Should You Pay Up for a Home in a City Center That Shortens Your Commute?


A person stands and looks out the window of their apartment.

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It really boils down to how much your time is worth.


Important points

  • Remote work is no longer an option for everyone these days.
  • It might be worth spending extra money for a more manageable commute.

When the pandemic hit, many people were forced to switch to telecommuting and get their work done from home. Many companies then stuck with this setup as new COVID-19 variants emerged and vaccine rollouts took time.

But at this point, many people who worked in an office prior to the pandemic have returned to in-person work. And that means many people could struggle with long commutes.

The proportion of Americans who commute more than 90 minutes a day nearly doubled between 1990 and 2000, according to data from the US Census Bureau. And while some workers today enjoy a hybrid work schedule that involves working from home for at least part of the week, those days of commuting can be brutal.

If you have a long commute, there might be a viable solution that doesn’t require you to quit your job: move closer to your office. But in many cases, that could mean moving to a city center where housing costs can be sky-high.

It begs the question: should you spend more on rent or a mortgage to live closer to work? Or should you endure the commute and enjoy the savings?

A tough call

From a financial point of view, living farther from the city center and traveling longer distances to work could be a more cost-effective option. For example, you might be spending $1,000 a month on rent right now, but that number doubles if you were to move to a home minutes from your office.

But it’s not just money that you need to consider when moving to the city center. You also need to keep your personal well-being in mind.

For many people, a long commute is stressful. It can also lead to less sleep and less time to spend with friends and family. Also, if you’re the kind of person who has a variety of hobbies, your commute can keep you from pursuing them.

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Let’s say you enjoy running outdoors but have to be at work by 8am and have a 90 minute commute. Let’s also assume you work until 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. In the winter, when the days are shorter, you don’t have hours of daylight during the week to run safely (assuming you can’t or don’t want to run on your balance bike). lunch break because there is nowhere to shower afterwards).

Therefore, you need to think about how your long commute is negatively affecting your life and how much it is worth to you to reclaim that time. You may decide that spending more money on housing is worth it if it frees up a few hours of your time each day.

Another point to consider

Moving to a city center to be closer to work may not just mean spending more on housing. It could also mean giving up square footage. And this is most likely negative.

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So, in addition to the financial aspect, you have to weigh the benefit of being away less time and the downside that you may have less living space to get home. But even with that in mind, it might still be worth taking steps to avoid that long commute — and claw back valuable hours every day.

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