19 April 2008

Gas and Community

When it's too expensive to drive, you get to know your neighbors:
She and her husband lived in Florida until 1999, in a private house on a lake; the 17-mile drive to work averaged an hour. On moving west, they purchased a home in the Central Valley and commuted to the Peninsula - often a two-hour trek each way.

No longer. The commute from Hayward is a carpool shot across the San Mateo Bridge; Dan needs the car for work, DeeDee takes an AC Transit bus home at night. They ride BART into San Francisco every other weekend, along with short trips to downtown Oakland followed by a stroll to Jack London Square.

They've also plunged into Hayward life, visiting each store or restaurant that opens downtown, or going to the farmers' market. DeeDee even serves as the president of her homeowners association and belongs to a civic beautification task force.
Bottom Line: Some people are rediscovering the joys of community because it's getting expensive (in time and money) to commute from the "best" job to the "cheapest" home, to get the "biggest bargain" at the store, etc. I put those words in quotes to highlight our common mistake of ignoring time costs and/or the "soft" benefits of living in a community (borrowing a cup of flour, watching your neighbor's car, getting advice on doctors, etc.) Although it may seem like a bargain, the cheapest option is not always the best. Explore your local options and see if they have qualities that are worth a higher cash price.

1 comment:

_copper said...

A fun google mashup. There are some out there that give you the price verus value of your home taking into account the cost of transportation. And some that give you a walkability index. Good tools to have on hand when purchasing a home. Doesn't tell you how much you'll like your neighbors ;)

http://www.walkscore.com/

http://htaindex.cnt.org/