why should employers care about my long commute?

A reader writes:

I was wondering if you could give me some insight into a situation I’m having with a company I’ve been interviewing with.

I’ve spoken to a recruiter and interviewed with one hiring manager, and both of them have brought up concerns about my commute length. On paper, it’s about 70 minutes. In reality, with traffic conditions, it’ll be closer to 2 hours or longer. Obviously not ideal, but all the jobs I’m applying for are at least an hour away (I currently live with my parents in a very remote, isolated town; everything is at least an hour away).

I’ve assured them both that I would definitely look into relocating if I got the job (which is true) but now the recruiter wants me to interview for a new position in the same company with a different hiring manager – only the hiring manager is dragging his feet on interviewing me, because of concerns about my commute.

This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve had to assure them that yes, I know my commute would be obscenely long and yes, I am willing to relocate whenever possible. Is it normal for hiring managers to be this concerned about long commutes, or should I take this as a sign that I’m probably not likely to get a job with this company?

On the flip side, if I’m lucky enough to get an offer from multiple companies, I know that I wouldn’t choose this particular job because of the commute and cost of relocating (I can’t afford to rent a place on my own in that area on the salary they’d be paying me – I’m willing to live with a roommate, but the delay in finding one means more time spent with a hellish commute).

However, I would choose this job if it’s the only company that wants to hire me because I honestly would love to work with them – I’d just prefer a job with a better commute and less expensive relocating costs at this time. Should I be honest with them about this? I feel like if I’m honest I’m definitely not going to get the job, but would it look bad on me if I later turn down an offer because of the commute when they’ve specifically been asking me about that since the beginning?

I thought I had prepared myself for interviewing for jobs, but I didn’t know that commute time would be such a big deal and I just don’t know what to do now.

Yeah, it’s not uncommon for employers to care about what kind of commute you’d have, especially when you’re talking about two hours each way (or longer!).

The reason for that is that they’re concerned that you’ll quickly burn out on doing such a long commute and end up leaving over it much sooner than you would otherwise. No one wants to invest in hiring and training an employee and have the person leave after a few months because the commute is killing them, so they’re trying to get a feel now for whether you’ve really thought it through and whether it’s really realistic.

It might feel unfair for them to decide that for you — after all, if you’re okay with it, why should they care? — but lots of hiring managers have had the experience of hiring someone who swore up and down that the commute would be fine, only to have it turn out that it wasn’t fine. People are often overly optimistic about this kind of thing when they want a job, and then have the reality of it grind them down and change their thinking. Employers are entitled to factor that knowledge into their thinking and be cautious about it, no matter how sure you are that it won’t be an issue. It’s not all that different from an employer who’s skeptical that you’ll really be happy working on topic X rather than topic Y, or that you’ll be happy in a job you’re overqualified for — you can say all you want that you’re okay with it, but they still get to bring their own judgment to bear, because they’ll be impacted by it if it turns out not to be correct.

As for whether you should tell them that you would in fact prefer a job with a shorter commute and less expensive relocating costs: That’s kind of like saying, “I’d rather work for your competitor, but if you offered me a job, I’d be happy to take it.” Employers want to feel like you’re excited about the job they offer you, that they’re not a bottom-of-the-barrel choice for you, and that accepting doesn’t feel like a compromise — again, because they want you to stay and not leave as soon as something better comes along. I don’t see any way to say this to them without making them really concerned that if you accept the job with them and then get an offer closer to you a couple of weeks later, you’ll back out.

I have no idea if this is possible for you, but if you’re able to move closer to the area you want to work in now, rather than waiting until you get a job there, you might find that it’s easier to get hired. Of course, if you’re getting plenty of interest from employers and this is the only one expressing this kind of concern, then you should ignore that advice — but if you’re having trouble getting interviews and/or if other employers are expressing hesitation about the commute, it might be worth just getting the move over with now. This is similar to how it’s often much easier to find a job in another state once you make the move — distance really can be an obstacle in job-hunting, so if it’s feeling that way to you (again, outside of this one employer), it’s worth considering if it’s possible.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 204 comments… read them below }

  1. some1*

    Also, if you live in a place where traffic gets worse when it snows/rains/etc, that makes communtes on those days even harder. They won’t want you to be late every time that happens.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      This is what I was thinking. They might not care if you’re burnt out, but they’ll care if you’re late all the time.

    2. SevenSixOne*

      They also may not want someone with a long commute if it’s a place where “flexible schedule” means “drop everything and come in to work on very short notice”.

    3. danr*

      That’s silly thinking. The smart person leaves earlier. I wasn’t questioned on my commute at my old company, since almost everyone had a long commute. I drove an hour and a half and most others had an hour to an hour and a half journey on the subways… and they were still in the city.

      1. INTP*

        This commute is two hours in traffic, which could easily get much worse in snow + traffic. Even a smart person would only leave home at five or earlier and get home at eight or later so many times in the winter before begging to work from home or looking for a closer job. And bad commutes burn people out – this is like 4 more hours of work in the day, only the employer doesn’t see the extra work, just the productivity effects of a very long day.

      2. Kelly O*

        But the smart person can only leave so much earlier. And traffic jams often happen while you’re en route, so even if things looked fine at 6:00 when you left, the accident with a jack-knifed 18-wheeler at 6:10 is not going to be something you can plan ahead for.

        Trust me, I was on the receiving end of this when looking for jobs when I got my current role, and my husband is dealing with it now. But honestly? I’ve done the super-long commute and it did wear on me. And I did wind up moving on sooner than I thought I would because of that. I started off with the very best of intentions and it just didn’t work the way I thought it would.

        The smart person can’t plan for every possible contingency. Even with my relatively short (30-45 minute) commute in Houston, some mornings traffic is just worse. Some mornings it’s a breeze. I never know until I get out there in it, because the traffic report doesn’t always give every road.

        I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not silly to consider.

  2. Oldblue*

    I have this issue in my job search also. Except I am willing to move anywhere in my state, and no one but from my city calls back. I live in the largest landlocked state, in the largest city in the state, btw. So I’ve just given up on applying to jobs out of town.

    If it’s a two-hour commute I think the advice Allison gave is right. Find a low-rent apartment and live there until you find a job and can find somewhere better.

    1. YandO*

      I am looking out of state and I put “relocating to X” on my resume

      you can put “looking for opportunities in Y area” and then leave off your exact address and only put down your general area, like “DC Metro Area”

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        This is what I was going to suggest , OR beginning your cover letter with something like “I’m in the process of relocating to Happy Town and am very interested in your X position…”

        1. Sunshine*

          Yep. If you make it clear that you know the job is out of your area, that might help. I get applicants all the time who are out of state, and when I ask about relocation they often say “no way”. Like they didn’t even read the posting. So now I don’t ask as much. I just skip over them.

      2. Taleo Weeds you out*

        If you do this, and you don’t have a zip-code, Taleo will often weed out non-local applicants. So, you’d have to put in a zip code.
        I’ve done a relocating job-hunt twice – when I do, I’ve put the address of a friend or family member who I’ll live with if I have to move within a 2 week window, and then apartment hunt once I’m there.

        1. Taleo Weeds you out*

          To clarify –
          In my cover letter I specify that I’m relocating for personal reasons blah blah blah, but putting the address on my resume allows my resume/cover letter to even make it through the initial filters. (This is coming from someone who works with Taleo, so I know this for a fact).
          Often, if we have ample local candidates, we don’t even look at non-local candidates, so it gets you past that first threshold.

          1. Oldblue*

            I don’t think the places I apply to use taleo…. I mean unless everyone uses it. Regardless I get interviews even though I don’t put my address on my resume. At most of the places I’ve applied they require you to put in your complete address somewhere else.

    2. KT*

      I’m a champion of cross country moves and job searching. I went from PA to FL, FL to DE, then back to FL–each time I had a job set up in my new location before moving.

      What worked for me is to put a mention in my cover letter. I set what I thought would be a typical amount of time to go through the hiring process and move, and would say “I am currently in PA but am relocating to Orlando October 1”.

      I guess they thought that meant I was serious and wasn’t going to change my mind; I never had even a hiccup in my search then.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Yes, I did the same thing on my (one) cross-country move! I put a date of when I planned to be in the new city, and got plenty of calls and interviews, and even a job before relocating.

        1. KT*

          It really does help–if there’s a particular neighborhood you like, bring it up in the interview too!

          During my one interview (which I flew down for), I said “Brrrrrr can’t wait until October when I’m here and get to be warm! I was looking at apartments in Hunter’s Creek, and that pool is calling my name!”

          But the most important part is the ability (and willingness) to move quickly if hired. I don’t have children and somehow my husband managed to also get a job in another state, so when they would ask how long it would take to move, I always said 2 weeks’ notice was enough.

          1. Oldblue*

            I’m single without kids, so I’m pretty much free to do what I want as far as jobs go right now.

      2. YandO*

        what worries me about that is that they will say “ok, interview October 2nd? You’ll be here right?”

        I put “relocating in the next few months”

        I can’t really tell if it’s been working for me. I got calls, interview, and even a job offer, but I am still looking….

        1. Anon369*

          This sounds less committed to the move to me as a hiring manager. I like the firm date (assuming it’s true!)

        2. KT*

          So, that comes off as much less committed….they can tell you don’t have any concrete plans, etc, where putting a definitive date makes it look like you’ve already made the decision to move regardless of job search, which makes you more attractive.

          The date I put as my move was usually about 3 months away–what I figured was reasonable for them to weed through applications, do 2 rounds of interviews, check references, and make an offer.

          By the time they actually made an offer this last time, the date I initially put came and went, but I just said I needed to give appropriate notice and it was a non-issue.

          1. YandO*

            hmmm…I will ponder this.

            In my case, the type of companies I am applying with, their timeline is much shorter. Like 1 month (I’ve gone through few cycles already). I think I would be weed out if I set a date three months in advance. If I set a date 1 month out, then I can’t really commit to that deadline, cause I need 2 week notice

            How did that work for you? Did they not care that your date was not “real”? Were they willing to wait however long for you to move pass the date you gave?

            1. KT*

              It never came up as an issue.

              So I think I said my official “in-Orlando” date was March 1. They called on March 8 with the offer and asked when I could start, I said I needed to give 2 weeks, so how about X date, they said okay. They never said “Oh I thought you were moving on X”–I think they just assumed I was working remotely or finishing up loose ends and never gave it a second thought.

    3. MH*

      I get that too. Legally I live in CT but have been looking for work in NYC. Many people do this from my state via Metro North and it makes me feel that employers but this into question. It’s an hour and ten-minute commute.

  3. Spooky*

    Moving definitely helped me get a job. Long-distance job-hunting wasn’t working, and people told me point-blank that they would only hire someone who already lived in the area. Once I moved, I had far more interviews, and secured a job in only a few weeks.

    If I may offer one tip: see if you can find out the fiscal year for your industry. For some industries, job get scarce toward the end of the fiscal year when companies are starting to run lower on cash for the year, and lots of jobs get posted as soon as the new year starts. The most helpful person I talked to before moving gave me a vague run-down of our industry’s year, so I knew that there would be no point in moving in the late fall – I’d just be treading water until the new jobs were posted in the spring. Save your money and move during the flush season.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      True because the new positions are usually budgeted for for the next fiscal year

  4. AdAgencyChick*

    Yeah, sorry. I care, because I’ve been burned by superiors or colleagues who’ve had a bad commute before. I’m not saying everyone does it, but these are the employees who are most likely to beg off late nights, ask to work from home frequently enough to be an issue, or burn out, quit, and leave the hiring manager in the same boat as she was in just a few months ago.

    I *have* also worked with people with long commutes who worked out great, so when I’m hiring I won’t dismiss someone who lives an hour or more away out of hand. But if I have a lot of candidates to look at, I’ll probably put that resume at the bottom of the pile, and if I do interview that person, I’ll make sure the recruiter grills this person about any accommodations she’s hoping for.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      (Also, I will happily interview someone who currently lives out of town but has a plan to move that she can articulate well)

      1. TootsNYC*

        Yep–“that she can articulate well.”

        I can’t ever help someone with their move; my industry doesn’t pay relocation expenses.

        But if you can say, “I’ve looked at apartments in X part of town, and know that I can get a lease pretty quickly, so the transition period of living 2 hours away will be short,” then you’ll be a lot more believable.
        If you can say you’ve spoken to an apartment-complex manager and are on their short list–that’s even better.

        Dan, down below me, makes this same point. Get some research in on that point, so that you sound credible in terms of moving.

        1. Tau*

          But then, all that only works if OP is looking for jobs in that city *specifically*. If, say, OP is looking for jobs anywhere within a two-hour radius of their parents’ house and planning to relocate wherever they end up getting one, going to that level of effort for every town they’re considering might be too much hassle and pretending that they’re going to be moving into the area one way or another dishonest.

          Then again, bit of a work-cultural gap here… I applied for jobs all over the UK saying I was happy to relocate and would most likely just need a delay to the start date in order to move and I thought that was pretty standard – indeed, the one I ended up getting is about as far as from where I was living as you can get while staying in the country, and I’m currently in the process of sorting the flat. Nobody ever mentioned the distance or relocation as a problem. So the suspicion this is being viewed with here confuses me.

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            Oh, by “articulate well” I just mean something like “I really want this job, and if you pick me, I’ll be living here within six weeks.” So maybe what I mean is “definite intent to move for the job.”

            (which means I didn’t articulate myself well, ha!)

            I would be wary of “Oh, I can manage!” or “if it’s too hard, I can always move.”

            1. Sunshine*

              Exactly. Because this also impacts other important aspects – start date, for one. If I need someone to start ASAP, I may not take a chance in someone who still has to find a place to live.

          2. Letter-Writer*

            That first paragraph is my exact issue. I can’t make concrete plans to move anywhere until I know where I’m going to be working- I don’t want to move an hour south of my parents’ house if I get a job an hour north of them.

            I have been looking online at apartment prices, to get a sense of how much I’d be paying in rent- is this the sort of thing I should be telling hiring mangers, so they know that I’m serious about moving? Something like, “I would definitely relocate, and I’ve actually been pricing apartments to get a head-start on that. I’m currently looking at the ____ area, if I get the position.”

            1. Kyrielle*

              Yes! That will tell them that you’re serious, AND it will also remove the fear that you mean it but haven’t checked whether it’s financially feasible and would have to change your mind.

            2. KT*

              YES! Work in, “if I got the job, I’d look to relocate quickly-likely within my first month. I’m targeting the Westeros district–I love how close it is to dragons!”

              Then they know you’re serious and will be ready to go.

            3. ALH*

              Sounds like you’re from NJ! The variable commute, the random isolated towns and more.

            4. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Think of this advantage, too– you’re living with your parents, so there’s no lease to break and you can move quickly if you need to. My first job out of college was in Northern VA, I was living with my parents in Baltimore County. My commute sucked, but everyone knew going in that I was going to find an apartment asap, and I did.

              1. Christy*

                Woof. No thank you. Also, hi! I’m from Baltimore County. My mom lives near White Marsh Mall and I used to commute daily to the middle of DC. It was good fortune that it was near Union Station and I could take the MARC.

            5. Elizabeth West*

              Definitely. It indicates to them that you know the situation with the commute is problematic, but rather than ditching the job, you’re taking steps to ditch the commute.

              If that made sense at all….sorry I haz the stupids today. I cannot brain.

          3. Treena Kravm*

            But applying all over the UK is very different from applying all over the US. One end of the UK to the other is 600ish miles while in the US it’s 3,000. Not saying moving is inherently easier, but you could easily move in 2 days (packing the truck, driving, unpacking it) no matter where you’re going, but it’s a 1-2 week-long process in the US.

            1. Tau*

              This is fair – I’d definitely expect more raised eyebrows if I started applying to other countries in Europe myself, and that may be a better analogy for “out-of-state”. But then the relocation suspicion hits OP, who’s only applying two hours away…

            2. bridget*

              And the unanticipated homesickness isn’t as much of a problem. Someone who is max 600 miles away from their family can visit on weekends without too much trouble. Someone whose ties are all in Seattle is going to have a *much* harder adjustment moving to Miami.

          4. Stranger than fiction*

            Yes but you should be tailoring your cover letter for each position anyhow

  5. Ed*

    I’ve worked with maybe a dozen long commuters over the years and all but one eventually quit to find a closer job. And they all promised the long commute was not an issue when hired. I do know one guy that commutes about 2 hour each way and has for years but this is around DC where an affordable house almost requires a long commute. I don’t think you can appreciate how it wears on you until you do it for months or years. Not living in a major metro area, I personally consider living over an hour away one of the biggest red flags when I interview someone.

    1. Stephanie*

      When I lived there, I remember WaPo (or one of the radio stations) had a contest for longest commute. I think the guy who “won” lived south of Richmond. I just got tired reading about his commute.

      1. hermit crab*

        I think WTOP runs this “contest” periodically — the winner gets a limo ride to work for a week, or something like that. Some of the contestants’ commutes are just absurd!

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*


        The most horrifying commute I’ve ever encountered was a man who lived in Northampton, Massachusetts and commuted to somewhere in New Jersey, 4 times a week. 4 hours each way. Gah. He also was a partner in a business back home in Massachusetts, where he worked part-time as well. I’m not sure he slept.

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          Oops – misremembered. He actually lived in a little town about half an hour *outside* of Northampton and I-91, which makes matters even worse.

    2. Steve G*

      I have to concur, which OP may not want to hear, but it is definitely grating. I did an 1 1/2 commute each way for a high paying temp job and it was deadly, especially in the snow! I kept adding cushions to my commute to account for possible accidents, weather, etc. etc. and before you know it, your leaving 2 hours before the work day starts. Then at night you have a little time for exercise, and personal time so short that you don’t know what to do with it.

      70 miles is about 10 miles short of the distance between Manhattan and the Hamptons – where people pack up and go for the weekends – not drive back and forth from everyday, I don’t consider anything over 55miles a commute….

      I also have (albeit anecdotal evidence) experience with such people who ALWAYS used work from home privileges, and never hung around after meetings when they had to come to the city….not that I cared…but it would have been really annoying if it impacted my job!

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        You just reminded me of the Pete Campbell-level account guy I used to work with, who lived far from the agency and close by one of the clients. He’d forever be setting up client meetings and then not come into the office when the meeting was over. It meant that, while the rest of us were working away at the office, we wouldn’t get his input except sporadically (and, by Murphy’s Law, usually right before a thing was due). Dude, if you want to work at that location, go get a job with the client. If you work for the agency, there are times when you need to be at the agency. No one cried when he was finally let go.

    3. tesyaa*

      I joined a team which had hired a recent college graduate who was commuting from Philadelphia to northern NJ daily. She quit within a year of being hired.

      1. Steve G*

        EEEwwwww, I would last like one day doing that…that could be like 3 hours one way if the traffic is bad

      2. K.*

        I’ve lived and worked in both NYC and Philly. I’ve known a number of people who live in Philly and work in NYC because Philly’s COL is much, much lower. And when the commute got to be too much, as it nearly always did, the vast majority of them opted to stay in Philly and find work there rather than moving to NYC or the surrounding area because of that much lower-COL.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Ahhh, the Philly-NYC commute is one reason I give the side-eye to resumes of people with long commutes. I had a co-shirker who lived in Philly once, and I was frequently made to take over his work at night so he could make the 4:45 Amtrak. I’m older and more assertive now, and you bet your sweet bippy that’s not going to happen to me again.

      3. oldfashionedlovesong*

        I just moved to Bucks County for a job in central NJ and I’ve been finding it very lonely. The one bright spot is that my commute is about fifteen minutes when there’s low traffic. Several of my same-aged colleagues have been encouraging me to move further away from work, to Philly, where it would be so much easier to make friends… but the idea of creating a longer commute for myself is so dispiriting.

    4. blushingflower*

      Yep. I work in DC and it takes me approx 90 minutes to get to work every day, entirely via public transit.
      Partly this is because I rely on the bus for a portion of my commute, and buses get stuck in traffic (the bus ride should take 10 minutes, it routinely takes 20-30). I am looking at moving, but my office location means that unless I moved somewhere I could walk from, my commute will pretty much always suck

    5. Snargulfuss*

      Ha, in DC I lived a little over 5 miles away from my job and I still had an hour-long commute!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I lived and worked in Tysons Corner for about a year. During Christmas, my 3-mile commute took about 45 minutes. Madness.

        1. Stephanie*

          I used to work In Old Town Alexandria. I had to head to Tysons Corner after work and was like “Oh man, there’s a bus along Rte 7 that goes directly there.” It took me 2 hours to go 10 miles (if that). I proceeded to bum a ride back in DC (where I lived).

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Yeah, sounds like DC. Or Boston. I had a 7-mile commute take an hour and 15 minutes (or an hour and a half in the winter).

        1. blackcat*

          This winter, one of my neighbors had her 4 mile, 30-45 minute commute (driving) turn into an hour plus. That commute plus ice damage to her roof means she’s thinking of selling her house (kids are grown) and buying a condo next to work.

          Her experience made me really glad that I have a 30 minute *walking* commute (10 minutes if I’m lazy and bus it). Sure, it did increase to about 40 minutes in the winter (f-ing 10 ft piles of snow on sidewalks meant they were one way in areas). But it was still highly predictable…. unless I fell…

          I did a little dance the second week in May when the local massive snow pile finally disappeared.

    6. INTP*

      Agree. It seems doable, but it wears on you, especially when there is traffic and everyone is being aggressive and it’s super stressful. And even if someone doesn’t leave their job over it, it affects overall productivity. They’re “working” 15 more hours per week than someone with a 30 minute commute but the but the company doesn’t benefit from those hours.

    7. JC*

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure that in the DC area ridiculous commutes don’t get in the way of hiring in the same way they might in other places, since everyone works with someone with an 1.5 hour+ commute. Hell, I live in DC and commute via bus and metro to Arlington, and my 7-mile commute takes 45 minutes!

    8. Katie*

      Super commuter here. I live in the LA area and have done a 70 mile one way commute, and a 40 mile one way commute for years. This can add up to 3-5 hours a day on the road. It’s absolutely doable and it’s a reality I have to face if I want to live in my current home while still working in the entertainment industry. But I have to agree with Ed here — you can’t appreciate how it wears on you until you do it for months or years.

      The employer probably has concerns way beyond your willingness to make the drive and what might happen if the weather is bad. A long commute can mean stretches of the day where you’re unreachable. It can mean that you have to leave early to pick up a dog at doggie daycare. It can mean that running out for a doctor’s appointment becomes a day off. It can mean sleep deprivation, relationship chaos that bleeds into your work day, inability to put in extended hours for a deadline, or repetitive car trouble because of the miles you’re putting on your vehicle. When your commute takes up so much of your waking hours, you basically have to rely on the best case scenario to make it all go according to plan. Ultimately, there is far less potential for drama if they hire someone who lives nearby.

      OP, do your best to relocate. While I’m sure you’re up for the challenge of a long commute, your body and mind would be served a lot better without it — as would your employer!

  6. katamia*

    It’s hard to know what’ll burn you out before you’re there. I’ve been doing some tutoring recently that involves going to people’s houses. My longest commute (long enough that I got a bonus from the company for it) wasn’t so bad, but I had another student who was closer to my house, but the commute was so much worse going home that even though it was shorter I dreaded it every time and am definitely feeling the burnout. Unless you’ve done this kind of commute before, it’s hard to say what will burn you out.

    But on the flip side, my dad worked for the federal government when I was growing up (DC) and still tells me today about some of his coworkers, who had 2/2.5-hour commutes into DC (he didn’t, and his head probably would have exploded if he’d tried that) and did that for years, so some people really are okay with it.

  7. Dan*

    My quibble is with the wording “I’ve assured them that I will definitely look into relocating…” That statement isn’t very committal, and therefore is meaningless.

    If you told me that you were actually going to relocate once you had a job offer, because well, you know, you need the offer letter to qualify for the apartment, I’d actually believe you.

    1. MsM*

      Agreed. I’d say “planning,” with the implication that you’re already looking into it. If you can offer a (short) time range for how long you think it’ll take you once you have the offer, so much the better.

    2. Letter-Writer*

      When I spoke to them I was much more direct (“I will relocate” rather than “I will look into relocating”). The issue is right as you said though: I can’t actually qualify for an apartment until I have an offer, because I can’t afford even a month of rent in the area I’d be move to without the guarantee of a job.

      1. zora*

        yeah but just exaggerate that a little bit more. “Yes, I am planning to relocate by the end of July.” That timeline can always shift once you’ve started the job, that often happens when looking for an apt, so they won’t think of it as a lie. As of the moment they ask you, you are planning to relocate by that date. Don’t get too hung up on the details, just make it clear you are really committed to this job by using strong language to talk about the move.

  8. cardiganed librarian*

    I used to have a manager who commuted from over an hour away, which in the reality of our region’s climate means often up to two hours. She ended up acting like making the trip in was a personal favour she was doing and made every excuse to work overtime in lieu of a day off (at time and a half). Every appointment meant she called in for a full day.

    Of course, you’re planning on relocating and you presumably have a better work ethic, but employers don’t necessarily know that. (Of course my manager shouldn’t have been in the job but that’s a long story, complicated by a union.)

    1. Tasha*

      Yes, a long commute does make it difficult to manage dentist/doctor/whatever appointments.

      1. SevenSixOne*

        or any kind of life outside of work– if a typical work day is 9-6ish, that means OP will have to leave home by 7am and won’t get home until after 8. That leaves maybe three hours a night to get anything done before it’s time to go to bed and do it all again tomorrow.

      2. blushingflower*

        It’s doable, but it depends on where you live and how you commute.
        I live in the DC Metro area, and take public transit. I don’t have a car. Where I live in suburban MD is very much built with the expectation that most people will have a car. The only thing I do where I live is buy groceries (at the store that is on top of the Metro and on my walk home) and occasionally order take-out.
        My dentist, doctor, eye doctor, massage therapist, etc are all in DC. My dentist is much closer to my office than to my house (it is also more Metro-accessible than my office, but that’s because I have the misfortune to work in Georgetown). So, generally, the max time I have to take off is an afternoon.

      3. Jennifer*

        You’d probably be better off getting a dentist/doctor in the area of your job rather than at your home.

        1. Delyssia*

          A former colleague with a monster commute used to think that way. And then she had to have a minor procedure done, by the doctor who was near the office. Though it was minor, she couldn’t drive herself home afterward. She had to get a ride from home to the doctor’s office from a coworker who lived near her, then her significant other drove to the doctor’s office to pick her up and drive her home. Had the doctor been near home, her significant other could have dropped her off, gone to work, then picked her up, or she could have taken a taxi one way, among other options.

          From there on, she was convinced of the importance of having doctors near where you live, regardless of the inconvenience for routine appointments.

  9. Ann O'Nemity*

    As a hiring manager, I wouldn’t hire someone who said “I have a 2 hour commute but I’ll look into relocating if I get the job.” There’s just too much possibility of something to go wrong and I can’t afford to take the chance.

    1. Judy*

      I think it should be made clear that you’re currently living with your parents, but will be relocating as soon as you have a job. You are not planning on commuting from your parents’ house.

      There’s a difference from living with the ‘rents 2 hours away compared to having an apartment or, even worse, a house 2 hours away.

      1. Rachel B*

        Agreed! I would look much more favorably on a recent graduate or young professional who indicated that they would relocate once they had a stable pay check, than someone who was established in living an hour or more away indefinitely.

        I think it also varies by job/office culture. In my current office, we’d be reluctant to hire anyone who lives more than an hour away, as there’s limited public transportation and a lot of snow in the winter. In my previous role in Boston, it was assumed that everyone had an insane commute, unless otherwise disclosed.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        I agree with that. I think the phrasing and context is really important here.

  10. YandO*

    IT is really hard to relocate without having a job lined up. So, OP, you need to make sure you tell them that and then in no uncertain terms say “As soon as I have a job offer, I will begin looking for a new apartment closer to the area. I would not be bale to get an apartment without proof of income, which is why I have not done so yet. I expect my commute to be 30 to 6o minutes and no more than that.”

    1. zora*

      even this is a little too dependent on weak language. “I am looking at housing now, and am planning to be relocated by X date.”

  11. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    I had that issue too. I had about an hour commute and planned to relocate closer- but couldn’t go ahead with any relocation plans unless I had a job lined up. It was the topic I was asked the most questions about when applying and it was very frustrating. Now I live about 10 minutes from my employer but it still takes me over an hour some days because traffic can be that bad… it’s more likely to make me late now because I leave like I only have a 30 minute commute only to be surprised when yet another truck has tipped over or something.

    I also grew up in an area where many people commuted into Boston, even though we were over an hour away (longer with traffic). I guess a lot of those people got the jobs when they lived locally but moved when they started a family. These people (my father included) have stayed at these jobs 10+ years, unless they’ve been laid off. Of course, that is an older generation so perhaps it was more expected then. But knowing these people who have worked long tenures at jobs they lived fairly far from makes it really irksome to me that employers care that much and want to decide what kind of commute you can handle.

  12. Tasha*

    I accepted a job with a 90 minute commute because I was desperate; I told them I would relocate when we sold our current place (which we really had no intention of doing). After six months I asked for working one day/week at home, and by the end of my five years there I was going to the office once a month. Yes, it was very hard for me to stay late, and off-hours socializing with colleagues was difficult. But it worked for me for a while.

  13. Stephanie*

    I ran into this once. Job was about 50 mi one way (same metro area–my house and the job were just on extreme opposite ends of the area) and the recruiter asked me if I’d be ok commuting to North BFE from East BFE. I said I’d look into relocating if I got an offer (I could tell she was skeptical). I almost wanted to say “Hey…I live with my parents. I will gladly take a reason like a new job to move out” but realized that wouldn’t exactly make me sound like a mature adult.

    1. Ad Astra*

      Really? I said almost exactly that in my interviews! In my case, the commute was only 40-45 minutes, but that’s considered a pretty long commute where I live.

  14. John*

    I would try to make your move sound more definite. As in, “I’m in the process of apartment hunting in the area and am hoping to be settled before I’d start” (and if you have any friends in the area, I’d drop a mention of that to show ties that make the likelihood of a successful move that much greater).

    At least you’re getting interviews. Often, it is hard to be taken seriously as a candidate without a local address.

  15. LBK*

    Yeah, I’d be skeptical about someone with a 2 hour commute that’s driving the entire way. If not for the fact that they might get burned out and quit, then also because that’s more chance of them getting stuck in traffic, more chance of car troubles being a factor in their availability, more chance of them opting out or pushing back on anything that falls outside of their normal schedule, etc. Dealing with the contingencies of an average length commute can be troublesome enough and there’s too many variables here for me to feel great about your reliability.

    1. TootsNYC*

      A long commute via mass transit is very different from a long commute when you’re driving. Driving is very wearing. Mass transit often means sitting time (esp. a long commute–even if you don’t get a seat first off, you’ll get one when the closer-in people get off), and it can actually be somewhat enjoyable. You can read, knit, write letters, etc.

      1. Melissa*

        One summer I did an internship at a location that was a 2 hour ride by public transit. It’s nothing I would do long-term – doesn’t leave you a lot of time in the evenings – but I do admit that the ride was nothing and it was really quite enjoyable sometimes, especially when I got into the quiet car on the LIRR and just allowed myself to zone out and mull. It was like a great zen period before and after work. I actually remember that summer being one of the more serene summers of graduate school.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, the commute itself can be just as prone to unpredictability as a driving commute, but I’d definitely be less concerned about someone burning out who was taking the train/bus than someone who was driving. A tiny part of me misses when I had a slightly longer commute since I used it to read, although most of me thoroughly enjoys being able to walk home now.

          1. blushingflower*

            One of my coworkers actually just gave up her parking spot in favor of a transit subsidy, because driving wasn’t any faster and was much more stressful. Transit has its frustrations, but at least you can read a book while you’re not going anywhere.

      2. Sara*

        I’d definitely take my long (75-90 minutes each way) public transit commute over the same amount of time in a car, but not by much. I take 3 different trains and a bus between work and my house now, and I am definitely looking forward to getting a job closer to home and/or a car. (My commute would only be about 30-35 minutes by car, but I can’t afford one on my income.)

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          I traded 35-45 minutes in the car for 15ish minutes on foot and at least 35 minutes on transit and a longer workday besides. And a pay cut. But obviously the 35-45-minute commute wasn’t what had me raring to leave that job.

      3. Myrin*

        I was thinking exactly that! My uni is an hour from where I live – but that’s if you take a car. For me, the train ride is exactly one hour but I also need to count the time it takes me to get to the station at home and then from the final destination to the uni itself, so it’s closer to two hours. I have been doing this for five years and have no problems with it whatsoever. That said, I’m not in the US and there are A LOT of people here who live in the same area as me and commute to the city my uni is in, so I don’t think employers bat an eye over that (especially as housing in the city itself is very expensive and sparse; the people who are from around here are better off in basically every way by just staying here and commuting daily).

      4. Stone Satellite*

        Carpooling can have similar benefits. My commute is more than an hour each way, but I only actually drive it once a week, and the rest of the time I can work on my laptop, read, zone out, whatever. Of course it leaves me a lot less personal time at home during the week, but the job is worth it and carpooling makes it pretty workable. After reading about all the people on this thread who wouldn’t hire someone with a long commute I’m grateful that my manager just trusted that if I had good enough judgment to be worth hiring, I had good enough judgment to decide whether I could handle the commute.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        Amen. I only have a twenty-minute commute in traffic (driving), but I haaaaaaate it. I wish we had decent bus service or even trains here. I get spoiled when I go somewhere that does. There are just so many huge scary trucks, and so many people who drive like idiots. Every morning, I go, “GAH!” at least once. I wish I could just sit and read my Kindle for a while, even if it took longer to get there. I like having my own car, and I like being able to drive myself to other things, but going across town every day for work sucks. And working from home for too long makes me stir crazy.

    2. Lady Bug*

      I traded my 1.5 hour commute train ride for a 1.25 hour drive and I couldn’t be happier. Far too many delays, breakdowns, and stoppages for me. I’d rather be in control of the situation than sit on a train, or wait for a combined train, or take a bus part way, or call my husband from 30 miles away because the train kicked us off. I miss reading/napping, but I enjoy being able to sing along with the radio.

      1. S*

        I think it’s just the illusion of having more control, though – you’re driving your car, sure, but if you’re stuck in traffic there’s still nothing you can do.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          Meh. I used to have a 1.5 hour commute, but if there was traffic I could bail onto the side streets and go any number of ways to get home. I could also choose to pop into a favorite restaurant or go run errands. So, yeah, many more options than being at the mercy of public transport.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I was thinking of Tokyo, where a two hour commute one way is not particularly unusual. But it’s almost all by train – standing room only, but you can read, or play on your phone, or sleep (standing up – the press of people keeps you from falling over). My husband had an hour and a half one way commute for high school!

      I don’t think I could do it long term, as I find the press of people involved to be exhausting on a regular basis.

      1. Julia*

        Is yourhusband Japanese as well?`

        When I lived in Tokyo, people thought I was strange for having a 45 min commute to grad school. We also had a girl with probably really strict parents who commuted on the Shinkansen from Shizuoka – to Shinjuku. Luckily, grad school means you don’t have to be there every day and early if you schedule smartly.

  16. KTB*

    My team actually just dealt with this exact issue. We had a good employee who changed positions within the company and part of the transition deal was her relocation to our metro area. Our metro area is about two hours south of her home area. We even gave her a relocation package (not standard AT ALL at our company). Unfortunately, the whole arrangement went south in a hurry. As it turned out, she didn’t like living in our metro area and ended up moving back home within two months. Her commute immediately became a four hour round trip. Long story short, she’s no longer with the company. Her choice, but obviously that decision wasn’t made in a vacuum. Her replacement just moved even closer to town, and has a roughly 45 minute commute by bus.

    Moral of the story: a long commute has a major, major impact on your quality of life and happiness at work. Do not underestimate the impact of a long, stressful commute!

  17. kas*

    I used to live an hour away from my work and with traffic it would take me 2-3 hours to get to/from work. I only applied because I knew I was moving much closer but if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have lasted more than one month.

    A manager approached me the other day and asked me about my commute before the move etc. Turns out someone from where I used to live applied for a position at my work and the manager said he rejected the person based on what I told him. I feel bad now but I guess it does make sense for a manager to consider these things.

  18. Chickaletta*

    I lost out on a job once because the hiring manager thought my commute was too long. It was over an hour one way. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t get it because the drive would have worn me out soon. But it is hard to see that at the time when you’re unemployed and needing a job and a company that you like is interested in hiring you. I get that. I’ve been job hunting for weeks myself and I tell you, anything is starting to look good to me right now… And if it’s a company that I like too? Yes! But keep the overall perspective. Job hunting is for just a few weeks or months, the job itself should last years.

    1. Knit Pixie*

      I hear you Chickaletta. I had one potential employer be quite rude to me, she was working a street fair and had a sign that she was hiring. She was interested in speaking with me until she found out I lived in a suburb across town. Sure it would have been a 45 minute drive – however it was no problem since it was on the way to my husband’s job, and until we moved closer he drove by it every single day.

      When I tried to explain, she cut me off, said “wrong side of town honey” and turned her back to me until I went away. I was a wee bit peeved since I had just put in an order before I’d asked for an application. Though she hadn’t taken any money from me, she’d completely forgotten (or ignored the fact) that I’d ordered food. After 15 minutes of her tidying, chatting with other vendors, and not making any kind of move to get my order, I realized I was supposed to go away and did.

      I see her around still and have heard through the grapevine that I am not the only customer she has done this to. Apparently if she doesn’t want to deal with you she ignores you until you leave. I guess I am lucky I didn’t have to work with her after all.

      1. Nina*

        Wow, that’s just rude behavior, not to mention bad business. Ignoring potential customers? Sounds like you dodged a bullet on that one.

  19. Katie the Fed*

    I’m dealing with this right now. I have a new employee who’s being transferred from another department. He’s currently commuting from about a 1 hour, 45-min drive each way. I’m really hesitant to take him because the commute makes me nervous. I’m worried about his ability to report on time (which is really important) and because I’m worried he’ll fall asleep at the wheel or something after a long and stressful day (and there are many). I expressed my concerns to him, and he assured me he could do it and is looking at moving out here in the next few months, so I’m going to bite my tongue for a while and let him handle it. If it becomes an issue, I’ll address it then. But man does it make me nervous.

  20. Rebecca*

    I just had this happen at my job; one of our managers is leaving after 8 months because the drive is “too much”. I asked her why she accepted the job in the first place, knowing full well that it would be a long drive, and her reply was “I needed a job and I didn’t think the drive would be this bad.” “Didn’t think” are the operative words. It’s frustrating from a recruiting and supervisory standpoint; you want to give a good candidate the opportunity, then once you do and they show up late everyday (or not at all, sometimes) because the traffic, or the weather, or the construction was bad, it’s extremely disappointing.

  21. Gallerina*

    When I was interviewing in NYC last, I got a lot of grilling about how I was going to cope with my long commute. I would have understood…except the interviewers didn’t read my resume properly and mistook Long Island City (10 minute commute) for Long Island (over an hour).

    1. Melissa*

      Even that is silly; there are thousands of people who commute from Long Island to NYC every day. In fact, I was going to say that NYC is one of the few areas in which people wouldn’t bat an eye over a long commute – either by car or public transit. There are some places within the city from which it would take 45 minutes to an hour to commute to midtown or the FiDi (I used to live in Wash Heights and even a straight shot on the A train to the financial district would probably take almost an hour in the morning).

      1. K.*

        That really is silly. I know lots of people who live on Long Island and work in NYC (a friend of mine is from there and her father worked in the city for forty years, and she and her husband just moved there and they both work in the city); that’s what the LIRR is for! And yeah, it might take longer than someone coming from Manhattan (although it might not), but to act like it is Not Done is just crazy, and inaccurate.

        1. deni*

          I live in NJ and work in NYC and when I was interviewing someone employers would actually say that they didn’t want me to commute “all the way from Jersey.” I wanted to say, “My commute is shorter than your hour-commute from Park Slope or Ditmas Park.” But, I withheld my snark.

    2. Zillah*

      The number of people who get confused about that baffles me. It’s a pretty popular neighborhood these days!!

  22. Empress Zhark*

    I was in exactly this position about 2 years ago. I lived with my parents in one town, but wanted to move to a bigger city – the commute was about 2.5hrs each way on public transport (I didn’t drive at the time). The commute was always brought up in phone screens and interviews.

    I couldn’t afford to move before getting a job in City, and most landlords would have wanted proof of stable income before renting anyway so I felt kind of trapped.

    The way I approached the commute question was to make it absolutely clear that I was moving to City as soon as possible. Whilst I couldn’t in good faith say I was in the process of moving, I did say that I planned on the long commute for a 6 month term maximum, and that in that time I would be saving towards relocating costs as well as learning to drive & getting a car (something which was beneficial to the jobs I was applying for, but I couldn’t feasibly afford once I moved out of my parents house).

    I also reiterated that I had reasons other than the job for moving to City – I had friends in the area who I visited a lot, it was closer to some of my extended family, and that I simply really liked the city & that was why I was looking for jobs. Essentially I spun it as “I want to move to City and this job will help me do that” rather than “I need this job and I’m happy to move to City to get it”.

    Both those things really helped, and I started at a job in October 2013, with a 2.5hr commute. This may have been overcautious, but I also dropped hints to my boss in my first few months that my relocating plans were moving forward – asking coworkers about what areas are good to live in, researching apartments on my lunch break etc. I also didn’t complain/mention my commute at all, unless directly asked about it. I didn’t want to draw attention to it and seem unreliable (or potentially unreliable), and wanted to show my boss I was committed to relocating and hadn’t been bs-ing him in interviews.

    WIthin 6 months I’d relocated as planned, and cut my commute from 2.5hrs to 2.5mins.. which was a great feeling the first Monday when I got a 2.5 hour lie in!

    Good luck OP.

  23. Anonymous Educator*

    I understand your frustration, but I think your potential future employer is being wholly reasonable.

    I’ve had two super-long commutes in my life, both of which I thought I could handle.

    The first involved me commuting across state lines using multiple modes of transportation (driving to a train station, taking a commuter train, and then taking the subway, and then walking), which was very close to a 2-hour commute each way. The company I worked for hired me knowing I’d be making this commute for one year (my partner was in grad school and would be finishing after that, and we could move up closer). They were fine with it, and I thought I’d be fine with it. The commute lost its novelty after a few months. I made it through the whole year, but it was painful. Also, as others have mentioned, it put restrictions on how I interfaced with the job. I couldn’t just leave whenever. I had to leave at a very specific time to get my commuter train home. I’m not big on socializing with co-workers, but the occasional happy hour isn’t so bad, and with that kind of commute… it just wasn’t going to happen. I did end up moving closer to work after that.

    The second time, I thought the commute would be fine. I’d returned to an area I’d lived in before and done a similar (but slightly shorter) commute in that direction. Little did I know that the traffic had gotten way worse than the last time I’d done that commute. What was supposed to be a 45-minute drive turned regularly into 80-120 minutes each way. I quit that job prematurely (not just for the commute, but the commute was a contributing factor).

    OP, you obviously know yourself better than strangers on the Internet (or potential future employers) do, but most people have the honeymoon period on the “I can manage this long commute—it isn’t so bad” attitude tends to end fairly soon for most other people.

    Best of luck!

  24. mskyle*

    Agreeing with those who say you should have a more concrete plan to tell potential employers. Look on craigslist (or whatever is most frequently used in your area), think about neighborhoods, etc. You want to say, “Well, I’m living with my parents right now, so once I have a job offer I’m definitely interested in moving. I figure it would take me a month or two to find the right place.”

    “I’ll look into it” sounds like “…but maybe I will just end up living with my parents and commuting 4 hours a day.”

  25. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    Burned, burned, burned. I almost always eliminate resumes with more than a 1/2 hour commute (which, in my area, is about 30 miles). There’s a 60% – 75% chance you’ll be gone in a year. Not only do they leave, they become resentful well before they leave.

    Here’s my theory: people seem to mentally consider their commute time to be part of their workday, so they feel like they are putting in too many hours for the amount of pay (and the cost of transportation) and they lack work/life balance compared to co-workers. I had someone tell me recently that they shouldn’t have to do an evening thing, “because my day is already 10 hours long because of my commute but other people only have an 8.5 hour day”. No. You choose where to live, and that choice does not change what the company needs from the person in your position. Also, to add to my consternation, this person JUST MOVED farther away from their job. That chances nothing on my end. I’ve also had people try to negotiate pay based on commute distance. Nope – unless you want me to help you decide where to live, then don’t ask me to accept consequences for your choices. These are not in-demand executives where you might make accommodations to convince them to work for you. I can easily get someone local.

    I did just hire someone with a crazy long commute, because it is a very high-skill person I couldn’t normally get. Although she said she would plan to say at least 5 years, I hired her anyway because she has the capacity to contribute so much that I’d be okay with her leaving in a year. It’s an opportunity for us in the short-term – but I’ll be shocked if it lasts 2 years.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      My outlook/experience exactly, and burned sums it up.

      Best story: hired a woman who insisted her 50/60 min commute would not be an issue. (We shoot for 1/2 hour aslo). We hired her because she had some teapot experience, though we were wary.

      Couple months in, she’s not working out well and has performance issues. Her response, well, the commute is very long and she could do much better if she was allowed to work from home 2 days a week.

      I can’t think of a situation where a long commute ever did work.

      1. the_scientist*

        Wow, I want to live where you guys live! Where I am it’s not unusual for people to commute 1 hour, 90 minutes, or even 2 hours each way. I work downtown and housing doesn’t start to reach “affordable” until about 90 minutes out of the city. The city itself is so big that even if you live “downtown” you could be looking at an hour each way, depending on where your house is relative to your office. Most people take public transit as opposed to driving, though- traffic and parking are both insane. If everyone who lives more than 30 minutes away was excluded, you’d be weeding out probably 90% of your applicant pool for certain positions.

        Having done long commutes; I hate them. I was commuting by public transit and while I agree it’s less awful than driving, it’s not exactly an enjoyable experience- my trains were always packed, frequently smelly and hot, and I hated being held to a rigid schedule (like others have mentioned, no staying late and no happy hours for me!). Plus, I didn’t have the time to have interests or hobbies outside of commuting….I’d be up before 6 a.m. and then home by about 7:30 or 8, which barely left me time to eat dinner, pack a lunch, and squeeze in a short workout. I was also fortunate in that I was living with my parents at that time- if I also had a home to maintain on my own (or god forbid, kids to look after), forget about it. I’d be eating takeout 100% of the time, never going to the gym, and nothing would ever be clean.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          I don’t envy you! More than 90% of my applicants are within a half hour, so I’m not eliminating many (populated area surrounded by very low density rural area….there are literally just not that many humans living over 30 minutes away who would want to work in this town). It’s also cultural…if everyone commutes that far, it’s a normal part of life. If you are the odd man out, that’s where the resentment or sense of unfairness come from.

          I’m also especially sensitive to commute distance for entry level jobs. With the cost of commuting, you just aren’t making that much money, and it would be easier for you to find a similar, not very specialized position close to home.

        2. Cath in Canada*

          I was going to say the same thing! My commute’s 30 minutes by transit, and I consider that to be on the short side. It’s definitely better than many of my colleagues’ commutes.

          (It’s 15 minutes by bike, on the way in, and 25 minutes on the way home, because hills. I usually bike 3-4 days a week and take transit 1-2 days)

        3. Abby*

          Same long commutes here (SF Bay Area).

          30 minutes is considered short by most people I know of because affordable housing is so far away from business centers and the traffic is awful. Everyone complains about the traffic and their commutes because driving over an hour one-way is a pain no matter where you are, but since it’s the norm, people seem to be far more willing to put up with it than they would in a less congested area.

        4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Definitely cultural.

          We’re in a compact suburban metro area. Lots of peoples, lots of places to work. I’m 7 minutes from work, don’t hate me.

          40 minutes with traffic isn’t crazy. Anything over 40 minutes, frankly, it better be a high dollar position or the last job on earth because people don’t put up with it for long.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Oh and unless your job is over the bridge in Philly and you drive and park at the high speed line, there is no public transit. Transit is awful. I think the “drive or no other option” part plays into distance tolerance.

          2. Happy Lurker*

            We are in a very similar type area. One of the first questions is “do you have a reliable mode of transportation (your own car)?” Maybe not a legal question, but a necessary one.

        5. BananaPants*

          Yeah, I don’t know anyone working at my company who has less than a 10 minute commute. My own 15-20 minute commute (9 miles, but all surface roads) is on the shorter side. 30-40 minute commutes are very common; both my manager and his manager have a commute in that range. I have several colleagues with a 1+ hour long commute each way under ideal traffic and weather conditions.

          It’s an extreme case but for close to a year my husband commuted 70-90 minutes each way (with traffic) for what turned out to be a commission-only retail sales job. There was no public transit option. At a time when gas was over $4/gallon it was absolutely miserable. He listened to a lot of podcasts during the drive. Note that in the interview process he was told he would be working 20 minutes from our home 80% of the time; he never would have accepted the job offer if he’d known what the actual commuting burden would be.

          From our house to any limited-access highway is a 15 minute drive. It’s a suburban area, but everyone lives in “bedroom communities” and then commutes in. Around here having less than a 30 minute commute is considered enviable by many!

        6. LBK*

          Yeah, I’m one of the gifted few that I know of at my company whose commute is only 10-15 minutes (25 if I walk). I’d say average is 45 minutes, max is around 2 hours (one guy I know commutes from another state, although why he does is beyond me when he lives in another city that must have plenty of jobs he could do).

    2. Beancounter in Texas*

      I live in a large metroplex, so an hour commute is typical for many people. When I worked at Dream Job, my commute was 1 – 1.5 hours (32 miles), depending on traffic. On one solitary occasion, the commute took two hours because of accidents and congestion. I was rarely “late.” I worked 8:30-6pm, and I opened the building when I arrived, because everyone else worked the showroom hours of 1-8pm. The Boss let me determine when I worked, so long everything was paid on time & I was available by phone during regular business hours. Having that flexibility won my loyalty (and reduced the commute stress) and is part of the reason it was my Dream Job. (He even told me to take mental health days and play golf when I didn’t feel like working, on the contingency my work was up-to-date.)

      Dream Job turned into Nightmare Job when the business sold to a man with more money than business sense. Dream Boss retired at the ripe old age of 33. (Otherwise, I would might followed him to his next business venture.) New Boss brought in drama-filled employees from a sister location, including one who complained about her commute and flirted with Boss for a raise in pay strictly because she had to drive much further. To my surprise, he gave it to her. Not to my surprise, the business sold again about two or three years later and the sister location (also owned by Boss) imploded.

    3. Book Person*

      Yeaaaaah, going through that right now. Person swore up and down that a 40min commute would be fine. After two weeks, asked if hours could be shifted to miss main traffic times. Fine, not entirely unreasonable; others have done that, though usually after at least 12 months of work. Sometimes comes in at regular opening time but leaves at early departure time over the next few weeks, but assures everyone that hours are being tracked / made up on weekends. Now, just past 3 month probation period has ended, has asked for work from home privileges 2x times a week bc the commute is “becoming onerous.”

      This is the first time we’ve had a new hire with a commute in a long time because of being burned badly before, but it’s the same song again….I’m not looking forward to hearing the excuses once the winter comes and weather will impact the commute.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Ugh. I would squash that fast If you are in an industry where he isn’t totally trained and on his feet at three months. Otherwise it seems like you are just investing more and more resources into someone who won’t last.

        I get so, so tired of hearing the “compelling reasons” why the commute is no problem. Just like the “compelling reasons” why someone really does want a part time job and is totally okay with never going full time, and how this
        this is the perfect job and they will stay for years even though they just finished grad school and this job isn’t even in their field. I wish I knew how to sort out the people who are being honest…and also honest with themselves.

    4. K*

      30 minutes?? That’s pretty restrictive… How do you define it?

      Currently my commute is 30-40 minutes because of a) the walk to and from the bus stop and b) buses are slower than cars because they stop more often. I live 3 miles from work.

      At my last job my commute was 20 minutes door-to-door taking the bus, 35-40 minutes by walking. It was 1.5 miles.

      I also had a job that was a 45 drive each way, which I was perfectly fine with. (This was a summer job, though, so I didn’t have to deal with snow.) I always thought it was weird that a number of people at “last job” thought this was a long commute.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Where I live, 30 minutes is generally the *minimum* commute time. If you manage less, you’re one of the rare people who lives in walking distance of the office.

        Most people use public transportation, because traffic is chaotic and parking expensive (in general, people tend to buy a car after having kids). I work on a campus where you’re looking at 10 or 15 minutes to get from the nearest transit stop (or your parking spot) to your office. You can do better by driving a scooter, with easier parking and the ability to weave in and out of traffic, but in my view the increased risk of death isn’t worth it.

      2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        30 minutes makes sense for us because of geography, and minimal traffic. You can basically depend on going a mile a minute on the freeway, even at rush hour. Basically, if you live in this county or the only two other decent sizes towns in the area, you are in that radius. It would cover our metro area. This is totally different in other places, of course, where you would have to happen to live quite close for a 30 minute commute. As I said above, at least 90% of applicants are in that radius.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Also, there is virtually no public transportation, so it’s a fair assumption that everyone drives and you can guess commute time based on that. I have never met a person who used public transportation here for any reason except that they were quite poor….it is awful, and all service stops at 6pm. And busses don’t even come every hour on the busy routes. If I lived in a major city, I would be all about public transportation. I love it.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Yeah, there’s no reliable pubic transportation to here. An hour on public transit, I don’t think that’s a long commute. (Of course I was 25 when I lived in the city and did three buses to get to a job, so maybe youth is a factor.)

        Here, if you’re over 30 min drive, you’re most likely living over the bridge in PA, so in addition to gas, it’s $10 a day in tolls. Still 30 min if you’re close to the border so tolerable but if you live on the other side of the city, you have to go through the city, then over the bridge, etc. $50 a week in tolls + gas + driving through the city and over the bridge. We’re less than 10 min from the bridge. Most of that is PA time and it’s neither pretty nor cheap.

        Snow? Heavy rain? Traffic accident? Few of those things in a row and why wouldn’t you want one of the one million jobs that are closer to you? (Or to ask for multi accommodations from us since all the rest of your coworkers don’t have those factors.)

  26. Bend & Snap*

    I just moved to be closer to work, giving up a 1.5 hour commute for a 20 minute one. Life changing.

    A former boss had a loooooong commute and usually made it on time but was in a foul mood anytime there was traffic, which was pretty much every day. She made work super duper fun.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      I also moved (downsized no less) and cut my commute in half. Much less stress and more time to have fun.

    2. Natalie*

      I just recently finished house-shopping and that was a big factor for me. I’m presently about 15 minutes away from my job by bus, bike, or car (everyone moves the same speed in the city) and I really wanted it to stay that way.

    3. NickelandDime*

      We moved closer to the city. I’m also careful about where I apply to jobs, etc. I don’t want to be in the car longer than 45 minutes on a good day, and I need time to drop off and pick up kids from school, activities, etc. Long commutes are no joke. People need to seriously consider taking that on. You do want to have and maintain a life outside of work correct? And how early do you really want to get up in the mornings?

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’d love to do that, but moving is so stressful and expensive I decided that it wasn’t worth it only to do it across town. Besides, I’d really like to get out of here, so I want to save it for that.

  27. Susan the BA*

    There’s a good amount of research suggesting that a long/bad commute has a disproportionate impact on your quality of life – meaning that you may think a bigger salary or a nicer neighborhood or lower rent can balance out a bad commute, but you’re likely to be happier if you sacrifice in those aspects instead.

    Good luck in your search, OP!

    1. anon for this*

      Yup. After thinking long and hard, I just took a $45k (gulp!) pay cut to reduce my commute that involved flying to either the west coast or east coast very frequently. Now, I hop in my car and drive 25 minutes and leave at 5:00. My kiddo is thrilled I’m home every day, hubby is getting used it again ;-) And although I can’t believe I am honestly saying this now being on the other side of the fence, we don’t miss the money. I can’t explain how that works, it’s not like we were wealthy or anything to begin with.

      1. Natalie*

        There’s actually been some research on this. For whatever reason, people vastly underestimate how much a long commute affects their overall happiness. Maybe because it’s a draggy day to day thing instead of one big event? Anyway, even the supposed benefits of a long commute (a bigger house, land, higher income) don’t fully compensate for that decrease, so it’s generally a net negative.

    2. BenAdminGeek*

      It definitely played out that way for me. As others mentioned above, it did end up feeling like the commute was part of the workday. So leaving the house at 5:30 and getting home between 6:30 and 8 just wore on me.

      It’s amazing how much better your life is when you see your kids every day, not just on weekends.

  28. Erin*

    I would be more firm with employers that you intend to relocate closer once you have a job offer – agree with the other posters that if you are non-committal, it’s a red flag. I took a job once that had a 90 minute commute both ways; I did the commute the first 8 weeks until my lease expired and I was able to move. It was physically miserable and I gained a bunch of weight b/c I lost my transition time for the gym, etc.

  29. K.*

    Yeah, I think employers are completely reasonable when they wonder about this – and they don’t have to wonder about that with me, because a long commute is a deal-breaker for me. I’ve said in this space that I’ve done a 90-minute-each-way commute and I never will again (I’m job-hunting and just turned down something presented to me by a recruiter because it was an hour away at best, more likely two hours given what I know about that area and traffic, and I’m not interested in relocating – at least not to that area). I think a lot of people underestimate commuting. A long commute can be exhausting, weather gets in the way, doctor’s appointments become a day off, not just a couple of hours, and the burnout is real.

    Also, commuting isn’t free. At my old job, one of my coworkers had worked there for a while when the company moved (this was a couple of years before I started there), which quintupled her commute. It became 90 minutes, minimum, of sitting in gridlock – and it cost her $500 a month (solely gas and tolls; that number didn’t include her car payment or insurance). She hung in there for a while but it was clearly making her miserable. We were all laid off two months ago; she just found something much, much closer to home and she’s much, much happier – and has more money in her pocket.

  30. Tau*

    On another note: are you being quite breezy in your response – “oh, no problem, I won’t mind the commute!”? Because I suspect that may raise employer’s hackles. With the huge problem such a commute would be for many people, appearing too dismissive or positive about the issue may make you come off as though you either haven’t thought it through properly and will end up realising you can’t hack it two months in or as though you’re downplaying the issue because you want the job.

    I think a more realistic and in-depth but still overall positive assessment might work better, noting the reasons you think you’ll be able to deal: the relocation definitely goes here but also things like previous experience with long commutes if you’ve got any, experience with other sorts of regular long drives, any plans to stay in town sometimes or other ways to break it up, any audiobooks or podcasts you want to catch up on ;)… and possible acknowledging that you wouldn’t be able to do it long-term but are sure you’ll be able to hold out until you find a place closer by. The point being, make sure your answer makes clear you’ve thought about this and weighed in realistically and decided that yep, this is something you can do for that period of time.

  31. EditBarb*

    At a previous job, this became an issue with a number of people with long commutes who would frequently complain about the length of the commute and let it affect their jobs. We had a fairly flexible work schedule (core hours 10-3, beyond that, pick what works!), but some of these coworkers would refuse to come to the occasional meeting outside of these hours because it meant that they’d be hitting a heavier rush hour. Or would balk at the days that we would all have to stay until 5 because we were being audited–again, because of their commute. These weren’t frequent occurrences, and when they happened, it meant that something big was going on. Sometimes they’d come in for the meetings, but not always, and it could affect others’ work.

  32. Elder Dog*

    Had a co-worker once at a job with a boss that wouldn’t hire anyone who didn’t live close by (because he believed people who lived close could drop everything and come in to work on his whim.) He had a mailbox at a UPS store nearby and the boss never figured it out.

  33. Alex*

    Yea… this is a tough situation. My sister has been commuting about an hour each way for several years and doesn’t mind it all that much, but if there were opportunities closer to home, she’d jump on them. I recently turned down a position with a 40 mile commute because it would have added 2 – 2.5 hours of drive-time to my work-day. I just won’t do it anymore. I’d rather make (substantially) less money than waste my life away in my car if those are my options.

  34. sarah*

    And this is why I don’t put my address on my resume. (Though, it sounds like you live in a different city entirely, so my method – just listing the city – may not have helped you in this case.)

  35. Editrix*

    My morning commute from MD to Northern VA (about 17 miles) isn’t too bad–I can usually get there in 25-30 minutes. But in the evenings? Forget it. An hour or longer is the norm, and it’s only going to get worse, since they’re trying to make this town “bigger than D.C.”

    I’ll hit the 2-year mark in September. I’d love to meet that milestone, but the commute’s killing me. I’ve become an impatient, grumpy, irritated mess of a driver. I’ve cried some evenings because I was sooo ready to go home but saw nothing but a sea of taillights ahead. And you’re talking about 2 hours? Tread carefully…

    1. Christy*

      I am so sorry. I did that commute for three days (I had a class in Reston) and I about died. I ended up driving through the District just so I could avoid that part of 495. I considered going west, up 15, and back down 270! I can’t believe people do that drive home every day. It’s seriously hellish.

  36. Fawn*

    Just curious: for hiring managers that care, how long is too long? Does it vary by mode of transportation (Do you think differently about someone with a 45 minute drive, vs 45 minutes on city transit?)

    1. Anon369*

      I’d say a 45 min “normal” driving commute – in the DC metro area, that probably means 60-90 min on a regular basis.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’d say 45-60 min by car is the upper end. That’s a long commute in my current city, and we have trouble retaining folks who have a longer commute than that.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know if there’s a universal limit… it probably depends a lot on mode of transportation and region… and hiring manager.

      I live in the Bay Area, so an hour+ commute is completely normal. A lot of tech folks will live in San Francisco and then commute down to Menlo Park, Mountain View, or Cupertino… in traffic, that’s easily 1-2 hours each way. But that’s normal. I can’t imagine anyone in a tech company in Silicon Valley looking at a resume from San Francisco (or even Oakland) and thinking, “Nah… the commute’s too long. She’d never survive.”

      And I do think mode of transportation matters, sure. At least for me, personally, I’d rather be on the bus (single bus without transferring to another line) for over an hour than be stuck in traffic driving for 45 minutes.

  37. Midwest*

    I live 40 miles from my job. It only takes me about 50 minutes to get to work. Everyone at my job lives in the city so it takes them 20-30 minutes tops. My boss has frequently mentioned in the last few years that I should move to the city (I should mention I’ve never been late or missed work due to weather or road conditions). I’ve always responded firmly that I am very happy where I live, that I don’t mind my commute and normally actually enjoy my drive and most of all, I would lose joint custody of my daughter if I moved. She wouldn’t seem to get it. Finally I understood what she was worried about and I told her that I have a sister in the city I could stay with if the weather was bad and I didn’t think I could get home. She was relieved at that and it hasn’t been mentioned since. Took awhile but reading between the lines and seeing what she was really concerned with put her mind at ease.

  38. Taleo Weeds you out*

    My manager has had significant turnover in the admin-level role in our department over the past 2 years. The first person retired, and then her first replacement had a 90+ minute commute (and lied about it in the interview). She quickly burned out after 7 months.
    The second person was a fluke/bad fit.
    The third person we’re currently on, also has a 60-90 minute commute. Which we SPECIFICALLY asked about during the interviews. Like, we didn’t want someone who lived far away. She said her commute would be 45 minutes and she would relocate closer once she got a job. 9 months later, this has not happened, and we’re realizing she was lying about the commute in the first place because she’s often very late. And, because she’s the office admin, we rely on her to be IN the office to OPEN the office and man the phones. It’s not a job you can ‘work from home’ for at all to give her some leniency (everyone else in our department does, to an extent, have leniency to work from home when necessary, but 70% of her job duties are only done in-office so she cannot work from home).
    So, I get why it’s an issue! And rightfully so. Please don’t lie about it.

  39. Letter-Writer*

    Thanks for the replies everyone! I’ll go back through and reply to specific posts, but hearing all your thoughts has definitely helped. Especially hearing from so many of you why a 2-hour commute is an automatic red flag. I hadn’t really thought about it from their perspective, only that “Well I won’t flake so they should trust me” but obviously no one is going to blindly trust me like that. That was definitely my mistake.

    I had another interview with this company today, and my impression is that commutes that are closer to 30-40 minutes on paper are much more acceptable to them. So at least I have a better idea of where to look for apartments now.

    Is there anyway to follow-up with them about this, to reassure them that I’m committed to moving if I get the job (in case I wasn’t as direct as I thought I was)? Or would it be awkward to bring it up out of the blue?

    1. MsM*

      Have you written your thank you note yet? You could say something like after talking more with them, you’re even more eager to be there, and are stepping up your apartment search.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Have you written a follow-up letter? You could write and say, “Thanks for your time; I’m very interested in the job, and really impressed with your company. I’ve started investigating apartments in X neighborhood, that’s how eager I am to work with your company. I would anticipate a move would take me about a month from the time I accepted a job.”

  40. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    Oh, OP, how I feel you. In France, this would be a NIGHTMARE and moving ‘within six weeks” or whatnot would not be realistic unless you make tons and tons of money.

    Why ? Well, because first, you need to make about three to four times as much as the rent is per month. And even when you do, sometimes they’ll ask for a guarantee cosign whatnothingie (dunno the term in English). Also, you need to have a permanent job. Temp ? Forget it. Contractor ? Forget it. It *has* to be a permanent job and you *have* to be past the probation period (which can be three/four months for permanent contracts).

    Which explain how much of a nightmare I’m in: I technically have a 2 hour public transportation commute to get to Paris, which theoretically has most the most job opportunities. Problem ? Employers are scared I might not be there on time or stuff like that because of my location, so I often research train schedules to prove I can work between X and Y, and I also add that while my legal adress is this, I do have opportunities in Paris and nearby (mom’s) to facilitate the job search.

    Has it worked ? Hell no. So right now, to augment my chances, I pretty much would have to lie. If I pretend I live where my friend lives in Paris, then I might get more interviews. But the thing is, it’s just completely stupid.

    Oh well. I’ll go back to my corner and rant some more about the way this whole thing works :/

  41. illini02*

    As Alison said, even if you THINK you will be fine, its easier said than done. At my last job, I knew the distance, but since I interviewed in the middle of the day, I didn’t really experience the commute until I started working. It was brutal. I lasted over 2 years because after year 1 I was able to negotiate working from home twice a week. The company kind of knew they were in the middle of nowhere, so it was never a big deal to have people coming in, since they would be lowering their applicant pool, but I understand the concern

    1. K.*

      Yes, this is key – OP, if you’re interested in jobs at a particular company, do a dry run drive during rush hour on both ends of the day so you can see what the commute would really be like. If your interview is at 2 PM, you’re likely not getting an accurate picture of what your commuting life would be like (unless you’re working third shift). Sort of like walking/driving around a neighborhood you might live in at different times of the day so you have a sense of what goes on there.

      1. BenAdminGeek*

        +1 It makes a big difference. Try to pick a rainy day to really experience the joy that comes with the commute.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      This is true. The time of day makes a tremendous difference. The twenty-minute commute is nothing between rush hours, but trying to get anywhere here at that time takes for. Ever. Plus, it becomes really scary with vehicles flying on and off the highway and weaving in and out. I’m less nervous driving near St. Louis with those huge six-lane highways than the stupid three-lane one I go on every day.

  42. De Minimis*

    At one point, I had a 70 mile commute one way….true, it was mostly highway driving and I didn’t hit any real traffic until the final part of the drive home, but it wore on me. I did it for over a year, and was so happy to not have to do it anymore. It usually took around 75 minutes or so to get to work, slightly more to get back. I’ll never do anything like that again—I’m probably going to be facing a more traditional rush-hour traffic type commute in my next job, but at least I won’t be driving so far to and from work.
    If I were a manager it would be a major red flag with me too, and I used to be one of those people who thought long commutes were no big deal. My current job is in a small town and the nearest town of any size [that has adequate housing, shopping, etc] is just over 30 miles away. We have a really tough time keeping people who live any further away than that. The only ones coming from far away who usually stay are people who are making the higher salaries [doctors, the CEO, etc.] And we’ve even lost some of those who wanted to work closer to home.

  43. Ms. FS*

    I have a 2 hour commute round trip…on my bike. Its about 16 miles total, and its the way I’ve managed to get in the exercise on a daily basis. Sometimes in the mornings its hard to be motivated but that same commute in a car would take at least half that time when you combine traffic and parking. At least I get some exercise in! Before this job I worked from home and commuted to our home office once a week. That was a four hour drive round trip. I did that for about 3 years before I couldn’t take it anymore. My whole day was shot, and the next day because I was so tired from the commute.

    I hire people at my job and I absolutely would ask about a long commute to see if they’d seriously thought about it. Anybody who has done a long commute and is now in a short one knows that they would never, ever go back if they can help it.

  44. Librarian*

    I have an hour commute one way for a part-time position. At first I thought, “I am young and have a reliable vehicle.” but as Allison said, the burnout rate is very high. It just gets to you and my once reliable car is now in horrible shape.

    Also, if there is ANY sort of bad weather, I am the first one who cannot come in. Luckily, I do a good job and they seem to understand, but this can build resentment over time with other staff members.

  45. Anon for this*

    I currently commute 2 1/2 hours each way. I don’t mind it bc part of the commute is the train, and I can get work done. I was planning on moving closer but financially it’s not feasible. Plus, I hate being policed on my time when I’m in in my office before the chair, am available for students, have never been late for a meeting, and managing my own schedule is a perk of being an academic

  46. HAnon*

    I also have a long commute (hour+ each way) and it definitely wears you down over time. The company that I started with moved (surprise!) to a new office located half and hour father north from the previous one and expected the employees to jump for joy because it was “nicer” than the other one. Never mind the fact that the majority of the employees live farther south in the city, and they had just doubled the commute for almost every single person who works at the company. My commute is now average, and I work with several people who drive at least 1.5 hrs each way. But the management lives 10 minutes away, so I guess that’s what matters *sarcasm*

    The other thing people aren’t factoring in is the stress it takes on your physical body to have a commute that long every day. I’m pretty young and since commuting between 2-3 hours everyday for the past 3 years, I’ve had to increase visits to the doctor due to back and hip problems, ankle problems, shoulder problems, etc. Every physical condition I had before I started commuting got exacerbated by the fact that I was not only sitting at a desk for 9+ hours a day but now also sitting in a car, putting wear on my joints and feeling stressed in traffic, for extra hours, which is close to 12 hours a day just sitting. I’m currently looking for my next opportunity closer to home because even with doing a brief workout a few days a week, it doesn’t make up for the fact that I’m sitting in traffic for so many hours. I did the numbers and concluded that I sit in traffic for the equivalent of thirteen 40-hour work weeks per year. At some point, it’s just not worth it. Maybe for a short term fix, but long term? No thank you.

  47. Dr. Pepper Addict*

    I know I’m a couple hours late to this story OP but I’ve had the same questions come up in the past. The way I handle it is like this: “Yes, my commute is usually around 45 minutes and sometimes over an hour depending on traffic, but honestly I like it that way. It helps me wake up in the morning and unwind before I get home at night.” I’ve used that in several interviews and the interviewers seem to like that response and never bring the commute up anymore. But then again it’s only half the commute you have, so whether or not it will work for you, I cannot say.

    1. Joey*

      The only way Id believe that is if you’ve had similarly long commutes previously. Otherwise Id probably wonder whether you were trying to say what you thought I wanted to hear.especially when it’s creeping up on commute times that are rare.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      That can work for 45 minutes to an hour.

      The OP is saying 70 minutes to two hours.

      That’s a huge difference.

      I used to do a 70-minutes-to-two-hours commute, and it was hell. My commute now is 45 minutes to an hour, and it’s a delight.

  48. Lady Bug*

    I have always commuted 1 to 1.5 hours, for 15 years. It doesn’t really bother me, I enjoy the alone time. I am only late when there is snow or a major traffic jam, so less than 5 times a year. What annoys me is when employers don’t believe that I don’t mind when I have a 15 year track record of not leaving jobs because of a commute. At my current job, I started leaving at 6 and going to the gym by my job to keep my morning commute under an hour, so at least I’m getting some exercise.

  49. Anonymousterical*

    I had a 60 minute one-way commute to a retail job (all rural highway driving), which I thought would suck a little but otherwise be okay, since I’ve always commuted 30-40 minutes. After a little while, it influenced decisions I made at work. How late I would stay. What kind of projects I took on an hour before quitting time. I did not want to stay even an hour later than I had to, because I had an hour drive home. Nothing that my managers noticed, and nothing that impacted my performance, but *I* knew. Leaving the house around 6:15a and getting home after 9pm on a good day (I worked 7:30a-8p for three days, then off for three days) was AWFUL — like, stop showering every single day because it’s either shower or eat or walk the dog or get less sleep in the morning AWFUL. Also, what husband? I had a husband during this time? I don’t remember seeing him.

    It was untenable, and I was looking for other jobs only four months in, even though I liked mostly everything else about that store, the team, and my work. And I LIKE commuting. Seriously. A 40 minute commute is freaking perfection for me. But those extra 20 minutes each way? Killed me.

    YMMV. (No pun intended… ha…ha…)

    1. De Minimis*

      Exact same situation for me….I had no issues with my 40-45 minute commute, and figured it was no big deal to add an extra hour to my 90 minute round trip commute. Nope. It was a huge difference, and I’m surprised I was able to do it as long as I did [around a year and a half.]
      It was just miserable to leave the office and know you had a 90 minute drive ahead of you….

  50. ModernHypatia*

    I just started a job last month that required long-distance job hunting. (Existing job was going away due to budget cuts, no other jobs in my field without a move.) I was hoping to move back to Boston, which was about a 3.5 hour drive.

    What I did was make it clear I was going to be relocating, that I had experience doing so quickly and without fussing (twice in the past) and had a couple of quick things I could say that made it clear I had a plan (as much as you can without actually having a job and specifics to work with.)

    It worked out, and my new job is amazingly awesome. I accepted their offer on April 3rd, drove to Boston to look for an apartment the next weekend, found one the second day, made arrangements to move May 1st, and started the new job on May 4th. (I did have a backup plan, but as it involved my mother’s couch, wanted to avoid it.) Anyone familiar with Boston can also guess that I got *very* lucky in finding a place that’s great for me that fast, but it is possible.

    In the OP’s case, I might have a line ready to go about “Of course I’d want to move as quickly as possible, but I’m been considering positions in several places in the area, and it makes more sense to wait on a move until I know exactly where I’m working.” and then a sentence or two about “Until I move, here’s how I plan to manage the commute. Are there specific things you’re concerned about involving availability or schedule?”

    Things you might consider, as a temporary option: subletting from someone during the week (or finding someone with a guest room you can rent cheap), or working out a reasonable hotel/etc. if there’s ever a time weather/traffic/work requirements mean that going home doesn’t make sense. Even just scoping out some options can reassure a lot of employers that you’re not going to panic if something comes up.

  51. Rose of Cimarron*

    I started a job in January with a commute each way of 1 to 1.5 hours (by transit — I couldn’t stand the stress of driving every day). When my lease was up, I wasn’t sure if I was going to succeed in the job, so I signed on to stay in my familiar area and maintain the commute for another six months. It’s hard — easier during daylight savings time, for sure — and I have 10-hour demanding days at work. After five months, I’m doing pretty well at the job but definitely worried about getting enough exercise and maintaining my side projects and even a shred of a social life. Still, I get there every day before almost anyone else and put in my full days and bring work home on weekends.
    Yes, it’s hard to work out dentist/doctor/hair appointments. All in all it’s pretty challenging and you have to kind of surrender to it. Housing in my area has become exorbitantly expensive in the past year, and extremely competitive, so moving to cut down the commute is not easily done. I don’t think employers should make the decision for you, but you should be honest with yourself about how you can make it work.

  52. Jessie's Girl*

    For me, I don’t want to hire someone who has to drive 1.5 hrs each way because I’ve seen people with similar commutes start out coming in on time for the first month or two and then coming in “when then get in” after some time has past. They think that, if they work their full 8 hours, it shouldn’t matter what time they get in but I disagree. We rely on you to be in at a certain time, if we never know when you’ll arrive, then we can no longer rely on you.

  53. Susan*

    I think this is a regional thing and also something that differs from manager to manager. In SoCal, it’s very normal for people to commute from Orange County to LA, which is easily 2 hours during rush hour, but because the area is so congested in terms of traffic and cost-of-living in LA proper is so expensive, it’s pretty normal and I don’t thing many managers bat an eye.

    But in other areas, I think you just have to keep applying for jobs and get the right manager. I used to work in Alabama, and I know someone who had a three-hour commute for her first year. But it was worth it for her because that’s not a state where there are a lot of jobs in that field. I don’t want to imply that it’ll be easy for you to get a job (or anyone in this market), but I think it’s a situation where eventually if you’re a perfect fit, it won’t deter someone. I know this girl we hired with the long commute had a much stronger background for the work she’d be doing than the other applicants. But you can understand how with evenly matched applicants, a manager will preference the one who lives locally. You just need the stars to align right.

    I’m kind of in this situation right now (where it’d be about a 60-90-minute commute in traffic into LA), and what I’ve been saying is I’m on a month-t0-month lease after moving here looking for work, and I didn’t want to cut myself off from LA or OC in my job-hunt process so I live in between but intend to move to a more permanent residence once I am established in a new position (which is all true). And maybe it’s because that’s more tolerated in SoCal, but that seems to make sense to people. I’ve gotten a couple of second and third interviews. I’m not sure what the lesson is here. Maybe it helps if you’re less vague in your story? It makes it seem like you’ve really thought about it and assures their anxieties a bit.

  54. Another Jim*

    I’ve been commuting about 90 minutes each way for the last five years or so. Yes, three hours of car time on average per day five times a week. That’s fifteen hours a week in the car. That is on top of forty to fifty hour work weeks. On any given day I’m out of my home for work related reasons eleven plus hours. It’s not an impossible thing to do, but for someone who has never had a long commute I would seriously question if they understood what they were committing to do. You aren’t just committing to a long commute. You are committing to a serious lifestyle change. Eleven to twelve hours a day on average. If you sleep eight hours that leaves you with four to five hours a day to do other things like eat. Monday to Friday you have limited free time. Your weekends get filled with the things other people can do in the evenings at home. Extra hours in the office are difficult to swing. Before deciding on a mega commute you really have to consider all of this stuff. This is not an easy lifestyle.

  55. Mickey Q*

    We had an employee move an hour away. After a few months she started complaining about the commute. Then she started making excuses for not showing up on Fridays or Mondays. Then she insisted on working from home several days a week which turned into almost every day of the week. She was an admin, so somebody had to cover for her every day she wasn’t here. The boss finally put his foot down and told her to show up in the office every day. She promptly quit. When we were hiring her replacement we were definitely gun shy about hiring another person with a long commute because we figured they would eventually pull the same thing and make excuses about not showing up for work.

  56. Erin*

    Yeah this is tough. I think no matter which option you choose you’re going to have to be in a less than ideal situation for awhile. But you’ll end up where you want to – ends justifying the means and all. You could:

    1) Move now and live with a roommate. You’re looking to move, there are no jobs near your parents house, etc. Sign a one year lease, or less if possible. Then after you’ve gotten a job and are more financial stable, you can move out of that apartment when the lease is up and live by yourself (which is what I think you’d prefer?).

    2) Stay with your parents for now and save money to move and live by yourself. Maybe take a less than ideal, retail-type job in the meantime, if it’s possible in their small town. I don’t know what your industry is, but obviously volunteering or freelancing or just keeping one foot in the door would be best, so it doesn’t look like you’re just slacking off living off your parents dime.

    1. Erin*

      One more thought: Is there anyone you could stay with part time in that city/area you’re looking to move to? I live in Albany, New York, and I know people who commute to New York City for work or vice versa (two and half to three hour train ride). For instance, I know a woman who is from here, moved down there, but still had adult education-type teaching commitments up here for a semester or so. Her sister lives up here, and so she would stay with her for three or four nights out of the week to cut back on the commute.

      If you could find yourself a generous person like this to help you out during the transition, I bet that would make a *huge* difference in mentioning that to hiring managers.

  57. Allison*

    Late to the game, but I feel inclined to add my two cents.

    My company has people with long commutes, and they happily do it because they love working here. However, most people have flexible hours with the option of working from home at least once a week, which makes a long commute more manageable.

    BUT when we were hiring for an office manager, the commute mattered because this person would need to be in the office all day, every day, and we couldn’t have them working from home or showing up late due to bad traffic. So when we got a ton of applications, I had to go through and weed out people whose commutes would take too long. I even played with Google maps to get a (somewhat) accurate idea of what each applicant’s commute would be like, not only in length and time but also what sort of traffic they’d face.

    I know people say they’d move, but I’m skeptical. Sure, I’ve considered moving to make my commute easier, but moving is a pain in the rump! Especially if one would be moving their partner and/or children with them! How many people actually move a few towns over just to shave 20-30 mins off their commute? You’d need to really love your job and be sure you’re gonna stay there a while to make a change like that.

  58. Happy Lurker*

    Don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but grab a quick PO box or use UPS store mailbox for a more local address. Tell them you are in the process of moving, since it is true. Just fail to mention it is contingent on where you are employed.

    Exactly like AAM said. I have hired people who assured me the commute was fine only to A) never show up and B) work 2 months or less before moving on. It is a valid concern.

    1. Erin*

      Wow, that’s a pretty good suggestion with the PO Box, although I would tread carefully. If you ended up getting stuck in traffic because of an accident you never could have foreseen, it would be difficult to explain why you were running late.

      1. De Minimis*

        The Post Office people can sometimes get weird about the local address thing—I have one now in the town where I work but the only reason they let me get one is because I was working there, otherwise they said I’d have to get a PO box in the town where I had my local address. Different employees interpret the rules differently.
        UPS store would probably be easier, but also probably more expensive.

      2. Happy Lurker*

        Yup, I agree. But for the job search and a couple weeks/months until the move it should be fine. I loved my mailboxes, etc. (now UPS store) box. They would take my packages and overnights. It was a regular address too.
        Now, if OP decides to wait 4-6 months to move then it’s an issue, unless they are like me and arrive 30 minutes early for everything.

  59. Cath in Canada*

    Well, this is nice timing: I just spotted an article on the CBC website about commuter stress. The study they’re reporting on concluded that it’s not necessarily the length of the commute, but how much control you think you have over it, that’s the most important factor:

    “For instance, public transit users in large cities may have more options to make bus or train connections, compared to people in rural areas that aren’t as well served.

    Similarly, carpooling reduced passengers’ sense of control and [increased] stress levels compared with drivers, the researchers found.

  60. AnonyMiss*

    Can confirm – commute kills. I took a job with an hour commute, mostly because this was the only thing available at the time in my field, and I needed a job to pay the bills (fresh out of college). About 8 months down the road, I got to the point where I knew that the stress of a job that is less than a great fit compounded by the stress of the commute, the gas prices, and the car maintenance (I have never owned a car before; I had to buy one when I got hired) just got to me. As of last Friday, I am on my last 4 weeks with the current job. I got lucky, and the job I really wanted since graduation opened up, and accepted me with open arms (I interned for them while in school, and while I loved them and they loved me, they just couldn’t get me on payroll).

  61. David*

    I can understand the employer’s concerns.
    I’m on an open ended contract with a client where my commute is between an hour and an hour and a half each way.
    Initially my manager was very concerned as my previous job my commute was 5 minutes.
    However, in the 8 months or so, she’s realized that I enjoy the drive and is very supportive of the challenges that a long commute brings, especially with Canadian winters.
    She has no issues if I decide not to risk the trip in when bad weather hits…even though the weather at work is usually better than the weather at home.
    Just this morning I sent an email letting the team know I’d be late because of dense fog on my route in.

    Of course there is the fact that I don’t get paid for these days….so she saves quite a bit of money during nasty weather.

Comments are closed.