Residents of the DC area know traffic is horrible, but now we can prove it. In 2009 and 2010, DC ranked top in longest commute according to the Urban Mobility Report. So you may ask, “how does this affect housing?” Well, the farther away from the hub (in this case downtown DC), the more house you’ll get for your money. You’ll get bigger, newer houses in Prince William and Loudoun County than you will in Arlington, but let’s take a look at how you should look at the big picture.
When looking for a property to buy, you’ll consider 3 things: Price, Location, and Condition.
You can’t change where the house is, so does the price and/or condition make up for it?
If the price is appealing, what other factors go into the equation: what about gas/tolls? Will you need to buy a car? Metro passes?
If you find a house in the right location and at an affordable price, but the condition is a little lacking – would you take the opportunity to build some sweat equity and fix up the house so you could afford to live in your preferred location?
We’re a very transient area. People change jobs often, so consider your future. If you’re living in Great Falls and commute to DC now, what if you get a job transfer to Bethesda in 3 years? How does that change where you want to live now?
Do some research. What is the commute time right now? Are there any construction projects on the horizon that will add to that?
You can’t predict or plan for everything. Life has a way of playing funny tricks on us…so above all, make sure you LOVE the house. If you buy something that you’re mediocre about, you’ll end up resenting or hating it later.