Canada's Condominium Magazine
Forty percent of us get less than six hours sleep a night — largely due to long commutes. The biggest cost of long commutes is health. This is not just because of the stress — people cutting in front of you, gridlock, and being late for work — it is due to the statistical likelihood you’re sleep-deprived, which has been linked to many health issues.
Less than seven hours sleep is associated with several health problems, including cognitive issues, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. 
[See our health disclaimer bottom of feature.]
Health is the one asset more valuable than your home. Recognizing that seven hours of sleep is the new normal — the old standard of eight hours sleep seems unreachable for many of us — the Wall Street Journal recently created a stir with its feature: “Why Seven Hours of Sleep Might be Better than Eight.”
To put that in perspective, even the seven hours is out of reach for most commuters. According to a research study of 5,000 people for the Center of Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology, people with less than six hours sleep nightly “were more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and to be obese.”
Less than seven hours sleep linked to poor health
Regardless of the debate over the new ideal target, seven versus eight, less than seven hours of sleep a night is conclusively linked to health issues in many studies — and 40 percent of us actually get only six hours of sleep or less, according to Gallup data. 
In the Center of Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology study, the researchers indicated:
“Very short sleepers were twice as likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, compared to people who slept around seven to eight hours. Very short sleepers were also 75 percent more likely to have diabetes and 50 percent more likely to be obese. Short sleepers were about 20 percent more likely than normal sleepers to report high blood pressure and obesity.”
Other costs that should be considered include safety (not enough sleep makes driver’s less alert during commute) and performance at work (which can impact your performance review and income.)
Commuting link to less sleep and stress issues
According to Jawbone — in a study of data derived from health apps and coaching apps (UP Data) — people who commute more than 16 kilometres per day, sleep less than 7 hours per night. Obviously, we still have to make time for our families, coaching, chores, and other activities. The only time we can cut in to, for those of us with longer commutes, is sleep time.
The other health-oriented area that takes a hit is “workout” time. Long commuters sit more and are less active according to Jawbone data. According to Jawbone:
“Overall, commuters log fewer workouts than non-commuters throughout the day. The only hours when commuters beat non-commuters are 6-7 PM, and between 5-6 AM.”
In addition to the workout deficit, long commuters walk less, increasing sedentary time, reducing activity time. For each 7 kilometres or so of commute time, we walk, on average 437 steps less, according to Jawbone data. In their feature covering the data, they indicated: “If the impact of only a few hundred steps a day may seem minimal to your health today, compute the loss of those steps over the course of a year, or 200 working days. It adds up—with over 100,000 steps lost.”
The combination of less sleep and irregular or shorter workouts is a major health risk. One way to lower or eliminate these issues is to consider a move to a home 16 kilometres or less from your daily workplace. Typically, however, the cost per square foot to live closer to work (depending on where you work) can be higher. Sometimes this places the health cost at odds with the real estate cost.
The real cost of commuting
The real cost of commuting is often not considered. Not just your health, and your valuable time, but the actual cost. The CAA estimates 0.45 cents per kilometre is the real cost of commuting (not including your time)—for a compact car. The average person drives 20,000 km. annually, including commutes. According to the CAA, the owner of a compact car should allow $8938 per year. Reducing the commute, by living downtown, can save thousands of dollars in hard costs.
Condo location and cost
The old cliché “location, location, location” applies even more so today, than it has in past real estate markets.
Today, in the GTA, real estate consumes more and more of disposable income, and many home buyers are looking towards condos close to work. This is a noticeable shift from only two years ago, where suburban homes with long, expensive commutes were still in high demand. The aspiration of a grassy yard for the family comes at the expense of health and time with family. Today, where even suburban homes are expensive, the “close-to-work” condo or home is becoming the lifestyle choice for many.
It does tend to cost more to live closer to “downtown Toronto” where the majority of workplaces tend to be. In doing these evaluations, arbitrary numbers have to be chosen for comparison. In your case, use your real location and Google Maps to calculate commute time. For our case example, we used One Yonge Street because it is easy to pin as “central.” Commute times in our evaluation are based to “commute to One Yonge Street.”
Minutes of commute versus cost per square foot
For example, here are the prices per square foot (average) of condominiums (in 2017) categorized by “minutes of commute time” each way:
- Bay Street Corridor, average commute 20 minutes, costs average $900 per square foot
- Waterfront areas, average commute 15 minutes, $810 per square foot
- Church street, average commute 15 minutes, $785 per square foot
- North York, average commute 52 minutes, $680 per square foot
- Mimico, average commute 27 minutes, $610 per square foot
- Islington City Centre, average commute 54 minutes, $535 per square foot
- Mississauga City Centre, average commute 72 minutes, $450 per square foot
- Downtown Toronto core, average commute 25 minutes, $800 per square foot
- Outer Toronto, average commute 64 minutes, $630 per square foot average
Of course, it’s critical to think in terms of annual commute time (two ways each way, 250 days per week), which makes the commute time much more striking:
- Bay Street Corridor, annual average commute 10,000 minutes (167 hours)
- Waterfront areas, annual average commute 7,500 minutes (125 hours)
- Church street, annual average commute 7,500 minutes (125 hours)
- North York, annual average 26,000 minutes (433 hours)
- Mimico, annual average commute 13,500 minutes (225 hours
- Islington City Centre, annual average commute 27,000 minutes (450 hours)
- Mississauga City Centre, annual average commute 36,000 minutes (600 hours)
- Downtown Toronto core, annual average commute 12,500 minutes (208 hours)
- Outer Toronto, annual average commute 32,000 minutes (533 hours)
How Many Commuting Minutes Does $1 Buy?
Although it’s not a perfect way to display the ratio — or relative values — we mapped this out as “Minutes per dollar square foot”, which basically tries to answer the question “How many commuting minutes does $1 buy” in one area versus the other. This is an imperfect, but the relative value of that $1 per square foot by location in minutes of your precious time.
So, for example, for a $1 spent per square foot of condo in the Waterfront area, the relative value is 9.26. For the same $1 per square foot of condo in Mississauga, the relative value is 80. What does it mean? 9 minutes of our relative precious time costs $1 per square foot around the Waterfront, while we spend 80 minutes of time (ten times as much) per dollar spent on a condo in Mississauga.
 Wall Street Journal
 Jawbone: “Sleep Deprived, Blame Your Commute”
Disclaimer: Condo.ca is reporting on various numbers, averages and statements made by researchers, health professionals and other experts. No advice is given or implied. Always consult your own health professional.