What’s the REAL Value of “Another” 10 Minutes?

Feb 22, 2019

Weighing the pros and cons of adding time to your commute


The reality? When you move to the suburbs you’re likely looking at a longer commute. The question? How “long” is “too long?”


Often, soon-to-be-suburbanites lock in on a set commute time—they want a sub-30 minute train ride or a 20-minute drive, for example. While we’re all for a super-short trip into and out of the city, considering commute times goes way beyond minutes spent in-transit. When weighing your commute it’s important to take other considerations into account. For example, can you get a seat on that amazingly fast train—and does it run consistently? And is that 20-minute drive only 20 minutes sometimes—like, during holiday weeks or super early in the morning?


Beyond that, though, it’s important to consider what you’re giving up by opting for a shorter commute. For every 10 minutes you tack on to your commute, you’re likely gaining certain perks—and that’s often overlooked when weighing the pros and cons, starting with…

Image: Stock photo


#1. Lower cost homes


Commute to Great Neck on Long Island and, during rush hour, you could snag a spot on a 24-minute train. In Syosset, that “same” train takes 47 minutes. It’s a big difference in commute time, for sure. But consider this: in Great Neck the median home sale price is nearly $1.3 million. In Syosset, it’s just over $710,000—and square footage is virtually identical.


Also virtually identical? The schools. Syosset and Great Neck both consistently rank among the best in the country. In 2018, U.S. News & World Report ranked Syosset High School #37 in the state. Great Neck North High School ranked 38th.

Image: Stock photo


#2. Better beaches


In many parts of the country, being a bit further out means having immediate access to sun, surf and sand. Glencoe, for example, consistently ranks among the best beach town in the greater Chicago area—and driving during rush hour takes, on average, about 10 to 15 minutes longer than the average Chicago commute. Expect the same in San Francisco, LA and New York.

Image: Stock photo



#3. Less congestion


The worst commute in the Bay Area? According to SF Gate, at night the distinction belongs to the six-mile stretch northbound Highway 101—the stretch from Interstate 280 to eastbound Interstate 80 to the Yerba Buena Island Tunnel. In the morning it’s the Westbound Interstate 80 between Hercules and Fremont Street in San Francisco. What do they have in common? Proximity to the city. So despite being super close, your commute could take just as long if not longer than a commute that’s 10 or even 20 miles further.

Image: Stock photo


#4. More outdoor space


Somerville is a popular go-to for Boston commuters, and with good cause. This on-trend town has beautiful Victorians and other stunning homes, plus a super-quick commute—think 10 to 15 minutes—great schools, amazing shopping and a true sense of community. Tack another 10 minutes on and look at a town like Lexington and you’ll, likely, score way more outdoor space without sacrificing quality public schools or ease of commute. Yes, it’s 10 more minutes, but you’ll have a better chance of scoring a larger yard for your crew. The choice is yours—and for many families, that leads to the bigger backyard option.


Granted, these aren’t hard and fast rules—ultimately, what you’ll find and where you’ll find it comes down to where you’re searching and what you’re searching for. Our advice? Have a holistic commute conversation—consider time spent, quality and the commute and what you’re getting by pushing your borders a bit. From there, your ideal solution—and ideal suburb—will likely pop to the top.


There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t, without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.

Find Your Way Home