Once upon a time I owned and lived in a house in the burbs….and now I don’t for a really good reason.

Location, location, location! I know, I know, you hear this all the time from Realtors….but consideration needs to be given not just to what neighbourhood you want to live in, but to where your new home will be in relation to work and fun. The costs of a commute are more than a tank of gas or a monthly transit pass — there’s auto insurance, car maintenance, missed connections that result in expensive cab rides and the stress of dealing with all of this on a daily basis. You save money on alcohol since you’re ALWAYS the DD, but that’s a whole other story. When making a purchasing decision, don’t forget to factor in the real costs of a commute….and that commuting in Toronto sucks!

Maclean’s magazine reported on a 2013 survey by Oxford Properties and Environics Research Group that found “many Canadians consider the time it takes to get to work as important as the job itself.” The average length of a commute in Toronto? Forty-two minutes.

Commutes can also take a toll on health and happiness. An article in The Guardian newspaper explains some surprising findings from a University of Zurich study about overall life satisfaction: “A person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40% more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office. On the other hand, for a single person, exchanging a long commute for a short walk to work has the same effect on happiness as finding a new love.”

So what does all this mean when looking for a home? Commuting has the potential to impact the quality of your life dramatically. There are health and well-being costs, as mentioned above, but transportation expenses can really add up and take a substantial chunk of your income too!

Buyer beware! Areas with the most affordable housing may not actually be as value-added as you think once you tally the costs to commute, while areas with more expensive properties may be more accessible, convenient and, in fact, cheaper while offering a better quality of life.

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