Road and Public Transit Accessibility

Your time is valuable, so you want to be sure your commute is as short as possible. Whether you drive or take public transit, your time to and from work, and other regular destinations, should be a deciding factor in where you buy your next home.

Door to desk

You can’t just consider distance between two places; instead determine the total time it takes from the moment you leave your home to the moment you sit down at your desk. Consider the following questions:

  • Is there heavy traffic on a certain thoroughfare between home and work?
  • If you’re not on a subway line, is the bus schedule frequent and consistent?
  • Do you commute at the same time every day? If so, look at traffic patterns and consider your routes.
  • How far do you have to walk to get to public transit?

Why transit accessibility is important

You may think of your commute as a chunk of time that’s inevitable and not important. While it may be easy to ignore your travel time as a priority, you should consider this:

What could you be doing with that time?

You’ll always need to get to and from work. However, if you save 30 minutes a day by living near a subway or living closer to the office, think of what you can actually do with that extra 30 minutes—help your kids with their homework, take up a hobby, or find time for a workout.

Weighing this time against the added cost of living on rapid transit should be based on questions like these. Paying more for a shorter commute can be worth it, if you consider how much time you actually save in a week, month, or year. You can literally put a dollar amount on your time when buying a home, at least when considering transit.

Transit expansions mean increased value

If you know about a subway expansion or increase in service, chances are that real estate along that route is going to jump in price. Commuters will pay more to have easy access to rapid transit, which means there’s a premium on that access. It may be wise to buy near a confirmed transit expansion, to see significant appreciation when it’s finished.

Distance-based transit affects how much you can afford

If you’re taking transit in areas where you pay based on distance travelled, consider that your transit costs can justify buying a more expensive home to be more central.

For example, let’s say you’re looking at homes between Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, and Oshawa in the GTA, and you take GO Transit, a system that costs more the further you travel. Although it may seem like the obvious answer is to buy in Oshawa—the furthest from Toronto—as the homes will be cheaper, you’ll be paying more for transit, which compensates for that lower price.

Your monthly carrying costs will be the same in both scenarios—lower mortgage with higher transit and higher mortgage with lower transit. When you consider the time you’ll spend commuting, a home closer to the city may be your best option.