Considering the Commute from Suburbia? Why It’s More Than Just “How Long…”​

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Commuting is not always about finding out which way is the quickest, but which method is the best in terms of overall experience.

 Whether both parents work out of home or one stays home and the other commutes to the city, most families considering a move to suburbia are very focused on a big question:

How long is the commute?

It makes sense—and it’s a very important question to ask. Whether you’re in the city or suburbia, your commute will have a majorimpact on your quality of life. That’s why so many soon-to-be suburbanites kick off their search by focusing on areas with the shortest commutes—the sub-30 minute train rides, for starters.

All things considered, though, time on the train (or the bus or the ferry…) shouldn’t be the only thing that weighs into the commute conversation. Even though that coveted 28-minute train ride looks great on paper, it could actually mean a jam-packed half-hour, tons of slow downs and seven-year wait for a parking spot—a parking spot that costs thousands of dollars each year, just for the privilege of hopping on that super short train to the city. Is it worth it? Maybe—but maybe not.

Our advice? Look past the minutes and think about the overall commute experience.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the commute like after I get on/off?
  • Will I get a parking spot at the station, or will I have to carpool/cab/walk/pay a taxi?
  • If I do get a parking spot, how much will it cost per year?
  • What is the commute itself like?
  • Is the train/bus packed? Will I ever get a seat?
  • Is the train/bus always delayed?
  • Does the train/bus put me at a convenient station in the city? Is that station near work/activities I need to access?
  • Is it an express train/bus or will I constantly be stopping and starting?
  • Are there frequent trains/buses? And are those trains/buses about the same time-wise?
  • And, YES, how long is the commute?

Running through this list, a better, clearer picture of your future commute starts to come into focus. Use that to gauge how “good” the commute will be to and from a potential town. Sometimes the quickest commute is the winner. Sometimes, though, when you start to factor in, let’s say, the walk to the station, the packed train car and the subway ride to work once you arrive, that lightning-fast commute becomes anything but. And that 45-minute commute you once wouldn’t consider? It’s actually an easy breezy on-and-off commute, that gets you to and from the city much faster, at the end of the day.

So don’t be dazzled by the numbers—and, likewise, don’t let a lengthier commute turn you off to a town. It’s all about the quality of the commute, and that goes much deeper than minutes alone. As always, it’s important to think big and think outside the box as you’re planning your move to suburbia.

In that vein, don’t get tempted by the town with the train station. As we’ve seen over and over there are often lots of great alternatives or, even, nearby towns which may not have the train station you were looking for but, still, have the better commute, all things considered.

Happy commuting!

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