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Acceptable increase in commuting time for family folks who can now WFH 50%


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Post-Covid, say your company will let you permanently work from home 50% of the time without any manager approval, and WFH 100% of the time with manager approval.  Say, to not impact your career in any way, you choose to not ask for manager approval, and pick the 50% WFH option.

 

Now that you will be commuting half the number of days, how much more time will you be willing to spend commuting to live in a house of your dreams, e.g. with water, land, sqft, etc. for the same or lower price compared to the houses you would have looked at before?  Assume you're in the market for a new house already.

 

Zillow did a survey recently and found the following (source: https://www.zillow.com/research/coronavirus-remote-work-suburbs-27046/):

Previous Zillow research found renters, buyers and sellers overwhelmingly agreed that the longest one-way commute they’d be willing to accept when considering a new home or job was 30 minutes

 

This new survey from Zillow and The Harris Poll finds those priorities appear to change if people have the flexibility to work from home regularly. When given that option, half of those who are able to do their job from home (50%) say they would be open to a commute that was up to 45 minutes or longer.

 

Do folks agree that it might be acceptable for some folks who can now WFH 50% of the time to increase commuting time by 50% from 30 minutes to 45 minutes?  Pre-Covid, total commuting time over 10 days would have been 30x2x10= 600 minutes.  With 45-minute commute time, total commute time over 10 days would be 45x2x5= 450 minutes.  So, still less total commuting time than pre-Covid.

 

I understand this wouldn't apply to singles, who see downtown as dream location for access to dating market.  So, the question is for family folks, who would like other attributes in their dream house, e.g. water view, land, sqft, etc.

 

I also understand this may not apply to family folks who have other strong daily ties within vicinity of their existing location.  Maybe for folks who have only weekly ties to existing location, they would be willing to increasing commuting time a little?

 

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I live in NYC apt and in Columbia county country place.  talked to my local country broker (an old vet), and she said she is seeing people selling NYC apts, renting in NYC and buying in country...preparing for a hybrid work process...and those doing this feel they are improving their overall living experience

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I don't think that that's the right way to think about it. In percentage terms.

 

If you're talking about some average commute of 30 minutes then 50% or 15 minutes is not bad. That's like stopping for milk. You can rectify the morning part by bringing coffee from home instead of staying in like at starbucks. But if you're commute is one hour then that's an extra 30 minutes or an extra hour per day. If it's an hour and a half then that's an extra 45 minutes or an hour and a half per day. At that point your whole day is probably totally shot and it becomes unacceptable.

 

I'm not just talking about this theoretically either. In a place like Toronto a one hour commute is not that that bad. A 30 minute commute is freakin fantastic.

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I don't think that that's the right way to think about it. In percentage terms.

 

If you're talking about some average commute of 30 minutes then 50% or 15 minutes is not bad. That's like stopping for milk. You can rectify the morning part by bringing coffee from home instead of staying in like at starbucks. But if you're commute is one hour then that's an extra 30 minutes or an extra hour per day. If it's an hour and a half then that's an extra 45 minutes or an hour and a half per day. At that point your whole day is probably totally shot and it becomes unacceptable.

 

I'm not just talking about this theoretically either. In a place like Toronto a one hour commute is not that that bad. A 30 minute commute is freakin fantastic.

 

Makes sense, rb.  In terms of minutes, (1) how many minutes max would you have commuted when you had to work in office every day, and (2) how many minutes max would you be willing to commute if you have to work in office only half the number of days?

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What time do you start and end work? That can make all the difference for making family events (sports, recitals, etc).

 

Test the route out if you’re considering it. There are nice easy long commutes and ones which could be shorter but much more involved (heavier traffic, multiple exists, terrible roads etc.).

 

Make a pros and cons list. If you really want the dream home and 100% work from home then talk to your boss.

 

I just went through this process. I’m moving 1.5hrs away from where I am now to get more land, better house at a cheaper price, closer to family (not too close ;D). I will be 100% wfh permanently with a requirement of 1 day a month in office for training etc. My commute is literally 4 turns and 95% of the trip is one main highway. I also needed manager approval specifically for my team (no big deal) and it will not affect my career in any aspect since my team is smattered globally anyways.

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I don't think that that's the right way to think about it. In percentage terms.

 

If you're talking about some average commute of 30 minutes then 50% or 15 minutes is not bad. That's like stopping for milk. You can rectify the morning part by bringing coffee from home instead of staying in like at starbucks. But if you're commute is one hour then that's an extra 30 minutes or an extra hour per day. If it's an hour and a half then that's an extra 45 minutes or an hour and a half per day. At that point your whole day is probably totally shot and it becomes unacceptable.

 

I'm not just talking about this theoretically either. In a place like Toronto a one hour commute is not that that bad. A 30 minute commute is freakin fantastic.

 

Makes sense, rb.  In terms of minutes, (1) how many minutes max would you have commuted when you had to work in office every day, and (2) how many minutes max would you be willing to commute if you have to work in office only half the number of days?

Well I don't have a boss so I can do whatever the hell I like. But if I had I'd say 20-25 min max I would be willing to add.

 

However this is how I think this looks more in reality. In places that actually have those 30 minute commutes, I'm thinking here places like Raleigh, Pittsburg, Omaha, you could probably go an extra 15 minutes and get your dream house. But in those places housing is pretty affordable so if you really wanted to you could have done it where you are anyway.

 

Places with long commute, I'm thinking here places like Toronto and Los Angeles, housing is really expensive so a somewhat longer commute doesn't really get you anywhere close to your dream house. That place would imply an untenable commute and you're likely already as far away from work as you can possibly take.

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This question is pretty relevant for me.  I had about a 30min commute at the place I've been working for the past 9 years or so.  My company was bought out by another company a few years ago (happened to be the company I used to work for, I guess they just needed me back at any cost).  Anyway, they are in the process of building another few buildings on their main campus and will be closing my building in a year or two.  So my commute was going to go from 30min to about an hour.  My wife and I were contemplating selling our home when that happens and moving closer to my work.

 

Then COVID happened and I am working from home along with almost everyone else.  It looks like the company is going to be more open to working from home most of the time even post-crisis, so if I can work from home at least half the time (hopefully more) then I am definitely going to stay where I am.  We like our house and our town and did not look forward to needing to move.

 

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To me - there is no acceptable commuting time. I have been WFH 100% for the past 5 years and would under no circumstances go back to a commute. I worked hard for 20 years to get to the point where I don't need a salary, I love my discipline and working with my colleagues. But if my employer asked me to commute at all, I would find another workplace or go back into academia. In fact the only way I would commute would be if I was teaching/lecturing in classroom. 

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However this is how I think this looks more in reality. In places that actually have those 30 minute commutes, I'm thinking here places like Raleigh, Pittsburg, Omaha, you could probably go an extra 15 minutes and get your dream house. But in those places housing is pretty affordable so if you really wanted to you could have done it where you are anyway.

 

Places with long commute, I'm thinking here places like Toronto and Los Angeles, housing is really expensive so a somewhat longer commute doesn't really get you anywhere close to your dream house. That place would imply an untenable commute and you're likely already as far away from work as you can possibly take.

 

This pretty much.

 

Also, let me go with a personal anecdote that shows how complicated things are.

 

My commute is about 20 min roundtrip (10 min one way) assuming not horrible traffic.

OP scenario does not apply to me since I was already working from office 3 times a week and likely going to go back to the same after Covid.

 

Actually, my situation is closer to 5 days commute that won't become 3 days commute: we also go to Tai Chi classes 1-2 times a week which is 30-40 minutes roundtrip. And occasionally some other trips with similar roundtrip times.

 

Now, can I get something way better by adding 10 minutes one way?

The answer is pretty much "No". The answer is doubly "no" if you take traffic into account, since 10 minutes one way is ~2 miles in traffic. But even if you assume no traffic, 10 minutes one way is below 10 miles or so. And 10 miles does not give you huge upgrade in Boston area. Especially if you start accounting for conveniences like keeping your doctor, having good restaurants nearby, etc.

 

BTW, IMO OP overestimates cheap availability of land/water. If you want a lot of land, it's likely going to be away from freeway and streets add way more commute time than freeway. Water, especially desirable water, is very expensive. I doubt I'd be able to get the same house on the coast for cheaper if I went out 1hr roundtrip (that's 30 minutes one way). It's anecdotal, but I've looked at places for fun when we were going out with friends and "land+water" or just "land" in desirable small towns out 1hr roundtrip costs as much if not more than my house. So pretty much what rb said.  8)

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However this is how I think this looks more in reality. In places that actually have those 30 minute commutes, I'm thinking here places like Raleigh, Pittsburg, Omaha, you could probably go an extra 15 minutes and get your dream house. But in those places housing is pretty affordable so if you really wanted to you could have done it where you are anyway.

 

Places with long commute, I'm thinking here places like Toronto and Los Angeles, housing is really expensive so a somewhat longer commute doesn't really get you anywhere close to your dream house. That place would imply an untenable commute and you're likely already as far away from work as you can possibly take.

 

This pretty much.

 

Also, let me go with a personal anecdote that shows how complicated things are.

 

My commute is about 20 min roundtrip (10 min one way) assuming not horrible traffic.

OP scenario does not apply to me since I was already working from office 3 times a week and likely going to go back to the same after Covid.

 

Actually, my situation is closer to 5 days commute that won't become 3 days commute: we also go to Tai Chi classes 1-2 times a week which is 30-40 minutes roundtrip. And occasionally some other trips with similar roundtrip times.

 

Now, can I get something way better by adding 10 minutes one way?

The answer is pretty much "No". The answer is doubly "no" if you take traffic into account, since 10 minutes one way is ~2 miles in traffic. But even if you assume no traffic, 10 minutes one way is below 10 miles or so. And 10 miles does not give you huge upgrade in Boston area. Especially if you start accounting for conveniences like keeping your doctor, having good restaurants nearby, etc.

 

BTW, IMO OP overestimates cheap availability of land/water. If you want a lot of land, it's likely going to be away from freeway and streets add way more commute time than freeway. Water, especially desirable water, is very expensive. I doubt I'd be able to get the same house on the coast for cheaper if I went out 1hr roundtrip (that's 30 minutes one way). It's anecdotal, but I've looked at places for fun when we were going out with friends and "land+water" or just "land" in desirable small towns out 1hr roundtrip costs as much if not more than my house. So pretty much what rb said.  8)

 

 

But you already have a house near doctors and restaurants that you already frequent, sure you are unlikely to pack up and move.  But for new employees moving to the area a 50%+ WFH option widens the area for house hunting significantly.  Giving them a greater chance of finding something that more perfectly fits their wants/needs.

 

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