Why a Shorter Commute is Better Than a Bigger House

Monday, February 23, 2015, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

The American Dream: a spacious home with a tidy lawn and room for kids to play. While in the 1950s that meant a small home in a compact neighborhood near one’s place of business, the 21st century version of that ideal is a rambling McMansion on an acre of property an hour away from the jobs in the city.

Is the extra space worth the commute? Since the recession forced many of us to examine what we really care about, an increasing number of people are answering with a resounding NO.

Why a Shorter Commute is Better Than a Bigger House-1

If you’re trying to decide between a big home in the suburbs and a smaller home in the city, you might be surprised to learn some of the hidden benefits of living closer to your job:

  • Decreased Anxiety

    You may have always had a hunch that your long commute was stressing you out, but did you know that there is a body of research to prove it? A recent study by the Office of Statistics in the UK (and reported by The Guardian) found that for every additional minute of commuting time, a person’s feelings of satisfaction with life decreased while anxiety increased. In the United States, Gallup pollsters found similar results: the longer the commute, the lower the scores on their Well-Being Index.

  • Better Health

    That same Gallup poll also found that commuters who spend more than 90 minutes per day in the car were more likely to suffer from back and neck problems, and a Brown University researcher found that each minute of commuting time is related to an incremental decrease in time spent exercising, cooking healthy food, and sleeping–all key components of a healthy lifestyle.

  • Environmental Benefits

    Aside from the obvious reduction in the gasoline you need to use, trading in your long commute for a smaller house has other environmental benefits. You’ll use less fuel to heat a home with a smaller footprint, and the same goes for your electricity usage for both lights and air conditioning. Best of all, having fewer and/or smaller rooms will make you less likely to buy more stuff to fill up the space. The less you consume, the better off the planet will be (not to mention your pocketbook).

  • WhyaShorterCommuteisBetterThanaBiggerHouse--2
    via Country Living

  • Free Time

    If you commute 45 minutes each way to your job, the 7 1/2 hours that you spend in the car is like adding an extra work day to your week. What will you do with all that free time? Not spend it on household chores, if you’re living in a smaller house. A smaller house and yard demand far less of your attention than that sprawling McMansion, so you’ll have even more time to spend doing things you love.

  • The Ties That Bind

    With all that free time, odds are good that you will spend it with the people you love. And that’s a good thing: a famous Swedish study found that long-distance commuters were 40 percent more likely to divorce. In addition to being more connected with your family, you’ll also be able to get involved in the community where you live, work, and spend most of your life. This can be immensely satisfying, and community involvement goes a long way towards ending the social isolation experienced by many rootless commuters.

Given the benefits of a shorter drive, are you ready to downsize? There’s nothing to lose but your daily commute.

Need inspiration for your home? Check out Modernize.com.

Author Bio

The article is written by Tim Smith.

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