If you're planning a move to another city, town or area, it's a good idea to check out your commute in order to see where might be the best place to live. While commuting can be controlled to a certain extent, there are so many factors that will either increase or decrease the time you spend in transit from and to your work site. So, before you rent or buy your next home, take a look at these tools to help you determine where to live to minimize the time you're on the road.
WNYC's Average Commute Times Map
This is a great interactive map that covers the contiguous United States. Using data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year estimates, the map is color-coded from light pink to dark purple with the latter color indicating the longest commute times. Either type in your zip code into the search box or move your mouse around the map to find the area you're thinking of moving to. Zoom in or out as needed.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute time in the U.S. is 25.4 minutes with only eight percent of us having commute times that are a lot more than that. Interestingly, commute times have not increased even though it often feels that way. In fact, commute times haven't increased overall; instead, we're going further distances in the same amount of time. Part of the change in distance without the change in the time required is due to the increasing use of mass transit and the building of greater city infrastructures that support transit and other forms of commuting like cycling and walking.
While the map is a fun way to find out what the average commute time is for your particular area, it doesn't enable you to enter your start and end points so you can see how long a commute might take you during peak hours.
But it's a good place to start.
Trulia's Commute Times
Unlike the previous map, Trulia's interactive map enables you to pinpoint a location, then shows you the surrounding commute times from which you can choose whether you're traveling by car or using public transportation. It's a great tool if you're looking at a commute within a specific area. However, if you're traveling from one area to another — for instance from San Jose, CA into downtown San Francisco — it doesn't map that distance. So for people traveling from one city to another, this tool won't quite give you the information you need. But if you're considering living in one city versus another, it will provide some guidance around average local commute times to help you better decide which place would be the best to live in.
Optimal Home Location: Green Real Estate Tool
This tool takes the idea of commuting to a whole different level. Instead of showing you commute times, it allows you to enter all the activities in your life — from work, school, the gym to your child's daycare — then shows you the optimal place to live so you're daily needs is met all within a commutable distance. Once it's pinpointed the optimal place to live, it shows you the average home price for that area, cost of taxes, etc... It's a great tool for those of you who might be staying within the city or just changing neighborhoods to see what would be the best place for you to live in the surrounding area based on your most common commutes.
Walk Score Great Commute
Walk Score, known for its easy-to-use site that enables you to find the most walkable and livable communities, also has a tool that helps you locate apartments and rentals that are within an easy commute of your work or school or other essential location.
This is a great tool for people looking for their next rental. However, it only displays apartment buildings or complexes rather than houses for rent or homes to purchase. So if you're thinking of buying a house or are looking for private home rentals, you might want to try another type of tool.
But Walk Score as a tool to find a livable neighborhood is the best around.