The Ever Increasing Commute

Over the years, my commute time has steadily grown.

When I first came to the city, I could make it between my apartment and office 20 minutes, door-to-door.

Then our company moved across the river and my commute increased to 30 minutes.

Then I bought my condo in a slightly less central suburb further from transit and it catapulted to 45 minutes.

That is, of course, assuming it isn’t raining or snowing, which confuses our subway system. On those days my commute can be as long as an hour and a half. These instances haven’t really become more common over time, but they have certainly been a more grating. I’ve not infrequently the past few months left my office right at 5 to catch a 6:15 exercise class near my house (<5 minutes) only to be fifteen minutes to late.

One of the things I’m prioritizing for my next job is to work somewhere closer to where I live. 30 minutes on normal days by subway on my side of the river so I have an easy (< 3 mile / 1 hour) walk when the subway is rolling over playing possum.

Before you suggest it: yes, I listen to podcasts and audiobooks and music, etc. Sometimes, though, I just want to get home on time.

How long is your commute? What’s the longest commute you are willing to endure?

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9 thoughts on “The Ever Increasing Commute

  1. Right now – 5 minutes by car, 25-30 minutes by foot. It’s a total life changer. My last commute was about 45 minutes (car to BART, very short walk), and that was mostly acceptable. Before that it was about a 25 minute non-freeway drive in LA area. I had a 5 minute drive when I was in the midwest too.

    So, I think it really really depends. I’m highly reluctant to give up my 5 minute commute, but something about 30 minutes would be OK if I had no choice. And of course, if I had to, I would do longer. I might have to some day, it is a total fluke my work is so close and there aren’t so many options.

    There are some cool jobs that are mega-commutes with shuttles and I almost applied for one that was a really really good fit. But… I just can’t.

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    1. Very jealous of your current commute. There are a few really early stage startups within a 10 walk from my condo, but the drop in salary (~50-60%) would not be worth the trade, I think.

      Totally agree with you on the “just can’t” nature of mega-commutes though. A lot of big companies around here are, bafflingly to me, developing campuses out in the most annoying-to-get-to transfer-at-least-three-times-to-get-there areas of the city. There’re not enough RSU’s in the world that can get me to commit to a 1.5 hour commute.

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  2. I’m about 10-15 minutes, by either bike or car (car takes the same time because the walk from the parking lot to the building is far!). One summer I commuted 1.5 h by train to an internship, and it was rough. I had all these grand plans for catching on up work on the train, but I mostly ended up…sleeping. I do like a short bit of commute though, because it gives me a nice “zone out” time, as long as it doesn’t suck up my energy.

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  3. I did a nearly 2.5 hour commute each way (walking/bus and a commuter train) while I was clerking. It was definitely way too much, and would have been completely incompatible with doing any chores (except the ones that I absolutely needed to do to get myself fed every day), much less if I was a parent. Because the commuter train was so comfortable and the time I spent on the train so long, I could use that time somewhat productively (working, reading, browsing the web, and reading/writing for the blog), but either way, never again! I walk about 20 minutes to and from work now, which is unbelievably luxurious.

    Where I grew up, though, I don’t think any of my friends’ parents (due to where offices were located and parents choosing to live in good school districts) could realistically have much less than a ~30-40 minutes commute by car. In the NYC metro area too, it seems like tons of people just end up needing to do these really long commutes to live somewhere they can afford to raise a family while still working in the city… I worry that I’m doomed to returning to a pretty long commute at some point in the foreseeable future.

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    1. OMG 2.5 hours is killer. Glad you survived!

      I grew up in a mid-sized car commuting city, but one with really good highway infrastructure. Most folks we knew growing up probably had a commute of 15 minutes or less. Never would want to move back there for many reasons but, man, that commute.

      A lot of my coworkers right now have 1 hour+ commutes, especially those in the far off suburbs on the commuter train. I thought I’d get around the worst of it by living in one of the more central suburbs. But even then…

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  4. Shortest – 15 min walk (probably a couple mins to drive).

    Longest – probably now, about an hour door to door on PT and a bit of walking to stops, but I did once live in a place with very unpredictable traffic where it could easily be 1.5 hours on a bad day.

    An hour is pretty common in Aucks and is about my upper limit.

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    1. 15 minute walk sounds like a dream! Our metro area average is also about 45-60 minutes a day. I think about how quality of life would improve so much if our transit system was upgraded and we got even half that time back.

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