One benefit of living in a compact neighborhood rather than a sprawling suburb: you don’t spend as much time in your car. The following chart, derived from a national transportation survey, makes the point pretty clearly:
The bottom line: if you live in a compact place, you don’t drive as much. Of course, the total amount of time that people spend getting from place to place doesn’t vary much by neighborhood density. What changes is how people travel. If you live in a compact neighborhood, you’re more likely to take a trip on foot or by transit. If you live in a sprawling one, you take virtually all your trips inside a car, truck, minivan, or SUV.
Obviously, if you like spending time in your car—and some people definitely seem to view driving as quality private time—then this information probably won’t affect you one way or another. But if you don’t really like driving, then this may give you a clue about how to cut your car time in half.