Things to consider when thinking about your NYC suburban commute

One of the big questions we get from people moving from New York City to the suburbs of New Jersey, Westchester, Connecticut, or Long Island is, “what about the commute?”

For most New Yorkers, the commute is a straightforward affair – you leave your apartment and walk a few blocks to the subway, then ride a few stops before walking to your office.

Your commute from the suburbs may be a little less straightforward, and there are a bunch of things to consider before committing to a hometown. For example:

Will I be taking a train, a bus, or driving?

Depending on which town you choose, you may be on a train line or you may be relying on a bus. (And, of course, many people do drive into NYC as well – though that’s not something we’d recommend for most people). We find that most people who contact us have a strong preference for taking the train, as its perceived as being more reliable and less vulnerable to traffic issues. That said, for those willing to consider the bus, it may open many more town options where you can get more for your money.

What will my commute cost?

For those who do take the train, you will find that your average commute costs will increase from what you are used to in NYC. Even shorter suburban commutes start out at around $200 for a monthly pass, and many folks buy a monthly subway pass in addition to their commuter rail pass.

What is the ride like? Will I get a seat?

We’ve found that in most suburban towns, the train ride is a good deal more pleasant than the subway commute you may be used to. The trains are generally comfortable and if you time your arrival properly you will likely get a seat most days. During rush hour, the ridership mostly consists of other commuters trying to get to work, so trains tend to be relatively quiet and relaxed, and many commuter lines have “quiet cars” for those looking for that extra bit of quiet.

How will I get to the station?

Depending on how far you live from the station, you may have several options. Of course, most people would love the option to walk to a train station, and that’s a possibility in many towns (though houses within walking distance to the train station often go for a premium.) If you’re house is too far to comfortably walk, some towns run a shuttle bus / jitney service to take commuters to the station. And, of course, many commuters drive from their home to the station. Keep in mind, though, that parking availability and systems can vary wildly from town to town. Some have a several years long waiting list for parking, some not at all. It’s best to know what you’re getting into from the outset.

Is it reliable?

While bus commutes always have the potential for traffic issues, train commutes have their reliability and delay issues as well. With aging infrastructure throughout the region, it’s not uncommon for the local commuter lines to experience delays from time to time. And, more rarely, there are major catastrophic events that can cause delays for weeks at a time (e.g. Hurricane Sandy). That said, for the most part the trains work well, and some commuters even enjoy having their train time to decompress after work, answer a few emails, read or nap.

Want to learn more?

Interested in learning more about the suburban commute, and which town has the right commute for you? PicketFencer’s free concierge service helps you find a hometown in the NYC suburbs that’s right for you and your family. Click here to learn more.