Choose a job with a higher salary? Or shorter commute?

Young Wolf's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 360

The choice should be pretty blatant to most of us out here who are driven by the allure of a higher salary (we are not talking about an extremely huge difference though, prolly enough to compensate the longer commute?).

However, this article here suggested that one should always choose a shorter commute over a higher salary.

Most commuters reported they spent their travel time thinking about all the activities they'd rather be doing, or all the things they were missing out on because they were stuck in traffic. Decreased leisure time takes a serious toll on a person's well-being.

Rather than try to convince yourself your commute is fun, however, you're probably better off skipping the long commute time altogether--even if it means taking a pay cut. According to researchers at Princeton University, more money isn't likely to improve your life once you earn $75,000 a year.

What are your thoughts? Or do you reckon that this is just bs and one should always take the higher salary option as long as the higher salary outweighs the cons of the commute time?

Region: 
United States - Northeast

Comments (24)

Oct 14, 2016

Living near your workplace is usually expensive. And in most cases people take long commutes BC they can't afford to live nearby on their current salaries.

In any case I guess it would depend on how long do you actually take to get to work. I've seen people quit over a 15 min increase in commuting time when the offices relocated to another area.

I take like 4 hours by car (roundtrip), but on the other hand, if I chose a shorter commute I'd be stuck in jobs with a shitty pay.

Oct 14, 2016

I live across the street, and jaywalk to work every day. It's great and I couldn't imagine not being in this situation (double negative hehe) because I save 2 hours every day in commuting which is awesome. This won't last forever but it's improved my mental well-being since the change. Cost increase was marginal, say 10% if that (in a non-hub city, think Charlotte, Dallas, Miami, Houston, Salt Lake City, etc.)

Best Response
Oct 14, 2016
eatmybananas:

I live across the street, and jaywalk to work every day. It's great and I couldn't imagine not being in this situation (double negative hehe) because I save 2 hours every day in commuting which is awesome. This won't last forever but it's improved my mental well-being since the change. Cost increase was marginal, say 10% if that (in a non-hub city, think Charlotte, Dallas, Miami, Houston, Salt Lake City, etc.)

my guess is dallas or houston? give me a 'nana if right, and two if wrong

Oct 14, 2016

4 hours? either this is a fish story, or you seriously need to reconsider things. I know auditors are not the most familiar with the time value of money, but how about the time value of time?

like 95% of your free-time during the week is dedicated to driving. Over the course of a thirty year career, you are going to spend nearly 30,000 hours in the car, or 15 work years.

I am pushing 1.5 hours round trip, and thought I was an idiot for buying where I did. I cant imagine what would be going through my head if I nearly tripled that. Life is awesome, and you only get one, usually

Oct 14, 2016

Unfortunately true. I used to take much less at my previous job, but then again, pay was not even comparable. It doesn't change much using public transportation - I might save one hour altogether but it really sucks. It is actually not uncommon here for people to take like 2,5 hours commuting. In any case I managed to get some decent comp so I'm moving closer to the office early next year. (I totally agree with you - it's just a massive waste of time).

Oct 18, 2016
Brosef Stalin17:

4 hours? either this is a fish story, or you seriously need to reconsider things. I know auditors are not the most familiar with the time value of money, but how about the time value of time?

like 95% of your free-time during the week is dedicated to driving. Over the course of a thirty year career, you are going to spend nearly 30,000 hours in the car, or 15 work years.

I am pushing 1.5 hours round trip, and thought I was an idiot for buying where I did. I cant imagine what would be going through my head if I nearly tripled that. Life is awesome, and you only get one, usually

That assumes that's his plan for the next few decades. Doubt he's dumb enough to do that as it's most likely just a temporary thing.

Oct 17, 2016

No one would say no to a high paid job and a shorter commute that one can make for work everyday. But one should make sure whether the job is loved and doesn't mean more pressurised that totally ruins a person's career.

Oct 18, 2016

shorter commute

Oct 18, 2016

Assuming both jobs are going to be equally enjoyable the shorter commute probably makes sense. I have about half an hour each way in the morning and that's plenty. When you start getting into an hour plus one way, that sounds rough.

Oct 18, 2016

My commute is roughly ~1 hour, and it definitely sucks. Literally my least favorite part of my day is getting to work and coming back from work. However, I've been able to combat some of this by being productive during my commute. It helps me feel way less crappy about spending 2 hours a day on the train if I'm getting stuff done and therefore can do less when I'm at home.

Oct 18, 2016

So I see a username titled young_wolf. And my question is-- why not both? If you don't have kids and you are not married, location is fungible.

Oct 18, 2016

My commute is about 1.5hrs each way (driving). I really don't mind it as I only have to show up 2-3 days per week and the rest I can do from home. I've even been considering moving a little further away. After you get used to it, the miles go down easy.

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Oct 18, 2016

Gotta consider the overall package - I have about an hour round trip, I could probably cut that in half but I love my location in terms of things that make my life that much more convenient. (Grocery stores, hair dresser, pharmacy, tons of food options if eating out).

How ok are you with making the longer commute? What would you be doing with that additional time? How much will your rent change in relation to whichever your choice is - could you get a better place for cheaper or would it be worth it to pay more and move with the salary bump?

...

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Oct 18, 2016

Two things which will make me take a lower salary:
1. Gym in the office building (and free)
2. Office sponsored snacks/meals/drinks

Commute is also in there, but I'd take those over a short commute any day.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

Oct 18, 2016

Commuting is the worst. Having to switch from my current 1 mile commute to a job in a far suburb 30-45 min outside of downtown would have to come with a serious pay raise for me to even consider it. I would for sure turn down jobs with a much longer commute if the difference was a few K a year for similar work.

Oct 18, 2016

Commuting is the devil.

Oct 18, 2016

I have a 9 minute walk to work vs. some of my friends who live farther away from their offices and take a 40 minute train each way. Essentially I am getting an hour more of sleep per night because of my location. The amount more I pay than them isn't really material in the grand scheme of things. To me, paying a premium to save time is always worth it. You will always make the money you spend back, however, you can never make up for time lost.

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Oct 18, 2016

Based in Los Angeles:
First year - commuted two hours for work (miserable mentally)
Second year - moved near the subway and started taking that to work (15-20 minutes). Amazing commute. Always woke up early and looked forward to the commute.
Third year - Got a new job and now an hour drive from work. Again, this always made it tough to look forward to work.
Fourth year - moved closer to work and now 20-30 minute drive away (I actually have a life now and can plan on going to the gym and possibly going out if I dont work late).

I will always choose living close to work. You are healthier mentally and you have more time to do the things you enjoy.

-XSX

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Oct 18, 2016

If you want to maximize happiness, research is aligned with the consensus in this thread: cutting your commuting time will boost your happiness. If you can, take a job with a shorter commuting time. If you're up for a great read, check out Happiness By Design from Paul Dolan.

Oct 18, 2016

Good article, I get the point it is making.

Just wanted to chime in based on my first commute. Consistent 1.5 hour drive each way, but heard from some seniors who had similar commutes, and have done so for quite some time, that although obviously not desirable, at their life stage as providers whatever hit taken in that department was worth the return of the ability to provide to their dependents the max possible background of opportunity (schools and financial stability, mainly), they seemed at ease about it

Did close by and it definitely maximizes potential for the total package in terms of goals and personal lifestyle. Also, to Breaking Rich's point, recently moved further (45 min to 1.5 hour drive each way, plus very shifted schedule) in return for weekends spent in an awesome area which offers great return.

In sync with the article saying to make the most of it, both commute and current living situation. Although re: the commute I'm not so sure about mastery of another language, but making productive calls for work, network maintenance, or personal matters can easily knock back some of that time.

Oh and to bite on the article, my "point of indifference" would be some function of in place pay rate x portion of extra driving hours + extra cash to put toward a nice car for that longer commute

Oct 18, 2016

Having a long commute is always awful. I worked for a variety of labs with various distances from my home and I can say the best jobs I've had are at some sweet point where they're no more than 30 mins away and pay pretty decent.

You should always make sure that the job with the good commute also pays enough. What's the point of your job being 2 mins from home if you're making only like 30k.

I'm not a real banker though...

Oct 20, 2016

1st year out of UG - lived at home with parents and paid off student loans (roughly 1/3 of them); commuted into the city (Chi) with roughly 1.15 hours door to door.
2nd year out of UG - Moved to Chicago. Took bus to office roughly 20-30 minutes door to door.
3rd / 4th year out of UG - Moved to LA. Commute 10 minutes to work.

Current Living situation - can walk to work - 5 minutes door to door. The short commute is amazing. A little costly, but as others have mentioned above, certainly worth it when you can do things after work like gym / go out for dinner / drinks etc.

Downside is when your coworkers find out, there is no excuse for being late. Also kind of miss the mental recap you gain when having a longer commute.. I don't really have that going door to door so quickly. So right when I step out of the office, I'm working 5 minutes later.

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Oct 20, 2016
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