Do you wish to relocate for a shorter work commute? We can’t say we blame you. Long work commutes cause unnecessary stress, health issues, and financial difficulties. Unfortunately, as cities become more crowded, these time-consuming commutes appear to be getting longer. According to NPR, the average American’s commute increased to 26.9 minutes from 26.6 minutes the previous year, according to the 2017 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Unfortunately, the average commuter suffers due to these long work commutes. Commuters may have to spend their money on gasoline, public transportation, parking, and car insurance – and that’s just the beginning. Long commutes can also affect a commuter’s overall sense of well-being and personal health. According to CNN, commuters in the United Kingdom add nearly 800 calories to their weekly diets due to their eating while commuting to work. Long commutes also add unnecessary stress. Whether it’s traffic or crowded buses, millions of Americans experience the stress of long-distance travel while surrounded by strangers daily.
On the other hand, a long work commute does not stress everyone out. Many commuters find that their long commutes help them unwind after a long day. Others are unconcerned about long commutes as long as they can live where they want.
You’re not alone if you’ve been racking your brain to decide between affordable housing and a convenient location. This is a problem that many Americans are confronted with. Larger cities typically have more job opportunities. Salaries are frequently higher as well. However, if you travel outside these population centers, you may find that rent and home prices are significantly lower. This allows you to save more money while living in a comparable home or better than you could get in the city, assuming you can tolerate a longer commute.
It’s a big decision, especially if you’re going to buy a house. To help you decide, we’ll look at each option in greater detail, followed by a method for calculating how much your potential commute will cost you.
The most obvious benefit of a shorter commute is the time you’ll save. If you can cut 30 minutes off your commute each way, that’s an hour per day, saving you 250 hours per year (if you work five days per week and have two weeks of vacation).
You may have more transportation options if you live closer to work. Long commutes often necessitate a car, but if you live within a few miles of the office, you may be able to walk, bike, or take public transportation. Going car-free could help you save money on your monthly bills if that’s the case.
Even if you must drive to work, a shorter commute will result in less gas consumption, lower insurance costs, and less wear and tear on your vehicle.
Your car isn’t the only thing that will benefit from a shorter commute. Longer commutes have been linked to various health issues, including increased stress, hypertension, and obesity, so cutting your commute time could improve your overall health.
A Cheaper Home
Long commutes allow more affordable housing options, so many people have them. If you’re willing to drive 30 minutes to an hour, you might be able to find a neighborhood where homes are half the price of those in the city.
Aside from the cost savings in housing, commuting gives you much more flexibility in terms of where you live, with more neighborhoods to choose from if you decide you don’t need to live close to work. This could be a better school district or a more appealing area.
When considering a commute, it’s critical to consider the type of commute you’ll have, as not all are created equal. If there is public transportation like a train, you could read or watch shows, making your commute much more enjoyable. And there’s a big difference between a smooth, relaxing drive and bumper-to-bumper traffic the entire way if you’re commuting by car.
How to Determine the Cost of a Commute
Calculating the cost of a longer commute is a smart way to determine whether the inconvenience is worth it. Here’s how it works:
Determine the monetary worth of an hour of your time. The most basic method is to use your hourly wage, but you may want to use a higher rate.
Divide the figure by the number of commuting hours you’ll spend commuting each day.
If you are driving, multiply the number of miles you’ll be going by $0.58, the IRS’s standard mileage rate for deductible wear and tear in 2019.
Add those time and mileage rates together, then multiply by the number of days you work in a year.
After calculating the cost of commuting, you can decide whether a less expensive home or a shorter commute is a better deal.
The most straightforward option is to compare housing costs (either rent or estimated mortgage payments) near your workplace and in any other neighborhoods where you’re thinking about moving. Then you can determine whether the annual cost difference of living near work is greater or less than your commuting costs.
Although this will provide you with an answer from a financial standpoint, other factors may be considered. School districts are important if you have or plan to have children. You may choose to forego the more financially prudent option because you prefer another neighborhood.
You’ll need to consider both finances and quality of life when deciding, but determining the financial aspect can give you a good idea of the better option. Still not sure if you should relocate for a shorter work commute? We recommend starting with these six questions.
Do you save a good amount of money by commuting?
Are you commuting because you need the money? Residing in a bustling city, such as New York City or Washington, DC, can often cost an arm and a leg. Real estate prices are skyrocketing, but the overall cost of living (think: groceries, utilities, and amenities) is also exorbitant in major cities. If your office is in a high-priced city, you may need to relocate to a more affordable suburb.
Does your employer cover some or all of your commuting expenses?
Employers will frequently pay for a part or all of a worker’s commute. Many employers can afford to help their employees with their commutes, whether by reimbursing them for gas or providing them with a pre-paid public transportation card. Make sure to inquire with your H.R. department about covering the financial costs of your commute.
Is it financially feasible to relocate closer to the office?
Is it true that relocating closer to your workplace saves you money? Perhaps you live in an expensive suburb or spend more time commuting than you would like. Whatever the reason, it may be more cost-effective for you to live next to the office. Living next to the office increases your chances of promotion (and thus a raise in pay); it may also make financial sense to relocate.
How important is it that you live near the office?
How essential is it for you to be nearby in terms of living near the office? Do you have the ability to work remotely once or twice a week? If this is the case, a long work commute several times a week may not be too inconvenient. Do you work long hours that are frequently unpredictable? If this is the case, it may be necessary for you to live close to the office in case you are needed. After all, being needed at work for extended periods and on weekends may necessitate more trips to the office. A short commute will reduce stress and enhance productivity.
Do you need to stay far away from the office because of family obligations?
Do you have children in school? For many families, this means relocating further away from their place of employment. Top-rated schools, family-friendly communities, and more affordable lots can often be found around the suburbs. Employees can choose to sacrifice their work commutes for a better family living situation.
Is your health suffering as a result of your work commute?
Is your work commute affecting both your mental and physical health? If the answer is yes, it may be worthwhile to relocate closer to the office – even if you have to pay a premium for a location close to work. Remember that sleep deprivation, unnecessary stress, and poor nutrition due to commuting are all reasons to consider relocating closer to work.
If a short work commute is not an option, you’ll have to find ways to enjoy – or at least tolerate – the commute to the office.
Listening to Podcasts
Making a playlist of music for the commute.
Driving with a friend.
Using mobile apps to de-stress and meditate.
Listening to the audiobooks
Where are the best places for people to commute to work?
So you’d like to relocate to a location with a short commute to work, but you’re not sure where to start. Fortunately, USA News ranked states based on the average commute time. According to the study, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Iowa, Alaska, Idaho, and Utah have the best work commutes.
Conclusion If you’re looking for a shorter commute to work, consider relocating to one of the states that USA News ranked as having the best work commutes. You may have to sacrifice some amenities in order to live in a more affordable area with a shorter commute time. Your employer may be willing to help cover your commuting costs. Evaluate how important it is for you to live near the office and whether or not you can work remotely before making a decision. Consider your family obligations and your health when making the decision to relocate closer to work. If you cannot relocate, try to find ways to make your commute more bearable. Listening to podcasts, music, or audiobooks can help make the time fly by.
Is it worthwhile to relocate closer to work?
Living closer to work will save you time and money on parking and transportation costs in major cities. However, you will end up paying significantly more for your living space.
How far is too far for a commute?
Commuting hours of longer than 45 minutes are up 12% in that period, and 90-minute one-way commutes are 64% more common than in 1990. The longer time you spend commuting, the less time you tend to have for family, friends, exercise, and nutrition, detrimental to your mental health.
Aside from the cost savings in housing, commuting gives you much more flexibility in terms of where you live, with more neighborhoods to choose from if you decide you don’t need to live close to work. That could mean a better school district or a more enjoyable neighborhood.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.