How much would you value a shorter commute?

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qcumber98 said:   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.He drives 50 miles to work.

I've chosen cheap rental house in suburbia vs. expensive apartment near work in SoCal.

I live in the San Gabriel Valley but work in West LA (28 miles each way). Commute isn't an issue, 30-40 mins if I leave after 10am (WFH, request flexible hours every job, rarely have in-person meetings until 11am). I work til 7-8pm, so no traffic in evenings. I hate traffic so I've created a workaround for now.

My BF on the other hand moved in and commutes 120 miles per day to South OC in traffic. He wants to stay in LA and that trumps his desire to live in OC (again). His iPhone reads him books and RSS feeds so he says there's pretty much no commute for him as he was spending two hours per day doing this stuff already.

My rent is around $700 with utilities when I have two roommates. Currently one vacant room (LOL $550/mth, any takers!?) but it's still cheaper to pay the entire rent on the house vs. a one-bedroom decent apartment near my office. Plus I really value the quiet neighborhood and space a house gives us.

I vote for sharing a house with roommates. Mine are usually never home so my BF and I have the house to ourselves.

Well as someone who has done an ~85 mile roundtrip commute (wake up at 4AM, out the door at 5AM, office by 6, leave at 3, home anywhere between 4 and 5...sometimes later) for a few years now, I can say the value of a short commute is growing.

Unfortunately the reason I have the commute is that my wife bought this house before we were married. It works for her job, which is 10 minutes away without traffic. Not so much for mine. We could move to a more central location for both, but need some of these damn foreclosures to clear out of the neighborhood first. I do have a bus option if I want it that will take me to a 5-10 minute walk from the office, but it currently costs more than driving my 13 year old Civic.

If I were on my own? I'd cut it down to a reliable 20 minutes or less. I could afford an apartment that is walking distance from my office, but would probably cry every month writing a check that large for a small space. Of course some days, I think it would sure be nice to be living in that $1900 1-bedroom and be home with plenty of time to work out and make dinner.

And I'd look for a job closer to home, but there just aren't that many in my line of work.

Regardless of how you "feel" psychologically about the commute, there are very real physical consequences. High stress, noise, and constant attention levels for a couple hours of traffic driving create all sorts of intangible health issues - weakened immune system, memory issues, etc. Not everyone reacts the same way, but too much cortisol isn't good for anyone. Here's some interesting reading on various stress-related health effects -

gpandy said:   @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.
It's only $40/month, so I'm sure you can spare the extra if you want to. More importantly, you can always take the Roth principle/contributions back out with no penalty, so unless you're saving for some specific near-term goal, it's a free option to contribute and hope you don't need the money that year. You can't easily go back and add more funds later.

Personally, a long commute requires a very large pay difference (at least 15%). I would accept a lot less pay for a 5 min. commute instead of a 40 min one. 35 min extra each way for a year, 4 weeks vacation assumed, is almost 222 hours a month. Almost 9 DAYS extra a year driving back and forth. No thank you.

I moved and started paying $925 (later $975) for a 450 sq ft apartment in order to live 2.5 miles away from work rather than live for free with my parents and drive 45 miles each way to work.
Best decision ever!

I've never understood why people are willing to spend so much of their lives commuting. Life is too short.

How often do you eat on the road due to the longer commute would you eat at home more if home at a reasonable hour? If you spend an extra 5 a workday on food then you would if you could eat at home more then that adds up to 100 a month savings right there.

For 8 years I drove 50 miles each way to work (I was in my mid-20's) and it didn't bother me too much. Now in my 40's I'm 6 miles from work and being close is PRICELESS!

I remember having to drive 40 miles during my internship. It took 1 to 2 hours one way from Irvine to Torrance. We used to carpool every day which helped a lot. If you could find a colleague or friend to carpool with you, it should help. However if you do not have a fixed work schedule, it could be difficult to do. Over the years, I found that driving to/from work more than an 90 minutes a day do have a negative impact to my energy and health. Sometimes it even affects my work performance because I'm tired or even become sick more often. OP is young so he can probably cope with it for a while. I do think though this kind of schedule is unsustainable in the long run.

I used to live in a big city. I paid inflated rent costs to be able to walk to work (8 minute commute [seriously]). In the end it was worth every penny. I enjoyed life more and had ZERO commuting costs. Also on breaks I go home and make a nice lunch as apposed to going out. Saved tons of $$ there too. Coworkers want to go out for drinks after work? Let's all just head to myplace . It was sooo much cheaper than gong out and zero DUI....

Best decisions I have ever made is to cut down my commute (mostly local suburbia trains, so not as bad as what OP is about) from 2.5 hr one way to just 40 minutes one way. I used to wake up at 4:30 am, out by 5:20, shuttle to train station, first train to Trenton, NJ, second train to Philly and finally a shuttle to a work place around 8:00 am. Similar trip back, leaving from work at 4:30pm and arriving back home at 7 (sometime late due to missed train connections). Even though I always have something to read and free time but nothing beats in getting out and back at home by 5:00 pm. Finally I moved closer to work and now I am happy! It was just for one year but I can't take it anymore. I can't imagine driving that much for whole year, I would have killed myself.

Reminds me of bridge story in "Margin Call."

I could never do what you are doing OP. I need more than 2 hours a day to myself, and I'm not even in a relationship at the moment. I like to workout 3x a week, which takes about 1.5 hours, and I like to practice piano every day, which takes half an hour to an hour. These two activities alone would put me over a few days a week. You are not even getting 8 hours of sleep a night.

Why are you socking $500 a month away in liquid savings - what do you plan to do with it? If you are trying to build an emergency fund, you could use your roth IRA as an emergency fund for now (make sure to move the money to a money market or an equivalent with very low risk), then when you have enough outside the roth to be an emergency fund, convert the funds in the roth back to your stock/bond allocation.


I did pretty much the same thing you did when I graduated college, granted, gas was ~$1/gallon back then (mid 90's) and there weren't the sheer amounts of traffic on the roads that there is now.

Your quality of life is something that's hard to put a dollar amount on, but IMHO, being in your mid-20's should be your fun time (just one thing to think about: meeting someone to date - you're in your prime years).

Bite the bullet and move closer. Best move I ever made. It will suck to look back and say "I wish I had that time in my life back"?


If you try to put a price on leisure time, I promise you'll realize in 10 years that you greatly undervalued it.

For about the last 18 months, I've been doing a commute similar to yours - 100 miles round trip, about 65 mins each way. I got used to it. 7 months ago, we had a daughter. The commute got a little harder on me due to lack of sleep, and much harder on my wife, who was doing all of the pickups and dropoffs at daycare because I also commuted the opposite way from her.

I just started a new position that has me 25 mins from work, 45 mins all-in with a dropoff. Yes, I am saving about $12 per day in gas and tolls, but I have at least an extra hour at home with my family, plus the extra time with my daughter (and wife if we drive in together).

Now, I'm 30, and you're in your 20's. Just apply something other than family time. Will you be closer to friends and things to do? Easier to go out at night or on weekends? I know FWF is very financially motivated, but don't give up the best years of your life to save a couple hundred bucks. I promise that by the time you're my age, you'll wish you'd taken the experience - I did, and wouldn't have traded the fun and experiences for anything resembling $2-300 a month.

There will come a time in your life, maybe soon, maybe not so soon, where time to yourself is just hard to come by. You see your friends a little less as you start a family. I'd prefer to maximize all of that if the price is $300 a month. I'd value my free time at significantly more than that.

Living with that commute means you value your money more then your life. Something needs to change.

Read this.

I have always paid extra to be relatively close to work (commutes of 5-45 minutes for the most part). I now telework and honestly it would probably take $20-30,000/year extra to get me back to working in an office. I love working from home and seeing my family and being able to take bike rides during my lunch hour.

Do you commute into the city? If so, can you take a train? Can you work at home for some portion? There might be other options other than status quo and moving right next to your work. If you move to a town with a direct or express train into the city, it can be a great way to get in. You can often get much better deals on train line towns than direct suburbs.

I recently accepted a position with an absolutely awesome company...but it would mean at least 1.5 hours in the car each day. The company was awesome, I would have loved it, but at the end of the day I had to revoke my acceptance. I just couldn't get over the commute and I wasn't ready to move. Instead I decided to stay at my current job that is about a 10 minute drive from my house. It hurts me to think about what I gave up, but I'm confident that I made the right decision.

Most people don't calculate the true cost of commuting.

At a minimum you should consider .20 per mile for fuel and maintenance / depreciation. (I realize this number is very low. For most people it is probably at least .30 - .40 per mile. - Even if your car is paid for, or you get good deals on cars, your car looses value and costs something for every mile you drive.)

You should generally consider some hourly rate for your driving. Some things to consider are: What is your hourly rate working? Is driving more or less desirable than working? How much do you value your free time? How are you doing financially?
(This number can be higher or lower than your hourly wage. If you make $30 an hour at work you might say driving costs $20 per hour or you might say it costs $50 per hour)

General formula
Cost of driving = Extra miles * .3 + Extra Hours Driving * Hourly rate for driving.

Compare this rate to your increased rent cost of living closer to work.

As others have said: Hopefully you can find something affordable close to work that you are satisfied with.

I read an economic study on happiness. Changes in the size of one's house changed happiness for about 3 months, while changes in commute length led to permanent changes in happiness.

So I live by the following rule: move as close as you can while picking a smaller home to keep costs even.

What about time for strategic planning?

You're 25 and have been working for 3 years. What do you see next? What do you want to see next? What steps can you take to move in that direction? Is there something you can learn? Some networking you can do? And in this economy, perhaps the most important question is What will you do if this job goes away?

No matter what the answers to these questions are, having the time and energy tackle this type of planning and action is important. I would suggest that it is worth $300 a month. You could even go as far as deciding on an hourly wage for strategic planning to ensure that you get in $300 of work for gpandy, Inc. every month.

Also, the net difference may be less than you calculate. Less stress usually equals more thoughtful spending.
Plus, the less harried you are, the more you will notice and be able to accept other opportunities. Sell things on eBay for 5 hours a week or find a part-time Saturday gig. You could make up $300 a month pretty fast if you are not already dead from the week.

Edit: added idea about hourly wage

I have always lived less than 2 miles from work. Staying closer has way too many advantages.
1) You can never worry about traffic
2) Save on gas
3) come home for lunch if you like
4) Never worry about "forgot X", "forgot Y"
5) Work on weekends and holidays
6) Easy access to lab if you're in a software/IT field
7) Lower probability of getting tickets

I always paid a premium on rents but IMO that was worth it and I was in my mid-20's too when I made this decision

Ive gotten outta the shower at 746 and was punched in at 755. To avoid the occrance on my record plus not spending a lot on gas is priceless.

I would kill for a short commute like I use to have... I use to live 3 miles from work, like the other poster above I would sleep in while all my coworkers commuting close to an hour. I could go home for lunch, better food and occasional wife "benefits" at lunchtime are priceless.. I always figured I had 5 additional hours more than my coworkers and could drive my V-10 E350 passenger van if I wanted because fuel was not an issue... I used less fuel, less wear and tear, vehicles held their value better....

The only thing I may have given up living close to work, our schools that my children went to were less than outstanding. There were other options for schools, charter and early college alliance with a local university which two of my chilren attended for "free" ...

If you're not worried about schools and the neighborhoods near your office are safe I would do it in a heartbeat.

No commute stress
Less $ spend on fuel
More time for yourself
Opportunities for exercise 10hrs a week freed up.
10hrs a week for a part time job.
Able to work 10hr of overtime effortlessly..

I currently drive 30miles/30min commute at it's at my limits... I start at 6am to avoid traffic and allows me get out early to avoid traffic on the way home.

I don't know about a Klondike bar... But I would kill for a 5 minute commute...

The biggest downside to the short commute... My car never warmed up on the way to work... Oh how I suffered...

Live close to where you work, this comes from experience. Lived in DC most of my life, wife and I would commute in together, about 34 miles each way. That would be 1.5-2 hours each way(including usage of HOV lanes). Our lives revolved around work m-f. This is ok until we had kids, then our life was dropping daughter off at 5:30am and picking her up around 6:30pm at night. We only really spent time with her on weekends.

We moved and are still amazed by how much better life is. We can actually go out at night on a weekday and take care of things. We can play with the kids and it actually had the side benefit of really freeing up our weekends. Weekends use to be only for chorus for the most part. We now plan activities on the weekends, chorus are taken care of during the week.

Will never spend 3 hours a day in traffic again....

Something I didn't see mentioned, and may or may not be feasible is renting a room/hotel somewhere in close proximity to work and keeping your place as well?

Maybe there is the opportunity for some arbitrage - eg using Priceline rewards card, taking some of your commuting budget, and staying near to work 1-2 days a week? Or using AirBnB?

It's been beaten to death but you can't put a price on having extra personal time in the prime of your life.

This is an absolute no-brainer.

Your savings will be reduced $350/mo by moving closer
To spend $350/mo on gas (for your commute distance) you need a car that gets 23MPG minimum to break even.
None of the above includes costs of increased accident risk, toll on your body, car maintenance, depreciation, etc.

So if you're driving a car that gets 23MPG to work, you're breaking even on the gas. The time it takes, toll on yourself and the car, and everything else is all something you're willfully giving up for free.

I would make that decision in about 2 mins. Pack up your stuff and move closer to work as fast as you can!

I live a mile away from work and walk whenever possible. It's around a 10 minute walk and a 2-6 minute drive depending on traffic. I highly recommend it. I used to have a 15 minute commute, which wasn't horrible but I wouldn't put up with more than 25.

I realize this may not be an option in SoCal, or with this particular job, but living within biking distance is fantastic. Commute = exercise, clears your mind and has great health benefits, assuming you don't get run over.

I have always lived within 10 miles of work (6-7 most of the time). I paid extra for this (I had friends that lived about 30 minutes away). I can tell you that in the long run the extra $300 a month (almost 50% more) (this is in the midwest (Cincinnati/Columbus)) is worth spending. Now mind you this was always in nicer neighborhoods. You get more time to yourself, you have the ability to run home in case you forget something or have a pet etc. You can eat at home some days (I did this some months). The people that saved money, ended up stuck in traffic in bad weather so while on a bad day your 10 minute commute becomes 20, on a bad day their 30 or 40 min commute becomes 1.5 hours. It's not worth it, that extra time can be spent gaining new skills, taking a course, researching stocks etc so that in the long run you're not really saving $500 you're losing time which could be used to gain more than $500.

fatwallet21 said:   I have always lived less than 2 miles from work. Staying closer has way too many advantages.
5) Work on weekends and holidays

You are a sick person if you find working weekends and holidays to be an advantage.

New FWF tactic: get a 24 Hour Fitness membership near your work. Live in your Crown Vic in the parking lot and use the gym for personal hygiene.

I like the luxury of being able to receive a text message from the employees then start heading into the office. I live about 5 minutes from my office. I am a lazy bastage tho and hate to drive. Living closer to the office has been awesome. I am further from friends and night lift tho. O well. Saves me $ and keeps me out of trouble.

I was only doing a 40 min round trip tho. Yours is nuts. You also need to factor in the gas $ too.

Crazytree said:   New FWF tactic: get a 24 Hour Fitness membership near your work. Live in your Crown Vic in the parking lot and use the gym for personal hygiene.

For this purpose instead of a crown Vic you'd want a conversion van where the rear seat folds into a bed, or if you're the hippie type a
Vw vanagon camper (pre 75 to avoid CA smog checks)

OC is far from the cheapest area to rent. There has to be a location near your job with comparable expenses.

OP, since you have no kid. You don't need to worry about school district and some other things. By all mean, move closer to work.

Kanosh said:   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.

Yup, living out of the van and join a gym to shower and work out = saves lots of $ for some inconvenience.

My roundtrip is 100 miles a day also. Up at 0400 and back home at 3:30 PM. I can live with it. But if I was getting home as late as you. I'd move in a heartbeat. Time is what I value and you don't have enough personal time.

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