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Hello all, looking to get some of your input on a situation of mine, as I am considering moving closer to work, and am weighing the pros and cons of making such a move.

The situation: I am currently in my mid-20s. I currently have a 100 round-trip commute to and from work. That's 500 miles a week, which includes the obligatory having to wake up earlier to account for traffic, traffic accidents, etc. to get to work on time. It's a 5AM alarm clock for me, and I often don't get back home until 8PM at night, and I will hit the sack by 10PM to get enough sleep.

The plus side? I have a great deal on rent with this long commute. I live here in CA and pay $700/month total for all utilities, rent, etc. for my own room in a great neighborhood. Downside? I have only about 30-45 minutes to myself every day of the week Monday-Friday because of the long commute.

My dilemma: Moving closer to work would allow me much more personal time, albeit at the cost of much higher rent. At my current cost of rent, I'm able to stock away ~$500/month in liquid savings (in addition to $416/mo to a Roth IRA, the balance of which I'm determined never to touch until true retirement). Making the move would torpedo my liquid savings down to about $150/month (I'd still be maxing out the Roth IRA).

The $350/month in savings would be a pretty steep sacrifice, but it would be nice to have the shorter commute.

Feel free to weigh in, thanks.

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Insane, indeed... that doesn't diminish other's situations though. But, wow.

Dus10 (Jan. 30, 2013 @ 4:39p) |

This is the key aspect. If $350 a month are making a huge change to your savings rate, OP should consider investing in e... (more)

foghorn19 (Jan. 31, 2013 @ 12:42p) |

I would not live more than 15 minutes away from work.It used to take about 1 hour at my old place.
90 minutes extra time ... (more)

kiteguru (Jan. 31, 2013 @ 3:19p) |


Personally I wouldn't stand for the situation you're in.
Couldn't you find a smaller place, closer to your work?
Thought about getting a roommate?
Thought about buying a place?
How much would you save by less driving?

There's got to be a better solution to your current commute.

I don't do traffic and refuse to live more than 15min from my office.

I refuse to waste years of my life in traffic.

Thats a lean safety net. I would never cut my margin down to $150/mo.

What are your commuting costs?

Does the 350 figure include gas savings. Assuming you drop down to 100 miles per week, that's about $250/mo in gas savings based on my back of envelope calculations. Your situation sounds miserable. How long would your commute be if you moved closer?

How much per hour is your job paying?

You can count either salary / wages, or {salary / wages + benefits}.

Calculate first using your actual working hours, and then add the commute hours.

According to what you say, at 100 miles round trip per day, that's roughly 2-2.5 hours, maybe more. If you arrive at 8 pm, then you stop working around 6:45, maybe a bit early. Assuming you wake up at 5 am, and are out of the house by 6 am, then you get to work by 7:30 or so. That's about 11-11.5 hour work day. Plus commute, that's 13 hours.

That job better pay very well.

gpandy said:   The plus side? I have a great deal on rent with this long commute. I live here in CA and pay $700/month total for all utilities, rent, etc. for my own room in a great neighborhood. Downside? I have only about 30-45 minutes to myself every day of the week Monday-Friday because of the long commute.


Re-read this part. Paying $700/month for A ROOM does not sound like a great deal to me, even including utilities. Can you give us some idea of what area this is in? I have a feeling that you could move 50 miles away from work on a different radius and own your own place for $700 a month. Or pay a lot less in rent.

Heck there is probably a mobile home park somewhere 50 miles from your work or home that you could move to. Or, if you aren't too concerned about entertaining others, buy a conversion van to live in, park it at your work, and join a gym or Y to shower.

like others have said, $150/month isnt much of a safety margin.
How's your cash reserves?

if you dont have 6 months expenses in the bank then save up then move.
or wait till your payraise then move.

Whichever comes first.

But whichever, I recommend move.
or find a new job closer to your current apt.

Any opportunities to carpool?

Move closer, or try to find a job similar to what you have now in your area. Or move to a new city in a lower cost of living state.

I have a 2.4 mile commute. I wake up at 7:20am, leave the house at 7:48 and arrive at work at 8am. I leave work at 5pm and am home by 5:15. Almost 1/3 of my commute is walking from the parking lot, up three flights of stairs and to/from my office in the middle of a big building. I don't work in the city but the same burb I live in. Some of my friends decided to move 20 miles away to save $10K on the same floor plan and most regret it.

He said he lives in CA - and from previous threads about San Francisco - there does seem to be the "as you get closer to the job base, it costs more" tendency kicking in. I'd imagine this could be the same way in SoCal as well or any of the big population bases.

Friend of mine's parents commuted from Prescott Valley, AZ to Phoenix (about 90-100 miles) eeeevery day, and it was a 5:30am to 9pm type of thing 5 days a week. I commuted 90 miles (one way) once every day over a summer for a girl, but I'd argue that was worth it in retrospect! The follies of teenage time.

Ultimately, the value of your time is up to you. Some people will tell you to value it the same as what you make. Someone provided a great anecdote about a person who did that one time and would never do anything (like go to the movies) because the true cost was like $120 to see a 2 hour movie with drive time. However you value your time will determine the answer. I actually like driving - and would have become a truck driver if I ever had to - so it wouldn't bother me as much. Some people view commuting like scratching fingernails on a board - so you need to take that psychological aspect in for you as well. If you're listening to books on tape and really enjoying it - or having your phone read you the newspaper - it may be better than sitting on facebook an hour before work in your undies liking meme's about cats. If you're feeling your blood bubble every day as you make the drive and you're experiencing significant stress and depression signs because you can't enjoy watching a baseball game with your friends on a Thursday night, you should probably consider the financial hit..

Short commute is very valuable.

Less stress physical and mental ... good in long run.

Few people suggested to find job in same neighborhood where you live but I bet that will lower your wages accordingly, if you are able to find something.
So money wise you will be same but it is also a very good option.

If not, I will say move closer since this long commute is already bothering you, I guess.

Carpooling is an option, but I would still have the same problem of only having about 30-45 minutes per day of time to myself. It has been very mentally exhausting.

I do have 6 months cash reserves saved up, but even so, I'm still reluctant to reduce my monthly savings down to just $150. Even with the $416/mo to my IRA and 6% of my pay going into a 401k (company matches), I really do feel like I'm barely getting by.

The $700/mo is in Orange County, CA. I'd prefer to not say the city where I work, but similar places within a 5-10 mile radius have questionable neighborhood safety issues.

Places with a bit of a better reputation for being in a safe neighborhood (fine balance also behind being too luxurious as I don't need that - just looking for safe neighborhoods) have rent in the range of $1000/month for a studio. Add in the cost of utilities, renter's insurance, which I'm estimating around $150/month, less the savings from gas for the shorter commute (which I am estimating at $150/month), I'd still ultimately be paying roughly $300 more, and would therefore need to reduce my savings by that amount. Throw in another $50 as a pad which is where I'm getting the figure of $150/month.

@Horseymen - very helpful post, thank you.

Interestingly enough, rent seems to be higher closer to work, even though in a relatively unsafe neighborhood, and as you move out 10-15 miles, rent goes down a bit, and you start to find better, safer, neighborhoods to rent. I wonder what factors are at play there, or maybe I just haven't been looking in the right places.. (edited to add: regardless, cheap/lower rent in an unsafe neighborhood is not an option I would be willing to consider)

I actually do like to drive, even with a little bit of traffic is okay. From 5AM - 8PM though without any down time, is starting to take its toll. That is the main problem for me.

Your situation sounds unsustainable in the long run. It just seems like too much mental and physical wear. Saving money is great and all but its hard to put a value on personal time, in which you can relax or pursue hobbies.

gpandy said:   Carpooling is an option, but I would still have the same problem of only having about 30-45 minutes per day of time to myself. It has been very mentally exhausting.

I do have 6 months cash reserves saved up, but even so, I'm still reluctant to reduce my monthly savings down to just $150. Even with the $416/mo to my IRA and 6% of my pay going into a 401k (company matches), I really do feel like I'm barely getting by.

The $700/mo is in Orange County, CA. I'd prefer to not say the city where I work, but similar places within a 5-10 mile radius have questionable neighborhood safety issues.

Places with a bit of a better reputation for being in a safe neighborhood (fine balance also behind being too luxurious as I don't need that - just looking for safe neighborhoods) have rent in the range of $1000/month for a studio. Add in the cost of utilities, renter's insurance, which I'm estimating around $150/month, less the savings from gas for the shorter commute (which I am estimating at $150/month), I'd still ultimately be paying roughly $300 more, and would therefore need to reduce my savings by that amount. Throw in another $50 as a pad which is where I'm getting the figure of $150/month.


Ok, so you factored in gas. You have 6 months saved and seem to be financially prudent. I'd say it's worth $350/month to get back 3-5 hours a day, 5 days a week. That's a bargain. In the end, it's a personal decision though.

By the way, you know the Roth limit is 5500 now. That should be 458, not 416!

OP, in addition to the suggestions above, it is a good idea to look forward over the next 12-24 months. I would recommend looking for rentals in smaller (less than 30 units) and older apartment buildings. All of the public REIT's and private institutional apartment operators who have bought apartment buildings in the last 12 months in Orange County, Los Angeles and the Bay area intend to raise rents. They have pricing power to raise rents due to the current low vacancy rate caused by lack of new construction during the past five years. Alternatively, think about saving money for a down payment and buying the least expensive condominium you can find.

gunsharp said:   Your situation sounds unsustainable in the long run. It just seems like too much mental and physical wear. Saving money is great and all but its hard to put a value on personal time, in which you can relax or pursue chicks.

fixed

I used to drive 120 miles round trip to work at a chemical plant in the middle of nowhere so traffic wasn't bad but yeah it was tough after a while. Now my commute is 10 seconds on a good day 15 seconds if the dog is in my way. Sooo much better ..more sleep. less stress. gas saved.


but yeah... move closer get a roommate and enjoy life. work to live not live to work

Sounds like it's time to join the millions of other refugees and leave California.

You should live with house mates - it's what most sane people to in Orange County in your position. You can live 50 miles from work and have no life and rent your own apartment for $700 or you can live 5 miles from work and pay the same but you have to share a 3+ bedroom place with roommates to do it. Really it's a great way to meet people when your at that age and working a full time job as well.

I do know people that refuse to live with other people though or really must have the huge house and in exchange make the huge commute. I just do not understand it at all. I know people that commute 2 hours each way so they can live in a 3000 sqft 5 bedroom house with a family of 4 rather than a 1500 sqft 3 bedroom place with a 10 minute commute. Just seems crazy to me to live in your car like that.

Can you take the train instead of driving to work? At least you can take a nap or do whatever you want during your commute.

One lesson I learned from my dad was. If you live more than 15 minutes from where you work. Get a new place to live or a new job.
I agree with that after one year with a 30 minute commute.
50 miles each way. Eesh.

having done both for years... 100 mile versus 20 mile round-trip, my vote is definitely for the shorter commute.
here are my reasons:
stress levels -- way down
gas and wear and tear on the car
fatigue
less likely to get killed on the road
less likely to kill someone on the road
more time to myself outside the car. the time I used to spend behind the wheel now gets spent in the gym, in the parks, making friends.

cost savings were comparable, but how much is sanity worth to you.. only you can tell.

There is a reason rents are cheap on the outskirts -- no one likes to commute.
Good Luck!

You must absolutely move or get a different job

$300-350 more per month to eliminate the commute and total lack of free time on weekdays is worth it

@dukerau - a big thank you to you as well - I had no idea the limit for Roth IRA contributions was increased to $5500/yr, though I doubt I'll be able to afford upping it from 416 to 458 any time soon. This is something I'll definitely be keeping in mind though, thank you again!

Any votes for moving back home (closer to work)? Feel like it would be a step backwards for me after being away for 4 years of undergrad and nearly 3 years of working full-time. (edited to add: this moving back home is really more of an afterthought and as a last resort..)

gpandy said:   !

Any votes for moving back home (closer to work)? Feel like it would be a step backwards for me after being away for 4 years of undergrad and nearly 3 years of working full-time.

So are you about 25 years old (assuming graduation at 22 and working 3 years)- the decision to move back home is certainly common these days but much will depend on your personal situation .

If you already have a serious bf/ gf how will this impact things? If you don't , how will this impact entertaining a date etc? How is your relationship with your folks ? Will they love you being back or just tolerating it ? Very personal lifestyle issues you need to consider beyond the financial

Yeah, that being said, I really don't want to consider moving back home. I'll leave that as a very, very last resort. Never mind the moving back home.

I've done the 50 mi each way commute. Back then gas was $1.19/gal though. Was pretty horrible. One time it rained hard and people stopped being able to drive because of water in the road and on their windshields. The 50 miles too 4 hours that day.

Last time i switched jobs, I took a paycut (about 15%) to work closer to home my commute was shortened to 10 mins vs. 1hr each way. bike to work every day for the last 5 years. I gained 9 hours a week in free time. I appreciate it even more now that i have a child.

gpandy said:   
The $700/mo is in Orange County, CA. I'd prefer to not say the city where I work, but similar places within a 5-10 mile radius have questionable neighborhood safety issues.

let me guess rancho dominguez

I say he works in irvine

Your math is somewhat busted.

500 miles per week equals around 20 gallons per week which at $3.5 is around $70 per week -> i.e. $280 month. Does not include the fact you are going to be buying a car twice as fast and you have to spend a lot more money on car maintenance. And I suspect that your car insurance may be higher due to such long commute.

And as other are beginning to point out, you have no life (except commute) and probably always tired out which may affect your work performance and your raises over time.

So factor in the cost of the car and the raises, you are not really saving what you think are saving.

kloakndaggers said:   Now my commute is 10 seconds on a good day 15 seconds if the dog is in my way. Sooo much better ..more sleep. less stress. gas saved.This is the type of commute to have, provided you work in a position which can be performed remotely.

I have seen some good tips amongst the post replies above.

As others have said, get a roommate. The way I see it, your options in order of desirability are:

1) Live closer to work with a roommate
2) Move back home (sounds like you've already decided against this, but for some people it would make sense).
3) Your current situation

I used to spend close to 2 hours on the road every day. The savings aren't worth it.

SUCKISSTAPLES said:   I say he works in irvine

That was my guess until he said the area close to work is both more expensive and in a questionable neighborhood. Sounds like a combination of the worst of Irvine and Santa Ana.

If searching for roommates, try and find postings of people who advertise that they're away for extended periods of time. Typically these are people who fly frequently for work purposes (i.e. flight attendants, traveling consultants, business travelers, etc.) If you can find such a roommate, it's (almost) like renting your own place, subsidized by your (not often around) roommate.

jkimcpa said:   gpandy said:   
The $700/mo is in Orange County, CA. I'd prefer to not say the city where I work, but similar places within a 5-10 mile radius have questionable neighborhood safety issues.

let me guess rancho dominguez
Compton isn't 100 miles from Orange County.

I'm guessing you live in south OC and commute to DTLA or the west side?

SUCKISSTAPLES said:   I say he works in irvineI think you got it mixed up. He said he lives in the OC. My guess is, he lives in Fountain Valley because there are some shady areas just a few miles north in Garden Grove. He drives 100 miles to work so I guess he works in San Diego. Lots of people make this commute everyday because houses and rent in San Diego are expensive.

Skipping 91 Messages...
I would not live more than 15 minutes away from work.It used to take about 1 hour at my old place.
90 minutes extra time during the week is a lot.

Quality of life is priceless. But an extra $700 can change my mind if that's what you are asking..



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