Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Correlation isn't causation, but this Slate article about the hidden costs of commuting otherwise makes an excellent point: People often underestimate how much time they lose commuting and, far worse, neglect to place enough value on that lost time.
If you are commuting, you are not spending quality time with your loved ones. 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.Ninety minutes each way! Let's assume forty-eight work-weeks per year and an employer who permits one work day at home each week. That's still 576 hours gone forever from your life each year -- 24 entire days, or 36 days of wakefulness, depending on whether you divide by 24 or 16 (the latter assumes eight hours of sleep per day).
[A]verage one-way commuting time has steadily crept up over the course of the past five decades, and now sits at 24 minutes (although we routinely under-report the time it really takes us to get to work). About one in six workers commutes for more than 45 minutes, each way. And about 3.5 million Americans commute a whopping 90 minutes each way...
Before we moved to Boston, we faced a stark choice following the first year of Mrs. Van Horn's residency: Live close in and pay through the nose, or live farther out and save money. It turns out that we'd have had to live really far out to save much money -- close to that life- and soul-sucking 90-minute range. My cost analysis fortunately included imagining what life would have been like minus three hours a day apiece. When I speak of our tiny, expensive apartment, I have certain hidden advantages in mind along with the obvious limitations.