update: why should employers care about my long commute?

Remember the letter-writer in 2015 who asked why employers seemed concerned about his two-hour commute? Here’s the update.

I’m the letter-writer from “Why should employers care about my long commute?” which was posted a little over two years ago now.

The good news is that about six months after you posted my letter I was able to find a job in the field I wanted to go into. I think, as you and the commenters pointed out at the time, the way I was approaching my job hunt and how I was talking about the commute and possible relocation was definitely a red flag in my interviews, and rightfully so. I’m embarrassed looking back at the letter because, in hindsight, of course employers are going to care about my commute! When I was still job hunting, I changed how I talked about my situation, specifically making sure that I was firm about my commitment to relocate to be closer to the job. If I had knowledge of or ties to the area (from friends or family living there) I made sure to bring that up as well, like some commenters suggested.

What ended up happening was I got hired in December 2015 by a small but wonderful company located in City A. I commuted from Small Town A +/- 2 hours (one way) for six months. In June 2016, I moved to Bigger City B to share an apartment with friends, and my commute went to being 2.5+ hours (one way). What I had failed to take into account was that even though on paper the commute should have been shorter, the traffic around Bigger City B made travel much, much worse.

My manager was absolutely wonderful about letting me come in and leave early to avoid as much rush hour traffic as possible, but I was still leaving the house at 5:30 am and not getting back home until 6:30 pm (or later). Looking back, I really wish I had listened to you and everyone in the comments who warned me about being overly optimistic about the commute. I was burned out within 3-4 months, but couldn’t afford to break my lease and did that commute for a full year. The only thing that saved me from doing exactly what you warned me hiring managers were worried about and quitting my job to find a new one was that I also realized that I really, really hated living in Bigger City B and did not want to keep living there when my lease was up.

At the beginning of June 2017, I moved to Small Town B. It’s only half an hour away from Small Town A where I grew up, but its location means that I can take a different route to get to my job and my commute is now an hour and 15 minutes (one way). I know for some people that’s still a long commute but I’ve realized that I don’t actually mind driving — I just hated being stuck in city traffic! Now there’s no traffic and I have a beautiful, scenic commute. My “worst” commute so far has been 1.5 hours, which is a blessing compared to my worst day of commuting last year, which was over four hours one way! (And I’ve saved $200 a month that I had been paying on tolls — another thing I hadn’t considered before moving.)

I’m so thankful you answered my letter because it was a bit of a wake-up call with regards to how I was presenting myself to employers and how even tiny changes in language can make a difference in getting hired (“I will look into relocating.” vs. “I am planning on relocating within six months of getting hired.”). I will be forever grateful that my company took a chance on hiring me and then gave me the flexibility I needed when I made what was, in hindsight, a pretty stupid decision to move to Bigger City B.

I definitely learned the hard way that your commute absolutely makes a difference with your job. Ever since I moved to Small Town B, I feel more productive at work, I have more time to relax at home in the evenings, and I can use the flexibility with my schedule for things like doctor’s appointments instead of dealing with my commute. The 1 hour and 15 minute commute also bothers me a lot less because I can see it as the trade-off to living in an area that I absolutely love. I wish I had listened to your warnings about committing to the 2+ hour commute two years ago, but at least I know better now.

Thanks again for answering my original letter!

{ 153 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. KTM

    I just posted this in the open thread, but since it seems relevant, I’ll also share here! I worked on putting together a summary of all the data that was posted in the AAM thread two weeks ago regarding different people’s commutes. I popped a quick screenshare up on imgur (will link separately in the reply below) for you to all see and when I have some more time a bit later, I can link to the raw data. Enjoy!

    Reply
    1. Purplesaurus

      Oh wow, thanks for doing all this! It’s interesting. Did you have a purpose for collecting this data?

      Reply
        1. KTM

          I actually thought of doing it because someone had previously compiled data from an open thread on people’s salaries and it provided some interesting insight.

          Reply
          1. Emmie

            I never saw the salary data. Do you (or another reader) have a link to the compiled data? I’d love to see it!

            Reply
    1. Anonymous Educator

      I feel as if there are some key details missing from that piece. I don’t doubt that woman had her own good reasons to move to Stockton, but whatever those reasons are… aren’t in the article. If you just look at the finances alone, she’s making $81,000 a year and used to pay $1,600 for a one-bedroom in Alameda. Alameda is a lot closer than Stockton, and in the Bay Area, $1,600 for a one-bedroom is a bargain (and totally manageable with an $81,000 salary).

      Again, not saying she didn’t have good reason to move… just that the article didn’t properly explain all those reasons.

      Reply
      1. Hortensia

        I think I saw it in a tweet on the NYT twitter which I can’t find right now while I’m at work but they explained a tech investor bought the entire apartment and evicted her entire building and she couldn’t find a comparable rent in Alameda. Sorry I don’t have the source!

        Reply
      2. UnCleverUserName

        The article says a developer bought the building she was renting from in Alameda and evicted her. :(

        Reply
          1. Anonymous Educator

            You can still find one-bedrooms in Alameda for around that price. Either way, I’m sure she had a good reason to move to Stockton. Nobody just up and moves that far to save $600 in rent.

            Reply
            1. Bertha

              I have recently been looking at jobs that would have potentially long commutes via public transit, so I was curious how much this commute might cost.. it’s $228 for a monthly pass for the first leg of her trip ($124 for 20 rides, which might make sense if she works from home a fair amount). It would probably be $12 round trip each time for the BART section, another $140 if she was doing 3 trips per week.

              But upon rereading the article, she gave up a one bedroom apartment, and now she has a three bedroom HOUSE for $1000 per month. I’d say that goes beyond saving $600 per month in rent, because a 3 bedroom in Alameda according to my lazy google searching wouldn’t be cheaper than $2400.

              I live in Chicago and I have a friend who takes a train in from Kenosha to work in the city. The monthly pass is a little over $200, and the commute probably ends up being around 2 hours for him. But I looked at home prices up there and whoa, you could get a big house on the lake for the same price as you could get a small condo in my neighborhood.

              Reply
              1. Anonymous Educator

                Well, as I said before, I’m sure she has her reasons (maybe she does need the extra two bedrooms). I just know if I were booted out of my Alameda one-bedroom making $81,000, I’d for sure be looking for another one-bedroom or even a studio that’s closer than Stockton.

                Reply
                1. Gadfly

                  It just might not have been an option. Housing here is really bad. Besides the cost, there have been a LOT of problems with the credit scores required (I’ve seen HORRIBLE properties wanting really high credit scores).

                  And then there are deposits–I’ve seen places that want twice or more the rent. When that rent is $2000+, that can be rather unaffordable.

                  I’ve been looking. My husband’s commute is only 34 miles each way, but sometimes traffic can mean a 2hr or more drive. And anything I am finding close to what we have (2 bedroom, 2 parking spaces) is out of our reach until I’m working again. And until we’ve saved enough for down payments. And even then the cats will block just about anything…

                  His VP commutes from Livermore to Brisbane by train too. Same sort of reasons.

                2. Managing to get by

                  Looking on apartments.com, I see studios in Alameda for $1,900/mo and the one bedrooms over $2,000. That’s probably close to half her take-home pay. $81,000/yr is not very much money in the Bay Area.

                3. Anonymous Educator

                  I live in San Francisco. Spending half your take-home pay on rent is par for the course in the Bay Area.

              2. LizM

                If she works for the federal government, she may have a transit subsidy. I know of several agencies that offer that benefit in larger cities.

                Reply
              3. Liz

                Years ago, the Boston Globe had an article about a man who commuted to Boston from Auburn, ME. He would wake up at 4am, drive 40 miles to Portland, ride Amtrak to North Station, then walk to his office. The trip was about 3 hours each way.

                Here in Vermont long commutes aren’t too unusual. I had a work assignment with a 90-minute drive and a 7am start time. I’m not a morning person, and I was newly pregnant. I didn’t last long.

                A friend who worked at a school had a second job at the local mall. The assistant manager commuted from Newport, a town 2 hours away, on the Canadian border, with a lake, a prison, a hospital, and not much else (aside from the Super WalMart that opened last year and the nation’s biggest EB-5 visa fraud case).

                When I left my first college, I found a job in Boston. To save money, I commuted from my mother’s home in Fitchburg, 2 hours away by train. She was walking distance from the station, and I got to sleep on the train, but I was still spending 20 hours a week on the train, and weekends in a town with few jobs and little nightlife that didn’t involve drugs or alcohol. After a month I found a room to rent in Boston. I paid more for housing, but much less for transportation ($60 T pass vs. $300 commuter rail pass), with more to do on the weekends.

                Reply
      3. I just cannot

        A developer bought her building and rent priced her out. Rent probably doubled at the very least, or they were turned into condo units or something for sale for ridiculous prices. She had to move. Unless I made that up, that is what I read and gathered from the article. Her commute can’t be sustainable for a long time, when is she getting time to do anything else in her life aside from the days she is able to work from home? I imagine she’s in bed asleep the minute she hits the door in the evening.

        Reply
      4. LoiraSafada

        Did you actually read the article? She got evicted when her building got purchased. I live in the East Bay. You’re more likely to find a $3,000/mo unit in Alameda than $1,600.

        Reply
    2. Becky

      I remember seeing a news story a few years ago about a man who lives in Richmond VA and commutes daily to D.C. which is 110 miles one way. Though he drove himself so I don’t know which is worse…

      Reply
      1. RVA

        I did this in reverse for about 6 months, and DC to Richmond is not bad at all–you’re against traffic, the cops don’t care about speed as long as you’re under 85mph, and it’s really beautiful and full of trees once you’re out of the metro area. Time-wise, it’s about an 1.5 hours. I don’t know how anyone could ever do Richmond to DC, though. Northern Virginia traffic is legendary, even with express lanes.

        Reply
          1. Frozen Ginger

            I grew up in NoVA and now live in MA. I told my dad that my average commute was 20 minutes and he was blown away and super jealous.

            Reply
        1. Liz

          I have driven in Boston and Montreal. The D.C. Beltway is the most confusing, frustrating roadway I have ever encountered.

          Reply
      2. Mugsy83

        My husband and I lived in North Jersey and commuted to Philadelphia for almost a year until we could get out of our lease and found a new place. I shudder when I think of that 95 mile drive. The gridlock, the tolls, the wear and tear on our cars, and the 15 hour days…..ugh!

        Reply
      3. Just Another Techie

        When I worked in DC I had a coworker who commuted from somewhere in West Virginia. 2.5 hours each way. I don’t know how he did, but he’d been there with that commute for fifteen years (!?!!)

        Reply
    3. Detective Amy Santiago

      Woooooow. At least it sounds from the article like she can work from home sometimes so she’s not doing that 5 days per week.

      OP – I’m glad you found a commute that works for you!

      Reply
          1. I just cannot

            The thing that angers me the most about this story (and it’s local to me) is that he did all this for $10.55 an hour (recently raised to $10.80)

            That’s the travesty here. Wages in the area for a lot of jobs are abysmal, public transportation is pretty crappy (you really have to have a car to get around this state) and as gentrification sweeps in, the people who deserve better paying jobs that are trickling into their neighborhoods will be pushed out of their neighborhoods as their rents go up. This story happens all around this lovely country doesnt it.

            I still can’t wrap my mind around jobs still paying $10/hr like they did 15 years ago while everything else has gone up. It’s gross.

            Reply
    4. Grits McGee

      I can’t find the link, but I remember a BBC article about a guy who was commuting from Spain to London because the flights were cheaper than London housing prices.

      Reply
      1. Becky

        Oh I remember reading that too!

        And then there is this story about a man who has what is, in total distance, a short commute–but didn’t have a car and only part of it was covered by public transit and so ended up walking 21 miles every day.

        The story went viral and a GoFundMe campaign raised 50K or more and a couple of car companies/dealerships offered to give him a vehicle:
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/02/man-walks-21-miles-work-james-robertson_n_6594246.html

        Reply
    5. De Minimis

      I saw a lot of grousing about this elsewhere. I live in the Bay. She’s choosing to live that far. She could live several other places with a more forgiving commute that would be more or less equivalent to what she had in Alameda.

      Reply
      1. Delphine

        This is an odd take, I doubt she’s choosing to have a nightmare commute just for fun. There must be a reason she could only afford a place that far out.

        Reply
        1. De Minimis

          Just saying there are plenty of places she could live that are a lot closer than Stockton where she would pay about the same as she was paying before. There are places in Contra Costa County that are around the $1,600 a month price point that would have relatively easy access to the transit system. She could live in Solano County and have a combined bus/BART commute and probably have her money go further than in Contra Costa.

          The story seems to be portraying things as her being forced to do this due to the Bay Area housing market and that just isn’t the case. It’s crazy expensive, but not to the point where people are having to live that far out to rent.

          Reply
        2. Namelesscommentator

          I make half as much as her and I’ll concur she’s prioritizing something over the commute. There are absolutely solutions more similar to her alameda set-up than what she chose.

          (Source: moved to the Bay Area this spring and looked at a LOT of housing and commute options).

          Reply
          1. De Minimis

            The appeal of renting a house of that size may have a lot to do with it, but that’s something else that could be replicated at least somewhat closer [though not within the Bay Area proper.]

            If she bought the house in Stockton, that would make more sense.

            I think her age may be a factor–she may be approaching retirement and she may just be choosing to put up with this for a year or two and then not have to move anywhere after she retires.

            Reply
      2. the spam queen

        Also, she chooses to get up over two hours before her 4:20 train, which is seven minutes from her house. 2:15AM is 100% her choice.

        Reply
        1. Marmite

          That’s what struck me as odd! She’s getting up at 2:15am to leave the house at 4am. Getting up at 3:30am would still be earlier but totally doable, she could be having that extra 1hr15 in bed if she wanted it!

          Reply
    6. Chameleon

      For folks in the Seattle area: I have a friend who commutes from Port Orchard to Bellingham. She tried to get me hired, but I’m in Federal Way and would have to go through Seattle, meaning a 3 hour commute. Had to turn that one down.

      Reply
      1. Halfmanhalfshark

        Same same same. We live in a Major US City and don’t own a car in part because neither of us can stand driving at all. 20 minute bus commute for my partner and I work from home 95% of the time. Bliss.

        Reply
      1. Becky

        My commute is usually about 17 minutes (unless there’s an accident on the highway–if I have to avoid the highway it ends up about 25 minutes) the longest it has ever taken was about an hour and that was due to really bad snow+accidents+lots of traffic.

        I live just a few hours south of the zone of totality for next Monday’s eclipse which means I am planning to avoid going north bound on the highway any time this weekend and avoiding the south bound route on Monday.

        Reply
        1. Southern Ladybug

          I’m in a city in the zone of totality. We are all working from home Monday. Even those of us who live downtown within 5 miles of the office. The predictions of crazy traffic have us all saying “nope.” (Ok, probably not as much working in the afternoon during the eclipse…but none of us want to be near the roads.)

          Reply
      2. Jeanne

        My worst was one hour but that was only a month until I found new housing near my new job. I hated it. On a regular basis I’ve had between 10 minutes and 25 minutes. That’s plenty long.

        Reply
    1. EddieSherbert

      Same :)
      (but I’m able to bike like 10 minutes to work!)

      I’m glad you’re happy the change though, OP!

      Reply
    2. Miso

      Definitely. When I started my apprenticeship and didn’t have a car yet, it took me a 40 minute train ride (including changing the train once so you can miss the second train…) and getting to/from the train station with about 10 minutes each.
      That was already bad enough, but the train only went once an hour, so I was always at work way too early and got home way later than I could have… That was hell. Worse was when I had to go to vocational school though – that was in a big city even further away and on the day it started at 8am, I had to take the train at 5.30. So my alarm went off at 3.30.
      I am not a morning person at all, that was not cool. No idea how I survived that…
      Oh, but only worse was the one day a week when I had vocational school so late I was only home at 8.40, but of course I still had to get up early the next day, so I basically had 45 minutes at home before I had to be (theoretically) asleep again. Yeah, I don’t think I ever made that…
      Then I got a car, which was way better for my commute to work, but unfortunately I also had to take the car to the big city… I still had to go later and was home earlier, but man, traffic is a… female dog.

      Couple of months ago, I finally moved into the town where I’m working (done with vocational school). If the streets are completely empty, I now have a 4 minute commute to work by car. Otherwise it’s like 6 or 7. A minute or 2 longer with bike.
      I don’t think I can ever do significantly longer again…

      Reply
  2. k.k

    I gotta say, I’ve impressed with your commute tolerance! I would probably top out at an hour, and that’s pushing it. But I’m in a big city which means everything is either heavy traffic or public transit. I scenic drive is quite different than the smells and sights of the characters you get pressed up against on the subway.

    Reply
    1. Anon for Sure

      I can’t even do an hour.

      I work 15 minutes from the office, and I have done for the last 10 years. I don’t think I could ever go back to a commute of more than 30 minutes I was desperate.

      Reply
    2. Happy Lurker

      I really enjoy listening to books while I commute.
      I live 4 miles from work, but my children go to school 35 miles away, even the bus is 15 miles away. So, with traffic I have at least an hour commute each way.

      Reply
  3. CGor

    The NYT recently posted an interesting article about “extreme commuters” around San Francisco. The lady profiled got up at 2:15 and arrived at work at 7:00.

    Reply
  4. Sara

    I feel you on the city traffic! I started riding the train to work when a new stop opened up by my job because it let me avoid sitting in the rush hour crawl. I live on one side of my city and my job is on the opposite side, so there’s no way for me to get to work without going through downtown. The train is not actually faster, but I have a nice walk at the beginning and end of the commute and I don’t get to work already pissed off because I’ve just spent half an hour creeping along at 5 mph. Glad you’ve been able to work out a better commute too, it really does make a huge difference.

    Reply
    1. SarcasticFringehead

      I find that, as long as I have enough of a cushion to be on time to wherever I’m going, being stuck in traffic in a bus feels much different from being stuck in a car – for one thing, I can read/play games/etc., and for another, I don’t have the stress of being in charge of the vehicle.

      Reply
  5. Weekday Warrior

    So much insight here:
    “I’m so thankful you answered my letter because it was a bit of a wake-up call with regards to how I was presenting myself to employers and how even tiny changes in language can make a difference in getting hired (“I will look into relocating.” vs. “I am planning on relocating within six months of getting hired.”).

    It can be hard to switch our focus from “what I need” to “what does the company need?” but this is so crucial for good cover letters and interviews!

    Reply
  6. You're Not My Supervisor

    Glad this worked out for you!

    It takes a certain temperament to do a long commute for years. My father does 5 hours round trip, every day, five days a week, and has for many years. I, on the other hand, can barely handle 20 minutes.

    Reply
  7. I Coulda Been a Lawyer ;)

    When I still lived with my parents I had an hour commute and was young so I thought that was life. Then I moved to a town so small that it was only a 10 minute walk to work and boy did I get spoiled! Since then all jobs have been 30 minutes or less. I have 4 jobs now – 2 are 15 minutes in the car, the other 2 are 20 minutes walking, even though I’m back in the big city. It’s marvelous!

    Reply
    1. Cafe au Lait

      My favorite commute was ten minutes by car or thirty minutes biking. Sadly that job didn’t offer upward mobility, so I had to switch jobs after four years.

      Thinking about it now, I started the job with a fifteen minute walk each way. It was after moving in with my now husband that it got longer :-)

      Reply
    2. boop the first

      Ha! Same. I’m only qualified for worthless “teenager” type jobs anyway, so I tend to apply more to anything that’s within a few blocks from my apartment. If the job is going to be minimum wage, it’s not worth the extra car insurance, the loss of commute time, the car wear, and the anxiety of how to get to work when it’s snowing or when my old car finally dies. Might as well walk it.

      Reply
    3. Hush42

      I live with my parents and will continue to do so until I finish my MBA next December. My commute is 50 minutes each way and I am counting down the days until I can afford to move out and live within 15 minutes of where I work. I just keep telling myself that this time 2 years from now I will be settled into my very own apartment with a very short commute.

      Reply
  8. Hunger Games Summer

    Great for you OP – I totally agree with the difference in driving an hour and sitting for an hour. The latter just seems so much more painful.

    Reply
  9. Steph B

    I’m also one of those that is OK with a longer commute (45 min in the morning, up to an hour + 30 minutes in the evenings). I have two young kids and my time in the car is ME / solo time to listen to audio-books, recover my introvert self, listen to some music/NPR, and marvel at the scenic beauty around me (a good portion of my drive is along the coast). I know it would drive a lot of people insane, but it works for me right now in my life.

    Reply
      1. Layla

        Omg. I just realised what my problem is. My kid’s childcare is in my office building. So I have to commute with him.

        Strange it never occurred to me as I used to value my me time on the bus previously.

        Thank you !

        Reply
    1. Liz

      Right now, my commute is 15 minutes by car, and Hubby’s is 60-90 minutes by bus. We need more space, and can’t afford it here. If things works out, once we move Hubby’s commute will be about 10 minutes walking, and mine will be about an hour by car. He doesn’t drive, and we have small kids. I’m looking forward to 2 hours of me time every workday.

      Reply
  10. GertietheDino

    I won’t do a commute over 20 miles. Personal choice. It’s better for me. My current commute is less than 1/2 mile.

    Reply
  11. OldJules

    I commuted for an hour and a half for a year and like the OP, it was a scenic route instead of city driving. What a difference. What a difference. One had me in my zen by the time I reached work and home. One was a constant stress with aggressive drives jockeying to get ahead faster that by the time I arrived work or home, I am dead on my feet.

    Reply
  12. Snark

    It’s funny. I like cars, I’m fascinated by auto technology, I’ve participated in motorsports, I’m into the car world by any definition. But when I hear of multi-hour commutes, it really smacks me over the head how badly and irrevocably we erred by planning our mobility around personal cars. And it’s really hard to square the perhaps-notional freedom of a car-centric society with the extreme cost of relying on them as we do – just the value of the time we spend commuting is ghastly enough, but factor in the cost of maintenance, accidents, injuries, poor urban air quality and increased rates of respiratory and cardiac disease, climate change.

    Reply
    1. You're Not My Supervisor

      This is an interesting point. Do you think trains would have been better (like subways for more than just major cities)?

      Reply
      1. OhNo

        Trains seem to work pretty well for other countries, at least from my point of view in the US. I do wonder, though, if people in those countries complain about them as much as we complain about car traffic.

        Reply
      2. Snark

        I don’t know, actually. In retrospect, yeah, I think trains and other forms of mass transit are a better and wiser approach to transportation, along with denser and smarter development that obviates a lot of the need. But the history of urban and transportation planning in the US seems kind of inevitable, in that we’re a country with vast space, great economic power, and great resources, and so it makes sense to use that space, that wealth, and those resources to their fullest – why wouldn’t we have sprawl and cars? It’s only with hindsight that we’re realizing it was such a terrible idea.

        Reply
    2. Manders

      Agreed! I’ve lived in a series of cities that made some truly terrible decisions in the 50s and 60s to prioritize cars over public transit. They’re struggling to fix their infrastructure now, but there’s no easy fix once you’ve cut your city in half with a highway, changed tax laws so it’s extremely hard to fund any kind of public infrastructure project, and zoned the areas near your downtown core for 5,000 square foot single-family lots only.

      Funnily enough, my most car-obsessed friends are also the ones pushing hardest for public transit and zoning changes now. Car commuting just isn’t the same as actually enjoying the time you spend in your car.

      Reply
    3. Jaguar

      I can see your point from the perspective of vehicle culture making that a possibility and do we really all need to work downtown / an hour from home / anywhere but home / etc? But there’s also the reality that vehicles have made most of our current jobs possible with a home life in the suburbs. Plenty of people who don’t want a house and a yard with a family or a dog or whatever live close to where they work and just walk or bike every day. But people want the ability to choose to work anywhere while also living anywhere, and that necessitates a car (in most places). So I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the invention of cars made us accepting of long commutes – before cars (and especially before trains), people lived where they worked. Cars have freed us from that. In my opinion, it’s not the car culture that leads us to such long commute times, it’s the work culture.

      It reminds me of one of my favourite stories of how technological invention sometimes has the opposite effect that was predicted. When washing machines were first being marketed, the selling point was that it would dramatically reduce the time required to to wash clothes. Think of all the time that would be saved! I think cars were marketed on the same basis. What happened in reality is that the expectation shifted so that people would wear an outfit once between cleaning, whereas previously they would wear it multiple times. Because of that, time spent cleaning clothes actually went up overall for the average household. Similarly, cars opened up so many new possibilities, and it seems reasonable to me that those possibilities becoming available and the change in attitude towards how (and where) we work – just like the change in attitude about whether clothes are clean or not – is more responsible for long commutes than the cars themselves.

      Reply
  13. De Minimis

    About 45-50 minutes each way is my limit, and I don’t really like that. I’ve tried to find closer jobs, but that’s like the magical unicorn around here.

    Reply
  14. J

    The ads on this site are getting really intrusive and hijacking my browser a lot lately. I like reading but am going to have to stop if this doesn’t change.

    Reply
      1. anon24

        I use an ad blocker but in the last few days they’re sneaking past it and still displaying at the bottom of my screen :(

        Reply
        1. Ego Chamber

          Do you possibly pick up adware/malware?

          For the past month, AAM has been weird for me: if I close the banner ad at the bottom of the screen, they come back; if I try to post a comment, there’s significant lag between my typing and when it shows on screen; the page is constantly loading and if I click to stop loading, it starts again; twice in the past week and several times before that, the page has spontaneously redirected me to a page that says my computer is infected with a virus, I need to call the 800 number displayed to talk to Microsoft support to fix it, and if I close the browser window or restart my harddrive will be deleted “by the virus” (this also freezes up my entire laptop, I have to turn it off manually by pushing the button).

          Google says this is all signs of some kind of malware, but I’ve run 2 different virus checks, 4 “second opinion scanners” and I always have anti-virus on anyway. Nothing. I only notice it on AAM, but it could be down to how much time I spend here, whereas other sites I don’t bother reading comments.

          If anyone knows how to fix this, let me know?

          Reply
      2. SadFace

        I have the same problem on my phone. No ad blocker option. I don’t really care about the ones that intrude on the screen it’s when the whole page constantly redirects to some stupid enter a drawing site and there’s no way I can get away from it other than close the window. It only happens when I am on AAM.

        Reply
    1. Marmite

      I’ve had to stop reading AAM on my phone as the ads make it impossible to read and an ad blocker isn’t an option on my phone. I don’t have a problem on my laptop browser with an Adblocker enabled though.

      Reply
      1. Emmylou

        Same — it’s fine on my computer but messed up on phone and iPad and I don’t think ad blocking is an option on safari for iOS — willing to be corrected on that if someone has a solution.

        Reply
        1. name needed

          Crystal is an inexpensive and pretty effective app. My hometown paper is super messed up with those “Foresee”-umbrella ads and while Crystal doesn’t screen them all, it does reduce the onslaught. It also allows you to whitelist the politer ads.

          Reply
        2. Meredith

          I use AdBlock Plus on my iPad – you just have to turn it on in the Safari -} Content Blocker settings after downloading it.

          Reply
        3. Wilhelmina Mildew

          *raises hand* Ad blocking IS an option on Safari for iOS, or I would have lost my damn mind years ago. I downloaded it from the app store and If I remember correctly it was free. I can’t check because my phone is borked right now, but I think it is just called “ad block” or “ad blocker” and the symbol looks like a stop sign with the words inside, it’s usually the first or second one that comes up when you search the app store. Hope that helps!

          Reply
  15. JAM

    I used to drive a route 20 miles longer because it put me out of the way of traffic and I could listen to podcasts on the route and basically make it home in the same amount of time as the highway version. But then I got a new job and the commute was horrible. Now I can’t even stand a commute of 30 minutes. I moved 10 minutes away from my current job and it is literally the best thing I did for my entire life. Nothing makes me feel better and if I’m having a bad day at work I can come home at lunch and reset before going back or even just throw food in the crockpot over lunch. I have so much more time, though I actually do miss my designated podcast time each day.

    Reply
    1. Wilhelmina Mildew

      Isn’t it lovely? I’ve lived places so close to my work that I could walk home and eat even on a 30 minute lunch and it was the best thing ever.

      Reply
  16. Jaybeetee

    I remember googling and finding this OP two years ago, when I took a job with a hellishly long commute, though not as long as this person’s. I knew the job was at a distance, but I wasn’t familiar enough with the area and didn’t realize how bad it would be. During the interview, and during various online researches, everything said “Small town about an hour from (Home City).” GoogleMaps gave a longer commute, but I figured GoogleMaps was using old-lady driving speeds and such and it wasn’t accurate. I was not interested in moving to small town where the job was, for a number of reasons. I’ve had other long-ish commutes that were fine, I’ve never had any particular driving anxiety, and, most importantly, I’d been bouncing around in short-term, low-paying contracts for over a year and was desperate for a higher-paying, permanent job. This job was *not* the kind of work I wanted to do, or normally did, but it was in an industry that’s actually huge in my city, and I figured that and the higher pay/benefits would outweigh the pain of the commute, and that I’d be able to parlay the job into one closer to home and more in my wheelhouse quickly enough. Oh, and several people were commuting from my city, and carpool opportunities galore!

    I was wrong. On literally Day 2 of that job it took my an hour and 45 minutes to get home, and I called my mom and asked her what I’d gotten myself into. There were some carpool opportunities, but limited. I literally ended up driving in another person who paid me, but could not reciprocate. And pretty well no one was commuting from my area of the city (even further from this town than they were). This was a Coveted Job, I’d been struggling with employment and money for ages, felt I couldn’t quit. But literally within a week or two, I was on the verge of a breakdown. I couldn’t think (or talk) about anything other than the commute. It still surprises me, as again, I’d had plenty of “sit in traffic forever” commutes and a few “long-ass bus ride” commutes that didn’t affect me that way. I’ve even worked two jobs in the past, keeping me out of the house just as long or longer than that job did, that didn’t affect me that way. I’ll never be fully able to put my finger on just why it set me off so badly, but my mental health went into the toilet fast.

    By the second month, I had parked my cats with my mom and was renting a room in the town and looking at moving there, but the prospect made me miserable – it’s not an awesome place to move/live for a late-20s singleton. It also turned out it wouldn’t be nearly as quick or easy as I thought it would be to transfer into something back home. I remember feeling very anxious, and very trapped. I started using that job’s EAP to see a counselor. As it happens, a friend of my mother’s who works in this industry (back home) did offer me up a transfer to her office, which would have been a godsend, but would have taken at least 6 months to put through, and would have required me passing a test in my second language, in which I was shaky at the time. But I basically decided, “I’ll hang on for this transfer, but if it falls though, I quit, I don’t care about the consequences anymore.” (I did slowly start spending more nights back in Home City as well, and found without any attempts at carpooling, and having a nearby place to stay when needed, I handled the drive better.)

    Despite all this stress, I had done reasonably well through the training period, but basically crashed performance-wise as soon as I was actually on the floor, and was let go on my last day of probation. I just didn’t have the right thought patterns to do the job well, and I’m not sure my circumstances were fully to blame for that. I cried for about a day, slept for about a week, then just felt so relieved to be out of there, even though it did mean the transfer was also off the table.

    Lessons? It’s not so much that it’s out of the question for me to take a job at that distance again, but it took some trial and error to figure out what would work for me. I CANNOT commute three hours every day by car. Either I don’t go in every day, or I have some kind of crash pad in the area I can use a couple of times per week (meaning the job has to be good enough/pay well enough to justify that). Carpooling is out. More power to the people that do that kind of commute daily. Clearly didn’t work for me.

    For all that, about 8 months later I did get a job in the industry, albeit one notch lower and slightly less pay, but in my home city. Ironically, my experience in Far Off Land probably helped me land it. I’m much happier now.

    Reply
  17. Chaperon Rouge

    I hate driving as I find it unbelievably boring but I really don’t mind commuting by train – it’s my time to read, study languages, watch tv shows my husband doesn’t like, or work if needed. So a one-hour commute by train or tram is completely fine in my book. (I don’t like busses as I get motion sickness so can’t do anything in them.) What I don’t get though is employers who assume that you’re not planning to move. This is really weird. I mean, obviously if they knew your spouse also has a one-hour commute in the exact opposite direction, or if prices are so high in that city that there’s no way you’ll be able to afford living there, they might assume you’re not looking to move, but with no context it seems odd. (And even in the second case, my employer just assumes junior hires will find flatmates.) Given how hard it is to pick a job that’s both a good fit for your particular interests and a good career move, surely most people pick housing based on job location and not the other way around?

    Reply
    1. Flowers

      It really depends on what stage of life you are in.

      It is a lot easier for a 22-25 year old recent grad living at home to move closer for the job than say someone with a spouse and kids.

      Reply
    2. Managing to get by

      Absolutely not – I love where I live and I’m not moving. I pick my jobs based on where I live. That can be limiting, as the largest city with the most opportunity in my area is 2+ hours away during rush hour. I currently manage a branch office in a smaller city that is a 45 min to 1 hr commute from my house. My company just moved their headquarters office to a new campus about an hour closer to my house, which has opened up the possibility of a promotion in the near future for me. But I would have continued to sacrifice moving up to have a better overall quality of life.

      Reply
      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        We are looking to move in a few years and picking the neighborhood based on proximity to work. I want to be within 30 minutes by transit of at least 5 employers since this is intended to be quasi-permanent move

        Reply
  18. De Minimis

    These days I carpool with my wife about 45 minutes [around 18 miles–busy traffic corridor] and she drops me off at the train station. My work is about a 10 minute train ride. My wife takes the car because she has parking provided at her job.

    Our tradeoffs for living further from work are that we can afford to rent a house with more space, though we also have to pay a toll every day on the way home.

    Reply
  19. Becky

    At OldJob my drive was 15 minutes but a year in I decided to sell my car (made more sense financially) so for the next few years I used the bus system which regularly took 45 minutes to an hour with the transfers I had to make, and that was if it was running on time.

    Though at the time the bus pass was free through my university, so that was a nice perk.

    Reply
  20. Close Bracket

    Say someone already has a job and moves a two commute away. Does their manager fire them? We would all find it appalling if an employer expected someone to submit a new lease or new home title for approval. Why is the scrutiny of home address at hiring acceptable?

    Reply
    1. SJ

      I think someone who’s already an employee is more of a known quantity to the employer, so the employer’s more likely to accept that a good employee can handle the longer commute without it affecting their work.

      Reply
    2. MK

      Someone who is already an employee has more information, so their judgement is more trustworthy. I know how my commute works with my work schedule, so if I think I can handle a longer one, that’s an informed decision. For example, I know how I feel at the end of the day, so if I think I can drive for 1.5 hours after that, I probably can.

      Reply
    3. De Minimis

      I’d be hesitant to tell my manager, actually…assuming they wouldn’t already find out.

      My attendance got worse at my last job the further I moved.

      Reply
    4. AdAgencyChick

      Not saying I would immediately fire the person, but since, as SJ says, they’re a known quantity I would be more willing to take the risk.

      If she’s a rockstar, I wouldn’t say anything. If there are already performance issues, I might preemptively talk to the employee to let her know not to expect special accommodations because of her commute.

      Reply
  21. SandrineSmiles (France)

    Right now, if I were to commute from my place to work, it would be 2 hours each way. The problem is, because of this commute I wasn’t able to find work for two years because the train line I use is so friggin unreliable employers in Paris don’t trust you.

    For a while I relied on friends in the city, even Mom who’s only a 45 minutes commute away. Nothing worked.
    One day, Dad got a place in Paris at a reduced place through his job… guess who lives with him during the week because the commute to work is only 30 minutes and the trains to my place run every hour anyway so I’d leave work at 7pm and only be home at 10 ?

    Now that my job is “confirmed” we’re starting to look at apartments but darn it was hard thinking I’d never get out of the hole I live in because I couldn’t find a job because I… couldn’t get out of the hole I live in o_o .

    Reply
    1. Wednesday Mouse

      I realise I’m late to this party, but I totally relate to the “thinking I’d never get out of the hole I live in because I couldn’t find a job because I… couldn’t get out of the hole I live in o_o”.
      After a relationship breakup which timed perfectly with a previous job ending the contract, I had to move back to my parents small town, with no job. There were few opportunities outside of part-time retail, so I needed to look further afield. I wanted to move to nearby city X as I had a few friends in that city.. but I couldn’t afford to move without a job. But trying to convince employers in that city that I’d be OK with a 2.5hr each way commute on public transport for 6 months until I could save enough to move was really really tough.

      Thankfully, one company took the risk on me. I had assured them that the commute would not be a problem, that 2.5hrs each way was the worst-case scenario, and I reiterated that it would only be for a few months until I could afford to find a place to live in city X.

      I would leave my parents house at 5am, walk for 20 minutes to the bus stop, spend up to 45 minutes on a bus to city Y, transfer to a second bus, and spend another 30 minutes on a bus to city X, and then catch a tram for 20 minutes and another 10 minute walk to the office. Around 2 hours if things went well. It wasn’t great, butI used the time for catching up with AAM, and even managed to squeeze in a trip to the gym some days if the commute had gone quicker than planned.

      Id do the same in reverse and get back to my parents house for around 7:30pm. They were long days, and for 6 months between October and March it was my daily routine (of course in didn’t help that it was the darkest months of the year – leaving in the pitch black, working in a windowless office, and getting home in the pitch black wasn’t exactly fun).

      But.. after 6 months I’d saved up enough to be able to move to city X. In fact the apartment I moved to was a 3min 30sec walk from my office. The contrast was huge. Within a week I couldn’t fathom how I’d managed to survive a 2hr each way commute every single day. It was a revelation. I was a bit annoyed when 6 months later the company moved offices and suddenly I had to walk for 25 minutes to get to work!

      Since then, I’ve had another job which was a 30 minute walk/10 minute drive, and my current job which is a 40 minute commute on the tram (including walking to/from tram stops) or a 20 minute bike ride. I don’t think I could ever manage a commute of more than an hour door-to-door any more.

      Reply
  22. De Minimis

    I enjoyed my old long distance commute at times, but it got to be pretty draining. I did like being able to listen to podcasts and have relatively limited traffic, but a 140 mile round trip commute is too much for me after a while.

    I’ve applied for a job that is maybe 15 miles away but should be a somewhat easier commute [probably more like 30 minutes each way instead of 45] but I’m not sure if it will be significantly better.

    Reply
  23. Puckter Grumble

    “Looking back, I really wish I had listened to you and everyone in the comments who warned me about being overly optimistic about the commute.”

    This seems to be a common theme amongst many, many job applicants. I am the hiring manager for a company where staff have to work very early morning or late night shifts. One of the essential criteria is they must have their own car because public transport in our city sucks. It’s incredible how people insist they are totally fine with commuting from the other side of the city and/or have their family drop them off. Uhh so you’re really going to get your wife to wake up at 2am to drop you off for a 4am shift, then she goes back to sleep for another half hour before she goes to her own work? Five days a week? I’ve had similar conversations with so many people who think this is realistic long term.

    Reply
  24. Asha

    Hats off to you, OP, I could not do it! My longest commute was 30 min in the morning (little traffic and actually a nice way to start the day) and 45 min in the evening (horrible traffic and incredibly stress-inducing). In my new job this year, I’m just minutes away from work and I doubt that anybody who also works there drives or bikes much more than 30 min. But I know there’s also people in the town who commute to the nearest big city, which is 1.5 hours away (though at least there’s a good train system here).

    Reply
  25. Julianne

    Thanks for the update! I’m very involved in a mentoring group for my university, and something I always stress to new grads is to be realistic about the commute they can manage, since jobs in my field aren’t always easily accessible on public transit and traffic in and around our city can be rough. My first year out of school I commuted 90 minutes each way on public transit (2-3 trains + bus + walking), and the commute wasn’t the main reason I left the job, but I certainly wasn’t upset to switch to a 30 minute drive when I got a new (better, significantly higher-paying) job.

    Reply
      1. Julianne

        Not necessarily. In some cases, the astronomical cost of housing in/around my city prevents people in my field (including new grads) from moving closer to work, and in other cases the neighborhoods where jobs in our field are located are or are perceived as less desirable to live in, so people opt to commute rather than move closer. The university I graduated from is located in the capital/largest city in our state, so many new grads choose to stay here rather than move away from the city (though of course, some do that).

        Reply
        1. Wilhelmina Mildew

          Hmmm…if I had spent my life avoiding living in “the neighborhoods” that “are or are perceived as less desirable to live in” , I would have been living in a tent most of my life, because those are the places I can *afford* to live.

          Reply
  26. Ramona Flowers

    I have a commute of up to two hours each way and I really don’t mind it. I get pretty sick of hearing how it must be making me stressed or being asked why I don’t get another job (I want the job I have!) or move (not feasible – I’m priced out of London like everyone else and my life is elsewhere).

    I get that most people fit the advice in the original letter but when my current employer asked about the commute in the interview I asked them to let me worry about that and you know what? I’m usually first in the office and am very happy so it’s a good thing nobody tried to make that decision for me.

    I am one of the very few who don’t really mind it.

    Reply
    1. MK

      No one can know if they can handle the commute before they try it, and many people, like the OP, don’t even consider it beforehand. It’s reasonable for the employer to ask.

      Reply
    2. Kat

      Yes, I dislike the assumption too. I also get why employers worry about it. As you mention, in London it’s going to be really hard to have a short commute, I imagine, and it’s probably going much the same way in other big cities.

      Reply
    3. Chaordic One

      When I had a longer commute I found that it was a good time to “decompress” from my job and that I was actually in a better mood when I got home.

      Living closer I sometimes feel like I’m jumping from one frying pan into another and I find it hard to switch gears. There are days when my stomach is in knots from work and then, the minute when I get in the door there’s dinner waiting and I just am not in the mood.

      Reply
  27. McGruff the Crime Dog

    I love my job and used to live very near my office, but due to my spouse’s work situation have endured a 2.5+ hr commute daily for the last five years. The drive is lovely and I actually enjoy the peacefulness of the morning drive into work, but what is extremely frustrating is that my body has suffered terribly – I’ve developed chronic pain from driving and I’m far, far less active than I used to be. There’s absolutely a pleasure in being a bike ride or walk away from the office. There’s also now a lot less time in a day.

    Great jobs are scarce around here and carpooling/rideshare options are occasionally available but not reliably so. We’re in a very rural area. But like others have said, despite my HR Manager and colleagues’ concerns when we moved (I really did think they were exaggerating the toll a long regular commute can take on your physical and emotional well being) they were all absolutely right.

    My office has been helpful in allowing flexible hours where possible and the very occasional work from home. I still love my workplace and I love my spouse, but I wish there was a better solution.

    Reply
  28. DArcy

    My commute was 1-2 hours when I started my current job; the distance was actually small, but I didn’t have a car and getting to the office via public transit involved two buses and a light rail. The same commute dropped to 15-20 minutes when I managed to save up for a used car.

    Reply
  29. Marmite

    I’m currently job hunting and how long of a commute I’m willing to do is a question I’m struggling with! My current job is home based (although with a fair bit of local, and some national, travel) and a daily commute is one (of several) reasons I don’t want to go back to working in an office. Strolling the five feet from my bedroom to my home office is a pleasure that hasn’t gotten old yet!

    Reply
  30. Fishgal

    Thanks for the update, I found your initial question insteresting because where I grew up and used to live every one had 1-3 hour commutes and no one ever questioned it

    Reply
  31. Nick

    Thank you this makes me feel better. I’m a fresh graduate living at home and while I have been getting interviews and making passed the second and even 3rd for a couple just have been falling short.

    I thought it was because the address I put on my resume, my parents house, was so far away from the major city (about 3 hour drive) that as a tie breaker employers were choosing someone else who lived closer to the city over me just because of my having to relocate being a risk or they thought I was going to do a 3 hr commute.

    Nevertheless I added in my cover letters that I will relocate on my own dime and my plan for doing so and that I will be able to show up for the interviews.

    Reply
  32. constablestark

    As someone who currently doing a two-hour commute, my tradeoff is that it still is cheaper to live with the parents than rent near my workplace because my workplace is in a major city and rent comes to about half of what I make in a month.

    Reply
  33. Kat

    I commute to work every day for about 35–40 minutes. I drive and the road is almost all motorway, so it’s nice and quick and, although a bit monotonous, the road is prettier than most motorways and I enjoy listening to the radio (we’re not allowed to do that in the office) and getting myself prepared for my ‘work persona’ and becoming less grumpy and more able to deal with other people. In that sense, I don’t mind it and can see the positives. I would like to be able to walk to work, but I chose not to live in my work town and that’s my decision. I love not being near work when I leave, and that I never have to walk past it or think about it, really. It’s completely separate from my non-work life.

    However, I do want to move a bit further away, into a city, because where I live is small and for a single person it’s not great for evening activities and getting out and doing stuff. I haven’t moved in the years I’ve been working here because city driving and commuting is very different. Adding extra time to my journey would be OK if it was just more straightforward driving but incorporating traffic and associated stress just doesn’t appeal to me. It’s partly why I’m feeling a bit miserable. Caught in a bind because of my job, really. So I get the commute aspect, but I do think it’s up to individuals to decide. Some people are OK with doing extra time to/from work if they get to improve their weekend lives.

    My work started to make it a ‘thing’ that new people have to be within a reasonable distance. I understand in principle, but I am someone who gave some pushback on it because I feel it’s narrowing the pool of good employees in a small area (it’s not very urban).

    Reply
  34. Gerry

    This may get buried but I hope someone can answer this question.

    I live somewhat far away from most job opportunities in my field. Not so far that I can’t drive to the interviews but far enough that no sane person would attempt the commute. I plan on relocating and can crash at a friend’s house/apartment while I look for an apartment. However, I understand with the high supply of entry level college graduates that some employers throw away any resume that is more than x miles from the company.

    Let’s say the closet friend is an hour away from the company location. Will it hurt to explain that I plan on relocating as soon as possible, and that I used a friend’s address since I will be able to live at said friend’s place until I find an apartment of my own?

    Reply
    1. Ego Chamber

      Dear god no. It’s a cover letter, so you lie within reason. You say you “currently live at [x location] and are in the process of relocating to [y location]. The move will be completed within [timeframe].”

      Reply
  35. Chaordic One

    Either use your friend’s address on your application and resume and pose as a local when you apply; or use your current address and state that you are looking forward to relocating in your cover letter.

    One or the other. Employers (and potential employers) are not logical and often have weird ideas. Personally, I think the using your friend’s address and posing as a local is more likely to get you an interview. When you get a job tell your employer that you’re moving and getting a place of your own.

    (You can get a cheap TracFone, claim your friend’s address, and get a local phone number with a local area code just for job hunting until you get hired and settled.)

    Reply
    1. Gerry

      Are some recruiters/interviewers really THAT brain dead that they care about the area code? I can see address since that is your current residence but your area code is simply where you bought your cellphone.

      People move all the time and cellphones have been out forever. Why would they hold your area code against you?

      Reply
  36. Kirsty

    I used to have a 1.5 hour commute (one way) to work, a lot worse if I was detained by 5-10 minutes in the office. I managed to do it for a year before it began effecting every other aspect of my life. Kudo’s to you for keeping it up, my commute is now 15-30 minutes in rush hour traffic and I couldn’t be happier.

    Reply
  37. Pineapple Incident

    I’m with you, OP. I’ve settled for living in a place that I enjoy (where traffic isn’t so awful I can’t get around in the evenings, and living expenses are way better) in exchange for a pretty terrible commute. Basically, if I were to move even 10 miles closer to work, the savings in gas/car wear and tear would be dwarfed by having to put in another $300 or so in rent with fewer amenities than the complex I currently live in. I’m about 35 miles away from work (work is on the Beltway in the DC area), and it takes me about 1:15 in the mornings, 1:30 in the evening but highly variable depending on traffic/whether school is in/weather.

    Reply
  38. Yams

    Man, you have the patience of a saint. I have a 10 minute commute and I can barely make it without wanting to die every morning.

    Reply

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