Cost of Commute: Cedar City to St. George

The “Commute: Cedar City to St. George” question comes up a lot during conversations with newly married couples and people looking for entry-level housing. The current lack of entry-level housing in Washington County leaves many families scrambling to find something affordable. Apartments and townhouses are being rented or bought up as soon as their on the market, and a family of four or five can quickly run out of space in a two bedroom, 800 sf apartment.

So we dive into the thought experiment: “Would it be cheaper for my family if we bought a house in Cedar City and then commute to Washington County for work?”. I’ve probably heard this a dozen times in the past couple months so we’ve run through a couple of numbers on this to try to answer the question. This isn’t a complete list and mostly takes into account the commute between St. George and Cedar City. Numerous costs and benefits can be ascribed to living in each area that aren’t taken into account or can’t be monetized, including personal preferences.

Our criteria is as follows: Property type Residential; Status of ‘Active’; Listing Class of ‘ Single Family’; Total Bedrooms between 2 and 3; Total Bathrooms between 2 and 3; Total SqFt between 1000 and 2000. DOM means Days On Market.

STG/HurricaneCedar City
Number of Listings (03/14/2018)18436
Median DOM3459

Breaking down this data as of March 14, 2018 shows that there are five times the listings in St. George/Hurricane as there are in Cedar City, so finding a home you like may be easier. But the listings in Cedar City sit on the market for about 20 days longer than St. George meaning their not being bought AS fast as the housing in St. George/Hurricane. But this data has its limits and one extreme outlier could potentially skew the data, so take it with a grain of salt. 

Median housing in Cedar City is listed as being about 20% cheaper than the median housing in St. George/Hurricane according to the current listings. This is also true for the past year of sold housing. Now we take into account the commute. Could it make up for that 20% difference?


It’s a 100 mile trip from Cedar City to St. George and back. According to the IRS the current standard mileage rate for 2018 is $0.545 per mile. We’ll use this number to account for gas, wear and tear, insurance, productivity lost, etc. If you’re commuting that much you’ll have to change your oil, tires, and gas up frequently. You also lose roughly two hours a day for which you’re not earning a penny. In the end every work week would cost about $272.50 which translates to roughly $14,170 per year in mileage if you made the trip only once a day, five times a week.


According to Esurance ( the chances of getting into an accident every 1,000 miles is 1/366 (or 0.27%) per 1,000 miles. The average cost of a non-fatal accident is approximately $7,500 ( Translated to the mileage between St. George and Cedar City means that every five years you have a 50% chance of getting into a non-fatal accident. Meaning you’ll be paying about $750 a year for that statistic. But the more you’re on the road, the higher the chances of any car wreck, weather related accidents, or fatal crashes. We can’t quantify this, but it’s important to remember.

The commute costs add up to approximately $15,000 per year to live in Cedar City and commute down to St. George. Remember this is only for one person, commuting daily. If an additional person commutes down to visit family, shop, or visit even twice a week it could add an additional $6,000 to the total.

Time Will Tell

If you look at this and think, “Sounds great!”, it looks like you’d be correct for about five years. Remember commuting isn’t a one-time cost. The total isn’t just $227,900 + $15,000. It’s every year. We’ll assume that if you lived within St. George/Hurricane you’d commute a round trip of about 20 miles every work day. The chart looks like this:

Cedar City
2$227,900$1,000$15,000 $258,900
3$227,900$1,000$15,000 $273,900
4$227,900$1,000$15,000 $288,900
5$227,900$1,000$15,000 $303,900
St. George/Hurricane
1 $285,900 $1,300 $2,800 $290,000
2 $285,900 $1,300 $2,800 $292,800
3 $285,900 $1,300 $2,800 $295,600
4 $285,900 $1,300 $2,800 $298,400
5 $285,900 $1,300 $2,800 $301,200

Looking at the chart we see that after five years, the cost of commuting from Cedar City to St. George would overtake the original price difference between the two houses. Even with the difference in mortgages it would only take an additional five years to make up the difference between the principle/interest paid. So within five years your Cedar City home costs more than your St. George home and within ten years you’d be paying more than the difference in the mortgage.

Overall, short-term the idea seems like a good one, but the cost of commuting is very high. If you plan to commute one to two years and then transition to living in Cedar City full-time the idea may hold merit. But the cost of driving 100’s of miles a week in the long-term won’t give you the cost benefit that you are looking for. No, commuting between Cedar City and St. George in the long-term will not be worth it.

A majority of people don’t realize just how expensive the cost of car ownership and commuting is. Add on car payments to this mix and your costs grow substantially! Living closer to work and driving as little as possible can save you a big chunk of money, even if your home costs are a little higher in the short-term.

We make a lot of assumptions in this analysis, including driving habits, median costs, and assumptions on other details that are difficult to quantify. The mortgage rate we use is based on a 4.5% interest, 20% down payment, and includes property tax, insurance, etc. (