Author Topic: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?  (Read 6062 times)

Lexie

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Question.

I work downtown (where housing is very expensive $500,000 and up) right now I live in the suburbs, it's about 1 hour to 1.5 hours to get to work each morning (on the bus). If I were to move to a more rural area, I could buy a home for about $300,000 but then bus service would be out of the question and I would end up driving 45 minutes to an hour in a car.

What is the better option?


Fox

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2014, 01:28:52 PM »
Irresponsible to whom? Do you have a family?

Do you enjoy your job? What are job prospects like outside the city vs inside? What's rent like inside the city?

MrsMoreWithLess

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2014, 01:34:44 PM »
Is there any way to swing teleworking or do you absolutely have to go to the office?

frugaliknowit

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2014, 01:45:53 PM »
If square footage is a priority for you, I would explore other work arrangements (ex-burb job).  You need to be strategic.  Don't locate yourself in a cornfield where if your employment changes (as it can often in these times), you are forced to unload your dream home in a crummy market.  Have you tried the commute to the $300,000 home you are referring to (during rush hour)?  Maybe somewhere on the suburban/city fringe near a train line where you can still get good real estate value?

I don't know about irresponsible, but your move would have a much greater environmental impact.  Your carbon footprint goes way up if you are driving to and from work 30 miles each way, 48 weeks per year.

postconsumerlife

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2014, 02:12:55 PM »
I know this is counter to the Mustache principles to not live close to work, but we did just what you suggested.

We were paying a ridiculous mortgage and cashed out to buy nine acres of beautiful land without debt. We got a used RV and put it on the land while we trick out our geodesic dome, made from a kit for $11k. Boy, are we better off. We're totally off-grid, so we did away with all our utility bills, high property taxes, and high homeowners insurance.

My husband does have to commute an hour now, so we got him a Civic Natural Gas vehicle. Natural gas prices are about $2.35 as opposed to the going rate now of almost $4k for regular gas. Added bonus is that he can drive in the carpool lane (we're in CA) to make the commute less painful. In fact, we unloaded the minivan for the NGV, and in spite of the increased commute, actually cut our fuel expense in half.

I'm a freelance writer and am able to telecommute 100%.

The commute is a drag for my husband (no, he can't bike that far) and there's the impact on the environment to consider, as someone else mentioned. But you can't beat the relief from mortgage, being surrounded by nature, having access to land where we've started growing our own food, and being that much closer to early retirement, where we won't have to commute anywhere except the grocery store once a week.

It's definitely worth doing the numbers.

Irresponsible? Not from my vantage point. Which, right now, is looking out over a bunch of oak trees and a pond.

Greg

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2014, 03:05:26 PM »
Vanpool, even if to a sensible commuter train or bus stop.

gimp

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2014, 03:05:52 PM »
There are two costs to this: car and time. You already pay the time cost. Hell, at first glance it looks like you'll be winning on the time cost. But not so fast! What's your "mental" commuting cost? I know I switched from a 25 minute drive to an hour walk-train-bus because apart from the cost of gas, it was also an hour of relaxing vs 25 minutes of traffic.

In addition, you need to add up the extra cost of commuting and compare it to the difference in mortgage.

What do those numbers look like?

galliver

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 03:09:31 PM »
My uncle lives about an hour from work, deep in the woods/country. And while it's a pretty nice house on a pretty nice piece of land, he works pretty long hours and just doesn't have time or energy to deal with it. So now it's falling into disrepair :(  Assuming a 40 hr work week, you're spending 9 hrs at work and 2 more commuting, give yourself an hour for morning/breakfast and one for dinner, that's 13 of your 24 hours. Assuming you need 8 to sleep, you now have 3 hours left...to exercise, do laundry/chores, do house projects, grocery shop, etc. And of course, the weekend, if house projects are how you want to spend them. I'm definitely not saying it's impossible, just that from what I've seen it's important to evaluate whether losing those 2 hours every day is worth how much you'll get to enjoy your environment.

Jack

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 04:24:49 PM »
If square footage is a priority for you, I would explore other work arrangements (ex-burb job).

I hate this suggestion because it causes employers to relocate to the exurbs and forces even city-dwellers to end up with a commute! It also screws up transit because instead of all trains going downtown (a many-to-one relationship), the train in every suburb would have to go downtown and to every other suburb (a many-to-many relationship), which is much more expensive.

(It's a personal issue for me because I moved to within a couple miles of downtown Atlanta because I hated commuting... then ended up with a job where I have to drive 30 miles back out into the suburbs. "But it's a 'reverse commute, so at least you don't have traffic' they say. "It still effing sucks!" I tell them in response...)

Living in a rural area and commuting to a city might be irresponsible, but locating an office in the rural area and expecting everyone else to commute from the city (or even worse, through the city from the suburb on the other side) is even more irresponsible!

backyardfeast

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2014, 04:26:29 PM »
We're in this situation, and it's definitely a mixed bag.  We work in two cities about an hour and a half apart, and so have chosen to live in a beautiful rural area at the mid-point.  It's WAY less expensive than city A, where we were living, and moderately more expensive than small city B.  We have a lifestyle here that we never would have been able to afford in city A.  For comparison, we sold our 660 sqft 1 br condo for $320K (!) and bought our modest, 1800 sq ft house on a 1/2 acre in a very desirable location for just under $400K.

Then we added an hour commute each way to our lives. Each.  It sucks.  Yesterday, DH, who gets up at 5:30am to get to work for 7am, fell asleep on the couch at 7:30pm and woke up at 9pm to go to bed.  That doesn't happen often, but it's not unusual either.  In the evenings, we get home, make dinner, and either do 1 thing around the house and garden OR relax for a while.  Weekends are always a competition between the house/garden things that need doing and wanting/needing other down time.

That said, we have no regrets.  When we're not working, we think we have the best life in the whole world, and I could NOT go back to living in the city.  For me, it's doable because I only have to commute 3-4 days a week, 8 months of the year (teaching).  One year, DH worked out a deal of longer days 4 days a week and then a 3 day weekend.  The long days were tough, but the weekends were awesome.  If you can do ANY telecommuting, it will make a huge difference.

It's not an easy decision.  But for us, it's motivation to get to FI--or living on one salary--sooner rather than later.  If DH could work locally, and I kept my less consistent commute, we'd be living the life of Riley!  And long term, this is likely where we want to stay, so we're hoping its the jobs that change location, rather than us.

One thing that helped us was renting in this area for a year--is that an option for you?  Give it a low-commitment try and see how it goes.  We actually moved back to city A after a year of rural commuting, before we realized the trade-offs were worth it and made the permanent move back to the country...

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2014, 04:50:56 PM »
For a year, I had a 1.5 hour commute (each way) via train and walking. I would take a 45-minute drive over that any time. Will the drive be fairly easy (steady traffic) or horrible (stop-and-go)?

Mr One Wheel Drive

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2014, 05:28:49 PM »
I don't think that your choice is irresponsible. It sounds like you're liking it so far. Maybe you'll decide long term to work off the land or work from home as well, and find other ways to cut gas spending (bike half the way)

Rural

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2014, 07:37:35 PM »
It's what I do, and I wouldn't move into the city for any amount of money. But I'll second the suggestion to rent rurally and see what you think. The particulars of the job and the commute make or break the arrangement. We did that, and the rental house meant we had time to take our time and so we found a really great deal on our land after we'd been looking for a little over a year.


The commute will likely cause me to retire earlier than I otherwise would (I'm a college professor at the sort of institution where people work into their 80s happily). But early retirement isn't such a bad thing.


If you have a partner, consider whether there's any way one of you could work locally or telecommute. Having one person near home makes a tremendous difference.

lysistrata

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2014, 09:01:27 PM »
We did this - built our eco-house on 4 acres with an hour commute to the city for work. I have a disability meaning I can't drive (but I work from home 3 days a week, so that's nice!) so much husband does ALL OF THE DRIVING. That sucks for him. But he says every time he turns in our gate, he has xero regrets about what we did.

You have to be frugal to manage the increased gas costs. For me, that's the big thing (it was taking us an hour to commute when we lived in the city, but we weren't spending $800 a month on gas!). But every month the mortgage is getting smaller, and it's already much smaller than our friends, who bought in the city.

There's also the fact that you're an hours drive from all your friends / social activities on the weekends. Want to go to a concert after work? Well, you're looking at that huge drive afterward, and suddenly you aren't doing as much of this type of thing (can be bad, or good, depending on your situation).

I third the suggestion to rent for a while and see if you like it. It is a wonderful lifestyle if you can tough out the bad bits, but the bad bits ARE pretty bad.

Lexie

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2014, 07:47:28 AM »
I'm so relieved to hear I'm not the only person who has considered this. Obviously it would be ideal to live closer to work, but right now that's a difficult option for us financially. We've tried changing jobs too... will keep trying but I feel better hearing the feedback. I also love the van share idea!

Lexie

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2014, 07:54:20 AM »
We're in this situation, and it's definitely a mixed bag.  We work in two cities about an hour and a half apart, and so have chosen to live in a beautiful rural area at the mid-point.  It's WAY less expensive than city A, where we were living, and moderately more expensive than small city B.  We have a lifestyle here that we never would have been able to afford in city A.  For comparison, we sold our 660 sqft 1 br condo for $320K (!) and bought our modest, 1800 sq ft house on a 1/2 acre in a very desirable location for just under $400K.

Then we added an hour commute each way to our lives. Each.  It sucks.  Yesterday, DH, who gets up at 5:30am to get to work for 7am, fell asleep on the couch at 7:30pm and woke up at 9pm to go to bed.  That doesn't happen often, but it's not unusual either.  In the evenings, we get home, make dinner, and either do 1 thing around the house and garden OR relax for a while.  Weekends are always a competition between the house/garden things that need doing and wanting/needing other down time.

That said, we have no regrets.  When we're not working, we think we have the best life in the whole world, and I could NOT go back to living in the city.  For me, it's doable because I only have to commute 3-4 days a week, 8 months of the year (teaching).  One year, DH worked out a deal of longer days 4 days a week and then a 3 day weekend.  The long days were tough, but the weekends were awesome.  If you can do ANY telecommuting, it will make a huge difference.

It's not an easy decision.  But for us, it's motivation to get to FI--or living on one salary--sooner rather than later.  If DH could work locally, and I kept my less consistent commute, we'd be living the life of Riley!  And long term, this is likely where we want to stay, so we're hoping its the jobs that change location, rather than us.

One thing that helped us was renting in this area for a year--is that an option for you?  Give it a low-commitment try and see how it goes.  We actually moved back to city A after a year of rural commuting, before we realized the trade-offs were worth it and made the permanent move back to the country...


Thank you for your reply. It sounds like you get it, it is a very difficult decision.  You also mentioned factors I forgot to mention... While I work downtown, my husband works in the burbs... I commute, he doesn't. If we move halfway between be both commute. But it's likely that he'll eventually be working downtown as well since that's where all of the jobs seem to be. I'm glad you to hear you don't regret the decision! We can definitely rent for a year. I have actually lived in the rural area near our home and commuted in the passed, it's not ideal but the cost of living is significantly cheaper. I'm glad it all worked out for you!

Cromacster

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2014, 08:23:20 AM »
Outside of the early retirement and environmental factor, the biggest factor I would think would be time.  I commute about an hour total each day.  Any more than that would drive me insane.  Whether it be by bus, train, car, biking whatever.  Ideally my commute would be under 10 min, but that won't be happening anytime soon.

mbl

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2014, 08:41:36 AM »
We've lived out in the country(30 miles from work) for the past 24 years.  Takes me about 35 minutes to get to work on 2 lane road.
DH now works 40 miles  in the opposite direction(after 10 years working as consultant from home).  He takes his motorcycle when weather permits and travels mostly country roads to get to town where he works(overlooking the Erie Canal).

Built our house on 5 acres in a rural county.  A small ranch(~1200 sq ft.).  We finished the basement to create a family room with the wood burning stove, an office and a 2nd full bathroom(original build only had the 1 full bath). 

We didn't ever want to live knuckled in cheek by jowl as many do in the city and suburbs.   
We've always valued living in a rural setting.
Clean air, lots of space for the kids to play,  grow a lot of vegetables and fruit,  privacy,  peace and quiet, beautiful views, surrounded by farm land......and the few neighbors we have are wonderful.
The schools were good and provided our kids with a great education. 

I don't believe that the word irresponsible has any meaning for the choice as to how and where one decides to live.

All that matters is that DH and I and our family love our home and our land.
Living where I do allows me to have my horse and the ability to ride and enjoy a lifestyle that I consider a privilege.
Yes it does take a good deal of work and effort to maintain and nurture our property.  But  those are the activities that yield much personal satisfaction for us(one of the big points that MMM makes).

I so enjoy hanging laundry to dry on the lines.
Picking apples, cherries, raspberries.
Going outside in my PJs if I want.
Coming home each to day to a beautiful oasis.



mrsggrowsveg

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2014, 08:45:05 AM »
I commute from a rural area about 25 miles each way.  Life in the country is amazing, but I loathe the commute.  My husband travels for his job, so all of his car costs are covered and he would drive no matter where we live.  I am planning on leaving my job to pursue work on our farm in the near future because the monetary and mental cost of commuting plus daycare isn't worth it.  My work has several vanpool opportunities from rural areas that I could take advantage of if not for a daycare dropoff.  Your work may have the same.  One thing I will warn you about is that you will likely be very far from friends.  Our friends rarely are able to visit us and we only can visit after work.  I wish I was closer to my friends but hope to meet some local people in the future.

Lexie

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Re: Is it irresponsible to live in a rural area and work in the city?
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2014, 08:54:23 AM »
I commute from a rural area about 25 miles each way.  Life in the country is amazing, but I loathe the commute.  My husband travels for his job, so all of his car costs are covered and he would drive no matter where we live.  I am planning on leaving my job to pursue work on our farm in the near future because the monetary and mental cost of commuting plus daycare isn't worth it.  My work has several vanpool opportunities from rural areas that I could take advantage of if not for a daycare dropoff.  Your work may have the same.  One thing I will warn you about is that you will likely be very far from friends.  Our friends rarely are able to visit us and we only can visit after work.  I wish I was closer to my friends but hope to meet some local people in the future.

Ahh the social side, very good point.