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Page history last edited by Holly Swyers 6 years, 5 months ago

What is a reasonable commute and why?


Commuting is an inevitable factor of a majority of work and job opportunities in American society. People must decide if it is worth transportation costs and time that it takes to get to their prospective jobs. Depending on the location of where people live there is a difference in opinion of what a reasonable commute looks like. Commuting looks different for everyone depending on if they drive cars, take the trains, use public transit, or walk to work. 



A major consideration about any commute is what modes of transportation are available. Can you get to work by car, train, public transit, biking, or walking? Of the available modes of transportation, which ones are quickest? Most pleasant? Involve the least traffic? Is most flexible?



Pay attention to how much time it takes to get from home to work. Also consider the commutes of your spouse, children, or other people you live with; if you are going different directions, it is probably best to ensure that no one in the household has a commute of longer than an hour (Chris Lewis). Large metropolitan areas like Chicago might demand longer commutes, especially when jobs are far away from affordable housing options. Ultimately, a reasonable commute is highly dependent upon the local culture where you live. In some places a ten-minute commute is reasonable, while in others, an hour is. 



As a general rule, a dream job or a job that ignites passion can be worth a longer commute or make a longer commute more reasonable. Even a job that is less emotionally satisfying can be considered as having a fair commute if the compensation is right, as was explained by Vince Vonnegut: “You have to decide for yourself what you view as fair for how your employers compensate you." Each workplace has its own compensation structure, and for some, transportation costs are included in benefits packages. Some workplaces offer work-from-home options and summer hours that make longer commutes more feasible because they are made less often or happen during less traffic heavy. Look for clear communication in office environments about commutes.



For people with families, make sure you factor in your children’s schedules or day-care availability when considering a commute. Les Fossel stated, “If you have kids, you don’t want your kids to grow up knowing a day care person better than yourself, so you want to find a job that is close enough so you can raise your kids." Make sure you also consider the importance of family timea long commute could impact your relationships to your families.


Home life

Where you choose to live and why can make a big difference to how you feel about a commute. Commuting from a city to the suburbs vs. from the suburbs to the city are very different experiences, and both are different from commuting within suburbs or commuting in more rural places. Commuting can affect how you run your household and how much you choose to rely on hiring people to help with chores or how often you order in food. For some people, apartment living helps mitigate a commute by reducing time on yard work and similar outdoor home maintenance. Having accommodations closer to your work and cuts commute time down. 


Leisure time

Give thought to how much you prioritize leisure time and how much time you want to put into activities outside of work. When considering the location of a job, ask yourself, “Is it close to areas where you can have a social/personal life and be able to enjoy yourself in your free time?” (Bret Kipling). 


Life Fulfillment

Other considerations about a reasonable commute include personal values, mental health, friends, and physical health. You may find your commute to work as time to de-stress from a busy day at the office, or to mentally prepare to start a day in the office: “You want time to relieve the stress and decompress and start your day” (Hanna Dreier). A reasonable commute leaves time for people to still have a healthy balance in their life.


This page was developed from interviews with:

Hanna Dreier, Bret Kipling, Les Fossel, Vince Vonnegut, Chris Lewis



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