Worsening Tampa Bay area traffic fueling a trend toward urban living (ABC Action News)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rethinking home square footage vs commute time

By Brendan McLaughlin

Video (2:12 min)

With active construction projects on I-275, U.S. 19 and the Veterans Expressway, traffic jams are becoming more severe and protracted. It may be driving a migration away from the suburbs and back to the cities.

Ask your coworkers and you'll hear stories of tear-inducing, 90-minute slogs in a line of stop-and-go traffic.
"I commute every day from Westchase and it's pretty much miserable," said ABC Action News Assignment Editor Vicki Benchimol.
That's why many are re-thinking the very American custom of commuting from suburb to city and back to a spacious home on a lake or golf course.
"We're going to be moving down here to Seminole Heights by the end of the year," said Wesley Burdette, who's not only moving to the neighborhood just blocks north of Downtown Tampa, he's converting an old warehouse into  a development with 48 new apartments and lofts.
"You're seven minutes from all the areas where people are getting employed. That's a huge plus of why people want to come here, and we're going to be marketing to that lifestyle," Burdette said.
That is no doubt part of what's driving the thousands of new homes and apartments going up in Channelside, Downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg.
Countless studies have correlated long commute times to depression, weight gain and other health problems – even marital discord. The so-called commuter's paradox finds that people who opt for distant new subdivisions often overestimate the happiness they'll derive from the big backyard and extra bathroom, while underestimating the daily aggravation of a lengthy commute.  

"Commuting time tended to increase time pressure and decrease life satisfaction, but it wasn't just the time, it was the quality of that time," researcher Margo Hilbrecht of the University of Waterloo said.

Hilbrecht added the unpredictability of the commute on any given day adds to the aggravation.
But ABC Action News reporter Chris Trenkmann said there's an upside to his commute.
"Nobody bothers me an hour a day each day."
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