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December 31, 2013


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It all depends on your circumstances. My commute is about an hour (roughly 45 miles each way) but that hour each way allowed me to purchase a townhouse for less than $100k vs. a similar TH close to the office starts at over $500k. My monthly mortgage payment on my 15 year loan is less then what it costs to rent a small apartment near work, and I will have it completely paid off within the next few years. Many other day to day living costs (groceries, fuel, utility costs, etc.) are also lower out where I live vs. what I would pay for the exact same goods and services close to the office.

One factor that improves my commute and makes it more predictable is the fact that my boss allows me to work a later shift of 11AM - 7PM. I am coming in to the office after the morning rush hour and leave at the tail end of the evening rush hour. I have a coworker who lives only a third of the distance from the office but has to commute during rush hour for her 9 to 5 shift. She often spends more time on her 15 mile commute than I do for my 45 mile commute.

Update --

I wrote the some time ago and we've since purchased a new home. It's five minutes from the office.

PROS: Quick commute to and from work (sleep later and get home earlier). This is especially convenient on those icy days here.

CONS: No time to listen to my podcasts!!! :)

I hated my old commute. It was about 30 minutes with no traffic, but it could take an hour if I got stuck in rush hour traffic. I took public transportation a couple of time a week and that doubled the commute time to an hour.
Rush hour traffic just sucks.

Things were a whole lot easier when we made our final move in 1960 when I had been married for 4 years and had two small girls. I was in Denver working for a very small company that was building the crew escape capsule for the B58 Hustler bomber. I had decided to move to one of the major aerospace companies in order to get my MS degree at their expense.

I mailed off three letters to: 1) Boeing in Seattle, WA, 2) Lockheed in Burbank, CA and 3) Lockheed in Sunnyvale, CA. Within a few days I received a phone call from each offering me a job and telling me the offer was in the mail.

The choice was pretty easy when the package from Lockheed, Sunnyvale arrived with a brochure extolling the virtues of living in the Santa Clara Valley (now known as Silicon Valley). They paid our moving expenses and of we set across country. Once we were in Sunnyvale I took a local map and drew a 7 mile radius circle around where I was going to be working. We then looked around for a place to live. We found a brand new duplex and rented one unit for $120/month. My commute to work took less than 15 minutes. We stayed there for 3 years and saved hard in order to make a deposit on a new home. The 4ba, 2ba home was $26,950 and we put 25% down and moved into a great little subdivision inhabited with young families just like us.

By 1977 we were in a financial position where we wanted to move up. We stayed in the same small city of about 100,000 and chose a development of larger custom homes less than a mile away. We sold our home quickly for $90K and bought our dream home for $107K. We retired in 1992, are still there, our kids are married and grown up, and the value of our home is now upwards of $1.5M and we have been happily married for 57 years. In hindsight I wouldn't change a thing.

I'm in the Los Angeles area and live a decent distance from work in comparison to many others. Still, I have to traverse 3 major freeways before reaching work. On a good day with no traffic, it is about 45 minutes. On a bad day , my commute can easily take an extra 30-60 minutes, especially if it's raining. I purchased a CNG vehicle (compressed natural gas), because I not only carve time out of my commute (HOV rights), but fuel is cheaper at 7 cents per mile. I don't like my long commute, but the distance I drive is reasonable compared to many of my co-workers who drive 2-3 hrs one way daily. I'm used to the drive now, and envy others who only commute 15 minutes to work. However, location is important not only to price and value of my home but also to safety and resale value later on. Some people may argue that I should find a job closer to home, but the job market is still in dire straits and having a good job with a decent salary is a blessing I don't discount. My job also provides a pension which is a rarity nowadays. I think the pros outweighs the cons in my case, but it's not for everyone.

I've started listening to audio books on my commute. Helps pass the time and actually make it semi-enjoyable. Plus I do my best to take a route to/from work that is less likely to have significant traffic congestion. This may take a little bit more gas but saves time and frustration in the end.

I have a 17-mile (one-way) commute into downtown Los Angeles, and it typically takes 45-50 minutes of drive time. I don't "enjoy" the traffic, but it doesn't bother me much either. I use that time to talk on the phone, listen to music, or sometimes just zone out and relax (fortunately my subconscious is a very good driver). As long as I'm not late for something, the drive doesn't bother me. It helps too that the length of time is typically very predictable - it's rare that it will be more than 10 minutes longer than average.

That said, I would love it if I could transplant my job to be closer to home. I would love to be able to walk or bike to work, or for the commute to only take 10 minutes. I'd love the extra hour and a half of sleep or being home.

For those people with a long commute, I wonder if you realize the sacrifice that you are making. If you say it doesn't bother you but you also complain about not having enough free time then you may not be making the connection. Add 90 minutes back into each day and suddenly you can get your chores done and then have time to relax and just read a book.

I travel 30% and otherwise work from home and I seem to have more free time than my peers. I'll equate this to my time living in Wisconsin. I got so used to the winters that when people asked how I could live there I said it wasn't that bad. After leaving, I realized the weather was in fact awful. I sympathize with people that live near a huge city like LA or NY but living an hour away from work in a small or medium sized city seems crazy to me. Move closer and enjoy life.

Cars can be a big waste of money and a huge impact your budget more than you think. In the 24 years I have been married we have purchased 9 cars. My wifes commute is 25 miles one way and mine is 7 in the exact opposite direction. We typically drove those cars to almost 100K miles and yes we did ALOT of driving vacations. If I coule have saved 25% on those 9 cars it would have almost been 2 cars at around $20k per carsaved not to mention the cost of operating,maintaining and time lost in a commute. Bleh.

My attitude toward cars have changed for I will keep them until they drop. As for my wife she only has 3 more years until she can retire and we don't wear out a car too fast.

My worst commute was when I lived in the Chicago area. I changed companies (as part of growing my career) and ended up with a drive that would take 75 minutes each way in good weather and could take 2 hours or longer if we had snow or had to deal with traffic accidents. At the time, I didn't really mind it (young and ignorant). My current commute is 11 miles and takes a predictable 20 minutes. I live in a part of the country that sees very little snow. I could never go back to anything that took longer.

My commute is nearly 2 hours, but it's by train, which makes a big difference. I get to spend that time every day reading, working on personal projects on my laptop, or playing games. Since I'm able to use the time that way, it's really not so bad -- it's more just personal leisure time.

Take public transit, read a book.

(Yes, I know this is an option for only a limited number of people. It's just another reason that I find the "lifestyle" of living out in the suburbs totally unappealing. An hour of my time a day driving on congested freeways sounds like hell.)

I really don't like my commute. I live in the Chicagoland area 30 miles from my job in the loop. We have a very nice house in a suburb with great schools. That was our priority when we chose the house 15 years ago. At that time I was consulting and my work locations varied. For the past 10 years, I've been commuting by train over an hour each way (55 min train ride + 15 min to/from train). Our youngest graduates from high school in May and we are planning to move downtown about a year later -- once we have him adjusted to college. I don't know about 40%, but I would trade $30K per year for a 15 min commute (that's closer to 20%). I'm interested what other would "pay" to shorten their commutes...

I have a 45 minute commute, but there is no traffic. I live and work in a different city. It is not ideal but I love my job and unfortunately because I live in a rural area, jobs in my line of work are somewhat limited and government jobs are all about 45 minutes away in the county seat. I do know that I miss out on time with my family but right now this is what works for us. I listen podcasts in the car and my job is flexible about my work hours so I take time when I need it and make the time for us. I don't think any commute is ideal but sometimes you have to put up with it for the greater good of your family.

I'm always amazed why people commute. Just find a job that is within a 30 minutes (10km) cycling or train range. The result is that

- you save an hour of your own LIFE doing something stupid/boring. You can do do may gray things if you have 10 hours/week EXTRA spare time.
- it prevents you from buying a car/gas/whatever you need to keep it running

If you calculate the financial costs of commute:
- 8 hour work, with 2 hrs communute: 10 hours of work: 20% less paid/hour.
- a car costs 10k$/yr. If you earn 50k$, that's 20% less paid/hour.

So, even if you have a job that's nearby and pays 50% of one an hour away by car, you are financially almost even.

This result in 1 thing: your quality of life goes up.

Like you I hate long commutes too! However currently I have a 50 minute commute to work having been forced to move location, however the extra money that I earn slightly outweighs the inconvenience.

I don't think I'd ever be able to commute further than my own home office again on a regular basis. So wasteful. So expensive. So draining.

Zen said : "Just find a job that is within a 30 minutes (10km) cycling or train range."

That is easier said than done in many areas for many people in many professions.

Also, cars do not cost $10k per year. Average transportation spending for Americans is about $7k and thats actual spending.

I don't disagree with your points really but its just not that easy for everyone.

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