This is going to scare a lot of you.
You will leave comments telling us that you are the exception to these statistics. You will extol the virtues of your car commute. You will say that children should be brought up with backyards and quiet streets.
I get it. We all get it. But some of the numbers don’t add up.
It is ridiculous to commute by car to work if you realize how expensive it is to drive, and if you value your time at anything close to what you get paid. – Mr Money Mustache
If you can, go read this article in The Guardian titled The Secrets of the World’s Happiest Cities. If you have a bit more time go check out this post on the personal finance blog Mr. Money Mustache The True Cost of Commuting.
Do you need to declutter your commute? I know this is a challenging question because for a lot of people commuting doesn’t feel like a choice. It just is. It’s what we do for the jobs and the homes we want.
But today let yourself imagine a life without a car commute. Perhaps you walk or cycle to work allowing you to get some exercise and fresh air. Or you take transit for 30 minutes and it’s a good 30 minutes where you can read or get a few work items out of the way so that you can head home a little earlier in the evening. Imagine how that would change your life if you’re currently commuting by car.
Now, read the following statistics taken from The Guardian article which is an excerpt from the book Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design.
- A person with a 1 hour commute has to earn 40% more to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office.
- People who endure more than a 45-minute commute were 40% more likely to divorce.
- People who live in monofunctional, car‑dependent neighbourhoods outside urban centres are much less trusting of other people than people who live in walkable neighbourhoods where housing is mixed with shops, services and places to work.
Need a few more shockers to help shake you out of the commuter mindset? From Mr Money Mustache:
- The 40 minute car commute for a couple driving separate cars is conservatively costing them $125,000 over 10 years and 1.3 years of worth of working time each.
- Think it’s too expensive to own a home closer to work? MMM says each mile closer to work saves you enough money to take out $15,900 more of mortgage.
Wait, wait, I already know what you’re going to say. Just like we’ve heard about the sheer insanity of car commuting before we’ve also all heard all the reasons why people want/need to live far away from their jobs.
I can’t find a job close to home. Then move closer to your job. If you have to take a smaller salary to do that keenly examine the true cost of your commute (see MMM’s post for more on that dilemma).
I love my big house. Then accept that you will lose hours, weeks and days of your life for that house. Accept the hidden costs of commuting that will impact your health and well-being.
I need to live outside the city to get away from it all. Maybe you won’t feel the need to get away from it all if you can walk to work in fifteen minutes instead of spending two hours in your car.
Yes, you can have a long car commute and still be healthy and well and have time for the good things in life. But you are an exception to the rule if you are able to make this a reality. We always want to search out for that one case that defies the odds. And there is always one. But these people are not the rest of us. The rest of us don’t want to cook a dinner from scratch every night after sitting in traffic for an hour or we don’t feel like getting up at 4am for that run before starting our 90 minute drive into the city.
Look, I know it can’t be perfect.
We can’t ‘have it all’ where we live either. But we’ve chose to live an equal distance between town/amenities, my husband’s job and the school my older son will attend in the fall so that we can spend less time in a car and more time on things we like. I still have to drive to my Crossfit gym and no matter how many maps or rental listings I look at, there is no area or home that meets every single one of our needs and wants.
But the home and location we’re in is pretty good. Fifteen minute walk to town (groceries, library, playground), corner store two blocks away, my husband has a spectacular 18 minute walk to work along a sea side path and when the weather is decent I can cajole my four year-old into walking up a pretty steep hill to get to his gymnastics class. The beach is across the street for days when it’s not raining sideways. We drive a few times a week at most.
Yes, we don’t have a yard. Yes, we live in an apartment. I can hear my neighbors speaking French in the hallway as they go out. But is an hour in the car everyday and becoming a two car family, not to mention more rent and more house work, worth it to live with no wall adjacent neighbors and a back yard? Not for my family.
I want to hear from those of you with no commutes and short commutes and long commutes. How does it impact your life? Do you think there are other options that would give back to you in time, money and health? What’s holding you back from cutting your car commute?