What is the True Cost of Commuting?

What is the True Cost of Commuting?

Is your gas tank on empty…again? Do you catch yourself sitting in traffic and daydreaming about where else you could be in that moment? Are you convinced that one day you’ll have an aneurism from dealing with the terrible drivers on I-26? Your commute is costing you. Today, we break down just how much:

What’s Happening with Gas Prices?

When gas prices are low, as they have been for a few years, it can be easy to jump in the car every morning without thinking about the consequences. However, when starting your home search, it pays (literally) to think about how gas prices will change in the future.

The financial investment news source, Barron’s, reports that the national average price for gasoline increased year-over-year in 2017 for the first time since 2012. It averaged $2.39 a gallon, but is expected to climb to $2.57 in 2018. At less than a quarter, that’s a pretty modest increase at the pump, and one most commuters may shrug off. However, crude oil prices are expected to jump from an average of $60/barrel in 2018 to $85.70/barrel by 2025. That’s an increase of more than 40% over the next seven years! How long are you planning on living in your next home?

What is a Reasonable Commute to Work?

According to Reuters, 10.8 million Americans travel more than an hour each way to work every day. Woah! Luckily, that’s more of an exception than a rule. As of 2011, the average daily commute time was a quarter of that, at 25.5 minutes. In Western North Carolina, the average commute is about two pop songs shorter, at 18.7 minutes each way. However, that still amounts to six and a half days in the car every year!

What is the True Cost of Commuting?

The true cost of commuting can be measured by three factors that are unique to you: time, mileage, and health factors. Combined, most sources say that on average, commuting costs workers $795 each year for each mile you live from work! Think about it:

At an average of 51 minutes in the car each day, a full-time worker will spend 212.5 hours commuting each year—That’s almost 9 days of your life spent in traffic every year! Compound that over a 40-year career, and you’ve spent a full year of time at the wheel. If time is money, is that how you want to spend it?

In addition, the IRS estimates the cost of driving to be 51 cents per mile. This accounts for gas, oil, maintenance, depreciation, and tires. At an average round trip commute of 38 miles, that’s $19/day in car expenses!

Healthcare costs related to commuting are much more difficult to measure. However, longer commutes have been linked to increased rates of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and back and neck pain. Dig a little deeper, and your drive may even contribute to depression and divorce.

All together, the expenses incurred by commuting to work could help you buy a home closer to work instead. That $795 expense pays the interest on an additional $15,900 of home borrowed at a 5% interest rate. If you live more than 30 miles from work, you could afford to buy a home valued at $477,000 MORE than your current one.

Should I Live Close to Work or Commute?

Obviously, there are many financial and personal benefits of living close to work. But ultimately, where you should live is a careful balancing act that depends on your budget, your lifestyle, and your needs. In Western North Carolina, it’s easy to Live the Life You Choose no matter your proximity to employment. Urban lifestyles make it easy to live near city centers, while rural lifestyles have a closer proximity to town than you might think.

For savvy buyers who still don’t mind the commute, there are many real estate opportunities in outlying counties. Current homeowners in Buncombe and Henderson Counties, especially, can take advantage of our strong seller’s market to get top dollar for their current home. By trading supply for location or moving up in price, it’s easy to make the real estate market work for you in such a way that your commute expenses aren’t a burden.

How Do I Find the Right Community in WNC?

Especially if you’re concerned about your commute, finding the right community is an important factor in finding the right home. With more than 100 communities in Western North Carolina from which to choose, it can be hard to know where to start. Our five-step process lets you zero in on the community attributes that are most important to you.

Don’t fall in love with a home in a community that will leave you dissatisfied with the commute. Begin your WNC home search by using the Beverly-Hanks Community Finder.



All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. If you would like more information about local communities, our experts at Beverly-Hanks are here to help. Contact us today to speak with a Beverly-Hanks real estate agent about buying homes and land in Western North Carolina.


Image Copyright: tomwang / 123RF Stock Photo


End of blog post Beverly-Hanks logo


Back to News

Leave a Reply