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Commuting in the DMV

If you’ve lived in the DMV for any length of time, you know that one of the biggest issues in the area is traffic. A ten mile commute can easily translate into over an hour in the car each way, depending on where you live and where you work. Of course, the pandemic changed all of that dramatically. According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), only 6% of workers worked remotely, pre-pandemic and in May 2020, that number jumped to ⅓ of all workers. When you take a third of the vehicles off the road, you’re left with far less traffic – so getting to work, even for those of us who had to travel into the office for work, took less time.

We saw a trend of people wanting more space to be able to work from home; More condos on the market, fewer single family homes available, and many (if not most) single family homes being sold for above asking price. But, as always, change is the only constant. People are starting to move back to cities to be closer to the things they love to do – go to restaurants and shop, and the things they have to do – work in-office and go to appointments.

The number one question I am asked from homebuyers moving into the area is “Where can I live that isn’t crazy expensive but also won’t be a really long commute?”. It’s a tricky question, because there is a fine balance between living in a place you can afford and living close enough to work to still have time to spend with your family in your new home.

Let’s assume you work at the Pentagon – over 26,000 people work there, so it’s almost a city in itself. Working there gives you the option to drive to work or take the Metro, so you may be able to avoid traffic, if you live near a Metro station.

Let’s Take A Look At the Numbers

Since we are talking about the DMV in general, we’ll focus on popular areas in Maryland and Virginia near Metro stations – Bethesda, Falls Church, and Reston. The average three bedroom, two bathroom home in each sold for $680,893, $623,763, and $402,794, respectively. That’s a pretty wide range, but it’s also a great variation in distance –  about ten miles, about eight miles, and about twenty-three miles from the Pentagon.

If you take the Bethesda metro – it’ll be about a 41 minute ride at 8 am. At 5 pm, it’ll take you about 42 minutes to get home. Add in the wait time at the station, and you’re looking at about an hour commute each way. If you drive, the range varies greatly – 22 to 50 minutes to get there in the morning, depending on your route, and 26 minutes to an hour to get back in the evening.

If you take the West Falls Church metro, it’ll be about a 36 minute ride to get to work by 9 am and the same amount of time to get home, if you leave at 5 pm. Driving to the Pentagon will take you roughly 15 to 30 minutes, depending if you want to pay the I-66 tolls or not. On the way home, you’re looking at 20 to 35 minutes, again with the added variable of tolls. 

The Reston metro station is a relatively new development in NOVA, and it will take you about 50 minutes to get to the Pentagon in the morning by 9 am. Getting home on the metro will take you about 52 minutes, on average, but can take up to an hour and ten minutes. Driving from Reston will take you anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes, again with the added bonus of tolls if you want to arrive at the lower end of the range. Getting home will take you 22 minutes to an hour – with or without tolls and traffic. 

The key to making this decision isn’t just in the data, it’s in finding out what you value. Do you want more time with your family, so living closer to where you work will help maximize that time, or do you want to live further from the city, and are willing to sacrifice the time with your family? Maybe you prefer a certain school district or being closer to family in another city or state. There’s no right or wrong answer, and sometimes the choice will be greatly limited by your budget. 

Our goal as real estate agents is to help you find out what you value, what your goals are, and how to work within your budget to achieve those goals and values. Ready to start the process? We’re ready to assist! Reach out to our team today to get one step closer to your new home.

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