The time Americans spend commuting each day is getting longer, up from less than 44 minutes a day three decades ago to right around 52 minutes today. Add these numbers up and the average commuter spends nine days getting to and from work every year. Commuting alone by car not only sucks up time—it also takes a huge toll on Americans’ health, is one of the most miserable things to do in life, and generates substantial costs, both social and economic.
Commutes are clearly a function of where people live: People who live in big, dense cities like New York are much more likely to walk, bike, or take mass transit to work than those who live in more sprawling metro areas and need to drive. But a new analysis from the real-estate site Trulia identifies another key factor that bears on commutes: whether people rent or own their homes. The analysis is based on a Harris Poll survey of over 2,000 Americans as well as data from the 2014 American Community Survey.
Renters experience shorter commutes than homeowners in 43 out of America’s 50 largest metros, according to the analysis. On average, renters in large metros had daily commutes that were one-and-a-half minutes shorter than those of homeowners, as the chart below shows. Altogether, that means renters save more than a full workday (8.7 hours) on commuting each year.