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'Super commuters' trade off less expensive housing for emotional and financial toll of transportation

Children are seen playing in the snow in Murrieta on Dec. 31, 2014.
Elaine Minsch
Children are seen playing in the snow in Murrieta on Dec. 31, 2014.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates Wednesday in an effort to combat the high rate of inflation in the U.S. Higher interest rates could mean the pace of San Diego’s housing market will start to slow down. But the cost to buy or even rent a home here is still out of reach for many families.

A story by Voice of San Diego Managing Editor Andrew Keatts looks at the hard choices some people are making to be able to buy a home, and the trade offs that come with those decisions.

Keatts reports on the experience of Dohney Castillo and Maricela Lopez-Beltrán and their quest to buy a home. The couple, who have two children, work in San Diego. Castillo is a sanitation worker at Republic Services in Chula Vista and Lopez-Beltrán is a social worker with San Diego County. They chose to buy a home in Murrieta five years ago after qualifying for a loan of up to $450,000. The choice was between a two-bedroom condo in San Diego County or a four-bedroom home in Riverside County.


Castillo now leaves his home in Murrieta for work at 3 a.m. and gets home at 7 p.m. leaving him about two hours with his 4-month-old daughter, Mila, before going bed.

“For me, it’s still worth it — there are small moments where I get to see her, and I cherish those moments,” he said. “I spend so much time commuting and working that, even just seeing her sipping a bottle or sleeping, I cherish those moments too.”

Castillo and Lopez-Beltrán are now two of an estimated 50,000 Riverside County residents who work in San Diego County, based on Voice of San Diego reporting.

"Their decision reveals the extent to which housing costs and transportation costs are inextricably linked. Due to the somewhat hidden nature of transportation costs, though, families that expand their search for housing don’t always save as much as they think. Riverside, for instance, is the most expensive region for transportation among the country’s 20 largest metropolitan areas," Keatts wrote.

Keatts joined Midday Edition on Wednesday to talk about the trade offs of cheaper housing.