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Your Commute Is Killing You
May 28, 2011 8:29 PM   Subscribe

One of the best things you can do to increase your happiness is to move closer to where you work. [Previously]
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear (161 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Is this something you'd have to own a car to understand?"

-- bike commuter
posted by circular at 8:34 PM on May 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Is this something you'd have to have a job to understand?"

-- american.
posted by stavrogin at 8:36 PM on May 28, 2011 [82 favorites]


This is truth. I speak as someone who used to commute 100 miles each day. I now commute 12 miles each day. I am that much further from an early grave.
posted by blucevalo at 8:37 PM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I live in the city and work in the deep burbs. My commute is just under 45 minutes to the office, and about 50 the other way. It would kill me to move closer to where I work.
posted by Dragonness at 8:42 PM on May 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


But isn't being unhappy how you know you're doing a good job?!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:44 PM on May 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


I know this to be true! And in a month, I will be living within walking distance of work, cutting my 2 hour daily commute down to almost nothing! OH THE GOOD LIFE I WILL LEAD
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:45 PM on May 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


I went from a 90m door-to-door on a good day that involved a bus to a train and then walking crosstown to the office to a 20m door-to-door comprised of two subway lines and a short walk on either end. I've seen some trade offs.

I miss the "me" time on the train. Thinking, reading, napping, whatever. On the plus side, I can sleep later and even though I work later, I can still do errands on the weekdays. Down side? Everything in the city is more expensive. I miss space.

I'm toying with moving somewhere between these two extremes but haven't decided.
posted by TravellingCari at 8:47 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, not exactly always true.

I work as an academic at an urban college campus. I increased my happiness greatly by moving *further away* from work, albeit to a different neighborhood in the same city and a mere 25 minute commute by subway, where I had formerly lived a couple of walking-distance blocks away. I found that I no longer had the urge to go in all the time for every little thing, or to go back after coming home, or over the weekend to get the one book I was missing, etc. And I stopped seeing people I knew from work (most of whom lived near the office too, this being a university campus) every time I went out. And I stopped eating at the same restaurants on my private time as I ate at every day for lunch and many evenings for work-related functions. I realize I am not the case being represented here, of course. I have the option, very often, of working from home, and going in to work at all is usually going to be less productive than avoiding the place so I can get actual work done. So maybe the key to happiness is not just moving closer to work, but not going "to work" at all. But I will never live so near my campus again, I hope, as I used to do.

Ah academia. It does have its charms.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:48 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a five minute walk to work. Previous job was ten.

I will never own an automobile ever again. It gives you the opposite of freedom.
posted by bardic at 8:49 PM on May 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


You are not exercising, doing challenging work, having sex, petting your dog, or playing with your kids (or your Wii). You are not doing any of the things that make human beings happy. Instead, you are getting nauseous on a bus, jostled on a train, or cut off in traffic.
Huh. I'm another bike commuter, so I am exercising when I commute, although not very strenuously. I guess that I have found commuting by car pretty soul-crushing, but I haven't really felt the same way about other kinds of commutes. I've had some long public transit commutes, but I could read and therefore didn't really mind it. Do they differentiate between different modes of transportation?
posted by craichead at 8:49 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah as someone with a wife and a 1-year-old I absolutely have to work exercise into my commute. We moved from Calgary back to our home town of Victoria in part to be able to do that year-round. Currently I live ~8 miles from work and my solution is to ride one way and run the other, and then the next day I reverse it. I have to load the bike up with two days worth of food and clothes, and having a shower at work is key, but getting home at 5:30 with all the day's communting and exercise done is golden. I can relax and drink a beer and have time to make a proper meal and play with my daughter, and we can all go to bed early. We only need one car, too, so I save a huge amount on gas and car payments and insurance.

A cultural shift needs to take place where we stop being such wimps and realize that a 20-mile round-trip commute on a bike is not painful or even unenjoyable - fit, young people at work constantly wonder how I can ride for 16 miles (30 minutes each way at a good clip) every day. This is before I tell them that I run one way. Workplaces also need to be aware that the presence of good shower facilities are critical to employee morale.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:51 PM on May 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


I only work 543 km from where I live and I have to drive... So I guess I agree
posted by mrgroweler at 8:54 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, living close to work is a luxury that is mostly determined by chance, given the vagaries of marriage, healthcare, work and etc. But whatever you can do to live near your workplace is worth it. I live about 10 minutes from work by bike or car, and it has been very good for my mental health.

Although commuting by bus or bike for a half an hour, which I used to do, wasn't a bad way to start the day. More than that: not good.
posted by kozad at 8:58 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Is this something you'd have to own a car to understand?"
-- bike commuter


This is something I’m curious about. It takes me about 15 minutes to walk to work. Previously, it was 15-minute trip on public transit. I’ve never ridden a bike or driven a car to work. I have coworkers who ride their bikes to work and from listening to them talk about their commutes, it sounds pretty stressful (and dangerous). Recently, someone on my team was hit by a cab on their morning ride in. I wonder if there is research comparing driving, taking public transit, biking, and walking to work in terms of happiness.

I only work 543 km from where I live and I have to drive... So I guess I agree

Wow! That’s crazy.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 8:59 PM on May 28, 2011


I work from home, so having a commute would actually be nice. I live in the same town as jimmythefish above (in Victoria) so he's inspired me to get on my bike a bit more.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:59 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a 40 minute commute, and I was surprised to hear that only 1/6 Americans has it worse than that.

My commute's broken up, though, 10 minutes walk to station, wait for train, etc etc. Perhaps this is why it doesn't feel so soul crushing? Not sure.
posted by hackly_fracture at 9:05 PM on May 28, 2011


I have a 15 minute walk to work, and I come home for lunch. But, I'm interminably single, and have no-one to divorce. So you tell me.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:06 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Within limits. I lived 2 blocks from my last place. Now I'm even closer and just looked at an apartment across the street.

Too close and all you see is a teeny tiny section of the city you live in. You get into a rut.

So move like 5-10 mins away at a minimum.

100 miles? Fuck that noise.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:07 PM on May 28, 2011


I'm doing something around 180km round trip each day at the moment. The joke is that, because I get paid kilometres, I think I'd be a fool *not* to do it - it's a significant amount each month on top of my salary, and it's paying for the car.

I don't mind the mechanics of the commute, but I have to admit that if I didn't have podcasts and a variety of music to sing along to, I'd probably have a less fun time of it.
posted by clicking the 'Post Comment' button at 9:08 PM on May 28, 2011


I will never own an automobile ever again. It gives you the opposite of freedom.

You do know that owning a car and having to use it to get to work each day are not the same thing, right?
posted by hippybear at 9:08 PM on May 28, 2011 [19 favorites]


Living close to work is a pipe dream for many here in NYC. However, going from a 75-90 min commute each way to working from home has definitely made me much happier. I can sleep a bit longer and instead of getting home at 7 or later, I'm free after 5 or 6 unless I have other work. I also joined a gym that's open much earlier and closes much later than my old gym, so I have much more freedom with my time. So much happier now.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:09 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can walk to work in three minutes if I'm lucky with the traffic lights. It often takes me longer to get to the entrance of my building if I'm unlucky with the lift. My old place was more spacious, had no lift, and was slightly closer to work and I have felt a noticeable hit to my general wellbeing and happiness since moving here.

I think a lot of commute reporting ignores the waiting at each end. My girlfriend used to commute by bus from the suburbs and reported a 20 minute commute. In reality, it took her closer to an hour if you include the walk to the bus stop, the wait, the delays, and the walk from the bus stop at the other end. Her perception of the commute was based on the weekend bus ride, which was always on time and with much smoother traffic. I think that was a coping mechanism.
posted by doublehappy at 9:11 PM on May 28, 2011


You know, in my personal experience this is absolutely true. For the past five school years before this one, I worked literally on the other side of town. I could go either way on the interstate loop and still make it in the same time, about half an hour.

This year, I finally was able to transfer into the school I wanted to work at, which is .4 miles from my house. Besides making it a lot easier to connect to my workplace community, it's like a backdoor raise: since the beginning of the year, I've gone through 2.5 tanks of gas. (~30 gallons)
posted by absalom at 9:12 PM on May 28, 2011


Not a new theory. Yea for the Swedes and all, but a shrink told me years ago that it had been proven through several studies that money could indeed buy happiness, in one of three demonstrable ways: reducing one's daily commute; traveling more often to see family and close friends; and reconstructive plastic surgery.
posted by pineapple at 9:12 PM on May 28, 2011 [19 favorites]


You do know that owning a car and having to use it to get to work each day are not the same thing, right?

I understand that just fine, and I bet bardic does too. I don’t own a car and I never want to. There are too many headaches and it just isn’t worth it. Zipcar takes care of the few times I absolutely have to have a personal vehicle.

I might get a motorcycle or scooter sometime. Might.
posted by spitefulcrow at 9:16 PM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I went from a 25 minute commute by car to the same commute by two bus lines, increasing the time to 30-45 minutes to account for the wait time to switch lines.

The walk from the bus stops took as much time as the walk from the parking lot.

With GPS tracking on the buses I don't have to wait for the first bus and if the second isn't coming soon I might pop in to the grocery store.

Also, I have a Nook and a public library card.

On some days I can go to happy hour and not worry about a DUI. On weekends I get to use the bus pass whenever convenient and use my car solely for the pleasure of driving.

I am much, much happier.
posted by linux at 9:20 PM on May 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Souls Crushed On The Commute
It’s unhealthy, sitting in traffic and wishing I’m anywhere else under the sun. What I’m doing is important to my family. What I’m doing is not worse than what so many other people do, for much less. But thinking about the clock of my life ticking away every day while I’m sitting there, just waiting to be somewhere else, I feel the gulf between my body (where I am) and brain (where I want to be) widening. The two growing further apart, until I’m only aware of the distance between them. ...

Sometimes you try to be in the moment, but the moment sucks, and you think back to another moment, which also sucked, but had a twist ending. Do long, traffic-filled commutes ever come with twist endings? Not the car-accident kind, but the good kind. The kind that will make a moment in your life stick out as so magical it almost makes up for how unbearable everything else was at the time. Something that says, “OK, yes, there was all that, but there was also this.” You inch along and you pray, and the days pass, and you look, and you wait.
posted by kliuless at 9:22 PM on May 28, 2011


Reducing our job commute and our travel time to the things we enjoy most has been a big factor in improving our overall happiness and quality of life. We're much happier in a smaller place close by the things and people we enjoy than we would be in a huge place in the suburbs.
posted by immlass at 9:22 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


As much as I hated my 45 minute Chicagoland commute, I did get to listen to a ton of podcasts that way. I have a 10 minute commute now and I barely catch the news.
posted by desjardins at 9:24 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I commuted to work for nine years from the outer burbs into the city and I'll never do that again. Why the hell would anyone want to spend two hours of their lives every day in the fucking car looking at the bumper of the car in front of you? Four years ago we sold the place in the leafy suburbs and moved into the city where I have a fifteen minute walk to my office. I'm so happy not to have to spend half my life on Rt. 376 waiting to go through the damn tunnel.
posted by octothorpe at 9:25 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I think the destination would be just as important as the commute; I have had only crappy jobs, and I was not any happier walking 15 minutes to my previous crappy job as I am riding the bus for 45 minutes to my present crappy job.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:27 PM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's interesting that the article seemed to speak only, or at least primarily, about car commuters - and not about bus/public transit commuters, who tend to be poorer. Many aren't choosing between a 2-bed apartment and a four-bed house, but between homelessness and a 2-bed apartment a subway and 1-2 buses away from work.

This isn't going to change without more subsidized housing -- and even then, people may not be near their workplace. But I know I've been on public transit where it's taken me an hour to get as far as it would take 15 minutes to drive -- we need to improve transit, as a matter of health (reducing stress) and improving family time.
posted by jb at 9:28 PM on May 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is this something I'd have to not work from home to understand?

Yes, I do know how lucky I am.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:30 PM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I work at home, thus I'm always at work. Am I happier?
posted by Ideefixe at 9:32 PM on May 28, 2011


For the better part of my adult life, I have worked from home. Now that I have kids in school and had to change the school unexpectedly, I am suddenly commuting to take a child to school. I now want to move near the school so that I can again eliminate the commute and just walk them to school (for exercise). But the work from home thing is portable, thank goodness, and is something I planned since my late teens.
posted by acoutu at 9:33 PM on May 28, 2011


Is this something I'd have to not work from home to understand?

Yes, I do know how lucky I am.


Do you also know how lucky you aren’t?

I can’t stand working from home. It ruins my ability to compartmentalize my life into pieces that don’t affect each other. Work should stay at work, and home should stay at home.

If it works for you, and I mean it really works for you, then that’s awesome. But I’d wager that it subtly affects you in ways you haven’t thought of.
posted by spitefulcrow at 9:34 PM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I work at home, for the most part. So many mornings I literally wake up and pull my laptop into bed and work for an hour or so before actually getting up and getting cleaned up for the day.

I still find ways to bitch about it, though. Usually to the cat.
posted by chasing at 9:34 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I work at home, thus I'm always at work. Am I happier?

There's the tendency (now a habit) to check email first thing, and to keep on working... I also tend to work late into the night hammering out copy. It's not healthy.

On the other hand, my wife suffered a herniated disc back in September, so working from home has allowed me to juggle childcare, cooking, cleaning and work (but just barely).
posted by KokuRyu at 9:36 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how this works when you live in a city and commute out to the country? I'm considering taking a job at a tiny college in the middle of nowhere--the town is about 3,000 people. I don't really want to live in a 3,000 population town, so I was considering living in my old hometown, which is a fairly active city of 30,000 with excellent schools (my oldest hits kindergarten this fall.) The commute would be about 45 minutes, but it would be a smooth, straight, low-traffic interstate trip the whole way. No lights, no honking, no slow-and-go, no road rage. You still lose time, but I think it might be worth it to have things like movie theaters, parks and grocery stores around.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:37 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I’d wager that it subtly affects you in ways you haven’t thought of.

For me, it means that sometimes I have to deal with my kitty cat sitting on my keyboard.

But the fact that I can work in bed, or on my laptop on the shitter, or sitting in my lovely window box on a breezy day if I want makes up for it. Plus, I never have to wear shoes.

Working from home is the bestest.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:38 PM on May 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


About 1.5 miles to work for me. Plus a 24-hour grocery store and a 24-hour CVS right next to my home, along with a movie theater and a half-dozen good restaurants. I basically never have to drive if I don't want to. I don't even mind living in this awful climate with these kinds of perks.

Also, finally got back on the overnight shift this year. Life is grand.
posted by Scattercat at 9:40 PM on May 28, 2011


I live 2 blocks from work. Do I win? (No, you work-at-homers don't get to play.)

Unfortunately, one of those blocks is rather heavily crime-ridden so I still drive. But my door-to-door commute is under 5 minutes unless I get really screwed by the stoplight.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:41 PM on May 28, 2011


"And I stopped seeing people I knew from work (most of whom lived near the office too, this being a university campus) every time I went out."

Well, you're an academic so most of your colleagues are venomous rat-snakes, AMIRITE?

Whereas I would be thrilled to run into my coworkers outside of work. Engineers FTW!
posted by Jacqueline at 9:46 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I drove 66 miles to work(each way) six days a week, add on my job was driving 30 miles in 8 hours on the job, then to top it off i drove 110 miles to a ride-along with a senior police officer on the Tijuana Police Dept. on sat. night from 11 pm till 7 am sunday morning to only switch back to my car and drive home another 110 miles. sleep till time to go to the monday early morning work. This routine averaged all 52 weeks a year for 10 years, no wonder i then had a massive stroke. no more driving, just hand push my wheel-chair.
posted by taxpayer at 9:54 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do I win?
No, not really. I've lived in some fairly rough neighborhoods, but I'd be really bummed if I lived somewhere where I was afraid to walk two blocks during the day. That sounds awful.
posted by craichead at 9:54 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


After 30 years of wage slavery, I can assure you that it's the work that's killing you not the commute.
posted by larry_darrell at 9:56 PM on May 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I worked as a contracted courier for a while, so I didn't have to drive TO work (I phoned in to the office in the morning), but I drove between 300 and 350 miles in Phoenix city traffic every day AS work.

I actually loved that job and miss it a lot.
posted by hippybear at 9:56 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think part of this is about predictability. People don't seen to mind traffic-free driving commutes. I walk even though taking the bus would usually be a bit faster - I know that if I leave on time, I'll arrive on time.

Also I don't want to run into my students on the bus. It's awkward.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:07 PM on May 28, 2011


"...I'd be really bummed if I lived somewhere where I was afraid to walk two blocks during the day"

If I was only commuting to/from work during daylight I would be fine walking, and often do walk on days when I know for sure that I'll be coming home before dark.

But until recently I often had class after work, and I still frequently hang out in my office after work to study, read, or just use the faster internet connection / nicer monitors than I have at home. And right before grant proposals are due I tend to put in very long hours because my @#$@# PIs are the worst procrastinators ever. So more often than not, it's well into dark-and-scary time by the time I leave.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:08 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure it's at least partly the quality of your commute that matters. In the past 10 years I have had the following commutes:

1. 10 minute bike ride followed by 30 minute train ride followed by 10 minute bus ride
2. 90 minute train ride (through hills and forests) followed by 10 minute walk (through small town)
3. 5 minute walk (through the CBD)
4. 15 minute bike ride (on cycle paths through the woods)
5. 10 minute bike ride (through the CBD)
6. 30 minute bike ride (on cycle paths through parkland, now)

My all-time favourite was (4), but (2) was actually really nice too, although it probably helped that I only did it three times a week. In the morning I would spend the whole 90 minutes asleep, and in the evening, I would read novels. The train was never crowded. The walk after the train was pleasant and picturesque, and in winter I would buy a handful of chestnuts and sometimes a cup of mulled wine at the station to eat on the way home.

I actually disliked (5) and even (3) more, because they were noisy, scary (cars trying to kill me) and very stop-and-starty (traffic lights).

Number (1) was stressful mainly because of the different connections I had to make, so if one part got delayed then I missed the next part and ended up extra late and stressed. Also there was never really enough time to settle in properly to reading or working before changing to the next connection.

My current commute is not something I really look forward to, unless the weather is really beautiful, but at least it's enforced exercise and Vitamin D exposure.
posted by lollusc at 10:12 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


CBD = Congested Babeathon Dance?
CBD = Cohabiting Bisexual Deer?
CBD = Creepy Brother's Dachshund
CBD = Comprehensive Baboon Dormitory?
posted by hippybear at 10:19 PM on May 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would move if I lived one block from somewhere I was afraid to walk at night for just two blocks. Are there no street lights or traffic?
posted by R343L at 10:22 PM on May 28, 2011


I used to have a 40 minute commute by train all within the isle of Manhattan. One day I just stopped going in, told them I would be working from home and I would come in if I needed to be there for a physical meeting. Now I just roll out of bed and get to work. I have not mastered this though. There are entire weeks I don't leave my apartment,days where I don't wen put on pants, my expensive briefcase is gathering dust, I find myself working until 3am. I am considering *gasp* going back to working at the office.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:27 PM on May 28, 2011


My commute = across the street. It's one of the few things I will miss when I move.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:29 PM on May 28, 2011


I feel like a commute by car, where you have to constantly focus and you can't read or play games, would be much more stressful than by bus or train.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:30 PM on May 28, 2011


hippybear: "CBD = Congested Babeathon Dance?
CBD = Cohabiting Bisexual Deer?
CBD = Creepy Brother's Dachshund
CBD = Comprehensive Baboon Dormitory?
"

Central Business District, aka downtown.
posted by barnacles at 10:32 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Must be the city's culture. When I saw "commute" I only thought "car commute." Our main Freeway is a freaken carpark during peak hour. It must be soul destroying. No way in a pink fit I'd accept a job where I'd have to go thru that for more than 30 minutes [touch wood].

In the comedy movie Crackerjack, the star bases his WHOLE LIFE around the availability of an awesome car parking spot. Man, that concept still makes me chuckle.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:33 PM on May 28, 2011


Right now I'm about 20 minutes away from my job (three stops on the subway), and that feels about perfect to me -- I don't need a car, it doesn't take too long, and I can avoid the too-close rut that Lord_Pall described.
posted by danb at 10:35 PM on May 28, 2011


would be much more stressful than by bus or train.

I find taking the subway during rush hour incredibly stressful, especially in the summer. The platforms are stiflingly hot, the cars are cool but jam packed with people who are seriously on edge. I sweat like a bastard so by time I get to my stop I have just stopped dripping only to have to walk to the office building through the crowds, at which point I am dripping again.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:37 PM on May 28, 2011


I feel like a commute by car, where you have to constantly focus and you can't read or play games, would be much more stressful than by bus or train.

Prezackly. 30 minutes each way in a traffic jam. What would that be worth to me as a swap for me time on the train? At least an hour, I reckon.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:43 PM on May 28, 2011


Three-minute walk, 90-second jog. It's nice coming home every day even when I only get a half-hour for lunch.

Before this place I was a 20-minute bike ride each way, but I enjoyed the miles of biking built in every day. I do have loads of time for my own workouts now, though.
posted by Earthtopus at 10:50 PM on May 28, 2011


It's a nice idea to live closer to where you work, but that's not always affordable. And having a larger range of places to job hunt is probably a good thing if you get canned from the close-to-work job.

Mostly I say this because while I have a short-ish commute (10-15 by bus and 25 on foot, I have no car), if I get canned from the very large employer in my small town, I would be fucked for being able to get to any other jobs. Sometimes you gotta do the long commute if that's all you can get and it's not doable to move 2 hours away all the time.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:57 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've spent the last decade with a 650 metre commute; around 10 minutes walking if I hit the lights right. I've recently (i.e. since spring started) taken to a longer return route home; 3-5 km, so I can spend an hour walking, exploring the inner city and listening to podcasts. It's nice to have the longer commute, but being able to say "fuck it" and dash home when it's raining/cold is nice, too.

Prezackly. 30 minutes each way in a traffic jam. What would that be worth to me as a swap for me time on the train? At least an hour, I reckon.

That's within the range of "typical" values from studies I've seen/done. Transit in vehicle time is somewhere around half as onerous as auto time; time spent outside of transit vehicles is less pleasant than auto in vehicle time. Of the ways to spend time outside a transit vehicle, walking is the most pleasant, waiting for a transfer the least pleasant (waiting for the vehicle initially is in between). Waiting for transfers can be twice as unpleasant as in-vehicle auto time.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:58 PM on May 28, 2011


I had a 3-bus commute for a while. In theory, it was supposed to take 42 minutes; in practice, one of the connections missed the other at least half the time, bringing the total commute to 90 minutes. Occasionally crazy people managed to delay the bus further, including a fugitive who got us all pulled over and searched by a police team, and a memorable character who insisted on stripping naked as he paid his fare. In severe weather, the bus often just didn't come (or came so late it didn't matter), with no announcement whatsoever.

This kind of daily uncertainty eats away at you slowly. I'm sure anyone could deal with it for a month or two, but after two years of dreading the commute, I was a total nervous wreck. I would oversleep by an hour or two, every single morning, because my body just couldn't handle the tension of not knowing how my commute would go. I'd get home at 7 or 8 at night and crash on the couch. Even on the weekend I was exhausted and irritable.

Now I have a job that requires a 20-minute freeway commute (and pays enough to afford a cheap car). The difference in my mental health is astounding. I'm thankful every single day I start up the car, turn on the radio, and arrive at my destination in safety and comfort a few minutes later. I'm even happy when I'm stuck at traffic jams and the poorly timed light that stays red for 5 minutes sometimes, because at least I'm not on that damn bus.
posted by miyabo at 11:01 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Saw "CBD" and up dredged the name "Von Thunen" which is a thought that hasn't been thunk since like grade 8. I ride a streetcar to work, and try to run home. About 8km.
posted by parki at 11:03 PM on May 28, 2011


While living in the Atlanta suburbs I always felt like I had witnessed the absolute worst commutes people would put themselves through -- 40, 50, 60 miles on some of the most congested highways in the U.S. -- and yet subdivisions continued to sprout up one, two, three exits further out of town, and suddenly they were full of people living there, and their cars backed up that much further onto GA 400. It was just complete madness to me that anyone thought subjecting themselves to that commute was worth it. That was back in the early-mid 2000s; it seems like there's a small but serious and growing movement toward moving into inner cities, even in places like Atlanta, and I hope that culturally we're over the hump and realizing humans don't need to live in houses with 500 square feet per person, they need to live in communities with other people and not spend roughly 1/8 of their lives sitting in bumper to bumper traffic.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 11:15 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


But now I spend roughly 1/24 of my life smashed in subways shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers so maybe what the fuck do I know.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 11:18 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


To Australians and New Zealanders, CBD is just another word for downtown. That's been my observation, at least. Other than that I've only read the term in a city planning context.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:35 PM on May 28, 2011


I am a person who had an hour and a quarter commute who is overweight, has insomnia and is recently divorced. But, I don't blame the commute. That was the only time I had peace and quiet and could actually spend me time. I blame the mother of my children for all my problems. And me for marrying her in the first place.

(She is a great mother to our kids at least!)
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:38 PM on May 28, 2011


Wow, I had no idea that CBD was not the standard way to say 'downtown' internationally. Totally normal here (Australia/New Zealand). Sorry.
posted by lollusc at 12:20 AM on May 29, 2011


I feel enlightened to have learned the term "CBD," so no worries.
posted by phenylphenol at 12:31 AM on May 29, 2011


Wow, I had no idea that CBD was not the standard way to say 'downtown' internationally.

It's basically "town" or "the CBD" here in Perth. So when my American roomie started referring to "downtown" I'm all, "Huh? So we go to town and then walk down a hill someplace?"

I love the American slang term "downtown" to describe a spectacular long range shot/throw/kick. Or more correctly: "DOWWN... TOWN!"
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:54 AM on May 29, 2011


This isn't going to change without more subsidized housing -- and even then, people may not be near their workplace. But I know I've been on public transit where it's taken me an hour to get as far as it would take 15 minutes to drive -- we need to improve transit, as a matter of health (reducing stress) and improving family time.

I gave up using the bus to and from work from my inner city suburb around the time it became apparent it was about the same speed as a fast walk, and started using a motorbike or car. If I wanted an hour long commute I would have bought a McMansion along the Kapiti coast, not an 80 year old villa on the side of a steep Hataitai hill. Now it takes me 10-15 minutes to get to work.

The thing is, though, we (Wellington city) pump huge amounts of money into public transport. We gutted an inner-city mall to "make the bus-only lanes more efficient", and it still takes an hour to get from one end of town to the other along the main bus arterial routes. Tens of millions a year are handed over to subsidise bus tickets, but it costs more for a return bus for my wife and I than it does to get an all-day park in town. I don't know what the answer is, but as far as I can see, the bus network that covers the parts of the city I travel around is expensive, slow, and has nasty habits of running red lights, over pedestrians, and not picking up passengers.
posted by rodgerd at 1:04 AM on May 29, 2011


Wow, I had no idea that CBD was not the standard way to say 'downtown' internationally.

Here in Canberra we don't really have a CBD, so the central area (to the extent that there is a central area in this catastrophe of town planning) is charmingly called "Civic". Now when I go home to visit Adelaide I constantly have to remind myself not to call the middle of the city Civic because if I did that even once it would force me to acknowledge that I have become more Canberran than Adelaidean.

Anyway: my 35-minute bicycle commute doesn't bother me at all, but that's probably because apart from a few minutes on either end it's all on a really pleasant offroad path around a lake. The article fails a bit by not mentioning whether its conclusions apply only to driving or to other types of commuting as well.

My guess is that it's really about forms of travel which take control away from the individual, especially when they involve unpredictable amounts of waiting. That means waiting in traffic that may take 30 seconds or 5 minutes to unclog, waiting for busses that may or may not come, standing at traffic crossings watching cars go past for what seems like ages. Those are the stressful parts.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 1:19 AM on May 29, 2011


rodgerd: one thing I know is that Wellington has the least subsidy of any public transport system in NZ. "Farebox recovery" is well north of 50%. I'm not sure what conclusion to draw from that. And I know for sure that I can cycle into town from Hataitai at peak time faster than I can drive.

When the weather's nice I walk though. Walking is how all my best thinking gets done.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:38 AM on May 29, 2011


I'm not sure what conclusion to draw from that.

That something's badly fucked up, given the cost of a number 14 from the dairy to town. If it deigns to stop. Because it would imply that with full recovery you'd be looking at almost the cost of all-day parking *one-way*.
posted by rodgerd at 2:58 AM on May 29, 2011


I used to work a mile from home and I hated it. I'd be stopped in the street by clients on my weekends or lunch hours (I was a divorce lawyer so these were never just 'Hi, how are you?' conversations), and there seemed to be little separation between work and home.

I now have a commute (3 days a week) on public transport that's 45 minutes on a good day, an hour on a bad one. In the mornings, I use that time to get into the mindset of the working day ahead, I read the free Metro paper, and think about what I need to do at work that day. The commute home is decompression time, leaving the office behind, where I read a novel.

This commute is acceptable to me because the public transport is generally very good, and if one line goes down, there are other options. I could drive if I wanted to, but the train goes over a bridge where I look down and see the huge traffic jam I'd be stuck in if I'd driven that day and then I thank goodness I'm in a warm train with something to read and a coffee in my hand.
posted by essexjan at 3:07 AM on May 29, 2011


I'm about to leave a job that requires a 20-mile commute each way. I find it brutal and exhausting, and time-consuming at night, when I have to wait for the local bus (which comes once an hour) and then ride it home. I get out of work at 9pm and don't get home until 11. The good thing about the commute is the time I can spend depressurizing from a busy work day, reading or listening to music, or just doing some uninterrupted thinking. But ultimately, I'm spending that time in a work-related capacity without being paid for it, so I've been a willing participant in my own exploitation.

Aside: I'd love to own a bike, but I'm afraid of paying $400 for one only to have it stolen the next week. Bike theft is huge where I live.
posted by mirepoix at 3:17 AM on May 29, 2011


My commute was killing me until I discovered audio booktorrents. Now I don't even notice my commute and a well-placed jam lets me finish a chapter. It's awesome.
posted by DU at 3:59 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting that I'm not the only one who used to live close to work and moved farther away--or the only teacher. I had a home a quarter mile away from work. I teach in an independent school in an affluent suburb, and I felt as if I was trapped in an eternal parent-teacher conference. We moved into the city, and now I have a half-hour commute and a much more interesting place to live.

But my job keeps getting more demanding, with lots of late meetings, and I can't take the train any more, which bums me out. And commuting by bike on the routes available to me would get me killed. I keep contemplating finding a job in the city, which since I'm 59 in a bad economy is a hard sell. . . . obviously it's not the commute that's killing me.
posted by Peach at 4:03 AM on May 29, 2011


Once upon a time I lived in Canberra and drove to work--half an hour each way including picking up/dropping off kids. Then I lived in England, and caught the train to work--more than an hour each way (from near Oxford to central London) by train and tube. Then to Ireland, and walked to work. But "home" was really a 45 minute flight away plus an hour on the train from Birmingham Airport--wife and daughters still in England, see? Now I live in Doha, and the flight "home" is seven hours (plus another hour on the train at the London end). I'm not sure what all this proves.
posted by Logophiliac at 4:04 AM on May 29, 2011


It's basically "town" or "the CBD" here in Perth. So when my American roomie started referring to "downtown" I'm all, "Huh? So we go to town and then walk down a hill someplace?"

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go
Downtown, things'll be great when you're
Downtown, no finer place for sure,
Downtown, everything's waiting for you
posted by krinklyfig at 5:01 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. I'm amazed my brain couldn't come up with Central Business District. Thanks for the clarification.
posted by hippybear at 5:01 AM on May 29, 2011


krinklyfig: Most people this of this when those lyrics come to mind. I tend to think of this instead.
posted by hippybear at 5:06 AM on May 29, 2011


hippybear, never heard it before now, but the B-52s make that song work better than Petula Clark did.

I'm afraid Seinfeld has ruined me permanently. The first thing that came to mind was the episode where George tries to tease out the meaning of the lyrics for clues as to what his potential job actually is. That happens every time I think of the song now ...

posted by krinklyfig at 5:21 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Back when I was still a software developer, I lived in a suburb on the west side of Denver and had just gotten a job in Boulder, roughly thirty miles to the northwest. I put up with the commute for about a year, then finally got fed up and my wife and I moved up to Boulder.

It was amazing. I specifically remember one day when I managed to leave work, pick up something for dinner, get a DVD at the video store, get home, and vacuum...all in the time it used to take me just to fight traffic to get home. The stress reduction was unbelievable.

Of course, the company laid off twenty of us six months later, and I spent the better part of a year unemployed until I got a job I hated thirty miles back in the other direction on the east side of Denver...but that's another story.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:40 AM on May 29, 2011


I'm with Bardic on not owning a car. Or, more precisely, not commuting by car. I haven't had one in 12 years now, and while it would be nice to have one (for things like going to Costco without getting a friend to take me or doing it by bike), I'm lucky to live in an area with excellent public transportation (though the typhoon tomorrow morning will almost certainly make things miserable).

5-7 minute bike ride to the station, 14 minute ride to Funabashi (long enough to watch things like Robot Chicken), change trains, 25 minute ride (Samurai Jack), then 5 minute bike ride to school. It's usually an hour door to door, but honestly, the train is where I watch TV, or read. Would I like to be closer? Hell yes. I'm not a big fan of waking up at 6 am to be at work by 8, but at least the train is a hell of a lot better than trying to deal with traffic at that hour.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:45 AM on May 29, 2011


During the academic year I have a 20-minute hike to work through a beautiful park trail, and during the summer I work from home. I don't own a car. This suits me perfectly.
posted by oulipian at 5:54 AM on May 29, 2011


I don't get all the commute-hate. When I had my longest commute (about 40 minutes around the Beltway), I really looked forward to the drive. It was the only time in the day I had to myself. There are lots of quality-of-life benefits of living closer to work, and living in a smaller city now I get to take advantage of them, but there's a lot to be said for a very busy mom having a little window of silence and solitude in an otherwise very busy life.
posted by headnsouth at 6:28 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


My wife and I commute about 25 minutes on a toll road that winds through hills and is never crowded. It's pretty nice. We could take the freeway and save some money, but the stress-free drive is worth it.

Also, I see the appeal of not having a car, but if I feel the need to get away from everything, I pack up the Fj and can be on a deserted dirt trail within 20 minutes. Busses don't go there.
posted by Huck500 at 6:31 AM on May 29, 2011


Public transportation would be nice, but since I live/work in different counties, the buses don't connect with one another. Plus, the work county bus doesn't come anywhere near where I actually work (which is surprising, but I don't make the routes).

Biking? BWHAHAHAHA. I'd probably get killed trying to bike on the 55 (marked, but more like 70+) MPH 'highway' with 3 lanes going each direction.

Then again, my work commute is about 15 minutes by car during rush hour (since I go against traffic). (However, to get to where I volunteer is an hour car drive+hour on the train during rush hour. And that's if the trains are actually running properly, which only happens about once a month.)
posted by sperose at 6:37 AM on May 29, 2011


And living in the neighborhood where you teach is about 1000x more stressful than commuting. My wife used to see her students int eh grocery store and complained that she couldn't wear her pajamas or 'Republicans for Voldemort' tshirt.
posted by Huck500 at 6:37 AM on May 29, 2011


I changed jobs recently and my commute went from 40-60 minutes each way through some stressful bits of Boston area traffic (hello newton corner in the afternoon!) to a commute that's either <10min by car or a brisk walk followed by a bus ride. I figure I'm getting back something close to an hour a day. I keep thinking about making a point of putting that hour to good use, but, well, there's the internet. :)
posted by rmd1023 at 6:40 AM on May 29, 2011


It's sort of a mixed bag for me. Up until last year, I spent five years living a block from work. I could be asleep at 8:50 and at my desk (sans breakfast, and with hair still damp from the shower) at 9:00. These days I live over 400 km from work, and although I go in only once a month or so to the office, it is a considerable trip: I will be leaving in an hour for work and it will be about five or six hours' on the road.

So the commute was easier then. Of course, now I live with the Significant Other, so that boosts the happiness considerably. And I work from home most of the time, so my commute is mostly just walking downstairs. As well, I was living in a far-from-perfect; the new house is much more wonderful.

And finally, do not underestimate the impact of where you live not just in the distance but in the surroundings as well -- the CBD, if you will. I do not drive. With a half-hour to spare and Google Maps and Google Earth at my bidding, I have compiled a rough list of old and new. Assuming the arbitrary 850 metres -- the distance to my bank in the old city and the nearest anything in the new -- is "a few minutes walk," here are the lists:

Within a few minutes' walk of the old place:

36 restaurants, twelve pubs or bars, eleven transit routes, six churches, six coffee or tea shops, six fast food places, five hotels or bed and breakfasts, three camera shops (two new, one used), three beauty salons, three bookstores (one used), three musical instrument shops (two for guitars, one for drums), two art galleries, two art supply stores, two car rental agencies, two car washes (one doubles as a dog wash), two gymnasiums, two city parks, two liquour stores, two gas stations, two internet cafés, two drugstores, two furniture stores, two tailors, two video rental places, two veterinarians, two full grocery stores and two ethnic specialty grocery stores, a bakery, a comic books store, a dentist, an electronics parts store, a sex toy shop, a pet shop, a pawnshop, an art school, a yoga studio, a pool hall, a used CD/DVD store, a computer repair place, a martial arts studio, the city's bus terminal, a swimming pool, an indeterminate number of doctors (two medical buildings with about five or six floors each of medical offices: call it fifty various specialists), about three auto repair places (one auto glass, two auto body places), a beer store, a locksmith, a place that sells security cameras, maybe a dozen vague "business consultant experts" which do I know not what, twelve or fifteen various embassies and high commissions, and a bowling alley.

Within a few minutes' walk of the new place:

A bus route and a grocery store.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:41 AM on May 29, 2011


I like my current commute. It's under five miles, so it's a 15-20 minute bike ride, less than 10 minutes in the car, about 20-25 minutes on the bus counting the walk to the stop and the wait, and I could walk if I wanted to take the time.

I had one job, once, where I had to drive an hour and twenty minutes in each direction. I didn't mind the driving itself, but I hated how long it made the work day. There was no time to do laundry, cook a nice dinner, or anything else. That really sucked; if I had had a stay at home partner, or the money to hire staff, I think I wouldn't have minded it nearly as much.

And I need to echo everyone who has said that the worst part of public transit is the transfers. I am ok with a bus or train ride, but I have hated trying to commute when you are dependent on making one or more transfers along the way. Bad weather or crazy passengers, and then the delays cascade and you become super late.
posted by Forktine at 6:46 AM on May 29, 2011


Have any of these studies explored the reasons why these commuters live so far from work? As much as I think that buying in the exurbs to get "more house for your money" is based on utter delusion about what makes for good quality of life, I have to wonder if these studies take into account the stress of losing a job, having to change jobs, having to find two jobs in an region where jobs are moving out from the city to lower-rent outlying areas, or other reasons why people might not live close to work other than wanting a big house or more land. That might take away from "X (that you are alone responsible for) is killing you!" reporting, though.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 6:54 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I live in the city of Richmond, which was recently ranked near the bottom in terms of access to public transportation. So saying, I live near "downtown," and my daily commute takes me out of the city and into some rapidly developing farmland. Except for the days when my girlfriend drives me in (we work for the same company now, so we're saving on gas) "commute" means 20 miles in 30 minutes of driving.
posted by emelenjr at 7:03 AM on May 29, 2011


I commute across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. The total trip is about 40 miles / 50 minutes, about half the time on the bridge.

When I first moved to Mandeville I was worried that I'd get sick of the bridge, but the opposite has happened. There are occasional bridge problems such as accidents or fog, but there are no on or off ramps and nearly everyone who drives it during rush hour drives it every day so they know how to act. People who drive like maniacs at rush hour quickly learn it doesn't buy you anything. It will take you about 25 minutes to cross the bridge whether you sit in the right lane or weave and tailgate.

During much of the year I can watch the light change as the Sun rises over Lake Pontchartrain. Sometimes you can see a tiny bright torch on the far horizon as the refinery in Norco flares off gas about 40 miles away. You can see downtown and the lights on the Mississippi River bridges. And you can watch the lake itself; sometimes glass-flat, sometimes choppy, often plied by boats.

Once off the bridge I manage to miss the worst rush hour traffic because my job is on the outskirts of the city in my direction. The parking lot is already forming on I-10 when I drive over it toward Harahan.

It might be nice to have that time for other purposes but I can't say that it really stresses me out; as others have pointed out it's "me time" I might not get otherwise, and I do get a lot of thinking done in the car. But then, when I lived closer to work my shorter commute was a white-knuckle nightmare on I-10 and I had a drive-by shooting, so YMMV.
posted by localroger at 7:17 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how this works when you live in a city and commute out to the country?

I live in San Francisco and work in western Menlo Park, which isn't exactly the country, but close enough. West Menlo is a lovely older suburb, with houses that have decent yards and big trees. The towns in the hills - Woodside, Portola Valley - are also lovely. And it would kill me to live there.

I have a 30-minute commute, all on the freeway and almost entirely free of stop-and-go traffic (this happens maybe once a year, when there's a serious accident). It's a beautiful drive.

I used to work in Marin - that commute kind of sucked, because I had to drive across the city to get to the Golden Gate Bridge.

When I worked in the city, or in Oakland, I took public transit; both those routes took more time than my current one does. I got more reading done, but also got to deal more often and more directly with crazy people, people smoking crack or weed on the bus, packs of teenagers on their way to/from school, buses that never came, etc. It wasn't exactly restful.

If I wanted to live close to where I work, I'd be moving every couple of years, which is unrealistic. Or I'd have to settle for a worse job simply because it's closer.
posted by rtha at 7:18 AM on May 29, 2011


Yes, there's a difference between a hellish car commute and other kinds. To me, a public transport commute is free time to read and faff on the internet. I was much happier when I went from an 8-minute commute that was too short to really read anything to a 40-minute one where I powered through novels.
posted by bonaldi at 7:29 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


A lot of people buy their homes based on the school system but get their job based on where they can find work. Which can result in some unhappy-making commutes.

My city is currently looking at ways to improve the school system in ways that will get more new parents to stay here when their kids hit school age.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:35 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have to wonder if these studies take into account the stress of losing a job, having to change jobs, having to find two jobs in an region where jobs are moving out from the city to lower-rent outlying areas, or other reasons why people might not live close to work other than wanting a big house or more land.
I live in a low-density neighborhood on the outskirts of town. Most people who live here are working-class folks in service industry jobs, and there are a lot of families with kids. There aren't too many places in my town where they could afford to live, because we aren't blessed with an over-abundance of affordable housing, and the other working-class neighborhood has a reputation for crime and bad schools. (I think that reputation is really overblown, but I'm also coming from a place that has really bad crime and truly terrible schools.) My neighborhood has practically no reported crime, and the schools are pretty good. (I'm not going to say that there's no crime here, because there may be things like domestic violence that go on behind closed doors. But there's no noticeable crime. It is, for instance, completely normal for kids to leave their bikes outside overnight with the expectation that their bikes will still be there the next day.) There's also a critical mass of Spanish-speakers here, so it's an ok place to live if you don't know much English, which is true of many of my neighbors. I don't think most people move here for space. I think they're pretty focused on creating better opportunities for their kids, and this area seems like it has the best combination of fewer chances to get in trouble and better chances to get a good education.

I moved here basically because it's cheap and convenient to work. It's two miles from my job, and I can ride my bike almost all of the way on a mixed-use path. It's definitely not considered a cool place to live, and I'm sometimes a little embarrassed when I tell people where I live. There's no retail within walking distance. In fact, the only things within walking distance are a park and a church. But I don't make a lot of money, and it's cheaper to live here than any place I could find downtown, including much smaller apartments. I love having a real kitchen, which is not something I had when I lived in a 500-square-foot inner-city efficiency. I think most mefites would still probably consider my apartment pretty modest, but living in a two-bedroom rather than an efficiency has really improved my quality of life. I can have people over for dinner, for instance, which wasn't really feasible in my old, big-city apartment. I can also afford to go out for dinner occasionally, which I couldn't do when I was paying big-city rent.

So yeah, I don't think that this is just about people wanting to live in McMansions.
posted by craichead at 7:45 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


My spouse and I went from both having a walking commute (mine was 7 blocks, his was 2-1/2) to each having a 35-45 minute commute in opposite directions. While I think we both miss the convenience of walking to work, he was so miserable in his job that he'd never, ever, ever go back to it just for the sake of not being in the car.

More to the point, though, the reason each of us has to have a commute is that we work in opposite directions. I work downtown, he works out in the deep suburbs. There's no public transit to his work (or at least not reasonable public transit), but at least he's driving against rush hour traffic. I take a bus, then a train, to work, and while it doesn't always work out perfectly (suburban buses are not the most reliable), I enjoy my train ride -- it gives me a chance to get into the mindset for work.

So I wonder how many people have a commute not because they want to have a bigger house out in the burbs (for instance) but because they are part of a two-income family, and it's impossible not to have a commute. (I'll note that in our case, for instance, we would both be miserable living near either of our workplaces. We'd much rather have the 35-45 minute commute for each of us than one of us have an hour+ commute so the other could walk, while living in a neighborhood neither of us wanted to be in.)
posted by devinemissk at 7:54 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I commute from South Carolina to Vancouver, BC every week to work, and I'm pretty happy. Thinking about moving to Vancouver temporarily, but the constant orgasms of living so close may prove distracting.
posted by LordSludge at 8:00 AM on May 29, 2011


Do none of you have a job that requires being anywhere other than the same place every day at the same time? I can't even imagine how one would try to go about being a contractor without their own vehicle.

However, school is always at the same place, so I bike there when I can. It is an intense ride with heavy traffic and several death defying bridge crossings required.
posted by jellywerker at 8:05 AM on May 29, 2011


Push comes to shove, I can be from my bed to my desk in fifteen minutes. Nothing beats a 5 minute commute.
posted by Renoroc at 8:19 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The amazing thing to me is that people pay so much more money to live way out in the ex-urbs and then drive into the city for an hour every day. Around here houses near all the jobs go begging at $100K while horrible mcmansions thirty miles away get snapped up at $500K.
posted by octothorpe at 8:27 AM on May 29, 2011


Do none of you have a job that requires being anywhere other than the same place every day at the same time?

Good point. While I usually drive the Causeway, it's not unusual to head in a different direction to go directly to a customer job site or one of our other offices a bit further afield. This happens often enough that about ten years ago my boss decided to give me a company car, even though I drive it home across the Causeway, rather than pay me mileage to drive my own on those trips.
posted by localroger at 8:32 AM on May 29, 2011




this is really interesting but I don't know if it's really all that simple. I quite like my thirty minutes by car to work, all of which are through the city. I manage to listen to npr a bit on my ipod (I'm in hamburg, germany, where the marketplace podcast becomes available when I wake up), make a few calls and -quite frankly- enjoy my audi TT a bit. (terribly unpopular thing to say but I do.) on my way home I generally stop by the gym or the swimming pool and do my exercises, running or swimming. if there is anything else I often throw an extra set of clothes into my trunk with my sports stuff and don't even go home until that's done. I feel like I am seeing more of my friends because I am already outside and don't need to get on my way from my apartment.

now would I be happy living closer to my office, at the other end of town? I don't know. I would be as happy, sure, but happier? rents there are much higher and that would offset any savings in fuel etc, though I wouldn't sell the car. it seems like one problem being replaced by another.
posted by krautland at 9:59 AM on May 29, 2011


Not to be tiresome, but the story reports several generalizations. If ever there was a time to say . . . YMMV!
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:18 AM on May 29, 2011


Not a new theory. Yea for the Swedes and all, but a shrink told me years ago that it had been proven through several studies that money could indeed buy happiness, in one of three demonstrable ways: reducing one's daily commute; traveling more often to see family and close friends; and reconstructive plastic surgery.

Interesting statement, given the omission of the ability to afford therapy.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:20 AM on May 29, 2011


Hm.

On one hand, I have a 10 minute bike commute that I love (And, yes. I do it in the rain, heat, and snow. My work doesn't have showers, so rain/snow are easier to handle than the heat, but I digress...)

On the other, I definitely can appreciate that a commute can be relaxing. My first car commute was an academic job that required a 20-30 minute commute by car. I liked having a bit of alone time, where I could listen to NPR, or blast loud music while driving down the highway. It also gave me an excuse to stop for breakfast/coffee on the way.

The origin of this commute was a lot less glamorous -- the university set me up with housing directly adjacent to my office, and then moved the office the week before I started without telling me. They just automatically assumed I had a car, and when I told them otherwise, they told me to take the bus (which required 3 transfers, and took about 2 hours total, much of which was spent waiting in 100°+ shelters. I have yet to see a convincing argument that Hampton Roads Transit was not designed as a direct assault on poor/black people.) Suffice it to say, I bought a car, which completely wiped out my paltry earnings for that summer. Worse yet, this was 2008, when gas was $4+ a gallon. In hindsight, I should have seen this as a precursor to the thousand ways in which this job would be poorly managed.

With my current bike commute, I rarely find it worth the bother to chain my bike up along the way to work, and always time things so I wake up at the absolute last minute.

I still own a car, and I still like driving it. However, I still default to the bus or train before hopping behind the wheel. With the singular exception of the New York Subway, I can't recall ever being "jostled" on a train. On a good train, you barely feel like you're moving. Similarly, a well-planned bus route can be absolutely fantastic (The bus — it's not just for poor people anymore!).

Bikeshare is also absolutely fantastic -- it's the future of public transit (and I'd put money on that). By public infrastructure standards, it's cheap as dirt, and convenient as hell.

I don't miss having to fill up my tank more than once a month. You'd have to pay me a lot to have a commuting job. Every now and then, I think about dumping my car entirely, and going to Zipcar. Sadly, insurance is still expensive for occasional drivers.
posted by schmod at 10:41 AM on May 29, 2011


jellywerker : I can't even imagine how one would try to go about being a contractor without their own vehicle.

Yep, if you're a contractor, you pretty much *have* to have your own vehicle. The problem is that *everyone* pretty much has his or her own vehicle right now. At least in my neck of the woods (Marin County, Northern California), this means that anytime you want to go anywhere even moderately popular (for work or play) you will be stuck in logjam traffic. Period. And that is the soul-crushing suck the article is talking about.

If only contractors had their own vehicles, and everyone else used some form of well-maintained public transportation (a fantasy for this region, unfortunately), most of our transportation concerns would be greatly lightened. Based on the comments in this thread alone it seems safe to conclude that most people are pretty happy to commute by train (as long as there's nobody smoking crack in the next seat).

But yeah, driving a car kind of blows when you have a few thousands of other people trying to do it at the same time. Sometimes it seems like people are willfully ignoring this obvious fact.
posted by fartknocker at 10:45 AM on May 29, 2011


Several things occur to me when i read these discussions.
I rarely (I got about half way down -- I'll read more comments later) see comments from people who live in one city and work in another. Even when I worked in my current city == it was on the opposite side of the city and still took @ 45 min to get to work. When I bought a house I wanted to get one that was more equidistant between DC and Baltimore. But the closer you are to DC, the more insanely expensive the house and the general cost of living is. We rented in Laurel about 10/15 years ago and *loved* being in that area, but our family is not cut out for condo living and houses were (and still are IRC from someone else house hunting) double the cost. I have friends who teach in California. They are in the same position, they cannot afford to live in the area in which they work. This is a problem that happens to a lot of people working in high cost of living areas. The people that make the community run cannot afford the rents and/or mortgages. Telling them to move closer to work is pointless. It is also pointless to tell people to refuse to work in those areas when there are so many out of work. The whole commuting dialog often feels far more ideological than practical to me and I wish it were otherwise.

When I lived in Laurel, I worked downtown DC and commuted via metro. If I was having a flare up I'd also take a bus from metro to the office building. At first I was ecstatic with extra reading time. But I got sick all.the. freaking.time. People cough and sneeze on you, we were piled on top of one another on the metro. That is one of the biggest draw backs to public transportation (when you have it) and I hardly see it mentioned in these threads. I was taking precautions etc etc but I catch stuff pretty easily and as an asthmatic, upper respiratory infections = months of not being healthy and impact my happiness scale (and my work's happiness with me scale).

The bus system in Baltimore sucks. I'm on an inner ring suburb. (one mile from the city line) We have two bus lines that come here. But their direct routes are for shopping and a hospital. I think I figured out that I needed 2 changes to get down to the train station. I do prefer being just outside the city since we are super close to loads of restaurants and stores. I don't like living too far out in the county where you have to drive 20 min get some milk.

People constantly bitch about USian's "addicition" to cars but ignore that the majority of us do not have access to good public transportation.

Also, we have some friends that are dong the car free living in the city angle. They can walk to work, take a bus to grocery etc. They are relatively healthy 20-something year olds. But if they want to take public transport to come visit -- it is a 2 hour trip! It takes us about 20 min to drive and get them. However, it really gets to be one sided when you don't have alternative transportation. I get annoyed with the holier than thou's on meta-filter who either seem to only work and socialize w/in one city or are unaware how your car-less lifestyle impacts your friends and family.
posted by Librarygeek at 10:47 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


People constantly bitch about USian's "addicition" to cars but ignore that the majority of us do not have access to good public transportation.

I have had conversations with fellow USian's who reacted with aggression and outrage when I suggested cars be deprecated in favor of public transportation. So, some of us do have a weird fetish for the automobile.

Why is it called an 'auto'mobile when if you stop 'manually' controlling it for even a few seconds it will crash?
posted by fartknocker at 10:55 AM on May 29, 2011


Why is it called an 'auto'mobile when if you stop 'manually' controlling it for even a few seconds it will crash?

It's called that because it moves on its own and doesn't require horses or an attached engine unit to move it like a wagon or a train.

posted by hippybear at 11:00 AM on May 29, 2011


I used to bus over an hour to get to school in junior high. In the winter this meant leaving before dark and arriving home afterward, which both worried my hardworking mother (darkness! oh no!) and crushed my little soul into seasonal affective disorder, and later much worse depression. In grade 8 I asked to be transfered to the school that was within walking distance, but I soon discovered that the curriculum (although supposedly uniform throughout the province) was at least 2 years behind where I'd been. So I had to go back. Oh, special-ed, did you really need more ways to let me down with your shoddy budget?

As a result of this experience I've always looked for work within 5km or so, although this is harder now as I no longer live in the city. I enjoy walking to work as it is relaxing and allows me some time to rev up for my day. I'm happy to state that my latest job, which I start tomorrow, is a cool 10 minutes at sauntering speed. I think I might have to work on my saunter a bit so that I don't arrive before I've had time to enjoy my 'commute'.
posted by sunshinesky at 11:10 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting statement, given the omission of the ability to afford therapy.

I'm afraid I don't understand. Care to elaborate?
posted by pineapple at 11:11 AM on May 29, 2011


Correlation is not causation.
posted by sophist at 11:45 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pineapple, might've been:

"a shrink told me years ago that it had been proven through several studies that money could indeed buy happiness, in one of three four demonstrable ways: reducing one's daily commute; traveling more often to see family and close friends; and reconstructive plastic surgery; and making it possible, of course, to afford a shrink."
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 11:54 AM on May 29, 2011


I don't think that the shrink I was speaking to at the time was making the argument that money spent on psychotherapy was one of the ways that had been proven to improve happiness, though.

Am I missing something?
posted by pineapple at 12:32 PM on May 29, 2011


Your understanding of your shrink's message is the same as mine; I simply thought it was mildly revealing. If my accountant was listing all the professional services that I should really spend money on, and neglected to mention accountancy, well . . . That's all.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:41 PM on May 29, 2011


It's basically "town" or "the CBD" here in Perth. So when my American roomie started referring to "downtown" I'm all, "Huh? So we go to town and then walk down a hill someplace?

I think the term comes from Manhattan, where the directions are uptown, downtown, east and west. Manhattan being an island, you can't go any further down than downtown.

"In-town" and "out-town" would probably be more correct for the typical city, but nobody says those words.

I've heard people in small-town Alberta (St. Paul) call their central district "uptown". Like most Alberta prairie towns, that's the intersection of 50 Ave and 50 St.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:51 PM on May 29, 2011


Heh, or "the traffic lights".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:52 PM on May 29, 2011


You are not doing any of the things that make human beings happy.

That seems like a pretty bold claim. I'm not sure why audiobooks/music/etc are dismissed so heavily (or reading, if you're on public transit).

For those of us with car commutes, it probably depends on your feelings about driving. I love driving unless the traffic is really heavy, so that's not an issue. My commute is 45 min or so each way, but with light traffic (just a lot of stoplights, since it takes me 2/3 of that time to reach the freeway).

I'm also one of those doing a "reverse" commute -- I live in the central city and commute to work on the outskirts. I prefer my neighborhood to where I work, and I only have to go in 3-4 days a week, so it's easier than for many people.

That said, I would certainly be happier if work moved closer to me. But the reverse? Not convinced.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:30 PM on May 29, 2011


Based on the comments, they obviously need to include mode of transportation and other "quality of commute" metrics in future studies.

I can drive to work in 50 minutes of traffic or drive+take the metro+walk in the same amount of time. The latter is usually pretty enjoyable, the former is awful.
posted by Defenestrator at 1:57 PM on May 29, 2011


That seems like a pretty bold claim. I'm not sure why audiobooks/music/etc are dismissed so heavily (or reading, if you're on public transit).

I find that sometimes traffic is so bad on my morning commute, I can actually read. Yay! for not moving at all in commute traffic!
posted by fartknocker at 2:14 PM on May 29, 2011


I enjoy a few podcasts while commuting; I like 'em. And when my commute shortens or disappears, I miss the podcasts. But I don't miss them so much that I long to be commuting again.
posted by fartknocker at 2:16 PM on May 29, 2011


I find that sometimes traffic is so bad on my morning commute, I can actually read

Haha you are the driver I am scared of on the freeway.
posted by Defenestrator at 2:22 PM on May 29, 2011


It's called that because it moves on its own and doesn't require horses or an attached engine unit to move it like a wagon or a train.

I'm not disputing the lack of horse or the on-board motor. My beef is that it's not automatic. It must be manually operated for 100% of its operation; hands, feet, concentration, all on, all the time. I really want an automatic car. I would love to have an automatic car. My frustration at not having an automatic car is compounded every time I hear the word 'automobile' used to describe something that is plainly not automatic.
posted by fartknocker at 2:27 PM on May 29, 2011


Haha you are the driver I am scared of on the freeway.

I pick my nose while driving, too. I am the scourge of the motorways!
posted by fartknocker at 2:28 PM on May 29, 2011


God, tell me about it. I moved from (carless) NYC to Seattle and immediately bought a car, and ended up commuting 25 minutes to work, mostly on trafficky surface streets, with no good transit alternative. After one year of car commuting I was ready to rip all my hair out.

Now I live an eight minute walk from work (more if the drawbridge opens). Even in the (constant) rain it's preferable to the road rage and traffic jams.

Now I'm moving back to NYC, and hoping I become rich enough to avoid the 45 minute transit commutes I was accustomed to there.
posted by zvs at 2:30 PM on May 29, 2011


Fartknocker, it's automated, not automatic. An automated mobile.
posted by bonaldi at 3:04 PM on May 29, 2011


Look, the prefix "auto-" means "self". Like autoerotic is what you do sexually to yourself. And autonomy is your ability to act on your own. And "mobile" is from the Latin mobilis, meaning "to move".

Self-Moving is the literal "translation" out of the Latin roots. It is an object which moves itself. Not an object which operates itself, steers itself, knows where to go on its own... It simply moves itself. That's all the word means.

*writes Congress to get Latin and Greek reinstated as public school subjects*
posted by hippybear at 3:21 PM on May 29, 2011


If something is automated, that means it operates automatically. No?

Anywayz, hippybear, that is a stirring defense of the current definition and I would gladly add my name to your letter. Maybe once Google's automatic car is commercially available we can call it the cum moveri non putem. That's pretty much how everyone drives right now anyway.

And oh, won't commuting be blissful then.
posted by fartknocker at 3:36 PM on May 29, 2011


car-free for 16 years, and 20-minute walk to work yay happy!
posted by fallacy of the beard at 3:38 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh nice, a gloat thread.
  • I can get to work in 10 minutes.
  • I cannot remember the last time I filled up my car's gas tank. I believe it was about a month ago. It is still half full.
  • I have musical venues ranging from one-room bars all the way up to tens-of-thousands of seat places, all five minutes from my door.
  • I can go out "on the town" on a random Tuesday night, and not have worry about driving drunk, or paying for an over-priced cab, and not have to worry about getting up early for a long morning commute.
  • I have a constantly changing menu of new restaurants opening all minutes from my door.
And the kicker: All minutes expressed above are minutes walking, not minutes driving.

You cannot show me a suburb on the planet that could compete.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:00 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


My father, a former truck driver, likes to say, "If you are driving hours each way to get to work and you like it, you're in the wrong job."
posted by orange swan at 5:47 PM on May 29, 2011


I travel 50 minutes each way on the subway myself. I knit or nap, so I'm not wasting the time exactly.... but yes, I should be looking for a job closer to home.
posted by orange swan at 5:49 PM on May 29, 2011


My commute is a 1.7-mile walk. (Apparently this is long enough that when I mention it, people look at me strangely - why don't I ride the bus, or get a bike? Because the bus has people on it, and biking means I have to worry about people stealing my bike; I work in a city that has been described as the bike theft capital of the US.) And you know what? I think it's awesome, for me, at this particular moment in my life.

But at the same time I find this attitude that a lot of people have that if you have a long commute, especially by car, you're automatically doing it wrong to be kind of ridiculous. Some people - especially outside of major metropolitan areas, or even in major metropolitan areas if it's not rush hour - actually enjoy driving. I can't believe I'm defending them, because I hate driving - but that's only because I don't do it enough, so it's not quite second nature to me and I am constantly aware of the fact that if I screw up people could die.

Does it really bother you that not everyone is like you? Is your ego really that fragile?
posted by madcaptenor at 6:04 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


But when would I play Angry Birds, read Stephen King novels, listen to music and surf Metafilter?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:17 PM on May 29, 2011


Oh nice, a gloat thread.

It's all in the eye of the beholder/different strokes/YMMV.

I can get to work in 10 minutes.

Me, I can't get to work until I've had my coffee and checked email.

I cannot remember the last time I filled up my car's gas tank. I believe it was about a month ago. It is still half full.

When they say to invest in energy, not what they meant.

I have musical venues ranging from one-room bars all the way up to tens-of-thousands of seat places, all five minutes from my door.

Sounds kinda noisy. Also, very high density zoning, unless you live in the bowels of the opera or something.

I can go out "on the town" on a random Tuesday night, and not have worry about driving drunk, or paying for an over-priced cab, and not have to worry about getting up early for a long morning commute.

Same for everyone. It's "Thursday's child has far to go." Tuesday's child is "in da club," as I recall.

I have a constantly changing menu of new restaurants opening all minutes from my door.

The ones I like best tend to stay in business.

And the kicker: All minutes expressed above are minutes walking, not minutes driving. You cannot show me a suburb on the planet that could compete.

I have always felt it would be a great place to live. Gotta deal with the cold, and the occasional devastating fire, but I could.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:31 PM on May 29, 2011


I have musical venues ranging from one-room bars all the way up to tens-of-thousands of seat places, all five minutes from my door.

Sounds kinda noisy. Also, very high density zoning, unless you live in the bowels of the opera or something.


Who cares about noise? It's silence that bothers me. I moved from a place with a bunch of venues and restaurants to a place with only one venue (that's closing soon) and very few res truants. Even though it's a short move it's really bothering me. If I'm not as close to everything as possible I feel really isolated. Even though I'm a 5 minute walk from a main road sometimes that 5 minutes is enough to make me feel like I'm in the suburbs.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:33 PM on May 29, 2011


Who cares about noise?

Some people. Again, people have different tastes. I read the post to be reporting a generalization about commuting distance, not an absolute about that, let alone about the need for hubbub.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:44 PM on May 29, 2011


Dunno where your shrink got that data. Money has consistently been shown NOT to lead to happiness. This has been studied by looking at lottery winners before and after their winning and surveys of people across income groups. What I remember from my college psychology classes is that your happiness is more tied to personal affect than anything else. When looking at people who have had terrible life altering experiences such as losing a limb or a loved one, the long term effect has less to do with what the event was, how much money they had, or how severe the impact was, but what their attitude was in general. Happy people tend to happy, sad people tend to be sad, and money doesn't nearly the kind of role in it that we tend to think it does.
posted by sophist at 8:35 PM on May 29, 2011


Sources: 1, 2, 3.
posted by sophist at 8:38 PM on May 29, 2011


sophist, I would argue that the fact that a discrete study regarding the impact on one's happiness of reducing one's work commute is cited right here in the FPP is proof that the shrink (not "my" shrink, for the record, but "a" shrink) was actually correct.

Again, his point was that, in the main, you are correct—money in and of itself does not lead to happiness.

And yet, there are a couple of notable exceptions: namely reducing one's commute, correcting a disfigurement, and traveling more to see loved ones.

So, source-link it up all you want about how money cannot possibly buy happiness under any circumstances, but you're missing the forest for the trees. I agree with you for the most part.
posted by pineapple at 8:52 PM on May 29, 2011


It's all in the eye of the beholder/different strokes/YMMV.

Absolutely.

Me, I can't get to work until I've had my coffee and checked email.

Me, either! I can choose to have it at home or at one of the literally dozens of local retailers that all serve fantastic java options. We're rather big fans of coffee here.

When they say to invest in energy, not what they meant.

I'll pick my own investments, thanks.

Sounds kinda noisy. Also, very high density zoning, unless you live in the bowels of the opera or something.
  1. That's why they invented this fantastic stuff called sound-proofing.
  2. Not high-density, smart density. And no need for masks here, just a hundred square blocks of gorgeous Victorian houses.
Tuesday's child is "in da club," as I recall.

HAW HAW

The ones I like best tend to stay in business.

The ones I like best tend to move to Boston or New York City to make more money. But it's OK, because the new tastes and flavors come in to replace them.

Gotta deal with the cold, and the occasional devastating fire, but I could.

The cold is overrated since we're on the ocean, but the climate zones have been shifting in our favor for the past hundred years (thanks to all those helpful investments in energy you mentioned earlier. Thanks, by the way!)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:59 AM on May 30, 2011


That's why they invented this fantastic stuff called sound-proofing.
Not high-density, smart density. And no need for masks here, just a hundred square blocks of gorgeous Victorian houses.


Houses shmouses. Just need room for a bed, an Xbox, a laptop, and at least one bookcase. Plus some clothes. Everything else should be external. But for that you need DENSITY. Bloody having to walk 10 minutes for a laundromat...
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:03 AM on May 30, 2011


If something is automated, that means it operates automatically. No?
No, it means that its functions operate automatically. An automat doesn't choose the meal and feed little robots. An automated washing machine doesn't pick up the clothes and put in the detergent. An automated production line doesn't decide what to build and then design it.

Automated things still need direction and control.
posted by bonaldi at 5:09 AM on May 30, 2011


Plus, I never have to wear shoes.

Shoes? You've never experienced true freedom until you've done a conference call in your underwear. Thank goodness video conferencing never really caught on as much as people thought it would.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:47 AM on May 30, 2011


Some of you keep saying you enjoy your commutes, which is fine, but are you seriously trying to tell us that there are not better things you could be using that time for?
posted by sunshinesky at 10:31 AM on May 30, 2011


I think really what makes you happy is having (the illusion of?) control over your own time. If you are choosing to bike and love it, that's awesome. If you are spending 1hr on trains to get to a bad part of town to do a job you aren't really motivated to do...that's not so awesome. (hypothetically, of course). The same amount of time commuting on a UTA bus to a ski hill seemed to be no problem...so it's the control over how you spend your time to get there, plus perhaps a sense of control over what you are actually doing when you're there. (note some people do not want to live in the areas they work...but maybe that's a separate conversation).
posted by bquarters at 10:34 AM on May 30, 2011


are you seriously trying to tell us that there are not better things you could be using that time for?

Well, but that's a very subjective thing, that "better" there. I've had shorter commutes that seemed much longer because I didn't much like the job I was going to. Some of us find the commute useful in the sense that it provides time to mentally transition from home to work (or vice versa), get caught up on podcasts, read another chapter, or just be alone.

There was a thread in recent months about commuting by bicycle (actually, I can't remember what the thread was about, but that's what the discussion turned into), and a couple of people tried to persuade me that my commute is doable on a bike. Knee and back problems aside, for me, it wouldn't be: it'd be 30 miles each way, much of it on heavily trafficked roads, and frankly, yes, the four to six hours per day that that commute would cost me are hours that I could easily put to "better" use. The hour a day that I spend driving to and from work I use to listen to the news or music, gaze at the scenery, and practice my birding-while-driving skills, and that's fine by me.
posted by rtha at 11:01 AM on May 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


rtha: you live in the Bay Area, the capital of people who think that biking is the solution to all of life's problems.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:12 PM on May 30, 2011


are you seriously trying to tell us that there are not better things you could be using that time for?

I'm a basically lazy person. If I didn't have a hilly 35-minute bicycle commute I'd just spend more time reading Metafilter and get fat.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:25 PM on May 30, 2011


True dat, madcaptenor!
posted by rtha at 8:46 PM on May 30, 2011



Some of you keep saying you enjoy your commutes, which is fine, but are you seriously trying to tell us that there are not better things you could be using that time for?


Not really. All I do with my life is surf the web, play videogames, and listen to music. there isn't much live music on at 8am or 6pm.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:30 PM on May 30, 2011


Your Commute Is Killing You

When?
posted by banshee at 4:51 PM on May 31, 2011


I went from a 40 minute commute to a three minute walk. My rent is more expensive (going from a one bedroom apartment to a one bedroom house), but that cost increase is more than offset by the decrease in fuel costs (instead of filling every week, I tank up once a month), a decrease in food costs (instead of expensive "workplace food", I walk home to cook) and yeah - better health too.

It's difficult not to gloat, but suburbs can disappear for all I care.
posted by quartzcity at 1:12 PM on June 1, 2011


a decrease in food costs (instead of expensive "workplace food", I walk home to cook)
To be fair, you could have saved the same amount by putting your leftovers in tupperware or packing a sandwich.
posted by craichead at 4:33 PM on June 1, 2011


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