Is Your Commute Worth It?

Zillow and HERE Technologies analyzed 34 of the largest U.S. metros to see how much homeowners could save if they were willing to add an extra 15 minutes to their commute

Boston and Seattle Top Zillow’s List of Places Where it Pays to Move Farther Out

Owning or renting a home close to downtown comes at a cost in most of the nation’s largest metros, forcing millions of people to decide exactly how much they’re willing to pay to spend less time commuting to and from work.

Homeowners will save the most money by moving 15 minutes away from the city’s urban core in Boston, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, according to a new Zillow® analysis in conjunction with HERE Technologies.

here technologies

In the Boston metro, the typical home becomes 13.4 percent less expensive—about $57,260—when it is shifted 15 minutes from the downtown core. The typical home in Seattle becomes 11.3 percent less expensive, or about $54,599 when it’s shifted 15 minutes out.

“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,” said Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas. “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 to make longer commutes a reality.”

here technologies

The report, using commute and real-time traffic data from HERE Technologies, a mapping and location platform company, analyzed 34[ii] of the largest U.S. metros to help American workers make that decision. It shows how much homeowners could save if they are willing to add an extra 15 minutes to their commutes, and how much they would need to pay to spend less time in their cars.

Transportation and housing uniquely impact everyday life while representing the two largest expenditures for U.S. households annually,” said Monali Shah, director of intelligent transportation at HERE Technologies. “The combination of HERE and Zillow data creates real-time insights for residents, cities and policy makers to better understand the relationship between mobility and housing costs in their communities.”

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • Washington D.C. and Chicago follow Seattle in greatest home value savings by moving 15 minutes further from the city’s core. Home values in Washington D.C. fall by 9.4 percent ($37,709 in homeowner savings), and home values in Chicago decrease 8.2 percent ($18,864 in homeowner savings).
  • In some areas — like in San Antonio, Las Vegas and Sacramento, home values actually increase when they are located farther from the city’s urban core reflecting 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.
  • In San Francisco, longer commute times are associated with a 5.5 percent increase in the median home value. This is likely spurred by high-end housing in nearby areas like Marin County and Palo Alto.
  • Controlling for home size, Boston, Washington D.C. and San Francisco have the costliest urban core. The typical home in downtown Boston is valued at four-times more per square-foot than that same home 15 minutes or more from the core.
  • The price disparity between central and outlying homes is less extreme for renters, but the trend still exists. Washington D.C. and San Francisco have the most expensive downtown areas for renters, with rent per-square-foot within 15 minutes of downtown more than twice as high as in the rest of the region.
Metropolitan Area Homeowner %
Home Value
Change by
Moving 15
Minutes Out
Homeowner $
Home Value
Change by
Moving 15
Minutes Out
% Change in
Rent by
Moving 15
Minutes Out
$ Change in Rent
by Moving 15
Minutes Out
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim -2.1% -$13,001 0.6% $17
Chicago -8.2% -$18,864 -7.4% -$117
Dallas-Fort Worth 0.1% $308 -2.1% -$32
Philadelphia 5.1% $12,447 0.4% $5
Houston 8.5% $17,567 0.8% $12
Washington -9.4% -$37,709 -8.7% -$172
Miami-Fort Lauderdale -1.4% -$3,799 -1.3% -$24
Atlanta 1.4% $2,935 1.5% $21
Boston -13.4% -$57,261 -12.5% -$293
San Francisco 5.5% $32,813 0.3% $7
Detroit 8.2% $15,504 11.0% $110
Riverside -1.9% -$6,279 2.1% $36
Phoenix -3.4% -$8,646 -3.7% -$49
Seattle -11.3% -$54,599 -6.2% -$125
Minneapolis-St Paul -4.7% -$12,601 -4.4% -$66
San Diego -7.1% -$40,209 -2.9% -$68
St. Louis 2.0% $3,423 7.0% $67
Tampa -2.3% -$4,692 0.2% $2
Baltimore 7.3% $21,565 4.2% $67
Denver -0.2% -$735 -1.3% -$24
Pittsburgh -6.3% -$11,132 -13.2% -$154
Portland -5.0% -$19,754 -4.1% -$70
Charlotte -5.0% -$10,689 -3.9% -$51
Sacramento 9.4% $35,817 4.4% $76
San Antonio 14.2% $27,509 6.1% $77
Orlando -5.0% -$11,470 -3.6% -$51
Cincinnati -2.6% -$4,631 -0.5% -$5
Cleveland 7.6% $11,539 4.0% $40
Kansas City 2.3% $4,572 3.4% $36
Las Vegas 13.9% $35,606 2.5% $31
Columbus -2.5% -$5,093 3.5% $41
Indianapolis 7.4% $12,268 11.6% $125
San Jose -7.6% -$67,246 -4.1% -$136
Austin -0.1% -$262 -5.0% -$78