Personal Capital lists the surprising costs of commuting. The author begins with this story:
I usually leave the house each morning at 6:50. I hop in the car and drive to the train station, usually getting there around 7:05. I spend eight minutes waiting on the platform, using that time to catch up on news or download a podcast for my train ride. My train arrives at 7:13, and I get off at 8:02. From the train station, I walk 1.2 miles to the office, usually arriving by 8:30. My total commute time? An hour and forty minutes, one way.
Ugh. How brutal is that? An hour and forty minutes each way. This would not be living for me.
They then give some stats on commuting:
About 3.5 million Americans are also extreme commuters, averaging more than ninety minutes each way. One in six spends more than forty-five minutes commuting each way, while the average American spends about twenty-four minutes.
The post then weighs the cons of commuting (of which there are many) versus the pros (which is basically to buy a house you can afford -- and to live in a "nicer area" I assume as well). The piece ends up where it began IMO -- there's no way a long commute would work for me.
We just went through this decision-making process a few months ago. When we moved to our new city, people we knew here as well as those we knew who had friends/family here told us to check out one particular part of the city. Sure enough, it was great. It was new, vibrant, and was an awesome place to live. The problem? It was in the northeast part of the city and my work was in the southwest. The drive would be 30 minutes one way on a good day, but there were often traffic issues on the interstate (winter storms, spring storms, accidents, etc.) which made the commute an hour or longer in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Despite these facts, we still considered the "great place" up north. But not for long. Why? Because we did the math. 30 minutes each way was an hour a day in the car (at a minimum.) Five hours a week. 250 hours (10.4 days) a year. And that's if traffic was always good.
So we started looking at a place closer to work and discovered many good options. They weren't as "great" as the place up north, but they were good. Very good in fact. We settled on a spot in an awesome school district in a new subdivision that was five minutes from work. I could walk it in 30 minutes or less if I had to. Do the math on that one. Do you know how much time, effort, frustration, etc. -- not to mention cost -- I saved? A ton.
What made the difference is that one option forced me to lose a lot of time with my family. The other was the shortest commute I've had in my career. No brainer.
Coming back from a business trip a month ago I was going the opposite way of what my commute home would have been if I had moved up north. There was a small fender bender and one car was on the side of the road. The traffic was backed up for MILES! I just smiled to myself, thankful that my commute is what it is.
All this to say that I feel one of the greatest costs, if not the greatest, of commuting is the time spent. It's one that needs to be looked at and considered just as much as the hard costs (gas, maintenance, etc.) do.
What do you think?