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Actor James Woods has listed his magnificent Mid-Century Modern home in Hollywood Hills for $2.65 million, according to Variety. The Los Angeles–area home was purchased in 2014 for $2.2 million, according to property records.
Built in 1959 by the firm Buff and Hensman, the 2,500-square-foot home with post-and-beam construction reflects the iconic era, with its walls of glass, open floor plan, and indoor-outdoor spaces.
The property offers views of the mountains, canyons, and Universal City below. The entry looks to a glassed-in courtyard with fountain. The courtyard creates separation between the master suite and the guest rooms. The layout includes a living room with fireplace and walls of windows, an open kitchen, and dining room.
An addition to the home was completed in 2002, without deviating from the home’s signature style. As currently configured, the home has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Both guest baths open to the outdoors, and one has an outdoor shower. A pool and deck are just outside the living room, and the home is surrounded by gardens.
Woods, 70, has starred in such films as “Straw Dogs” and “White House Down,” and is currently providing the voice of Lex Luther for the animated cartoon “Justice League Action.”
No area of the home is quite as hyped as the kitchen. Given that it’s where people cook, eat, socialize, open mail, and more (we’d wager some would sleep there if they could), it makes sense that people obsess over their kitchens being just right. And that means stocked with the right appliances and designed to reflect the latest and greatest styles.
And therein lies the rub: Jumping on board every trend (or sticking with an outdated look for too long) could be the death knell for your kitchen. For one, you may not really need a farmhouse sink or chef-level appliances; for another, these pricey purchases may be on their way out—and work against you once you put your home on the market.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that having a kitchen designer chime in is worth its weight in gold … and, to whet your appetite, and suggest some of the things that they know, here are some kitchen features they really wish you would ditch, either because they’re outdated, impractical, or just terrible ideas altogether. Allow them to explain:
Kitchen islands are still all the rage, but building one that’s way too big is a mistake, notes Beverly Solomon, creative director of the eponymous design firm. “The islands I’ve seen are so huge they’d have names if they were in the ocean,” she says. An island sized for everyday food prep and seating for a few people is sufficient. “Make this kitchen detail fit for a yacht, not an aircraft carrier.”
Sure, La Cornue is droolworthy, but not if you’re an older couple who barely cook. “Grotesquely huge kitchens with opulent appliances are fine if you’re making daily gourmet meals for a family of 35, but not for most of us who use the kitchen to slop out a bowl of cereal, make a sandwich, and heat up pizza,” says Solomon. Instead, save your cash and carefully plan this room to be as midsize as possible, she suggests. “Get real—for the one or two meals a year when you’re cooking for a lot of people, use the money you didn’t spend on an enormous stove, and have the event catered.”
An all-wood design
Less is more when using wood in the kitchen, says Nicola Croughan, an interior designer with Roman Blinds Direct. “A wooden workspace does look great against a plain white cabinet, and wood flooring warms the room and has charm, but all-wood cabinets are too hard to clean and will look dated fast,” she explains.
Too many gadgets
A standing mixer, toaster oven, rice cooker, steamer, and a pasta maker? “Investing in too many gimmicky appliances and gadgets will clutter your kitchen design and hog precious work space,” says Croughan. Keep your kitchen looking functional and simple, putting out only the tools you use every day.
White subway tile
Sure, it’s clean and not too expensive to install, but subway tile has just about run its course, say the experts. “This look is overused in the kitchen—more people today want unique patterns and color to make a bigger impact in the space,” says Jenny Gericke, an interior designer with Gather Home Design.
One or two small open shelves as an accent are fine, but an entire kitchen full of them isn’t workable, says Gericke: “This design isn’t practical in most kitchens, because you lose storage space and end up struggling to keep everything superclean.”
Microwaves as ventilation
Homeowners need to get away from putting the microwave above the stove and using it as a ventilation system, states Sara Chiarilli, an interior designer with Artful Conceptions in Tampa, FL. “The microwave doesn’t vent—it recirculates—so it’s better to install a double oven with a convection microwave or put in a cabinet microwave elsewhere,” Or skip the microwave completely! “With a return to cooking, millennials don’t want this device taking up valuable space in the kitchen,” says Gericke.
Busy granite counters
“Patterns like Santa Cecilia have given way to more subtle looks and solid quartz counters,” according to Jamie Gold, a San-Diego based certified kitchen designer. And whatever you do, don’t put 12-inch tiles on your countertops. “It basically says, I wanted granite, but didn’t want to pay for it,” says Gold.
The smooth surface looks sleek and appealing, but the design is fast becoming obsolete in today’s kitchen, says Gold. “These electric appliances deliver no performance to the cook nor resale value for your home.” Plus, they can be hard to clean. “Gas and induction have largely replaced radiant cooktops, with induction being the best choice, as it works as a professional-caliber replacement for electric,” she adds.
What was the most epic, death-defying commute of all time? Lewis and Clark traversing the western United States? Moses and his people crossing the Red Sea? Noah and the Ark? Or was it you last Thursday—sucking down highway fumes in a soul-crushing, bumper-to-bumper expedition to arrive at work on time?
Yeah, that’s the one.
As Harvard psychologist Daniel Todd Gilbert has noted: “Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day.” No wonder the hellishness of a daily commute—or lack of it—is one of the primary factors determining where you should live. And how happy and sane you’ll be there.
The realtor.com® data team jumped into the driver’s seat to separate the best metros for commuting from the ones that make you fantasize about telecommuting—or moving. Some metros have clear roadways and transit options that whisk caffeine-fueled and sleep-deprived commuters to work. Others are all about punishing traffic, buses that never show up, and trains that arrive about as often as presidential apologies.
So what makes a metro a great place for commuters? Consistent travel times, mostly, says Joseph L. Schofer, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University. “That comes from well-managed road networks, limited congestion, quick incident-clearance times, and [bus and rail] transit [options],” he says.
The realtor.com data team looked at a variety of criteria in the 150 largest metros, to find the best and worst places for commuters. We analyzed:*
- Average commute time for drivers, carpoolers, and public transportation riders
- Average number of hours spent in traffic congestion
- Percentage of roads in “good” or “fair” condition
- Percentage of bridges that are “structurally deficient”
So grab your morning joe and hop in! First, let’s head over to the places where commuters are at peace.
Best metros for commuters
1. Eugene, OR
Median home price: $333,000
Average commute time: 19.9 minutes
Average time spent in congestion per year: 7.6 hours
An aversion to transit delays and gridlock can make you do crazy things—like riding your bike to work in 25-degree winter temps. But a surprising number of Eugene commuters do it for the pure love of the sport—and the ease of getting around this place on two wheels.
A fondness for human-powered transport is just one of the things that helps make Eugene America’s best city for commuting. Out of the country’s 150 largest metros, only three have shorter daily travel times. It has little to no congestion. (Only 10 American metros have less.) And it has the 19th highest public transportation use per capita, beating out cities like Denver and Salt Lake City, according to a 2014 study from FiveThirtyEight.
And yes, Eugene has one of the country’s highest rates of bike commuting, at 7%—nearly double the national rate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The city has spent years investing in bike lanes and pedestrian bridges, and now has nearly 200 miles of on-street bike lanes and seven pedestrian bridges. And this spring, it will launch its own bike-share system—with the state kicking in $900,000 to complete it.
Jay Loew has owned Hutch’s bicycle store in Eugene for 20 years. He’s seen the city’s population mushroom, adding more than 50,000 residents since 1990. But the metro has managed to keep commute times down, partly due to the Lane Transit District, Eugene’s excellent bus system.
That hasn’t stopped water-cooler complaints, of course.
“Eugene residents might spend 10 more minutes in rush hour to get where they are going,” Loew says. “Drivers in L.A. and New York would laugh at the complaints people have about rush-hour traffic here.”
Median home price: $234,000
Average commute time: 20.4 minutes
Average time spent in congestion per year: 6.4 hours
Texas is experiencing rapid growth, as more folks move in to take advantage of its low taxes and cost of living. But to big cities like Dallas, Houston, and Austin, that’s brought way longer commute times. Not in the coastal city of Corpus Christi, with its population of about 326,000, however.
The average commute time here is only 20 minutes. That’s partly due to the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority and its more than 30 bus routes, helping to keep the roads clear, and to the improvements being made to bridges and roadways.
Case in point: The city’s Harbor Bridge is currently being replaced as part of a $900 million project that will include the construction of more than six miles of combined bridge and roadway. The state is also expanding local highways, turning 3.4 miles of State Highway 286 into a four-lane, rather than two-lane, highway to accommodate future growth.
Last year, WalletHub named Corpus Christi the best city in America to drive in. Buckle up!
And since you’ll be getting home more quickly after work, maybe you can pack the family into the car and stop by the Corpus Christi Ride-In Theater. You’ll be able to watch a free flick, eat from local food trucks, and catch a view of Corpus Christi Bay in the background.
3. Wichita, KS
Median home price: $170,000
Average commute time: 19.4 minutes
Average time spent in congestion per year: 5.8 hours
Around a year ago, Chris Duryee was transferred from Colorado Springs to Wichita. As a district manager for a national pizza chain, he travels to stores all over the region every day. He finds the lack of traffic in Wichita refreshing.
“I drive 6,000 miles per month, so [less time in traffic] adds to my productivity, and it means more time spent in each store,” says Duryee. “I’ve lived in Philadelphia, and compared to that, this is a paradise.”
Wichita has the third-lowest levels of traffic congestion in the nation. And the average commute time here clocks in at 19 minutes, second-lowest among the top metros. Lookin’ good, Wichita!
Through the years, the city has made major improvements to its highways. In 2015, the city unveiled its $345 million project to expand Kellogg Avenue, a major roadway that cuts across downtown.
When you aren’t behind the wheel, you can dust off your bike and burn some calories. The city has added around 40 miles of dedicated bikeways over the past four years.
4. Reno, NV
Median home price: $430,000
Average commute time: 21.4 minutes
Roads in “good” or “fair” condition: 69%
When it comes to traffic, Reno has really earned its nickname, “The Biggest Little City in the World.” Drivers here spend an average of 11 hours in congestion per year, compared with Las Vegas and its average of 22 hours. Hey, being a little city isn’t such a bad thing!
“You can just about get anywhere in Reno in about 25 minutes,” says Paul Enos, CEO of the Nevada Trucking Association.
And then there is the scenery. Enos recently pulled over and took a photo of wild horses along the roadside near Reno. That’s what kids these days call social media gold.
“In New York, you have rats. In Reno, we have wild horses,” Enos says.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, where Reno is situated, manages the region’s bus system, which has an annual ridership of almost 8 million. The RTC RAPID line pulls off more than 100,000 rides per month.
Median home price: $200,000
Average commute time: 20.1 minutes
Roads in “good” or “fair” condition: 56%
Brownsville sits on the southern tip of Texas, on the U.S-Mexico border, in a state where things are known to be big. But commutes here are nothing of the sort. Indeed, only four of the 150 largest metros have shorter ones.
To improve its roadway system, taxpayers in Brownsville have anted up. From 2006 to 2012, the city was shelling out between $8 million to $10 million per year to build new roads and traffic corridors.
“We try to give people more than one way to arrive at their destination,” says Doroteo Garcia, assistant city engineer for the City of Brownsville. That’s left drivers with few complaints.
But the real feather in the city’s cap is the area’s low number of traffic accidents. Indeed, in 2017, Allstate named Brownsville second on its “America’s Best Drivers Report,” which ranks cities for safety in driving. According to Allstate, the average driver in Brownsville goes 14.5 years between car insurance claims, compared to 7.2 years in Houston.
Now that you know the best places, let’s run you through the worst. There are three staples in these cities: death, taxes, and traffic jams.
Worst metros for commuters
1. New York, NY
Median home price: $475,000
Average commute time: 35.9 minutes
Average time spent in congestion per year: 89.4 hours
The governor of New York dubbed it the “summer of hell” for commuters last year. And Andrew Cuomo wasn’t kidding. Crumbling, century-old infrastructure snarled the subway system, which the city’s 8.5 million residents rely on to get to and from work. And track work on the Long Island Rail Road system has inconvenienced thousands.
But those transit complaints may pale in comparison with what commuters on the region’s highways deal with every day. In fact, at an average of 35.9 minutes per commute, New York City has the longest commute time in the country. Grrr.
“Commuting [by car] into New York is incredibly difficult,” says Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the New York-based Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit group dedicated to reducing car dependency. “And so what you end up with is congestion costing millions per year.”
It can be mind-boggling for people outside New York to learn that the average speed driving through midtown is less than 5 mph. In the worst traffic, it can take 15 minutes to cross a single avenue.
Commutes play a major role in New York real estate, since just about everyone wants to live near a train stop—and will pay more to do so. Look no further than the Upper East Side, which finally opened up the much-delayed Second Avenue Subway line last January, connecting parts of the neighborhood to the subway system for the first time. The result? Median home prices jumped 92% year over year in neighborhood. Ouch.
The subways carried nearly 5.7 million riders daily in 2016, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which oversees the system. But it has the worst on-time performance of any big system in the world, according to The New York Times. Subway delays alone cost the region as much as $389 million annually in lost wages and productivity, according to an analysis released in October by the New York City Comptroller.
Let’s not even talk about the derailments, OK?
Median home price: $700,000
Average commute time: 29.6 minutes
Average time spent in congestion per year: 104.1 hours
Southern California is famous for its freeways. Too bad that fame is all about their grueling bottlenecks.
The typical L.A. driver spends more than 104 hours per year in congestion, the highest in the nation.
And while this is America’s second-biggest city, it doesn’t have the transit options of most major metros—so commuting by car is almost a given. Only 8% of L.A. households are sans automobiles. Heck, right now, there are more than 1,700 homes listed in the L.A. market on realtor.com that have a three-door garage or larger.
And did we mention that only 30 percent of the roads in California are in good or fair shape? But don’t sweat it: You’ll have plenty of time to spot those potholes while you’re sitting in standstill traffic.
But there is hope! Los Angeles is embarking on a plan to reduce congestion and expand its rail and bus systems. In 2016, Los Angeles voters approved a sales tax increase that would pump $120 billion into Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus and rail upgrades over the next 40 years.
And then there’s the fact that the Boring Company, founded by Elon Musk, plans to build a tunnel under L.A. to test a hyperloop: a technology that in theory would transport people in pods at supersonic speeds.
Median home price: $415,000
Average commute time: 34.4 minutes
Roads in “good” or “fair” condition: 1%
The District of Columbia revolves around federal government and defense jobs. And when all those government employees hit the road at the same time, it creates epic bottlenecks.
“Most of my clients in DC have strict schedules: They come in 8:30 and leave at 4:30,” says Jeff Miller, co-founder of Baltimore-based real estate firm AE Home Group. “A lot of companies in other parts of the country are more flexible. Not here.”
Among the places to avoid during rush hour is infamous Interstate 495, aka the Capital Beltway. Bobby Laurie, a traffic anchor for iHeartMedia in D.C. and co-host of the nationally syndicated travel and lifestyle show called “The Jet Set,” says he’s lucky, because he’s on the road before peak hours.
“I live in Alexandria and commute to Rockville, MA. It takes me 35 minutes to commute on the Beltway. During peak times, it would take more than an hour,” Laurie says. “My suggestion to improve your commute is to become a traffic reporter.”
Median home price: $888,000
Average commute time: 32.1 minutes
Average time spent in congestion per year: 82.6 hours
For a city that’s home to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and a cable-car system, you might think it has commuting down pat. Ha!
“Highways can be jammed for miles coming into the city,” says Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst at the Paragon Real Estate Group, based in San Francisco. “On-ramps are also horrible. You can sit on a block while a traffic light changes two or three times before one can get to the next block.”
San Francisco drivers spend on average about 83 hours per year in standstill traffic. That’s four times more than drivers in Reno, NV. And it doesn’t take an Apple engineer to understand what’s going on: The Bay Area’s population has surged, jumping by 8% since 2010. That’s added undue stress to the region’s infrastructure.
It’s become such an issue that companies like Google have created their own shuttle buses for employees. And sky-high prices have pressured residents to look across the bay to Oakland—something that’s been weighing down Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the region’s subway system.
“[BART] has been neglected for years, as ridership has rapidly grown, making it more and more problematic,” Carlisle says.
5. Boston, MA
Median home price: $490,000
Average commute time: 30.6 minutes
Roads in “good” or “fair” condition: 19%
The cherry on top of an already miserably long commute is having to deal with Boston drivers. You could say they have something of reputation.
“Massholes, that’s what they call the drivers here,” says Amber Fallon, a 34-year-old sales engineer who commutes 90 minutes into Somerville, MA, close to downtown Boston, every morning. She owns a home in Maynard, MA, a suburban town 25 miles from downtown.
“You tend to get cut off a lot and flipped off a lot. It is par for the course,” Fallon says. A major pain point for her is that there aren’t many possible routes that will take commuters into downtown.
Why doesn’t she live closer? She says it would cost her more than double to buy a home near her workplace. The median home price on realtor.com in Maynard, where Fallon lives, is $275,000. In Somerville, where she works, the median home is $845,000.
And then there are the accidents. Boston drivers are more likely than in any other American city to file a car insurance claim, according to Allstate’s “America’s Best Drivers Report” in 2017. The average Boston driver makes a claim once every 3.9 years, compared to 13.3 years in top-ranked Kansas City.
“I come from New York, where no one follows any rules,” says Dr. Christopher Quigley, a Boston-based doctor who specializes in treating injuries that are related to automobile accidents. “But in Boston, some people follow the rules and some people don’t, so it’s all a little more dicey.”
*Data sources: Census Bureau, the Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration, INRIX, and TRIP
They say everything is bigger in Texas. The cliché certainly holds true when it comes to the massive mansion recently purchased by NBA superstar Chris Paul in The Woodlands, TX, just outside of Houston. The 18,717-square-foot estate has every creature comfort CP3 could possibly require, including a mind-blowing 14 bathrooms.
There’s no word on exactly how much the perennial All-Star paid for the estate, but TMZ reports it was well below the home’s original list price of $8 million.
The recently completed home is sprawling, refined, and formal, with every detail carefully thought out—from the carved wood and mosaics on the soaring ceilings to the intricate ironwork on the staircase.
There’s also a huge pool area with loads of loggias and balconies set just off the 15th hole of a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.
The mansion has nine bedrooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen, game room, media room, and guest quarters. The 1.67-acre lot it sits on is surrounded by mature trees.
The mansion’s library is one of the highlights of the incredible interior space with its warm, carved wood lining the walls.
The 32-year-old point guard was traded in the off-season by the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets, which explains why he’s had his eye on buying a home in the area. His new estate is just 30 miles from the Toyota Center.
Despite missing a few games this season due to injury, CP3 is being lauded for playing some of the best basketball of his career, thanks in part to superstar teammate James Harden.
Paul, wife Jada, and their two children seem like they’re ready to settle into Houston for the long haul. And now they have a gorgeous slice of Texas to call their own.
After years of taking our collective home decor in a more neutral direction (we’re looking at you, inoffensive beige, gray, and granite color schemes), we’re finally branching out and allowing some color back into our homes. Look no further than our 2018 interior design forecast, which predicts jewel tones will continue to reign supreme this year.
These bold hues—deep sapphire blues, vibrant emerald greens, and intense, regal purples—can transform a room from a boring, vanilla box into a lusciously rich and cozy space you never want to leave.
“We’re definitely seeing that our customers have a renewed interested in jewel tones, specifically deep magnolia green, plum, sapphire, and dark red,” says Anna Brockway, co-founder of San Francisco–based Chairish, an online vintage furniture and decor marketplace. “They are lovely colors for a home because they are warm, welcoming, and mix well with plenty of other colors, neutrals, and prints.”
Indeed, designers and manufacturers are taking their cues from the shifting demand: Sherwin-Williams named Oceanside SW 6496—an intense shade of teal—as its 2018 Color of the Year, while Pantone recently announced the dramatic Ultra Violet as its pick of the year.
While you might worry that these deep hues could overpower your decor, don’t fret: The pros say jewel tones can work for just about anyone, whether your style is bright and bold, or if you lean more neutral.
“When decorating with jewel tones, you’re not limited in how to apply them,” explains Melanie Coddington, founder and principal designer at Los Angeles–based Coddington Design. “They can be used as the paint color, upholstery, tile, area rugs, or accessories, depending on how bold you want to go.”
You can incorporate these rich and lush colors in a more subtle way, she adds, by focusing on single pieces such as a light fixture, side chair, or accent table—all in your favorite color that pops.
So are you ready to bring the drama in 2018? Read on for more ideas to add jewel tones to any room in your home.
In the kitchen
You don’t have to gut your entire kitchen and install purple cabinetry and a teal island to get the coveted jewel-tone look; you can go bold with small, easy touches. Add colorful tiles, a fresh coat of paint, or a bold wallpaper to give your kitchen a nice dose of flair, Coddington explains.
“The best thing about any of these methods is that you can control just how much color is being used,” she says. “The entire kitchen backsplash can be a bold sapphire tile, or you can strategically use that tile for a small section behind the range, and the rest can be neutral.”
You can temper your use of colorful paint and wallpaper, too, to achieve the perfect balance.
“You can cover each of the walls or choose one or two focal walls to really highlight—which is what I did in my own kitchen,” she adds.
In the living room
If you’re looking to brighten up your entire living room, a signature piece of furniture in a jewel should do the trick.
“Even though the jewel tones are often bold, they can work really well on an anchor piece in a living room,” says Sara Malek Barne, an interior designer based in Austin, TX. “Specifically, an emerald-green velvet sofa in an otherwise muted space can be visually stunning.”
Some options include the Article Sven Sofa in Grass Green and Mahogany ($1,299) or the Jennifer Taylor Home Becca Tufted Settee in Hunter Green ($900).
Not ready to invest in new furniture? A velvet pillow or two can look “yummy” in your living room and contrast well with neutrals, Brockway says.
Look for the Pier 1 Midnight Velvet Beaded Peacock Pillow ($35) or the purple Bed Bath & Beyond Austin Horn Classics Escapade Velvet Square Throw Pillow ($60).
In the bathroom
Photo by Magic Projects London Ltd
Of all the spots in your home, the bathroom is the one where you can feel free to go crazy with color, Coddington says. You can incorporate jewel tones with paint or wallpaper (just like in the kitchen). Or you can express some creative freedom with vibrant floor tiles.
“Especially in powder rooms, where you can amp up the drama because of how small the spaces are, a fun floor tile is a great conversation piece and an unexpected use for a brightly colored floor tile,” she says.
Another option: A fun, jewel-colored bathroom cabinet or vanity.
“It looks fresh, unexpected, and absolutely gorgeous on cabinets when done right,” Barney says.
In the bedroom
Beds, headboards, and even window treatments are great bedroom opportunities for bold jewel tones you might not use in other parts of the house.
“For a lot of people, the master bedroom is their sanctuary, so this will give a real luxe feel to the space,” Coddington explains.
For example, try an upholstered bed or headboard in a rich jewel-tone fabric, such as the Meridian Furniture Hampton Navy Velvet Queen Bed ($1,000) or the Skyline Tufted Nail Button Wingback Velvet Upholstered Headboard in velvet aubergine ($496).
Coddington also recommends a jewel-tone bench or a pair of vibrant lounge chairs. “This will give that great pop of color without being too overwhelming,” she says.
Go all in with this anything-but-subtle Designer Modern Home Fuchsia Hot Pink Magenta Velvet Accent Bench ($889). Or, for chairs, look for options such as the Anthropologie Velvet Elowen Armchair ($448) in gold or emerald.
And window treatments like Pier 1 Rambagh Paisley Teal Curtains ($40) can be used as the main source of color in the room—or simply as an accent.
If you work at an office, your commute time should take high priority during your house hunt. Sure, it might be tempting to ignore a long commute if it gets you into an otherwise perfect home, but trust us—you won’t be enjoying it much if you spend countless hours every week stuck in traffic!
This is why with home buyers and families in particular, “I would say the first priority is schools, and the second priority is commute to work,” says Kimberly Sands, a real estate broker in Carolina Beach, NC.
Of course, “most [home buyers] want it all: an easy commute, a great school district, low taxes, a good lifestyle,” says Judy Weiniger, broker associate and CEO at Weiniger Group in Warren, NJ. However, getting everything you want might not be realistic, so here’s how to factor your commute into your home-buying process so you can decide where you want to live.
If you work in a big city, looking in the suburbs is one way to find a more affordable home. For example, in Rockville, MD—a suburb of the nation’s capital—the median price per square foot is $277, compared with a hefty $444 in Washington, DC. (You can find out the price per square foot in any neighborhood at realtor.com/local.)
Consequently, even if you’re looking for a short commute to work, your options of where you can afford to buy a house may be limited, and affect where you can realistically shop for homes.
“My recommendation is keep driving until you can afford it,” says Irvine, CA, real estate agent Benny Kang. “That’s how you strike a balance between lower housing prices and a shorter commute time.”
The average commute time to work in the U.S. is 25.4 minutes, according to the Census Bureau, but commute times can vary widely based on location. Workers in the New York City metro area have the longest average commute time of 34.9 minutes, followed by Los Angeles, Boston, and Atlanta—and 10.8 million Americans travel more than an hour each way to work.
As the minutes add up, so do your travel costs—especially gas and car maintenance, says Kang. According to research by Lifehacker, each mile you live from work adds $795 per year to your commuting costs. So, for example, if you were to cut your commute from one hour to 30 minutes, you’d save a whopping $23,850 annually—which could mean you’re able to spend a bit more on buying a home.
Many workers have the luxury of setting their own hours. If you’re one of them, you may be able to adjust your work schedule so that you avoid rush hour traffic, says Sands.
In addition, a growing number of employers are letting employees telecommute. According to a 2016 Society for Human Resource Management survey, 60% of companies now offer telecommuting opportunities—a threefold increase from 1996. If you have that kind of flexibility, you may be more inclined to buy a house that requires a longer commute.
There are also considerations about what matters most to you in addition to price. Outdoor parks, nightlife, access to restaurants and shopping, and population density may be important factors when picking a place you want to live.
Where you are in your life also comes into play. If you’re raising young children and want to maximize your time with them, you likely want a short commute. Or if you decide your heart is set on a particular community or neighborhood, you may be willing to drive farther to work.
Although you can’t pin a dollar amount to your stress levels, how long you’re willing to commute to work also depends on how frustrated you get sitting behind the wheel. Research supports the idea that a long commute can have downsides that hit far deeper than time on the road.
A recent study from Canada’s University of Waterloo found that people with long commutes experience higher levels of stress and lower levels of life satisfaction than people with shorter commutes. Meanwhile, research from Washington University suggests that the longer your daily commute is, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure, an oversized waistline, and other health problems that can increase your risk for chronic diseases.
“My mentality is ‘forget the wear and tear on my car, I’m going to care about the wear and tear on myself,’” says Kang. However, some people don’t mind having a long commute to work, since it gives them time to listen to new music or catch up on their favorite podcasts.
To help you weigh the pros and cons, sit down with a real estate agent and identify what matters to you most so you can make an informed trade-off and find the best home—and commute—for you.
“Pitch Perfect” actress Ester Dean is making a last call on real estate holdings, as she’s got two hit pieces of real estate currently on the market in Southern California: a modern loft condo and recording studio in Venice and a Mediterranean-style villa overlooking the ocean in Palos Verdes Estates.
The Venice property is a warehouse live-work space that Dean—an accomplished singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress—converted into a recording and production space. The two-story unit features vaulted ceilings with exposed ductwork, skylights, and eclectic lighting, which give the place a modern industrial style. Marble countertops and Viking appliances are other high-end touches.
Dean is asking $1.35 million for the Venice condo, which she bought two years ago.
Because it’s been retrofitted as a recording studio, there aren’t any actual bedrooms with closets, but it can be easily returned to its original two-bedroom, one-bath state. Built in 2007, the unit measures 2,203 square feet.
Down the coast in Palos Verdes is Dean’s newly listed Mediterranean-style villa. It has five bedrooms, six baths, and 4,464 square feet of living space, but the numbers don’t reflect its beauty. The estate has an upscale designer feel, with maple wood and travertine tile flooring, silk wall coverings, hand-painted walls, and vaulted ceilings.
Listing agent Greg Bingham of Coldwell Banker says his favorite features are the stunning “ocean and coastline views that can be seen from an expansive living room that opens to balconies and a veranda. The master bedroom has the same views, along with a patio, three walk-in closets, and a spa retreat bath.”
In addition, the home has a library and loft office, a lavish living room with fireplace, and a chef’s kitchen with custom cabinetry and large island. The adjacent formal dining room also has a fireplace.
Public records show that Dean acquired this villa in 2014 for $2,680,000. She’s listed it for $3.5 million.
Dean, 35, burst onto the music scene in 2009 with the single “Drop It Low,” featuring Chris Brown. She’s co-written songs for a number of major pop artists, including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Britney Spears. The talented performer has also voiced characters in “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” but she’s best known on the big screen for playing Cynthia-Rose Adams in the “Pitch Perfect” franchise.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are looking to move—or so claims a recent Washington Post article in which anonymous sources say the couple have been house hunting in the neighborhood of Massachusetts Avenue Heights in Washington, DC.
Which begs the question: What’s wrong with the ritzy locale where they’re living right now?
Quick recap: In January, shortly after Donald Trump‘s presidential inauguration, the couple had moved from New York into a six-bedroom rental in Kalorama, a neighborhood just south of Massachusetts Avenue Heights.
And trust us, their Kalorama place is palatial. However, if reports are to be believed, Javanka have plenty of reasons to be none too happy with the house, the neighborhood, or their living situation in general. Allow us to elaborate.
Problem 1: The house is not private enough
As you’ll see from the photo below, Trump and Kushner’s current house has no decent driveway or front yard, and it butts right up against not just one, but two streets. This means it’s highly visible. And although the Secret Service has barred access to sidewalks around the property, those wily paparazzi have nonetheless managed to snap plenty of pics of the family as they come and go, as well as their high-profile visitors.
As if that weren’t annoying enough, the exposed location has drawn protesters, including a “Queer Dance Party for Climate Justice” in front of their house in April, where revelers chanted, “Ivanka Trump, come dance!” (She did not.)
“For such a high-profile political figure, the house is very exposed,” says David McLaughlin, a real estate agent at davidsdwellings.com and contributor to Design Dudes. “It’s very close to the street and in a very close row of neighbors. People with a high-profile status like this typically live in more secluded areas with larger properties and, of course, heavy gated fences! With the Trumps, neighbors can probably see into their windows if they aren’t careful.”
Problem 2: They’re not hitting it off with the neighbors
Although you’d think Trump and Kushner would fit right in with Kalorama’s ritzy demographics, it looks like they’re rubbing their neighbors the wrong way. It’s understandable, given their Secret Service detail planted “No Parking” signs on the curb in front of their house—and the houses of neighbors, too, prompting one to complain, “They’ve completely taken over the whole street. As if they have the authority!”
“I’m sure they are also getting complaints from the HOA, if one exists,” adds McLaughlin. “It’s hard to block off a neighborhood when you have others paying the same taxes as you.”
Trump and Kushner further ruffled the neighbors’ feathers by planting a port-a-potty outside near their home—most likely for contractors to use while renovating. This eyesore was eventually removed, but by then, the damage to Javanka’s reputation in the neighborhood was probably soiled beyond repair.
Problem 3: It’s a rental
Last but not least, Trump and Kushner are renting this place for $15,000 per month. That’s probably chump change to them, but still, we doubt The Donald would disagree with the old adage: Why throw money away on rent when you can own?
“Putting down roots and gaining the financial benefits of homeownership is almost always preferred by any family, provided the financial resources exist to qualify for a home they desire, versus long-term renting,” says Rachel Valentino, a real estate agent in Washington, DC. “With the stock market up and new tax plan benefits, DC’s luxury real estate market niche will likely see a boost.”
“Ivanka reportedly lived in a $10 million condo in New York City, but in DC, $5 million to $8 million can get her into some of the best homes on the market,” adds Sotereas “Teris” Pantazes, a real estate expert at home improvement site EFynch.com. “There are several options in the neighborhood which fall into that price range but offer more space, street setback, and parking. A mortgage on a $5 million property is not much higher than the $15,000 she is paying right now—and by purchasing, she could take a small portion of that off her taxes.”
But all in all, “the Kushner-Trump family was smart to rent for a year and see how DC day-to-day life fell into place and what location, home layout, and security attributes would be important in a residence,” says Valentino. “Now that they have had time to feel out these details and gain an understanding of living in DC, a purchase should be expected compared to an expensive rental.”