Finding a Home

Finding a home is probably now one of my new-found least-favorite activities. I think it ranks up there with cleaning floors and doing laundry, which are some of my least favorite chores. I should probably clarify; finding a home that is within the realm of what I want to pay, doesn't increase my already hour-long commute and has laundry within the unit is a huge chore.

In my discipline at work, there's something called the fast-cheap-good triangle. Basically what it means is that, while everyone wants all three (who doesn't love to launch quickly and cheaply at high quality?!) the reality is that you only get two. You will need to sacrifice one in order to get the others. I think there's a similar thing in real estate with location, price and size. If you want an enviable address, you will need to sacrifice your budget or the size of the place. However, if price is paramount, then you will need to compromise on either the square footage of the property or the location.

The more we discuss, the more we feel like location may be that thing we are willing to sacrifice. I don't love the idea of being house poor because I and dear husband do appreciate a nice meal out every once in a while! Also, for me personally, being able to live within my means makes it so that I can be generous with my dollars when I want to be; whether that means treating a mentee to coffee, donating to a worthwhile cause or simply treating myself to something. Also, the idea of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to live in a shoe box with my imaginary future screaming baby isn't the life I dreamed of living as a child. Well, I dreamed of living in the Brady Bunch house but husband and I agreed that we'll save that for when we retire to southern California.

All that said, location is a tricky one in New York because location ultimately translates into commute time (unless you have the luxury of virtual working arrangements). As it is today, I commute about an hour door-to-door to work. I don't love it. I used to have a 30 minute commute when I worked more centrally in Manhattan and I sorely miss it. However, I deal with it because it's one (slightly unreliable) train line so I can get a seat in the morning most days and read the news or a book on my way downtown. But that's not all I have to think about. When looking at properties, I also need to take into account my husband's commute. Ultimately, neither of us wants to be stuck with being over an hour away from home when we are at work.

Surprisingly, I found that Zillow, Trulia and Streeteasy (all part of the Zillow Group parent company, in case you were wondering) don't do a great job of helping you understand this dimension of a house hunt. When our current realtor recommended looking outside of the city, I started doing the exercise of looking at listings and then, in adjacent tabs, firing up Google Maps to see the commute times for me and my husband. At work recently, I was looking over a colleague's shoulder (I admit, I was being nosey) and noticed her doing the exact same thing. I think Trulia has a commute module on their listings but, in my experience, it never really gave me an accurate picture, especially when it comes to my public transit commute which is a whole different animal than simply just calculating the drive time.

So, I joked to my co-worker that I should create a Chrome extension to make this process easier.

And then I ran a 10K. My first! It was fun, but when I got home after traversing Central Park from north to south and east to west, I didn't really feel much like using my legs so I decided to do some real research into creating a Chrome extension.

And then, I started tinkering around and, in a few short hours, I created a little extension that I've called "Commutor."

Screenshot of my Chrome Extension
Screenshot of my Chrome Extension

It's obviously a very rough first pass but it does what it needs to do to speed up that workflow of searching Google Maps across a couple of different work addresses. I also added in a lovely Local Storage feature so that those addresses can be saved on your machine (color me clever!).

In case you are interested, the extension can be found at the Google Chrome Web Store.

Also, in case Trulia, Zillow or Streeteasy are listening, imagine what I could do with a little funding! ;)

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