Author Topic: Commuting considerations in accepting a job offer...trading 6 miles for 27  (Read 5257 times)

superone!

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Hi everyone! I have a question about how to calculate the cost of commuting in weighing a job offer.

I was just (conditionally) offered a job, in my field, that sounds perfect for me. For the past year I have been working at a position that I fell into, very far outside the field I wanted to work in, and considerably underpaid for what I had hoped to make after finishing my Ph.D. I dislike almost every aspect of my current job except one: my awesome 6 mile bike commute each morning and afternoon.

I'm super excited about the new job offer in all respects except one: the 26.6 mile highway commute. Ugh. I don't know if I can go back to being a daily car user.

Obviously the sensible thing to do would be to move closer to the new job, though I couldn't do that until at least December when my lease is up, and housing costs in the area around the new workplace are outrageous. Plus there is my partner to consider. Any distance we shorten my commute by would lengthen hers an equal amount.

 I've looked at MMMs "true cost of commuting" post. I'm waiting for the numbers on the job offer, but I'm trying to do the math here to figure out how the commute would financially impact me. According to MMM's calculations, the "true cost of commuting" is close to $800/year per mile added to the commute, and I live about 27 miles away from the new job (I'm not counting my current 6 mile commute, since I only bike). If I use MMM's calculations as an approximation, I need to be making at least $21,600 more at my new job to "justify" the commute. That's a lot of money to me, and not money I necessarily want to "spend" on my commute, though it is entirely possible my offer will be in this range (above what I'm making now).

Here's the thing, do I go from a job I hate with a commute I love to a job I love with a commute I hate? The job is at least a stepping stone in this "career" puzzle. But the bike commute has been a huge improvement in general lifestyle.

What do you MMMers think? I'm especially interested to hear from fellow bike commuters. What would you do if you were faced with a decision like this? How important is your commute to you?

FYI: My car is a 1977 Mercedes Benz 240 Diesel with about 110,000 miles on it and in great condition. I get about 30 mpg. (If I became a daily car commuter though, I might look at trying to find something less sexy and more practical.)

frugalnacho

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You could always drive a portion of the trip, then park your car and ride your bike the remainder.

I got a job offer that was about $15,000 above my current job about 2 years ago, and was about an additional 30 minutes in the car each way.   I hadn't found MMM yet but I have always realized the true cost of commuting so I did the math and decided it wasn't worth it.  I would be better off working much closer to home and making less money - I would still come out ahead in terms of money and time.  So I had a sit down with my bosses and explained the situation - basically that I enjoy working with them and everyone else, I enjoy what I do, but this other company will pay me more (I neglected to mention I did the math and decided I wasn't going to take the job anyway) and I used it as leverage.

Now I make much more money in a job I don't hate and i'm only 6 miles from home.

-Oh yea, and everyone I talked to thought I was crazy to not take a new job bundled with a raise and a huge commute.  Even after I explained the math to them not a single person understood it.  I'm so glad I eventually found MMM and found other people that can actually think rationally about things.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 12:57:29 PM by frugalnacho »

avongil

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Your W123 is a fantastic vehicle. It would be a shame to ruin its value by adding miles to it. They are getting harder and harder to find. 

Since you rent, then maybe you can just split the difference with your wife and make it a 15 mile commute.



Glenstache

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The longer commute will take time out of your day every day, and will also add expense over your current situation. There isn't much of a way around that.

My GF bike commutes about 35 miles one-way to her job with 12 hour shifts. She is avidly anti-car and this isn't really reasonable for most people. But, it is possible and you might be able to work it in once or twice a week, or couple it with a drive one way and bike the other arrangement. At those kinds of distances, a nice bike is worth it because it is faster and will make the long ride more enjoyable. I have a 19 mile one-way commute that I do as all bike sometimes, but more often do it as a bike-bus combination, which also allows me to do some pleasure reading every commute.

Ask if people at the new job are carpooling.



superone!

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Your W123 is a fantastic vehicle. It would be a shame to ruin its value by adding miles to it. They are getting harder and harder to find. 

Thank you! I think so too. :) I would also hate to give it up for a Geo Metro or the like.

I'm thinking about a bundled bike/train commute as an option, but it would lengthen the commute quite a bit. I honestly wouldn't consider a commute like this if I was even moderately happy at my current job.

ohyonghao

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There isn't just the distance and out of pocket cost, but also the time cost, which may be in MMM's equations, I'd have to read the article again.  I used to commute 30 miles each way for about a year or so, but traffic was horrible and it would take about 1hr30min to get home every day, or I could go to the gym for an 1hr30min and drive home in 30min.

I took the light rail here for about 6 months straight and liked it better than car commuting, but it takes 1hr30min also and was less flexible.  You could check if the new job would pay for public transit.  The advantage of public transit is being able to do something with the time you are wasting on the commute.  I read through books, taught myself math up through trigonometry and started into calculus.  Also some of my work would be done over VPN tethered to my smartphone.

Then I moved out to within 3 miles of my work and it has changed me completely.  Bike to work every day, and now when I get off early I just go home instead of having to waste time somewhere to wait out traffic, or take the light rail for another 1hr30min.  A lot of happiness came after moving.  You don't have to move right away, you could try it out and check out the options, and move to the right place near work.  This is just my two cents worth.

superone!

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These are great suggestions!

MMM's calculation does figure in some of the time cost. But probably not all of the time cost in Los Angeles area traffic :(

I'm thinking about possibly doing a bike/light rail combo commute, which would take a long time (close to 2 hours) but I still think it might be more predictable and preferable to spending all of that time in a car. I've got to run the numbers when I actually find out what the exact compensation/benefits are going to look like. If they paid in part or all of public transit costs I'd definitely try that route out for a while. I'd have to bike some of it--probably up to 9 miles (which is fine with me--it's my favorite part of my day and my 6 mile commute feels too short) and also take 2 trains. Otherwise it's 3 buses and 2 trains, which doesn't sound fun at all.

But ultimately, I think I'd have to live closer. I can't do a commute like this longterm, but for 6-9 months...maybe?

agent_clone

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As a question, is part of the reason you did not previously find a job in your preferred field as you did not have "real world" experience? (i.e. you had your PhD but not what employers consider as practical experience).  I know this issue is a significant problem in Australia but I'm not sure about the US, and it depends on what field.

As a personal thing I would take the job, and work there for a couple of years and re-evaluate.  By this time you will have a decent amount of "real world" experience and you can evaluate from there.  In your cost benefit analysis you could also put in work satisfaction, yes the commute satisfaction goes significantly down, but will the work (that you spend what 8 hours a day doing?) be much more satisfactory making you overall happier.

You could also take the job and spend the next few months considering where might be ideal for you and your partner to live that meets both your commuting needs.

superone!

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As a question, is part of the reason you did not previously find a job in your preferred field as you did not have "real world" experience? (i.e. you had your PhD but not what employers consider as practical experience).  I know this issue is a significant problem in Australia but I'm not sure about the US, and it depends on what field.

Yep. This was (is!) a significant problem.

Most of my work experience when I finished my PhD (in December 2012) was academic and not "practical" - My goal was to transition out of academia (for a variety of reasons). I took a job doing filing as a temp in city government to scrape by after I graduated, and they ended up hiring me as a data analyst when it was clear I could make myself more useful. That's what I'm doing now. It's mind-numbingly boring, doesn't pay very well, but easy, and, as I said, I have a great commute.

I think the new job would bring a lot more job satisfaction, and be a stepping stone to a real career in my field, rather than just a waystation not to go into further debt (as my current position is). That said, it is *so* hard to imagine myself driving nearly 60 miles every day on a heavily trafficked freeway. And the cost of commuting might mean that I'm not really bringing in a lot more cash (and might even be making less), but I think you are right, it may bring more opportunity to reassess in a little while.

agent_clone

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In which case I would definately say take the job.  Here we are told to move to wherever you find your first job in your chosen industry.  Once you have the initial experience then you can be more picky and review the options.  Sure the commute will suck, but I would look at it from a long term perspective, it's a long commute for a period of time sure, but you can re-assess and look for something in a preferred area later.

I would also do a +1 to the bike and public transport options, unless it takes far too long.  It's much more relaxing relying on someone else to get you where you want to go on a longer commute and you can do a lot of other things while on the bus/train whereas driving you have to watch out for other drivers and the only thing to do is listen to the radio.

Eric

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I'm kind of going through the same thing right now.  Last year, I got a new job and dropped my commute from 25 miles by car to 7 miles by bike and I love riding everyday.  Now they're talking about moving the office which would change my commute to 22 miles.  And it could happen next month.  UGH!!  One of the things I plan on negotiating if this happens is working from home a day or two per week.  I realize it's easier for me because I'm not switching companies, but is this something that's possible?  Do you know if any other people in the office allowed to work from home?  That would make a big difference in both cost and commuting time.

Either way, considering your lack of satisfaction with your current job, it's probably worth it to make the jump and figure out how to make the commute work, especially because you'll have the option of moving.  You said any move would lengthen your partner's commute if you shorten yours, but I'm wondering if there are areas where there's a more direct public transit line that you could use where you could cover the same distance without all the transfers.

Good luck!

Gin1984

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As a question, is part of the reason you did not previously find a job in your preferred field as you did not have "real world" experience? (i.e. you had your PhD but not what employers consider as practical experience).  I know this issue is a significant problem in Australia but I'm not sure about the US, and it depends on what field.

Yep. This was (is!) a significant problem.

Most of my work experience when I finished my PhD (in December 2012) was academic and not "practical" - My goal was to transition out of academia (for a variety of reasons). I took a job doing filing as a temp in city government to scrape by after I graduated, and they ended up hiring me as a data analyst when it was clear I could make myself more useful. That's what I'm doing now. It's mind-numbingly boring, doesn't pay very well, but easy, and, as I said, I have a great commute.

I think the new job would bring a lot more job satisfaction, and be a stepping stone to a real career in my field, rather than just a waystation not to go into further debt (as my current position is). That said, it is *so* hard to imagine myself driving nearly 60 miles every day on a heavily trafficked freeway. And the cost of commuting might mean that I'm not really bringing in a lot more cash (and might even be making less), but I think you are right, it may bring more opportunity to reassess in a little while.
It is your first "real" job, take it and deal with the commute until you can find something closer.  My husband will be taking a postdoc about 60miles each way so that I can finish my PhD and he can have a postdoc.  Sometimes short term pain is worth it.

rmendpara

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Hi everyone! I have a question about how to calculate the cost of commuting in weighing a job offer.

I was just (conditionally) offered a job, in my field, that sounds perfect for me. For the past year I have been working at a position that I fell into, very far outside the field I wanted to work in, and considerably underpaid for what I had hoped to make after finishing my Ph.D. I dislike almost every aspect of my current job except one: my awesome 6 mile bike commute each morning and afternoon.

I'm super excited about the new job offer in all respects except one: the 26.6 mile highway commute. Ugh. I don't know if I can go back to being a daily car user.

Obviously the sensible thing to do would be to move closer to the new job, though I couldn't do that until at least December when my lease is up, and housing costs in the area around the new workplace are outrageous. Plus there is my partner to consider. Any distance we shorten my commute by would lengthen hers an equal amount.

 I've looked at MMMs "true cost of commuting" post. I'm waiting for the numbers on the job offer, but I'm trying to do the math here to figure out how the commute would financially impact me. According to MMM's calculations, the "true cost of commuting" is close to $800/year per mile added to the commute, and I live about 27 miles away from the new job (I'm not counting my current 6 mile commute, since I only bike). If I use MMM's calculations as an approximation, I need to be making at least $21,600 more at my new job to "justify" the commute. That's a lot of money to me, and not money I necessarily want to "spend" on my commute, though it is entirely possible my offer will be in this range (above what I'm making now).

Here's the thing, do I go from a job I hate with a commute I love to a job I love with a commute I hate? The job is at least a stepping stone in this "career" puzzle. But the bike commute has been a huge improvement in general lifestyle.

What do you MMMers think? I'm especially interested to hear from fellow bike commuters. What would you do if you were faced with a decision like this? How important is your commute to you?

FYI: My car is a 1977 Mercedes Benz 240 Diesel with about 110,000 miles on it and in great condition. I get about 30 mpg. (If I became a daily car commuter though, I might look at trying to find something less sexy and more practical.)

You threw in a lot of "fluff".

Make a choice about what's more important, career progress/happiness or lifestyle (including commute).

If it were me, I would consider the commute a cost of doing business to further your career. I'm not sure what type of PhD you have, but do these types of jobs come around easily with a close commute to where you live? What's the chance that if you decline this offer that a comparable job would come up in the next 1-2 years?

Could you put up with a long commute through the end of the year and then find something to shorten it a bit, or is a commute very unbearable? (I ask not to badger you, as I also abhor traffic and it stresses me out and annoys me like hell, but just to get a better idea of your feelings about it.)
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 08:12:04 PM by rmendpara »