Where SFR Residents Have the Best (and Worst) Driving Commutes
- The average commute time by car for a resident of a single-family rental (SFR) property is 24.4 minutes.
- Among the top 50 major markets for employed SFR renters, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Cleveland boast the shortest average commutes, all three under 22 minutes.
- SFR residents in Stockton, California, which lies adjacent to San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose, have the longest average commute (35.3 minutes).
Because single-family rental (SFR) properties tend to be located in the suburbs and away from public transportation hubs, the typical tenant drives to work. As a result, an area’s typical commuting time is a factor that is often weighed heavily by residents — impacting rental demand and pricing.
SFR Commute Times
Among those above the age of 18 who live in an SFR property, 64.5% are employed — a higher percentage than both single-family owners (61.3%) and all other renters (63.8%), according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. As a result, how long it takes them to get to work is likely to be an essential factor in their decision of where to live.
Across the U.S., the average worker living in an SFR unit that drives to work can expect a 24.4-minute commute, which is about a minute shorter than it takes single-family owners and the average American commuter to travel to their workplace.
Across all metropolitan areas, Wichita Falls, TX (12.5 minutes), Grand Junction, CO (12.6 minutes), and St. George, UT (13.2 minutes) have the shortest commute times for SFR workers. However, these markets are all fairly remote, and their short drive times reflect a lack of both intra-market density and accessibility to major employment hubs.
For major metropolitan areas, Oklahoma City has the shortest commute time for SFR residents, with the average drive time totaling 21.6 minutes (Chart 1). Despite Oklahoma City having the 42nd largest resident population in the country, it has just the 138th highest population density (232.5 people per square mile) — a factor that generates shorter, less congested commutes.
Kansas City, MO follows next with a 21.8-minute average commute. Much like Oklahoma City, Kansas City ranks higher on the list of top U.S. metros by population (31st) than by population density (121st). Ohio’s “big three” major metros (Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati) are all among the six major metros with the shortest driving commutes for SFR tenants. The concentration of major markets within the state means that Ohio has multiple job centers to choose from, making long-haul commutes less common.
On the other side of the spectrum, Stockton, CA, which is adjacent to San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose, is home to the longest average SFR commute (35.3 minutes) among the top 50 markets for employed SFR renters. Stockton’s proximity to these major centers of commerce contributes to its high average commute time as many of its residents travel to one of the surrounding metros to work.
With SFR increasingly becoming the new American starter homes and its tenant base having a high employment rate, a short commute is an amenity that deserves more attention when investors consider site selection and pricing strategies for new SFR projects. After all, valuation is all about location, location, and location.
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