When is a long commute worth it? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since I took a job in Annapolis, 33 miles from home. That’s 24 miles more (one way) than my previous job in Baltimore.
I wasn’t looking for a job that far away, it’s just what happened when I got aggressive with my job search. Read about my job search here. Read about my worst commute ever here.
I received a bump in pay, but was it enough to justify more time in the car, and the additional cost? Let’s run the numbers:
- 48 – Daily additional miles driven to and from work
- $25.68 – Daily cost of additional miles, using 53.5 cents/mile IRS reimbursement rate (designed to cover gas, maintenance, depreciation, and insurance)
- $2.80 – Daily commuter toll rate (both directions) for Baltimore Harbor Tunnel
- $6,863.68 – Total Additional Annual Cost (over my previous commute). Total is derived from: ($25.68+$2.80)*241, where 241 is the estimated number of commuter days in a year
My new salary covers the cost difference, but what about intangibles?
What is the cost of an additional hour in the car every day? That’s less time with my family, but more time to listen to books or news, or to think about blog posts 🙂 .
What is the cost of being further away from home? It’s harder for me to drop off and pick up Pippa and Grey from school and other activities, leaving more for Nora to do. And meeting home repairmen and contractors during the day became more difficult.
What is the value of a new job opportunity that I really wanted? It was time for me to move on from my old job, and my current position seems like a good next career step.
How to calculate intangibles? You can’t really. You discuss, pray and meditate on all these variables, then make a decision. Like many things in life, these aren’t considerations you can input into a calculator and receive a tidy sum. You have to take a leap of faith, and hopefully land on your feet.
Do you have a really long or short commute? What does it mean for you?
My commute is currently four minutes. I moved homes to make that be. Here we are five years later and it’s part of what makes it harder to consider a change in employers. It can be a really significant benefit.
Yes, a short commute is definitely high on the perk list!
Valerie Mendenhall says
My commute is about 14 miles, but takes 45 minutes during rush hour. It drops by 5-8 minutes when school is out of session (no school buses for public schools in Los Angeles county). And drops 15-18 minutes if driv8ng h8me from work at 2am (far too many instances of that over the years).
The hour + roundtrip is the only time I listen to news. Since I don’t watch TV or read the newspaper, this is my only connection with what’s happening in the world at large. That is worth something to me. I now have, love, and would never go without Sirius XM. It’s far better than the AM news and talk radio that I used to listen to.
The drive also causes me to pass many errand stops (grocery stores etc.) along the way (convenient for the way home). And I can get a reasonable duration long distance phone call accomplished with family.
The ability to make more phone calls while stuck in the car has been an upside for me as well.
Mine is over an hour and has led me to seek FI. I want my time back. I was able to make lemonade though by finding a parking lot 2 miles away and biking in. Saves 2,100 a year and is faster and way more fun.
I used to bike to work occasionally when I lived 9 miles from work and I loved that, but that’s no longer a possibility. I might be able to do what you do and park and ride short of work.
I used to drive at least 150-200 miles a day because I traveled. Thankfully I had a company car but it got old living out of a car, staying in motels 2-3 days a week, and constantly dining out.
It’s one reason I changed jobs (& getting a family). Now I can either work from home or my commute is 15 minutes one-way. I took a steep drop in pay, but, my wife & I banked as much money as possible before I changed careers to lower our debt payments to a reasonable amount so we could afford the transition.
Traveling and hotels and restaurants is fun for a while but it gets old, especially if you have a family. I’m glad you were able to swap it for something better.
Adriana @MoneyJourney says
I used to have a 15 mile commute (back and forth came to 30 miles a day). Even though it doesn’t sound that bad, between red lights, traffic jams & other traffic related problems, I wasted close to 45 minutes – 1 hour on the road.
I used to think “how cool would it be to be one of those people who commute to work!” (I love driving, that’s why I loved the concept)… but after a while I changed my mind 😀 I’d rather work closer to home, than waste time driving back and forth.
I have trouble working from home – too many distractions and I miss the face-to-face collaboration.
Troy @ Market History says
One of my family friends spends 3 hours on the road every day! He’s saving money by living far away from the city, but I don’t think it’s worth it in the long run. You’re wasting your life, and fuel is quite expensive.
3 hours on a bus or train is OK, because you can read or do work, but 3 hours in a car is just too much.
It is annoying when you don’t show up for my baseball games on time 🙂