Scores of workers are being called back to their offices after more than three years of working remotely, influencing homebuyers’ choices as commutes are reintroduced to their lives.
The typical American commute is 26.4 minutes long, according to a new analysis by LendingTree. Based on median hourly earnings of $30.80, commuting costs $27.10 a day in lost time — or $5,724.56 a year.
Losses associated with commuting go beyond working time, according to LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz. Gas, parking, car maintenance, child care, and the toll on the mind and body add to the overall stresses of a workday involving travel. Price-wise, the typical commute costs nearly 50 cents a mile when total expenses are added together.
“The cost of long commutes goes far beyond impacting productivity,” Schulz said.
At the same time, people who are making the trek back into the office aren’t seeing any relief from pandemic effects. Yardi Kube has found that commute times are on a steady path to getting back to pre-pandemic levels.
New York City has the longest commute time. In 2022, an average of 40.7 minutes was spent on a one-way trip, only a minute less than in 2019.
Homebuyers are taking these costs into consideration.
As workers are called back to the office, the benefits of small towns no longer outweigh the convenience of living close to work, and cities are once again gaining steam.
Suburbs of cities like Boston, New York, Detroit, and St. Louis made Realtor.com’s “Hottest Zip Codes” ranking for the first time in five years.
“As many companies continue to call employees back to the office, we’re seeing a surge in home shoppers who are seeking a desirable combination of cost and convenience within commuting distance of major metropolitan areas,” Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s chief economist, said.
An easy commute is especially important to workers who are being forced to sell homes they bought during the pandemic boom in order to return to work. One in ten sellers are moving, in part, because of return-to-office mandates.
“My sellers both work at the same company, which told them they have to be in the office three days a week or they’ll lose their jobs. They have six months to make the move,” Shauna Pendleton, a real estate agent in Boise, ID, said.
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