The Terrors of a Long Commute

We all know people who have to commute long distances to get to a job. Living in one city and working in another, with perhaps a one-hour car ride between both, may seem reasonable at first. But the true health and financial cost of commuting over one’s lifetime will quickly wear away at any benefit this option seems to present.

My partner is currently commuting an hour and a half between Kitchener, ON, and Oakville, ON. It is a drive peppered with fearful collisions – he’s only been working there a month and he’s already been witness to several nasty accidents. He uses the Highway 401 and Highway 6 in his drive, two of the most notorious highways in Ontario. In my part of the world, we also have this thing called ‘winter’ which makes driving that much more challenging, stressful, and depressing.

It has been tough to watch him go through this anxiety and stress; even worse, many people don’t see an hour-plus commute as a negative experience. I’m here to say, from both an anecdotal and scientifically-proven perspective, that commuting is a terror. It’s horrible. It’s draining. And no job is worth commuting in the long term.

Photo credit to Repair Pal 2014.

In 2011, Mr. Money Mustache wrote a post on The True Cost of Commuting  which explains that, for a 40 minute commute for two professionals:

After 10 years, multiplied across two cars since they have different work schedules, this decision would cost them about $125,000 in wealth (if they had for example chosen to put the $19/day into extra payments on their mortgage), and 1.3 working years worth of time, EACH, spent risking their lives daily behind the wheel (MMM, October 2011).

This costly decision can harm not only your wallet, but your health. The following health problems can occur for people with a commute of longer than 30 miles:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar and cholesterol
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Exhaustion and sleep deprivation
  • Obesity

This article   describes each of the above health problems and is based on research done by Dr. Christine Hoehner (Assistant Professor, Washington University). Your mental health can suffer from a  long commute, too, cutting deeply into free time for hobbies and family or exacerbating stresses created at work.

I realize that commutes are inevitable at certain times in life; however, I believe that it’s worth avoiding a ‘commuting career’. Living close to your workplace means that you can spend time pursuing hobbies, enjoying physical activity, and prevents you from having to marry your car.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Carrie says:

    I hope this situation is temporary for you both.

  2. marialegault says:

    Thanks, Carrie! It definitely will be. Will’s going up north sometime in late May, and when he returns he wants to work out of the Kitchener office.

    Hope you’re seeing some spring-like weather in Ottawa; we’re in for another snowstorm here tomorrow 🙂

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