For most people, how long it takes to get to work (and the gym, grocery store, doctor, etc.) is a big deal! In addition to my other recommendations for dating your neighborhood, testing your work commute is another important component of “dating” a specific home and neighborhood. Especially in Seattle. I seriously recommend taking the time to test out the commute to and from work during rush hour (or your normal commute times) in any place you are seriously considering buying.
Don’t rely on Google maps! Because… Seattle traffic is a deceptive beast.
A few commutes that might surprise you:
Capitol Hill to Belltown/Downtown: You might be tempted to think “Great, so I work in Belltown and want to live in Capitol. The commute will be awesome and easy!” Sigh. If only this were true. In this case, your quickest commute option during rush hour might just be walking if we’re talking Belltown -> Capitol Hill! Of course, it depends on the time of day, your exact location, etc. But during rush hour, even with the bus, it stops a lot, it gets stuck in traffic… and driving might be out of the equation. Bikes are awesome, but that’s a big hill to tackle after work.
West Seattle to Downtown/Belltown: Think West Seattle is too far for a Belltown commute? It might be the same if not faster at times. You can grab a Rapid Ride bus in West Seattle and be downtown in 20 minutes.
Sodo/Columbia City to Downtown: Let’s say you live in the South end of Seattle and need to get to Downtown for work. “But the South end is so far! I want a quick commute to work.” The truth is, you could live in the North end (say, Fremont) and be TWICE as far from Downtown in the South, and you could still have a faster commute because of crazy Seattle traffic. And of course, the same goes for Columbia City. One of the huge benefits of living in this area is access to the train.
These few examples are just meant to show how commute time in Seattle does not always directly correlate to location and distance! Google maps can be deceptive, and again—I highly recommend trying out your potential commute during rush hour!