While in the market for a new home or condo, talented young professionals are increasingly paying attention to commuting time as a vital factor in their decision-making. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has experienced increased growth outside the downtown core. The corridor from Hamilton to Coburg has seen an increasing share of automobile and public transit commuting into centres of work such as Toronto and downtown Mississauga.
A recent study from the Toronto Region Board of Trade reported that 67 per cent of home buyers said that commute time is among their top three considerations when choosing a home. Moreover, the regional area of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, where an increase in population density is notable, extends out from the Niagara region west of Toronto to the Peterborough county and city to the east. Based in Toronto, my own experiences are becoming more common, having commuted the full range of this region from east to west, having been employed at various times in St. Catharines to Peterborough.
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More efficient and stress-free commuting
Recent Census data finds commutes are getting increasingly longer, both within inner cities due to congestion, as well as an increase of those moving out of the city core for improved home affordability. The average Canadian spends just over an hour (63 minutes) of commute time per day getting to and from work. Commute times are increasing with more folks seeking affordable homes further afield from the downtown core business areas of Toronto and Mississauga. What should buyers keep in mind about their commuting needs when selecting a home?
According to recent research by The Red Pin, Ajax, Pickering, and Whitby are three principal municipalities that come out on top as the most affordable places to live per square foot tied to the most efficient driving commute times. Oshawa, although a desirable place to live and raise a family, does not fare as well due to the crunch on the 401 highway and its relatively higher home prices.
No doubt part of these calculations would also highlight the fact that the public transit system connecting downtown Toronto to areas outside the GTA are well serviced by GO Transit especially in areas east of Toronto. This author can attest to its efficiency and comfort, having used GO Transit to commute from Toronto to Peterborough at various times for work. With the long-awaited extension of the Toronto subway north to York University and the City of Vaughan, home buyers north of the GTA will enjoy a welcome respite from vehicle congestion on the major arteries leading into downtown Toronto.
Related Read: 6 Reasons to Buy a Condo in Hamilton
Impacts on your health
Your health is also a consideration. Recent studies have targeted commuting time as a factor in work-related stress conditions. Living closer to work, or being able to commute to and from work reliably, efficiently, and with minimal fuss, contributes to greater overall work-life balance – a key ingredient in many young professionals’ approach to meaningful work experiences.
Less stressful commuting would also contribute to the individual maintaining a lifestyle routine that includes time for stress reduction activities and exercise, choices that are becoming increasingly indispensable and necessary for our fast-paced connected work and private lives.
Health experts point to the negative health effects of long-term daily stress such as the daily grind of traffic congestion and long commutes. Doctor Christine Wickens of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has pointed to a range of negative physical and mental health outcomes related to long and stressful daily commuting such as cardiovascular stress and mental health issues. She found higher rates of depression and insomnia which contribute to overall lower life satisfaction. As if this wasn’t enough, in 2016 Dr. Wickens led a study that concluded that overstressed and angry drivers are also at a higher risk of collisions.
Apart from improving your overall health, there may indeed be compelling public health and safety reasons for shortening commuting times and for individuals to locate themselves within easy and stress-free commuting distance from their places of work.