How Far is Too Far to Commute?

Posted on Posted in Strategy, Uncategorized

There are a ton of forum threads where people debate the merits and disadvantages of a long commute; it’s a common sticking point for accepting a new position or considering a move. Can I drive an hour-and-a-half each way for a year without losing my mind? Two years? Indefinitely? While most people eschew the idea of multiple┬áhours in the car, some actually enjoy their long commutes. Is a long commute a deal-killer or something to celebrate? Here are a few things to consider:

What’s your mode of transportation?

Whether they’re driving, biking or riding public transit makes a big difference in how far people are willing to travel for work. Studies show that commuters who ride the bus or train, for example, enjoy their commutes more often than those who drive. Out of those who bike or walk to work, over 50 percent enjoy it, while by comparison, only one out of six car drivers can conjure good feeling about their commute.

People who ride public transportation to work tend to use the time to eat breakfast, catch up on the news, sort through emails or nap. Those who walk or bike may benefit from the endorphins of exercise or spending time outside. Interestingly, though, if the distance is longer than two-and-a-half miles, those same walkers and bikers aren’t quite so satisfied.

Is your work schedule flexible?

If your employer will allow you to adjust your schedule to avoid traffic and/or allow you to work from home some days, it can make all the difference in commute satisfaction. An hour-long drive to work two or three days a week is much more palatable than five, and if you can fly down the highway at 9 am instead crawling along it at 7:30, it’ll take you less time, and you’ll feel better about it, too.

What type of driving will you be doing?

You’re driving down the highway, maybe with the windows down, at your own pace with few other cars on the road and a sparkling lake off to your right. You know you’ll be able to see the sunset over the water on your way home. ‘Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Now imagine the same 90-minute commute in bumper-to-bumper traffic with nothing but road trash and billboards for scenery. It’s not always about the hours or the distance; sometimes it’s about the quality of the drive.

How much do you like your job and where you live?

If your job is just okay, or worse yet, you hate it, a long commute is not going to help your attitude. But if it’s your dream job or there are other perks like stellar health benefits or flexibility of schedule, they may offset a long drive to and from work. Do you love your neighborhood? If you’re attached both to where you live and to your job, the distance between them may be worth it.

What suits your personality?

This may be the most important thing to consider. Some people love to drive and relish the transitional time between work and home and vice versa. Others find driving exhausting and just want to be out of the car. If you enjoy books on Audible or listening to┬ámusic, a long commute could even be a good thing, allowing you to relax, free from other responsibilities. And if you’re the type who likes to wander around in your own head, you may welcome commute time. Then again, if sitting still for two hours a day makes you batty, maybe not so much.