie. affordable) apartment before transit expansion is complete, which will likely send rent prices and property values soaring, so keep your eyes open!
Practice makes perfect
It would be silly to make a move into a new apartment without having tested your commute to see how long it actually takes to get from your front door to your workplace. Before signing a new lease, test out that commute–both morning and evening. And do it more than once. This way you can get an accurate idea of what time you’ll need to wake up and get out the door in order to make it to work on time. Those are not things you want to guess at.
What’s the longest commute you ever had to deal with?