What is traffic like in the Washington, DC, area?

December 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Traffic in washington dcIn a word, terrible. Washington, DC, was recently named the second worst traffic city, right after Los Angeles. According to one study, drivers here wasted 62 hours in traffic annually.

As a result, as you might imagine, property values tend to be higher in easy commute areas, or said another way, the closer you are to major employment centers, the more expensive the housing is likely to be. In particular, being close to a metro stop is likely to drive up home prices significantly.

How can you investigate what your commute will be like once you relocate? The easiest thing to do is to ask some of your future co-workers. Ask them where they live, how long it takes, and how they travel (car? metro? bus?) Try listening to traffic reports from a local radio station (WTOP reports every ten minutes) so you can get a sense for where the backups occur, since they typically occur in the same areas each day. You’ll also want to be aware of ongoing major projects in the area, like the extension of the metro line through Tysons Corner, which will tie up traffic in that area for the next few years.

You might also want to check out traffic websites during the hours that you expect to be commuting (try traffic.com and trafficland.com for cameras.) Finally, once you arrive in the area for a visit, try some test runs from the area you’ll be commuting from–yes, it’s painful to get up extra early so that you can leave your future home at the expected time, but there’s really no other way to be sure of what your commute will be.

While metro proximity is at a premium, don’t forget that the DC area has extensive bus service, as well as VRE railway service. And if you live near a slug line, that’s a creative option too.  Look at some of the links in the right sidebar of this page under “Traffic & Transportation” for some helpful resources.

Read more: Visit our main blog about real estate in Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia.

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