About 5 weeks ago, my office moved. It is still in the same city, only it moved “across town”. None of my coworkers seemed all that excited about the move and many of them are still grumbling about the added commute (we are now much further from the highway). It seems that the majority of the grumblers have added 15-20 more minutes to their commutes. I have tried various new ways to get to work, but I have discovered that there’s no way around the fact that my commute has also grown an additional 20 minutes.
For me, this makes my one-way drive just shy of 90 minutes. That time can vary considerably from 75 minutes to over 100 minutes due to any number of variables along the way.
Our original goal when I took this job was to move closer to work within a few years, but I must admit (and I do quite often) that 3 hours every day in the car is wearing on me. I do realize that I’m not the only person in the world with a commute. But it has made me think more about energy and family time. We’ve discussed the cost of my commute versus moving closer and it isn’t something that is easy to correct right now. It looks like this could potentially be something I will deal with for some time.
Work from home, you say? As things appear right now in our department, working from home 1 day or so per week isn’t an option, so this commute is 5 days per week, no matter what the weather or traffic may be doing.
Switch jobs? I think the benefits and potential are worth staying at Yale. Not really an option.
Thinking about this has made me curious: What is the true cost of commuting?
From an economic perspective, commuting isn’t cheap. But when living close to work isn’t an option, you do what you can. I found this article about the true cost of commuting. Interesting but when you can’t just change your circumstances, you have to see what your options are.
Between the two sites, my average estimate for the cost of my commute is $925 per month/$11,100 per year. OMFG.
I ran numbers to see what the cost would be from some neighboring towns and they numbers are closer to $195/month and $2350 per year. Good grief.
Now, I drive a car that is pretty cheap. It’s paid off, it gets 40 mpg, I don’t carry collision coverage and it’s fairly low maintenance. This is my chariot:
I drive through a fairly rough neighborhood. Despite its appearance, this car is probably ideal for my commute. Even with the damage (from being rear-ended 2 months ago) and at over 170k miles, I still get decent gas mileage.
And there’s an emotional cost as well, per this Article “Commuting makes you unhappy.”
Now, I’ve commuted before. Before kids, I commuted 60 miles per day from Brewster, NY to Norwalk, CT for over 2 years (60-70 minutes each way). As we had the boys, I commuted 60 miles per day from Danbury, CT to Waterbury, CT for 5 years (35 minutes each way). Then, for 2 years, I enjoyed a 6 minute, 2.5 mile commute.
Now, I’m at 80 miles per day. Best case scenario, I’m driving for 2.5 hours each day at a minimum. I leave the house at 7 am. I get home between 6:30 and 7 pm – when I actually leave at 5 pm.
I could potentially take a train to work. I’d have to catch the 5:31 am train to get to work by 8:30 am and maybe I’d be back home by 8:05 pm. My job does contribute to train passes but I’m not sure the 5 am-8 pm away-from-home time for an 8 hour work day is really worth it.
I am tired. This may be a first world whine to some people, but I don’t care. I’m tired. Driving in Connecticut can really wear you out. But, on a positive note, I’m overcoming much of the angst and the potential depression by listening to old CDs (that I just found in our attic) and my audiobooks (which can range from Brene Brown and Pema Chodron to Harlan Coben and Nelson DeMille depending on my moods). NOTE: I know some people use their commute for making calls. I truly hate talking on the phone while driving, so don’t expect me to ever answer my phone if you know I’m in the car.
The parenting cost is creeping more into the forefront of my mind and is bothering me more than the economics or my own sanity.
I can’t put the kids on the bus in the morning. I can’t get them off the bus in the afternoon. I cannot get them to doctor or dentist appointments. I do not attend school meetings, unless I take ½ day off. I don’t do any grocery shopping, because my wife don’t want me to run errands on the way home, she wants me home.
Then, both boys want me to attend their stuff, which I should. Dylan wants me to be at Cub Scouts and Andrew has asked when I can coach his baseball team.
At the end of the day, this post is simply a rant to myself. I don’t have a solution yet. I’m not really in a position to change our circumstances, but really evaluating all of this makes me realize that I’m not just being whiny.
At some point, some day, I will need to change this scenario. But for now, I’m working on coping with it and making the best of it, enjoying the scenery though western and central Connecticut.