My wife and I were recently considering moving. As frequent flyers, the distance from the airport factors into our decision-making. How much does your airport commute affect your home buying decisions?
Just How Much Flying?
Between work and personal trips we estimate we make about 30-35 commutes annually from our home to our home airport. My work trips comprise about 20 of those visits to the airport every year. Considering that I live between 30-60 minutes from the airport depending on traffic, that can be longer than one work week every year fighting traffic just to leave.
Benefits of Being Close to the Airport
Not only do I reduce my commute time by being close to the airport but I also reduce fuel cost and parking. My employer would be much happier to pay for Uber and taxis than parking fees. It’s cheaper, faster, and more convenient.
My wife, who has become rather talented at sales, pointed out planes on final approach during a particular house viewing. She also mentioned that the closest coffee shop would put me in the arrivals hall, that they offer free parking, and I could get in some plane spotting while I buy a cup of Joe.
The ability to quickly change plans (due to Same Day Changes from status or Southwest flights) and jump on an earlier flight because of proximity is a very valuable advantage – one that doesn’t compute into my savings calculations – but it is valuable.
I’m not sure how to value my sleep and peace of mind either. That being said, I am not a morning person but frequently need to take early flights. The prospect of getting up at 4:30 for a 6:30 AM flight is never welcome – in fact, early flights are the only ones I have missed in nearly a decade. Being able to sleep until 5:00 AM seems like a little change but feels like a luxury.
Using back of the napkin math I save (myself and my company) about $350 in fuel, $2000 in parking, and approximately 24 work hours every year.
Some Airports Are Not In Desirable Locations
While my home airport offers desirable communities near the airport, some cities do not. In fact, many cities have airports in the least desirable part of town, either because land prices were cheap, or the city has moved on.
In an effort not to offend readers or residents, I will avoid naming some that come to mind. Suffice it to say that plenty of airports are not only in dangerous areas but those offering few amenities, especially when it comes to residents. Due to the nature of airports and commerce, many are also surrounded by industry and all of them carry a risk for accidents with planes but also with large amounts of fuel they store and passengers they serve.
Airports like Denver International are so far out of the city that city dwellers have to factor in closer to an hour to make the commute. However, living near DIA puts some dwellers on an island, far from Denver proper and its amenities.
Would You Pay a Premium to Reduce Airport Commutes?
In our case, the neighborhood near the airport presents a premium. It’s not due to location necessarily, but it doesn’t change the fact that we would need to pay more to be closer. In the book, Aerotropolis: How We Will Live Next, authors Kasarda and Lindsey discuss communities built to serve flying commuters. They cite Denver, Washington Dulles, Seoul, and Bangkok as examples of communities of workers that have seen the benefit just as I have and have changed their lives to reduce the commute to the airport.
While some see living in close proximity to active runways as a nuisance, we are considering paying more for the convenience – and the view.
What do you think? Have you moved closer to the airport to reduce your commute time? Is it worth it for the trade-offs you’d have to make?