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Snarled traffic in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Big tech companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook have made setting up shop in the heart of Seattle all the rage, giving their employees easy access to a variety of in-city amenities. But finding a place to buy or rent that’s considered affordable by today’s standards means moving at least 15 minutes from the urban core.

A new analysis from Seattle based real estate tech company Zillow and HERE Technologies, a mapping data company, shows that homeowners will save the most money if they move 15 minutes away from downtown in the cities of Boston, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

The typical home in the Seattle metro area becomes 11.3 percent less expensive (about $54,599) when it’s located 15 minutes out. Rent becomes 6.2 percent less expensive (about $125 per month).

HERE Technologies analyzed commute and real-time traffic data from 34 of the largest U.S. markets show how much homeowners could save if they are willing to add to their daily commutes.

(Zillow Graphic)

“There has been an urban revival in many U.S. cities over the past two decades driven by evolving preferences among young adults and a long-term shift in the American economy toward service jobs,” Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas said in a news release. “But, this does come with a cost — in many cities, there’s a growing tradeoff between a short commute and an affordable home. The regular commute to-and-from work looms large over the typical American worker’s life. Over a 30-year career, reducing your one-way commute by just 15 minutes frees up five months of one’s life for more rewarding pursuits. For some home shoppers, it may be worth paying more to spend less time sitting in traffic, but for others, deteriorating mortgage affordability and lifestyle needs and wants make longer commutes a reality.”

Zillow also shared what it called the best “Bang for Buck” areas around Seattle when home values, rents and commute times were all factored.

The top Bang for Buck neighborhood for homeowners is Highline:

  • Current median home value: $387,700
  • Median commute time via car during rush hour: 38 minutes

The top Bang for Buck neighborhoods for renters are South Park and Georgetown:

  • Current median rent: $2,356
  • Median commute time via car during rush hour: 27.2 minutes

Not all cities experience the same price drop as workers look for housing further out. Zillow said that in areas like San Antonio, Las Vegas and Sacramento, home values actually increase when they are located farther from the city’s urban core. This reflects the enduring premium on suburban living in those communities. In San Antonio, the typical home would be worth 14.2 percent — or $27,509 – more if it were 15 minutes farther from the city’s core.

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