The Cost of Commuting

I am definitely getting ahead of myself, but I recently applied for a job that would entail a commute of 63 miles each way.  Considering that I submitted my resume less than 24 hours ago and I have not yet been contacted for an interview (Btw, what is taking them so long?  I mean, why did they not read my resume, immediately drop everything, and call me to schedule an interview??), I don’t actually need to worry about the commute just yet.  But it is my nature to get ahead of myself, so I’m already considering the cost and stress that would be associated with commuting over two hours per day to work.

There is a real cost associated with a long commute.  The federal government conducts an annual study to determine the fixed and variable costs of operating a vehicle on a per mile basis.  The current rate for variable costs is $0.165 per mile (it is $0.50 per mile for both fixed and variable costs).  Fixed costs are things like insurance and registration that do not change regardless of how much or how little you drive.  Variable costs like fuel will increase the more you drive your car. 

So what would a commute of 63 miles each way cost?  Let’s crunch the numbers:

There are 52 weeks in a year, but I have three weeks of vacation, eight paid holidays, and usually need to use a sick day or two.  That means I drive to work 47 weeks per year.

47 weeks X 5 days X 63 miles X 2 ways X $0.165 = $4,886

The annual variable cost of my current eighteen mile commute is only $1,396, a difference of $3,490. 

Let’s just say that the new job pays a salary that is $8,000 per year more than I currently make.  This might be high or low, but let’s run with it.

Additional salary (per year):                                                 $8,000
Additional salary after taxes (approximate):                $5,200
Increase in annual commuting costs:                               $3,490
Net increase in annual spending money:                         $1,710


If I was drinking water right now, I’d be spitting it out in dramatic sitcom fashion due to the shock of that final number.  That $8,000 raise is really an increase of only $1,710 in “extra” take home pay per year.  That is a whole lot less than I would have expected before running through all those numbers.  

It is so important to consider the cost of commuting when weighing employment options.  Many people add a tremendous amount of stress and unhappiness to their lives by enduring long commutes to earn higher salaries.  The salaries may indeed be significantly higher, but how much money is actually added to their bank accounts each year?  And is it worth it?

Under normal circumstances, I would not accept a new job that added an hour and 20 minutes to my daily commute for only $1,710 more per year.  My time is very valuable to me.  The new commute would mean spending an additional 313 hours per year sitting in the car.  That’s equivalent to thirteen full days.  Holy cow.

But in this instance, I would jump on the job and take it in a heartbeat.  The company is fantastic and the job is a perfect next step in my career.  The job also happens to be located 63 miles from downtown Savannah, GA.  My heart belongs to Savannah… So much so that I’m willing to sacrifice 13 days of my life each year to commuting just so I can live there.

Here’s hoping for a long commute…  Wish me luck!



Filed under Value of Time

5 responses to “The Cost of Commuting

  1. Sara

    That’s pretty sobering stuff! I think most people never think of the real cost of commuting. You’d have to make quite a bit more money or really really love the job to make it worth it.

    This post makes me appreciate my under two minute walking commute even more!

  2. Kristen

    I drive 30 minutes each way and I’m contimplating learning a new language or something on the commute…there are things you can do to make the hour go by quicker 🙂 Savannah is worth it!

  3. Jennifer

    Good Luck Angie!! They would be crazy not to call you in the next 12 hours! My suggestion from commute experience in Houston: bring a bottle of pure lavender oil and keep several great CD’s on hand. You know, to prevent road rage. 😉 If you have to make the drive, take control of that time and make it yours. I’ve also gone through a few great books on CD that way.

  4. You mean they didn’t call you immediately? They will when they see your resume. Waiting sucks. But – I commute about 12 miles (adding about 7 more soon) and it takes me about an hour each way. I agree with Sara – if you love your job, and love your home, it’s worth it. I actually ENJOY my commute most the time. It’s 2 hours a day I don’t have to sit at a computer, talk on the phone, or really manage life. I borrow books on CD, ponder the meaning of life and decompress.
    Keep us posted!

  5. Margaret Iovino

    Thanks for the info on calculating variable cost of commute. I love my hour commute to Caroline County and will actually miss it when I take the new job in Easton, which will cut my commute time in half. Like Jackie, I have felt that the time driving through the beautiful country-side every day is the only time I really have to myself. Because it is agricultural primarilly, it changes every day depending on what is growing, and the angle of light changes every day too. So the $1,000 / year I now calculate that the extra commute cost me was well worth it. After 5 years I did start to get a little bored and what I planned to do was to buy a kindle and have it read newspapers to me in the morning. I could also have had it read books and this may have cost less than books on CD.

    You are so talented and lovely you belong in the setting and place of your choice- but gosh it would be a loss to us here.

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