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Commuting: Things to Consider

Planning a job change? Plan your potential commute as well. You will invest a lot of time and money in a long commute. The distant job should be worth the effort.
Obviously, most of us need employment and we just "work around" the transportation issues. That's a realistic approach. I wouldn't advise someone to turn down a great job offer solely based on the commute. By presenting the complications and expenses involved with long commutes, I hope to provide you with another factor to consider while job-hunting. Just like salary, work schedule, and work environment, your commute can influence your job satisfaction.

I compiled these considerations based on my commute from the city to the suburbs.

If the distance to your job is 30 miles each way, you'll probably spend at least two hours a day commuting - one hour each way. And that's if you leave home for work before 7 a.m. and work past 5 p.m. More realistic times in and out of the city are an hour and a half each way.

Even if the commute is manageable at first, it may eventually get to you. It's common for people to change jobs because of a long commute.

Accepting a promotion can also mean accepting a grueling commute. Retail management trainees may have to train at several stores before becoming managers. Other retailers transfer managers from store to store. This month you may be working two miles from home but next month you'll be taking three expressways to get to work. If you want to advance in that career, you may have to do it.

I consider my commute as an unpaid part of my work day. My commute is an hour each way, so I actually have an eleven hour work day (not eleven hours of working, of course) and this doesn't include extra time spent trying to finish a project. This is also based on driving during lighter traffic hours. Here is a sample schedule:

	Morning prep: 1 hr
	Workday (including commuting time): 12 hrs
	Evening wind down and frozen dinner prep and consumption: 1 hr
	Extreme Web Surfing*: 1 hr
	Sleep: 8 hrs (ideal) or 6 hrs (actual)

This leaves one free hour per day. Only one hour to do whatever perverse housecleaning or ironing thing you may want to do. And there is something called a "family"....

You'll have to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles instead of every 3 months. 3,000 miles comes a lot faster than the 3 month deadline.

You will become good friends with your favorite gas station. You'll probably fill up the tank twice a week unless you drive one of those little egg cars with 50 horsepower engines. Filling the tank of a Blazer every three days will be expensive.

If you're driving into the city, you may have to pay for parking. Lot parking is $10+ per day, although this varies by location.

The ideal job location would be accessible by both public transportation and a direct drive. If you take public transportation, you can avoid some of the stress that goes along with hours of driving at 15MPH. RTA (CTA, Metra, and Pace ) would love to have you aboard.

A summary of the Chicago Sun-Times commuting article can be found here.

*Extreme Web Surfing is my compromise to the Extreme Whatever movement. Some people will spend the extra hour working out. Some will spend it on the Web. I spend it on the Web but rather than considering it a completely lazy pastime, I participate in Extreme Web Surfing. This consists of restarting the browser several times per session, repeatedly closing popup windows, clicking the "back" arrow when I find a site I don't like, and clearing the cache.


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