Commuting & The Home Buying Decision

Quick Takeaways

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the commute for many workers, with more offices shifting to remote or hybrid work.
  • Homebuyers are willing to accept a longer commute for greater affordability.
  • Distant “zoom towns” have grown in popularity, but the trend may not last.
  • Access to green commuting options may be an important factor for some buyers.

Prior to the pandemic, commute times had reached an all-time high. As more Americans switched to remote work, they used the time savings to devote more hours to their jobs, home lives, and leisure activities. Now that more offices are reopening for in-person work, some workers are reluctant to return to their former commutes. Other offices have embraced a hybrid work environment, which may have a lasting impact on commuting patterns.

Homebuyer preferences have changed significantly since the pandemic began. The shift to remote or hybrid works means that buyers are more willing to live further from the office. With home prices rising, buyers also prefer the greater affordability of more distant locations.

Some buyers have taken this to an even greater extreme by moving to resort locations in the mountains or near the beach. These “zoom towns” are experiencing population growth they may not be prepared for. Buyers should carefully weigh the pros and cons of zoom towns before buying. Experts warn that the current popularity of zoom towns may be short lived as prices rise and more workers return to the office.

Many workers are choosing green commuting options for health and environmental reasons. Green commuting may include biking, walking, public transit, or a combination. Bike commuting has grown in popularity over the past 20 years, particularly in areas with robust biking infrastructures.

There are a number of websites to help buyers factor in their commute when looking for a home. Buyers can calculate the length of time and financial cost of driving or taking public transit, calculate bikeability and walkability of neighborhoods, and find transportation agencies in their area.

See References for more information.