San Francisco has a reputation as one of the most pedestrian friendly cities in the United States. However, San Francisco suffers from lengthy commute times because of heavy traffic. The traffic issues also affect nearby communities in Marin County. The traffic issues are severe enough to affect people’s housing choices. Some people worry about living too far from the city because of the commute. But, once Marin County’s new SMART train begins operation later this year it should ease the commute in and out of San Francisco as well as in much of Marin County. Once commute times begin to fall, Marin County housing prices will further rise.
The Marin County Commute
Marin County has long been known as a bedroom community for San Francisco. The smaller vibrant communities, proximity to year-round outdoor recreation, the Mediterranean climate, and the natural beauty of the area have attracted many affluent families who choose to live in Marin and commute to nearby San Francisco for work.
While located just across the Golden Gate Bridge, driving into the city from Marin County can sometimes take twice as long as it did just a few years ago. Marin County is no longer just a bedroom community. More and more people work in Marin County. This means that even the commute inside the county is taking longer than in years past.
One alternative for many is the excellent ferry service that leaves from Larkspur and Sausalito. The ferries do help ease the commute into and out of San Francisco. However, the ferries also do little to relieve traffic inside Marin County.
SMART Train Service
Later this year, the long awaited SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) service will begin operations. The first phase of the SMART train will allow passengers to travel from downtown San Rafael all the way to the Sonoma County Airport, with other stations located at:
- San Rafael- Marin Civic Center
- Novato- Hamilton
- Novato- San Marin/Atherton
- Petaluma – Downtown
- Rohnert Park
- Santa Rosa –Railroad Square
- Santa Rosa- Guerneville Road
This first phase is expected to ease the commute both for commuters coming into and going out of Marin County.
A second phase expansion of the SMART system has already been planned with will include an extension of the SMART line to the Larkspur Ferry. This expansion will make the popular ferry service even more attractive to commuters.
Marin County Property Values
Marin County is already one of the most expensive housing markets in the U.S. There is no denying that the lengthy commutes discourage some would-be homebuyers from settling in the area. However, with the continued growth of walkable developments in San Francisco and the opening of the SMART train service, commute times are projected to decrease over the coming years.
Easier commutes will make Marin County become even more desirable and will likely boost home prices even further. Marin County real estate has already been an excellent investment for homebuyers for many years. But, the promise of shorter commutes in the future means that homebuyers in Marin County today may get an even bigger return on their investment down the road.
Please see our Market Reports for a complete city by city analysis on the Marin County real estate market.
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