Location, location, location
February 2, 2014 4:08 PM   Subscribe

[Asking for a friend] My family and I are moving to a new bigish city in the non-California west. There is a house that is essentially my dream house, for what I think is a very good price. It's been on the market for a bit, probably because the property borders a fairly major thoroughfair. How big of a problem is this? Should I just run away?
posted by LittleMissCranky to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Unless you're a very light sleeper or have young children, I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by Sara C. at 4:12 PM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not enough information. I live across the street from a freeway and have a level 1 trauma center half a block in one direction and a firehouse a block in the other - sirens are pretty constant - and it's better than when I lived half a block from a four-way intersection with buses and truck traffic. But even that was okay because I've mostly lived in cities and I can easily tune out the noise. If your friend is particularly sensitive to noise and/or concerned about particulate matter from traffic, then this might not be a great place to live, but we can't answer that.
posted by rtha at 4:13 PM on February 2, 2014

See this prior AskMe.

As I said in that thread, I've lived on three major streets since 2004, and I will never, ever do so again. Incessant noise, soot, congestion.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:24 PM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Your friend should be aware that they could get a lot of road grime dust inside. Even if your windows are closed. You can get used to the noise, but you'll still have to deal with the grit. I tried not to think about what kinds of awful things were in that dust when I lived on major streets.
posted by quince at 4:28 PM on February 2, 2014

It depends a lot on configuration. Is this a surface road or is it elevated? Is there an intersection/onramp in the vicinity or will cars be passing through at speed without stopping? Is there a wall or embankment or something to buffer sound and trash and block line of sight from the roadway to the property?

Some of this you should be able to answer with Google Maps earth view, but you'd really have to spend some time at or very near the property to know how bad it really is.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:34 PM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've read studies that show that even after people have been living in a high-noise location for long enough that they don't consciously notice it any more, they continue to have raised physiological markers of stress. That was enough for me to not choose a house next to a major road, train station, airport etc myself.
posted by lollusc at 4:37 PM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

We used to live over a major road (between a street and a highway) in North Carolina. Drunk people honking horns at night, a brick through our window once (?!), etc.: it was not good. I also lived a block off of a major street in California, in a small-medium-size city. It got a lot of foot traffic and was surprisingly noisy. Also, between us and our two roommates, we had: two cars sideswiped while parked on the street (one was totaled), one car theft, one broken window, and one broken window + theft of stuff in the car. It wasn't the people IN our neighborhood. Just the fact that so many strangers were always passing through apparently made it easy for people to do whatever they wanted. Bleh.
posted by wintersweet at 4:43 PM on February 2, 2014

Trust the locals, they don't want it, you probably won't either.

Beside the noise, the more traffic the worse your health can be due to air quality.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:48 PM on February 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

How big of a problem is this?

Maybe not a problem for you, but will definitely be a problem for the potential buyers of the house when you try to sell it.
posted by deanc at 4:58 PM on February 2, 2014 [7 favorites]

Do you plan to live here permanently? Even if the noise is okay for you, if you want to sell it you may find yourself struggling to find a buyer. It's easy to rationalize that because it may be years down the line but I'd be wary.
posted by Aranquis at 4:59 PM on February 2, 2014

Can you talk to a couple of the neighbors? See what they say about noise, parking issues and anything else you can think of.
posted by easily confused at 5:00 PM on February 2, 2014

It will limit it's future market appeal making it more difficult to sell in the future.

But that only matters if you plan on selling before the coming zombie apocalypse.

That said, if you like the property - warts and all - for the money, then it's not a bad purchase.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:08 PM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Even more than noise, especially if the house is downwind from the thoroughfare I'd be concerned about air pollution, in particular from diesel trucks, that can be detrimental to your health. I need not say that your health should always be a top priority.
posted by Dansaman at 6:00 PM on February 2, 2014

Trust the locals, they don't want it, you probably won't either

If this is on the coast, or anywhere that is not Seattle or Portland, then the locals can't afford this house. Don't let time on the market dictate the purchase, have the home checked and if it works, go with it.
posted by efalk at 2:36 AM on February 3, 2014

It depends on what kind of thoroughfare. If your friend is meaning Seattle or Portland (the only two "big-ish" cities in the non-California US western time zone), "major thoroughfare" is a lot lower capacity than a four-lane or six-lane highway. I know someone who bought a house on an arterial (what Seattle calls its high-capacity streets) that is four lanes and sees about 18,000 cars per day. Seattle is preparing to reconfigure it to three lanes with a turn lane in the middle to make it safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. Lots and lots of other houses and townhomes front onto this same street. Some sell for less because they're older or need work or border another property that folks don't want. Some sell for more because, well, the real estate market is random.
posted by fireoyster at 2:38 AM on February 3, 2014

I don't know what exactly you mean by a "thoroughfair", but whether it's a major 4 lane street or I-5, the answer is to visit the house in person and see what you think about the noise, traffic, crowds, etc.

It's not a good idea to buy a house without visiting it in person even if it's not on a "major thoroughfair".

You don't say how big this property is, but if the property borders the road and the house isn't near the road it's not as bit a factor as it otherwise would be. You might check on what the road easements are in case the road is expanded in the future.
posted by yohko at 11:16 AM on February 3, 2014

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