People always consider location when they buy a new home. Different families have different needs, such as the neighborhood, the schools, or the proximity to work and places where they need to shop. Others want to be in a busier part of town. Some homes are located near a freeway.
There are advantages and drawbacks to living near a freeway. It can make your commute easier, and you might be closer to shopping centers. It may also be a good opportunity to buy an asset that is profitable in the long run. However, you may not be able to enjoy a peaceful, quiet afternoon in the yard or balcony because of the noise from traffic. Pollution and dust are also unfortunate drawbacks of living near a freeway.
We used to live in a condominium in West Los Angeles, near the 10 freeway. If you live anywhere in Southern California, you know what the 10 freeway is, and usually, you want to be as far as possible from it, primarily because of traffic. But in our case, we actually saw it from our balcony every day.
I thought it would be interesting to write about the pros and cons of living near a freeway to help people decide if they are considering that option.
Pros of Living Near a Freeway
Although most people first think of the cons of living near a freeway, I’d like to start with the advantages people may not be aware of.
1. Your Commute Is Easier
If you live in the suburbs and work in the city, your commute will be easier and faster if you live near a freeway. Some homes are 15 or 20 minutes away from the freeway, and the route includes stoplights and schools. The traffic level and the time of day can seriously slow down your commute.
If you live near the freeway, you can be on the main road within five minutes of leaving your home. In addition, it will take less time to get to the airport and any other commute you need to make.
Both my wife and I worked in downtown LA at the time and used to take us about 2 minutes to get to the freeway and be on our way to our offices. When we had to go to the Los Angeles airport (LAX), it also took us about 2 minutes to get to the 405 freeway leading to the LAX.
So, commuting time was a big plus for us, saving many hours per month sitting in traffic just to get to the freeway.
2. You Are Closer to Shopping Centers
In many parts of the country, shopping centers are located close to the freeway. They want to make it easy for people to come from all over and go shopping, so they choose a location that provides convenient access.
If you need to go to a large garden store, home supplies store, or grocery store, you are likely to be located close to them. If you do a lot of shopping, you will have easy access from your home.
When we lived in the West Los Angeles condo, we were within walking distance from restaurants and grocery stores, which meant we didn’t have to take the car for these activities.
3. You Get a Better Price on Your Home
When you are buying a home, you may find that properties near the freeway will be less expensive than other homes. This means that you can stretch your dollar further and possibly get a better home that is larger and has more features.
This is a huge benefit to some people because they need the space for their family. In addition, the home may be updated and have some great features so that the seller has an easier time selling it. As a result, you have less competition, and homes near a freeway favor the buyer.
In our case, it was the first time we saw a condominium we could afford in that area; so, we pulled the trigger without hesitation. Essentially, the mortgage payment was a little more than what we were paying for rent a few blocks away. So, financially, it was a no-brainer for us.
4. Your Property Value Is Likely to Increase Over Time
Although homes near the freeway often are less expensive, they can increase in value if they are in desirable places.
The freeway provides access to people from different areas, and the town around the house is more likely to experience growth. As it does, the value of the property should go up. If you plan to be there for a long period of time, the value of the property is likely to increase at a higher rate than homes in more remote locations.
This was our experience with the West Los Angeles Condominium. We bought it for $400,000 and sold it for $600,000 eight years later. A 50% return in 8 years may not be a fantastic profit for some, but we certainly did better than if we had continued renting in the same area.
Cons of Living Near a Freeway
But definitely, not everything is rosy when you live near a freeway. So now we can go over some of the disadvantages.
1. You Will Deal with Noise
One of the biggest disadvantages to living near the freeway is the level of noise. Freeways tend to be busy at all hours of the day and night, and you will be able to hear the traffic.
If you want to sit outside in the yard or balcony and relax in peace and quiet, you may not like the noise. You can also hear the freeway if you open your windows. In fact, you probably hear the freeway even when your doors and windows are closed.
In our case, in addition to hearing the car traffic, we also had to deal with ambulances, police cars, and firetrucks noise almost daily –something to be expected when you live near the heart of Los Angeles.
Cities have often built noise barriers to minimize the noise, but according to this video from Cheddar, some of these barriers can actually make traffic louder. Research shows that some of the materials used to build these barriers may not be effective at reducing noise levels.
2. You Will Likely Have More Pollution and Dust
When you live near a freeway, it is hard to avoid pollution and dust. I recall dust appearing on our furniture a couple of days after deep cleaning our West Los Angeles condo. And of course, when you see dust you also breathe it with all the potential negative consequences.
According to the USC Environmental Health Centers, “living near air pollution can lead to more cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and stroke, and premature death as a result.”
In our case, though, before we bought the condo, we rented an apartment near the same freeway, which was adjacent to a major road as well. So, I don’t think the level of pollution was much lower. But to be safe, we used quality air purifiers inside in both locations, and we believed that helped quite a lot.
3. You Will Have a Lower Property Value
If you live near a freeway, your property will have a lower value than other comparable properties that aren’t near the freeway. While this is an advantage when you are buying, it becomes a disadvantage when you are selling.
In addition, because the proximity to the freeway may be a deterrent, you may need to go the extra mile to attract buyers when you sell. For example, you might want to soundproof your windows to counter some of the noise concerns buyers may have.
Updating your bathroom or kitchen may give buyers something that makes them feel like they are getting a great deal. When you are selling a home, it is essential to attract buyers, but it becomes even more critical when you want buyers to choose your home near a freeway.
We didn’t soundproof our windows, but we updated the kitchen, which was important to attract more buyers and ultimately get several offers and sell the condo at a profit.
4. It Can Be Dangerous for Pets and Children
One of the reasons that families with pets and small children avoid homes that are near the freeway is that they can be dangerous for pets and small children. If your dog or cat runs out into the freeway, it is unlikely that it will survive.
Children are also at risk, and little children may not understand the dangers. It is important to make sure that you have a safety fence to contain your pets and children if you live near the freeway.
5. You May Not Have an Alternate Route Home
People who don’t live near a freeway often have several different routes that they can take to get home. This allows them to avoid traffic if there is an accident or another issue.
When you live near the freeway, you usually only have one route, and if you take another, you might need to go pretty far out of your way. You might be able to find some back roads to take in extreme situations, but generally speaking, it will take a lot more time.
What It’s Like Living Next to the Freeway
This video from George Igoe shows was it’s like to live next to the freeway. Although it is not the same area we used to live in, it gives you an idea of what it is like to live next to the freeway, and it is also funny.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to living near a freeway. Whether or not it is the best choice for you depends on your personal needs and preferences.
You can usually get your home for a better price, and it may be updated with great features. In addition, you will have no trouble getting to the freeway for trips out of town or commutes. You are likely to be close to shopping centers, and your property value should increase over time.
On the other hand, you will have to deal with noise and air pollution, and you will have to attract buyers when you want to sell. You also need to make sure that your pets and small children are safe and protected from the freeway. So weigh the pros and cons before you make a decision.