As an urban home buyer, there are many factors to consider before making a real estate investment. Price, location, nearby amenities, school district, the neighborhood. One factor buyers may overlook, especially in a hectic real estate market like Metro Denver, is the cost of travel to and from work, school or other frequent destinations. Read on for perspective on planning and preparing for the time/cost mix of your future commute as you search for your next home.
The Time Factor
What would you do with an extra 49 hours? According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute's most recent(UMS), this is how many hours the average Metro Denver resident spent in traffic in 2014. Bear in mind this has nothing to do with commute time. If you typically spend an hour or more round trip on your daily commute, that momentum isn't factored in; the UMS report is about a lack of momentum - the time you waste sitting idle in traffic. 49 extra hours might not sound like a lot, but if you are already commuting 10 or 15 or 20 hours every week, an extra nearly 50 hours every year just adds insult to injury. If you are expanding your home search to areas beyond where you work, consider doing a bit of research beyond home price points - look carefully at traffic projections for the next 5-10 years and consider how major roadwork or increases in delays might affect your free time and impact your lifestyle.
The Money Factor
One way to avoid the time-suck of a sluggish commute is with public transportation. Thanks to Light Rail and Denver's RTD bus service, public transportation is widely available across Metro Denver. Similar to many metropolitan areas, living immediately adjacent to convenient public transit sites like bus depots and Light Rail in Denver will come at a premium. Weigh the pros and cons of time vs. money as well as the cost of fuel and vehicle wear and tear with a lengthier, slower commute.
Additional cost factors may include parking in the form of a monthly lease or addendum to your purchase agreement in Denver proper or other more urban locations, or additional parking or garage purchase fees in a townhome or condo situation further out from Denver proper.
The majority of the time, public transit costs less than owning/operating/fueling a vehicle for a commute, but this trend doesn't always hold true and buyers should consider pros, cons and costs of both options.
Living in Metro Denver offers incredible lifestyle and career benefits for families and individuals, sports fans, outdoor enthusiasts, dog people, artists, chefs, fishermen and anyone who enjoys sunshine and scenery. Your potential commute is definitely worth thinking about when you buy your next home - but living in Denver ... is totally worth the drive.