Short Commute or Nicer House?

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bluejello
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Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by bluejello » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:00 am

My husband and I are moving with two small kids to a new city. We've narrowed down where to live to 2 possible neighborhoods:

Option #1: in the city
- Excellent schools available
- Less than 2 miles to work, commute is about 5 minutes by car or 10 minutes by bike
- Very easy access to tons of restaurants, coffee shops, museums, nightlife... basically all the amenities of city life
- Residential neighborhood of older homes (1950's single story bungalows). Leafy streets and charming architecture, but we'll likely have to deal with more maintenance issues because of the older construction. The houses only have a very small backyard or patio so not much place for the kids to play, although there is a nice public park within easy walking distance so we would probably go there every day.

Option #2: in the 'burbs
- Equally excellent schools
- 20 miles to work. I've been told the commute is 30 minutes IF you leave before 7am or after 9am, otherwise it's unpredictable and can take over an hour. This city is also notorious for truly horrible driving. We have some flexibility on working hours but still... it's very likely that we'll have to drive during peak hours at least sometimes.
- There are restaurants and shopping nearby, but of course nowhere near as much as in the city.
- Gated development with very nice community amenities like kid's playground, swimming pool and tennis courts. Homes here are bigger, more modern (2005), nicer in terms of finishes, and are on spacious lots (1/4 to 1/3 acre). It does feel quite suburban though and not as charming as the city neighborhood.

Prices are roughly the same. I know this is a totally personal choice but would you take the short commute OR the bigger, nicer house and amenities?
Last edited by bluejello on Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

jalbert
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by jalbert » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:04 am

Will you have time to enjoy the extra space if you spend your free time commuting?
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moon_tea
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by moon_tea » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:15 am

For me living close to work has been great. Because of a short commute I have time to exercise and cook real food in the kitchen. Healthy food and daily exercise have been very important for keeping my blood pressure down. I've had long commutes before and found them tiring and sometimes stressful.

Good luck with your decision!
Last edited by moon_tea on Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mcraepat9
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by mcraepat9 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:52 am

What is your gut telling you? This is one of those decisions that is essentially "you do you". If you want the big house, then go for it. If you value your time and don't assign as much value to the suburban lifestyle, then go for the more urban option. You know you better than anyone on this forum.

Sincerely, a guy who grew up in the suburbs and now lives in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan.
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alec
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by alec » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:02 am

Will u both have longer commutes in #2?

You can use Google maps traffic function to see how long it would take to drive from one place to another at various times of the day.
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saveinvestbecomefree
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by saveinvestbecomefree » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:14 am

Short commute. Do some searching on this in the human psychology field. Commutes are one of the only statistically significant factors in long-term happiness, of course in the negative direction. People think that the bigger/nicer house will be worth the commute and often make that choice but you mentally adjust to the house and it's less of a daily happiness boost. You never adjust to the commute.....it just stays negative. Many studies have shown people adjust back to a "baseline" happiness even after extreme events like winning the lottery or becoming paralyzed. But people don't seem to adjust to commuting. The data indicates you should choose the closer location. Of course it's a personal decision and you may be an outlier but I thought I'd share the results of studies on decisions like yours. Hopefully this is useful in your deliberations.

bungalow10
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by bungalow10 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:16 am

I think option 1 sounds like the better neighborhood and quality of life. Plus, I love bungalows :)

If I could get a house close to where I work, with excellent schools, I would in a second. I'm forced into a commute in order to get a house and good schools, but I'm willing to pay to keep it to a minimum and have the option of driving or taking a train.
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by oldcomputerguy » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:24 am

bluejello wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:00 am
Prices are roughly the same. I know this is a totally personal choice but would you take the short commute OR the bigger, nicer house and amenities?
Well, up front, I know our situation wasn't the same as yours because we have no kids. But twenty years ago we made basically this very decision, either to (a) stay in the house we were in that was close to shopping and dining, or (b) move to a different house with a longer commute but more privacy (in the middle of five acres of woods). We chose (b) and have never ever regretted it. My commute went to around 25 minutes (like yours, it depended on time of day, 25 was after morning rush), DW's went to about 45. But it was worth it. As you say, it's going to end up being a very personal decision.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

Spewin
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Spewin » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:36 am

Calculate the extra time you will spend on your commute over your working lifetime. It's on the order of years. That made the decision for me and my family.

Beachdrinks
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Beachdrinks » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:47 am

Everything saveinvest said is 100% true. There has been a movement on studying happiness recently. Huge Ivy League studies etc.

One of the top 3 sure fire ways to decrease your happiness is to increase your commute.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.thegua ... rty-prices

I recently had to make this same decision (more space or shorter commute) and I decided if I wanted to soend the extra 20 minutes each way (40 per day) with my wife and daughter or on a train.

I haven’t looked back - but some people need their extra walk in closets and that’s ok too! I would say find some of the recently well reviewed books on happiness. There is strong data on this topic.

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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:56 am

Short commute. Yes, if you choose option b you will have an easy commute in the morning, but what is the commute like in the late afternoon or evening? I ask that because in the morning there are less people up and moving about, try that in the later hours of the day, your commute home may be longer.
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Psyayeayeduck
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Psyayeayeduck » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:01 am

If I had those two choices? Easily the first choice, no question. Time is a precious, rare commodity that shouldn't be wasted on a commute with variable timescale.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by DaftInvestor » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:32 am

Decision isn't as black and white as some always make it sound.
This is a lifestyle choice as much as anything else. While cities can provide more walk-able amenities they sometimes also have more crime and over time give some folks a feeling of being hemmed in (more dense neighborhoods, less greenery, etc.). With a short drive into the city you can get to the museums and restaurants easily on the weekends (when you will most likely have the time to enjoy them).
As far as the extra time commuting - some people view this as "wasted" time but there are ways to make that time productive or entertaining (catching up on podcasts, the news, audible books, etc.). I know people who actually like the transitional period between "work" and "family" that they spend in the car - it give them time to decompress after work before spending time with family (yes - I do realize traffic can bring on more stress for some people - once you learn to overcome it and see your car time as time that is use-able the stress can be eliminated).
The question is do you want to be a city-dweller or suburbanite.

TLC1957
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by TLC1957 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:38 am

Go on a field trip, go to option #2 for a week, stay at a hotel and drive to and from work. Make sure you do it when the kids are in school and not during vacation time when traffic is less. Then do option #1 for the same amount of time, then compare....then flip a coin if you still cannot decide....lol.

runner540
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by runner540 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:40 am

How well do you know this city? If you haven't lived there before, I'd recommend renting in one of these locations before buying. I think a year renting would help you make a decision based on commute, and neighborhood. I've seen people buy too fast in a new location (big house far away), and then sell and move closer in a year.

ecotone
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by ecotone » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:43 am

I’m starting a new job, in the same field, with similar benefits and pay simply for the change in commute. Will go from 10 hours per week down to 1.5 hours per week. Can’t wait spending my additional free time working on the house, and kicking back on the deck.

Commuting for me was something I desperately wanted to do away with.

stoptothink
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by stoptothink » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:53 am

DaftInvestor wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:32 am
As far as the extra time commuting - some people view this as "wasted" time but there are ways to make that time productive or entertaining (catching up on podcasts, the news, audible books, etc.). I know people who actually like the transitional period between "work" and "family" that they spend in the car - it give them time to decompress after work before spending time with family (yes - I do realize traffic can bring on more stress for some people - once you learn to overcome it and see your car time as time that is use-able the stress can be eliminated).
My "transitional time" might be the best part of my day. Those 5 minutes walking from my daughter's bus stop each morning to my office, then the same every afternoon are when I do my best thinking. Single best quality of life decision I ever made. I commuted my entire life until the past two years, in some of the most heavily congested metro areas of the country; never again. We pay more for a small (town) home, then we would for a much larger SFH just 10 miles away, and my wife and I have both passed up significantly better compensating opportunities that would have increased our commute (not to unreasonable levels), and there isn't a second that I have ever regretted it. Once you have "enough," time is everything. It is amazing how much "fuller" our life is, how much more we are able to get done and how much quality time we are able to spend together as a family despite what are insane schedules by most people's standards, because we aren't spending some of the best time of the day getting to and from work.

I completely agree though, this is a very personal decision and OP needs to sit down with their spouse and really discuss what will bring them the best quality of life. The anecdotes from a bunch of strangers on the internet aren't necessarily relevant to them.

KNMLHD
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by KNMLHD » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:54 am

Was in a similar situation although there was a bigger delta in distance/time spent commuting... With no traffic, my old commute was 50min, traffic on a Friday afternoon in the summer could extend into two hours.

We made a move to a different state and made the choice to be in the city... we now have a 10min commute, and downsized as a result (~1k sqft) - much happier as a result. Not only did I find I had more time to spend with my spouse, the move forced us to get rid of a bunch of "stuff" that we somehow accumulated over the years.

Another factor we noticed was gas consumption, and wear and tear on the car. I used to average 25K-30Kmiles a year in one car... now it's down to 11K. Our second car used to average 15K... it's about 1-2k/year now... (would be nice to get down to one vehicle)

Prior, outside of work, we would often drive into the city for dinner/events... we now walk. Rarely do we drive to the burbs. I suspect if you lived in the city, you'll find your driving will be reduced by an amount more than your commute.

To make the math easier - 20miles difference... 200miles a week or roughly 10k extra miles on the car in a year (again, I would expect it to be more due to trips to the city outside of the commute). Assuming 25mpg, that's 400g of gas and at $2.5/g is $1k in gas... not to mention wear and tear on the car (oil changes, tires, brakes, belts, etc).

Not insignificant.
Last edited by KNMLHD on Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:10 am, edited 2 times in total.

stan1
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by stan1 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:03 am

I'd easily choose the short commute but plenty of people happily make long commute because they want a lot of space. You might want to think a little more about what "nicer house" means to you. Focus first on the things you can't change (location) or can't change without a lot of money (# of bedrooms and baths). In return for a commute you'd have to decide whether #2 is offering you enough space to justify the commute (land not just home square footage). If you and your spouse hate taking care of a large yard you probably don't want to buy one, and if you buy a small yard with an hour commute why not buy the house with the short commute and a good park?

An older house can be decorated or remodeled to be nicer. You can spruce up an older house without spending $100-200K on kitchen and bath remodels assuming cabinets can be kept and painted. Paint and replacement window coverings go a long way. I've walked into some 2000s over the top "Tuscan" houses that look more dated than a simple 1950s house due to at the time trendy decorating choices. A Tuscan style house near me that came on the market recently actually had Renaissance style art reproduced on the living room wall and bedroom ceiling (it was a 2000 square foot suburban town house built in 1996, not a mansion).

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by DaftInvestor » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:46 am

djdube525 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:54 am

Another factor we noticed was gas consumption, and wear and tear on the car. I used to average 25K-30Kmiles a year in one car... now it's down to 11K. Our second car used to average 15K... it's about 1-2k/year now... (would be nice to get down to one vehicle)
In the case of the OP when doing a full detailed financial comparison between city living and suburban living the higher typical cost-of-living of city living might balance out with the additional commuting cost. In a city home maintenance, property taxes, food costs, etc. are ALL typically a bit higher which might offset or even supersede the commuting costs. As examples: plumbers in cities typically charge more, groceries cost more, restaurants are more expensive, property taxes are often higher, etc.

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lthenderson
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by lthenderson » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:00 am

bluejello wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:00 am
My husband and I are moving with two small kids to a new city. We've narrowed down where to live to 2 possible neighborhoods:

Option #1: in the city
but we'll likely have to deal with more maintenance issues because of the older construction.
This seems like your only real con to Option 1 and it isn't necessarily true. I live in a town full of 150 year old houses that are in excellent shape. My last house I bought built in 1973 was in horrible shape. I've spent the last five years fixing it up in my spare time and now it is in beautiful shape again. It all depends on who lived in it before you bought it and how much care they did.

My advice is to not rule out Option 1 until you've looked at available houses in the area in person. You can't judge a house by the neighborhood anymore than you can judge a book by its cover.

Da5id
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Da5id » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:06 am

I'd take the short commute. And that is even given that I don't particularly like cities and I kind of like having a yard. The cost per day of the commute in time AND money really adds up. The convenience factor of being close to work is really huge.

mouses
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by mouses » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:14 am

I would take #1 in a heartbeat. Not sure why #2 is even in the running.

deskjockey
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by deskjockey » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:14 am

As others have said, this decision hinges on your personal desires and personality. Do you hate being stuck in traffic (at any time of day)? Does commuting leave you anxious and/or tired on a routine basis? If so, you probably would be better off with option 1. If you don't mind sitting in traffic and your mood is not tied to your commute, option 2 might be the best way to go. Personally, my wife and I both hate traffic, so when we were looking to buy our first place, we decided to get a smaller split level within a 15 minute commute from work instead of a larger home further out. We have not regretted that choice.

One word of warning--I know folks who deluded themselves about their future commutes in order to justify getting a larger home. As others have mentioned, use Google maps to see what the rough average door-to-door commute time is for the houses you are comparing--don't try to game it by saying it only takes 40 minutes, but only if you count from when you get on the highway to when you get off, ignoring the 30 minutes you spend getting on the highway and the 15 minutes parking and getting to your office.

FYI, of the dozen or so friends of mine who didn't mind their long commutes (some lasting 2+ hours without traffic), not a single one has been sad to give up that commute when the opportunity has presented itself, and all have commented that they now can't believe they stuck with it for so long.

jayk238
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by jayk238 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:25 am

You will also have to make sure that crime
Is not an issue in the downtown area. My wife and I are debating this exact issue and are unsure as well.

I wiuld recommend researching the neighborhoods and making sure that both places have everything that seems like they do. Are their schools really that good or are they on the decline. Is there issues w a tax base. What is the occupancy rate or foreclosure rate. Etc

Yooper16
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Yooper16 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:29 am

Take the short commute---- less stress.

Also a smaller house can mean less furniture, yard care tools etc. The simpler the lifestyle can mean more $$ to invest for fun or earlier retirement. This eventually can also mean less stress.

Having lived in urban and the burbs--- personal belief is less of the "keeping up with the Jones's". in the urban jungle. See above for benefits.

Maintenance-- to a degree you are right but once a house hits a certain age, all houses begin a mx cycle that will never end. If your repairs are properly they will last the same length of time whether the house is in the urban jungle or the burbs. An older house will need more updates than a 15 year old house, but once updated you are on a level field in new versus old.

You can always make more money, but you can never make more time.

Go with the short commute.

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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by fishmonger » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:44 am

I believe it's a lot more complicated than simply "take the shorter commute." How stable are you/your husband's jobs? Are either of you able to work from home a day or two a week (i.e. not have to commute every day)?

Also, not sure what city you are referring to, but I would take weather into account. I used to commute from Boston to a southern suburb that took about 30 mins most days. In a snowstorm it could take 2 hours

Mitchell777
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Mitchell777 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:47 am

My experience was that the long commute really wears on you as the years go by and as you get older. On the other hand once I was able to work from home a couple days a week, it got much better. Also, not having to make the long commute in bad weather was extremely important to me. I had some nervous situations driving in when the weather was bad.

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TxAg
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by TxAg » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:49 am

option 1

it was a no-brainer for us

book lover
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by book lover » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:11 am

Think of it this way: The number of minutes that you save not driving are multiplied daily then over the course of a year becomes time that can go towards other things that are more important. The happiness literature frequently mentions longer commute times as a source of unhappiness with the sweet spot no longer than twenty minutes. Given a choice, I would alway opt for the shorter drive.

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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by JupiterJones » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:16 am

Charming, on a leafy street, plenty of nearby amenities...

Seems like the house with the short commute is the nicer house.
Stay on target...

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unclescrooge
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by unclescrooge » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:20 am

How old are your kids?

onourway
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by onourway » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:22 am

Option 1.

As your kids get into school this will pay dividends. If both of you are spending 1-2 hours of your day commuting that translates into a lot less time with the kids, and a lot more hours you need to pay for child care. Kids will get sick and need to come home mid-day. There are all manner of school meetings and events, many of them during work hours. Being close to home and hence close to school means you can deal with these within your normal workday (assuming you have a reasonably flexible professional job).

I can't imagine the additional stress I'd have if I was 30 minutes to an hour away from my kids school, and had to deal with all those things, let alone what time I'd get to work after dropping them off in the morning or how much that would compress the already crazy time after evening pick-up.

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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:22 am

bluejello wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:00 am
My husband and I are moving with two small kids to a new city. We've narrowed down where to live to 2 possible neighborhoods:

Option #1: in the city
- Excellent schools available
- Less than 2 miles to work, commute is about 5 minutes by car or 10 minutes by bike
- Very easy access to tons of restaurants, coffee shops, museums, nightlife... basically all the amenities of city life
- Residential neighborhood of older homes (1950's single story bungalows). Leafy streets and charming architecture, but we'll likely have to deal with more maintenance issues because of the older construction. The houses only have a very small backyard or patio so not much place for the kids to play, although there is a nice public park within easy walking distance so we would probably go there every day.

Option #2: in the 'burbs
- Equally excellent schools
- 20 miles to work. I've been told the commute is 30 minutes IF you leave before 7am or after 9am, otherwise it's unpredictable and can take over an hour. This city is also notorious for truly horrible driving. We have some flexibility on working hours but still... it's very likely that we'll have to drive during peak hours at least sometimes.
- There are restaurants and shopping nearby, but of course nowhere near as much as in the city.
- Gated development with very nice community amenities like kid's playground, swimming pool and tennis courts. Homes here are bigger, more modern (2005), nicer in terms of finishes, and are on spacious lots (1/4 to 1/3 acre). It does feel quite suburban though and not as charming as the city neighborhood.

Prices are roughly the same. I know this is a totally personal choice but would you take the short commute OR the bigger, nicer house and amenities?
I would choose 1 (but what you should do is up to you). The one and only reason I accept my 38 minute commute is that the schools near my job are not good. My commute is pleasant and has no traffic and is very predictable. Yours would be much worse and you have excellent schools and a wonderful option without it.

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Pajamas
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Pajamas » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:30 am

Since the schools are of equal quality, take the city. One of the issues people with children often have in deciding where to live is the cost of private schools if they choose to live in the city instead of in the suburbs. You only have to choose between an urban or suburban lifestyle without cost being the primary factor. Commuting slowly destroys the soul.

Isabelle77
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Isabelle77 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:33 am

#1 with a caveat to check the crime and spend a little time in both neighborhoods at all hours.

Something else to think about, traffic changes over time. When we first moved to our current city, Vancouver, WA, it was a quick commute to Portland. Luckily my husband works on this side of the river because what was a simple 15-20 min drive has become a nightmare traffic jam in just a few years. Gas prices also change and a long commute can really affect a budget.

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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by JohnFiscal » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:33 am

Browsed through the replies and I think I have a slightly different tack on it.

I have always strived for the short commute. For my current job (in two different cities, Houston and a smaller town in Florida) I opted for the short commute (10 minutes). Nice houses in both cases, although for Houston I could've gotten a much nicer house if I'd taken the commute. Sometimes I think that the commute might not be so bad (I have had longer commutes in the past). It gives one time to think and reflect without the demands of spouse and kids, or work, etc.

But in the OP's situation, for me, I would definitely take the short commute. The quality of life as it is described, being in the midst of "life" is very inviting, versus living in the boonies in a gated community, with a very insular life. I would enjoy being in the city and being able to bike to work, walk around the neighborhood to shops, etc. But that's me.

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Watty
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Watty » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:38 am

One thing to consider is where you might be working at if you change jobs in a few years.

The higher maintenance costs of the older home will likely be more than offset by the lower commuting costs so that may not be a factor. In addition to the gas commuting 40 miles a day from the suburbs is around 10,000 miles a year so your cars will not last nearly as long.

30 minutes each way is an hour a day, when you consider that your kids might go to bed at 8:00PM that is a huge part of the time that you will have together on weekdays.
bluejello wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:00 am
....with two small kids to a new city.
When I had a small kid I got calls at work because;
1) I had a puking kid in the school nurse's office.
2) My son was in the emergency room getting stitches
3) He was in the emergency room with a broken arm
4) School was letting out at noon because of bad weather
5) Poison control had been called because a toddler put a mushroom in his mouth.
6) My wife had something come up and she could not pick him up so I needed to.

None of these turned out to be serious and my wife was a stay at home parent or worked part time nearby so she could handle most of these. Both parents being a long distance away really does not work well.

As the kids get to be 12+ years old there will also be times when you will leave them home alone during the day or after school. Working close by means that you can drop by unannounced to check on them so they will be less likely to get into trouble.

Hint: Remember when you were a teenager. :D
bluejello wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:00 am
I've been told the commute is 30 minutes IF you leave before 7am or after 9am, otherwise it's unpredictable and can take over an hour.
That is 30 minutes on a good day but even if you leave at 6:30am there will often be days with bad weather, construction, car accidents, etc which will make it a bad commute even if you leave earely. A couple of times a year there will be commutes from hell.

One problem with trying to work the house of 7-4 instead of 8-5 is that at four in the afternoon there will often be something that delays your leaving so you will get stuck in the evening rush hour anyway.

In most areas the traffic will only get worse over the years.

When I did a corporate relocation I bought a house that I had a pretty reliable 30 minute commute as long as you did not leave between about 8:30am and 9:15am.

The area I am in is growing a lot so by the time I retired 13 years later it was at least 40 minutes, on a good day, if you left by 6:30am and it did not really clear up until after 10:00 am

It will also get more unpredictable which can be a problem if you have jobs where you need to be at work at a specific time. I was a software developer so getting to work 20 minutes late should not have been a problem as long as I made up the time, but I got a new manager that was a pain and wanted me to be at work at a set time each morning so when that happened it was a source of friction.

If your kids will be in daycare the unpredictability can also be a problem. I have heard of people being dropped by their daycare centers because they were repeatedly late in picking up the kids.

For the same cost the close in house is an easy choice. If the commute is worse in 10 or 20 years the close in house will likely also increase in value more.
Last edited by Watty on Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:45 am, edited 2 times in total.

dbr
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by dbr » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:40 am

It sounds to me like the short commute is also the nicer house, at least in the sense of neighborhood altogether. But then I abhor the "gated community" environment and really like the older neighborhood, maintenance and all. Then I live in a hundred year old house we really like. There has never been a problem for kids finding places to play. Choice 1 would be a no-brainer for me. I would take a broader view of quality of life between the two choices.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:43 am

"Burbs".
For the kids.
"Burb Memories"
j :D

41Fin
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by 41Fin » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:44 am

I traded in living across the street from my job in an apartment to buying a house 30 minutes away (no traffic). A comparable house in my old zip code would have been 150k-200k more so it was a matter of affordability. I could have stayed by my job but I would have been in a townhome with a small yard, limited visitor parking and a HOA(likely)

The commute does suck but you will spend more hours at home than you will in the car so I'd buy the house that will make you the happiest and go from there.

I also work from home one day a week which softens the blow.

Edit: The thing I miss the most is being able to go home for lunch every day.

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Pranav
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Pranav » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:47 am

Short Commute (Option 1)
https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki

barnaclebob
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:56 am

Short commutes are nice. Im lucky that my job is currently in the suburbs so I get the best of both worlds. One thing about living closer to the city is that the traffic on side streets can be bad in after work hours which makes after work errands a pain. Right now its a fairly short round trip to the hardware or grocery store where I am but in the city that trip could be double.

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Watty
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Watty » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:03 am

bluejello wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:00 am
more modern (2005)
One more thought.

A house built in 2005 may have a lot of maintenance costs in the next ten years as things like the Roof, furnace, A/C, kitchen appliances, hot water heater, etc all get to be 20 years old and need normal replacement.

The newer house could actually be more expensive to maintain.

runner3081
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by runner3081 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:06 am

Go with the short commute.

I had a 40-mile round trip commute and changes jobs to be closer to home. The commute is no 4.7 miles and takes 8-11 minutes, regardless.

In addition to the time saved, it also allows me to be more involved with my daughter. At the old job, I wouldn't even consider attending day-time school events.

Now? I am one of the only fathers who attends the gingerbread decorating, valentines, and other day-time school events because it is so close.

Also, the stress reduction with not dealing with traffic is pretty amazing.

moneywise3
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by moneywise3 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:09 am

What city is it

Beehave
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Beehave » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:34 am

If it were me I'd focus on what will probably be best for the children. Even from just that one perspective, it's not an obvious choice. I think the decision for me would be choosing the suburbs if that meant the children could be outdoors unsupervised at least some of the time (assuming this is not possible in or close to the city).

adamthesmythe
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by adamthesmythe » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:39 am

Where I lived in the northeast my colleagues with kids would always live in the suburbs (and mostly in the same one) because it had schools with an excellent rep. You know, X% get into the ivies... And they put up with some pretty bad commutes.

I had a semi-historic house in the city, small yard, and a 15 min walk to work. But no kids. I hated commuting back when I had to.

Since you say the schools are equal in city is an easy choice. Unless you want to raise chickens or something.

downshiftme
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by downshiftme » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:41 am

Having done both, I'd choose whichever has better school options for the kids.

If they really are about a toss-up, then I'll always choose the shorter commute. A longer commute takes so much time, plus a longer commute is more susceptible to occasionally being an extra-long commute in bad weather or unexpected traffic. There's a lot more that can go wrong with a long commute and lot more that can be accommodated with a short commute.

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Smorgasbord
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Re: Short Commute or Nicer House?

Post by Smorgasbord » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:47 am

bluejello wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:00 am
Option #1: in the city
Residential neighborhood of older homes (1950's single story bungalows). Leafy streets and charming architecture, but we'll likely have to deal with more maintenance issues because of the older construction.
Option #2: in the 'burbs
Homes here are bigger, more modern (2005), nicer in terms of finishes, and are on spacious lots (1/4 to 1/3 acre). It does feel quite suburban though and not as charming as the city neighborhood.
For what it's worth, in the mid-2000s my cousin and I both bought houses. I went with a 1950s house (that had been abused as a college rental) while he went with a brand new house. I can say without question that my maintenance bills have been far less expensive than his. :D

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