Hidden costs of home ownership in Southern California that many overlook.

A large portion of those of us that live in Southern California, are accustomed to long commutes. All we have to do is look at the freeways at rush hour and we can see from LA to San Diego, from the coast to the Inland Empire, people commute.

The high cost of housing makes it necessary to buy a home in one County and live in another in order to find something we can afford.

Unfortunately, quite often when home buyers weigh the decision of buying a home that is quite a distance from work, they don’t take into consideration all the costs associated with that decision.

OrangeCountyRealEstateArticleLet’s take a look at what we need to consider when traveling from home to work more than 20 miles which would be a “normal” commute.

  • Gasoline. This is an obvious cost and one that most everyone is painfully aware of. You definitely want to factor in that expense into your decision. With the average cost of a gallon of gas hovering at just under $4, that is a cost to be reckoned with. Especially if you drive a gas guzzling SUV as it seems the obligatory vehicle of Southern Californians. That expense can quickly add up.
  • Car repairs. It is hard to imagine that a lot of people would not take this into consideration, yet it is often overlooked. If you put 30K commuting miles a year on a car, there is accelerated wear and tear that must be taken into consideration. Repairs, maintenance, insurance, are all higher when you commute long distances.
  • Time. A lot of people who buy homes further out of the area in which they work, could make several hundred dollars extra a month if they worked a couple hours of overtime extra a day, rather than spend that same amount of time on the freeway commuting. We can consider this an “opportunity cost”.
  • Extended day care. For those that have young ones that need day care; the cost of a couple hours of care a day can make a big dent on the budget.

For as long as I have been helping people buy and sell Real Estate in Southern California, I have seen the challenges of the high cost of housing and the sacrifices many have had to make in order to buy a home for the family.

The dynamics have changed with the high cost of fuel, and added costs for toll roads due to continuously increasing traffic. If you are looking to buy a home, and want to explore outlying areas that are more than 20 miles from your work, you want to look at hard numbers and evaluate carefully.

For free resources you can use to calculate the costs of housing and transportation, the government has made available some great tools at http://www.locationaffordability.info

This is an important decision and one that you can’t reverse easily once you have bought the home. Make an informed decision, one that you and your family can live with for at least 5-10 years. Contact me, and I would be happy to discuss with you, the costs and benefits of buying affordable homes in outlying areas.