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How Important is Proximity to Work When Buying a Home?

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By Bill Primavera

As a realtor, I am sometimes embarrassed to think about some of the stupid mistakes I made in real estate in my personal life.

The worst decision about a home purchase that I ever made (not that I’ve purchased that many myself since I’ve tended to stay put once I bought a home) was buying a home a full hour’s drive from work. I had found the perfect job at the time as director of public relations for the Culinary Institute of America, a position I held for nine years. But it turned out that a new president came on board who was not to my liking, and I dare say, I was not to his liking. So it was necessary that I leave at that time.

Being forced out proved to be a true blessing in disguise for me because it required that I look for new employment. Luckily, I decided to open my own public relations firm specializing in restaurants, food and wine, capitalizing on the experience I gained at the Culinary Institute. It became successful beyond anything I might have hoped for.

At the same time, I trained to be a realtor, primarily because of a lifelong personal interest, which I soon realized was my true calling.

Those years I worked at the Culinary Institute involved a 47-mile trip up the Taconic Parkway from my northern Westchester home to the office. In those days, the Taconic above Westchester County was a narrower passage than today, and it traveled through mountainous terrain with sharp curves. Adding to my difficulties was an early 1970s gas shortage, where drivers were limited to the days when they could buy gas, depending on the odd or even numbers of license plates.

The Culinary Institute is in Hyde Park, just north of Poughkeepsie. Considering that I did some of my work in New York City, dealing with the press and restaurant sponsors, I didn’t want to commit to living in or around Hyde Park. A good in-between location was exactly in the midway point between the city and Hyde Park: Yorktown Heights, and that’s where we set out to find our new home.  There, I found a home, built in 1734, that was exactly to our taste. It was an historic landmark and my wife and I were interested in antiques and old homes at the time. Today, we’re really not all that interested in antiques anymore (few are), but rather lean toward the contemporary in style.

An article in Time magazine reported that the stress of a significant commute weighs on more than just the mind. The article states that driving more than 10 miles each way to work can increase one’s risk for developing diabetes and heart disease as a result of high blood pressure and blood sugar levels. In addition to the physical effects of a long commute, it can be detrimental to one’s mental health. A stressful commute can cause anxiety, depression and even affect sleep patterns.

The article also reported the positive effects of living close to the office, which can make workers more productive. Not only does it take less time to get to work, the convenience of having one’s home nearby makes one more likely to put in that extra few minutes at the beginning or end of the day. If employees can be more productive at work, it is reported that they will accomplish more in their personal pursuits as well.

Commuting also costs money. Cars come with maintenance and fuel costs and sometimes parking fees. If a worker lives in the city without a car, far from work, money is spent through reliance on public transportation.

But if your home is just blocks from the office and you walk to it, you’ll benefit from getting in a little exercise each day instead of sitting behind the wheel of a car, hunched over and gripping the wheel.

I must confess, however, that there were some benefits to the long commute. On the way into the office in the morning, I would listen to the radio for news and prepare for my day’s schedule. On the way home after a stressful day’s work, I would decompress.

Today, my work and home environments are one and the same. I have a zero-distance commute, and I love it.

Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076 or e-mail williamjprimavera@gmail.com.

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