Photo by Ben McLeod
There were times when I wished I had chosen Montana as home base. Apparently folks there have the shortest commuting time in the entire United States. On the other end of the spectrum, those in Maryland and New York spend over 100 hours a year in the car, heading to work. If it weren't for a decision that my wife and I made this past summer, I'd still be spending huge chunks of time in my car, heading to and from work.
For us, it was a lifestyle decision.
We could have afforded a larger home about 45 minutes west of our home but opted instead for a small home that is only 6 miles from work. While the process of downsizing has been an adjustment, there has not been a single day in which I wished I had a bigger commute. I now spend 12 relaxing minutes driving to work, enjoying quiet back roads and listening to talk radio. No traffic whatsoever. This comes after nearly 10 years of heavy commuting.
My lifestyle has benefited in so many ways which leads me to my top-7 reasons for chopping the commute into something more manageable.
- Weather. Snow, ice, accidents and everything in between haunt the long commuter.
- Gas prices. Prices in the Northeast hover near $3 and the West Coast is even worse. When will the cost of filling up become a factor for decreasing commute time?
- Traffic stress. Let's face it: driving can be stressful. If it's not your own vehicle it might be someone else's. Factor in poor drivers, potholes and traffic jams and the daily commute can become a nightmare. I have friends who build their life around the traffic windows- practical but sobering.
- Sickness. When I lived far from work and was slightly under the weather, I pulled the "I'm not coming in" trigger fast. Why is this? I believe that the thought of spending 30-45 minutes in the car only makes health worse. This translates into more sick days used per year.
- "Extra" work events. I work in a school which features plenty of night and weekend events. Now that I live close to work, I can attend plenty of these "extra" events without feeling as if I'm wicked far from home.
- Auto fatigue. A long commute puts a lot of wear and tear on a car.
- More time with your family. There's a reason why this one is last- because family ought to come first. If you added up the amount of time spent in the car for one year, then estimated what you could do with your loved ones during that same time, the family naturally comes out the winner.