Author Topic: Should I move?? Cost of Commuting: Car>Bike>Walk  (Read 3517 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Should I move?? Cost of Commuting: Car>Bike>Walk
« on: August 31, 2014, 11:59:22 AM »
Hello Everyone!

I am new to the forums, but have followed this site for over a year now. Over this time I have integrated MMM principles into my life; I bike to work, dumped my old phone plan, and cook almost all my food. This has made it only more exciting to find new ways to save money, which leads me to my current situation: Should I move within 1 mile of my new job, or stay at my current apartment which is 7 miles away? Of course, I welcome any and all advice, and will break down how I figured the numbers below.

To help you understand better, here is the scope of my situation:

I recently landed my dream job in my favorite neighborhood in my favorite city (Minneapolis). I just graduated from university with my bachelors, and will be making around $35,000/year at this job. I expect this amount to grow quickly, and I also LOVE my company (excellent benefits, people, and work environment). So my job is a set factor right now. I'll explain more of the benefits upon request.

I live approximately 7 miles away from this job currently. I do not own a car, only a bicycle. I'm about halfway into my 1 year lease on my apartment. Rent+Utilities= $390/month to $405/month depending on season.

Now, I'm looking to move into the same neighborhood of my job, ideally within 1 mile of my work. I would like to eliminate the need to bike to work. This is primarily to save costs of commuting during the winter months (and to have an all around simpler lifestyle). If I lived in a warmer climate I most likely wouldn't consider moving because I am getting an excellent deal on rent right now. However, winter is expensive. If I were to move into the new neighborhood, the cost of rent+utilities= $550/month to $650/month depending on the season and place.

In the following cost/benefit analysis I am excluding a car option from the equation because:
1. The cost of buying/maintaining/driving/insuring a car doesn't warrant the investment given my current income and living situation. ($150+/month, excluding the price of the car itself)
2. If I had more money in savings I might consider it, however Id rather invest or pay off my school loans with my extra cash.
3. Biking/Walking/Busing are more cost effective options that I should consider those first.

The Bicycle Factor

You all must be thinking, "WHY would you move when you have such a great deal on rent and already commute by bicycle??"

Well, because I've calculated that there is a greater than perceived cost on bicycle commuting past a certain point.
Lets first look at time costs:

My current commute by bicycle is a roughly 70 minutes per day. During the winter, the commuting time doubles to more than 2 hours per day. At a 5 day work week, that means 1470 minutes/month during the non-winter months, and 2940 minutes/month during the winter months. This is a generous figure, as some years the winters can last much longer. Over the course of a year 23,520 minutes (392 hours) would be spent commuting with a bike from my current location.

At my current job my time is worth $15.50/hour. 15.5 x 392= $6076 of time. This is assuming that I could spend my time as or more productively than my work. I would argue its worth much more.

I used this article to calculate the true cost/mile of my bike:

I came up with roughly $60/month. For winter months I would need to buy a new bicycle each year, I have factored that into the cost.

SO, $60+$760(in hours)= $820/month lifestyle cost during the winter, and roughly half of that in the summer.

Now, to counter-argue the health value of biking to commute, with the hours saved I could easily plan out a more efficient workout than biking. Going for a run or doing calisthenics offers the same benefit as biking but without the maintenance costs or hassle of a bicycle.

But what if I were to take the bus?

Not so fast! From my current location, the metro transit system does not conveniently take me to my work. I would have to transfer at least once, and the frequency is very low. If I transfer twice I will arrive at my work faster, but the commute would still total to over 2 hours per day. This is the same time cost as a bicycle from my current location. An unlimited bus pass is $110/month.

$110+$760(in hours)= $870/month in lifestyle cost. Enough said.

Living withing a mile from work...

Would mean:
I gain 308 hours/year that I can freely use to be productive.
I can walk to work in roughly 15 minutes! Or, bike to work in under 5 minutes! This cuts the repair maintenance cost down to almost nothing.
I can choose to not bike during the winter, thus extending its life even further.

In Conclusion

Lets do the math to see how much I'd benefit by moving to the new neighborhood:

$820/month current lifestyle commute savings (Winter) - $250/month potential rent increase= $570/month lifestyle gain.
$410/month current lifestyle commute savings (non-Winter) - $250/month potential rent increase= $160/month lifestyle gain.

On the modest end, I gain anywhere from $570 to $160 per month by simply moving. This is huge!!

Now I should also mention that the lifestyle simplicity will bring a greater peace of mind. I wouldn't have to worry about my bike breaking down in the middle of a time sensitive commute (which has already happened several times to me with all the random potholes after the most recent winter) The neighborhood has other benefits too, including more community investment/involvement opportunities. From a pure materialistic stand point, building a better relationship with the locals will yield more opportunities to make/save money.
Example: networking with neighbors for cheaper rent uniquely found by word of mouth. Also its an environmentally conscious, lower crime, public transportation accessible neighborhood, which has huge personal and opportunity value to me.

Any thoughts on this? So far I seem pretty convinced that it will be an overall better decision to move within a mile from my work.
Any ideas are appreciated :) Thanks for reading this.


  • Stubble
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Re: Should I move?? Cost of Commuting: Car>Bike>Walk
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2014, 12:09:34 PM »
Looks like you've already made up your mind. ;)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Should I move?? Cost of Commuting: Car>Bike>Walk
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2014, 01:14:50 PM »
I think a commute of over 5 miles one way on a bicycle is less than ideal (under 15 minutes would be ideal for me) if you don't really enjoy riding , so I am not opposed to your moving, but I don't think we should be in the habit of justifying things based on questionable assumptions--and I question yours.

I ride about 3,000 miles a year, most of that in the rain, and spend less than $100 annually to maintain my bicycle (this consists primarily of lubing the chain (absolutely anyone can be an expert on this after an investment of 5 minutes research/practice) and replacing tubes).

I can't imagine what sort of riding conditions would require the purchase of a new bike every year.

The hourly value of your time may have an intrinsic worth in excess of $15.50/hour, for sure, but, for analytic purposes, rarely can a case be made that your time is actually worth more (or even equivalent) when you are not at work than it is when you are (if you disagree, then you should obviously be spending less time at work ;) ).  This is, of course, not true if you've already established yourself as a part-time widget maker/tutor/whatever, but, if that's not the case for you, I think your numerical value is anywhere from $0-$5/hour and would be largely based on whatever future earnings you'd realize as a result of research/practice you'd be doing now in preparation. 

I think the real question for you is how much of your approximately $29,000 per year take home pay can you afford to spend on housing while maintaining a savings rate that allows you to structure your retirement. This largely depends on your other expenditures and your goals. If you go the route of moving you'll be spending 25% of your take home pay on housing as opposed to about 16%.

Would you be living alone?  If so, I would spend the next 3-6 months (time remaining on your lease) trying to figure out how to recruit a roommate to split the cost of living within a mile of work; in this way you could, potentially, pay what you currently are while living as close as you desire to work. 


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Should I move?? Cost of Commuting: Car>Bike>Walk
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2014, 01:22:10 PM »
have you considered an electric bike or a scooter for the winter months? that would cut the time and discomfort in the winter months.

the rent sounds good where you are and you can also be looking for new accommodation that's closer for when the lease expires. you may even be able to sell the electric bike/scooter without a loss..


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Should I move?? Cost of Commuting: Car>Bike>Walk
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2014, 02:02:15 PM »
A couple of factors to consider:

1.  While on public transit, one can be productive.  This is done by reading or working.  I study for certification exams, for example.

2.  The cost of moving.  Every time you move there are $thousands of hidden costs.  Re-decorating, painting, furniture, endless.

3.  You say you love your job; well we all loved our first girlfriend/boyfriend, but a job is not forever.  You might move, then your boss quits, you hate your new boss, then you have the sunk costs of the move.  Then your new job (girlfriend/boyfriend) is on the other side of town...get my drift?


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Should I move?? Cost of Commuting: Car>Bike>Walk
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2014, 12:13:17 AM »
Thank you all for the suggestions and ideas. You've put some doubt in my mind. I suppose that the time saved and simplicity are the main benefits that I can feel confident about still. Whether I should calculate my time as money is another matter. Also I have a personal bias toward living in the neighborhood because I like the culture.

I would be living with two other roommates.

Maybe it would be better to bite the bullet this winter and hunt for a cheaper place that's close enough to my work.

Cost of moving isn't a concerning factor for me because my possessions are very little, and I could easily borrow my parents trailer and fit everything in one trip, two at the most.

It seems to me that I'm placing a lot of importance on the intrinsic value rather than the actual money I'd be saving. There is a fine line and balance that I need to find to calculate how much simplicity/comfort I'd be willing to give up for money. For example, my parents live 25 miles away from my work and 5 miles away from the nearest bus station. I could move back in with them rent free and just pay $110/month for a bus pass. However there would be much less privacy. But damn, I'd be saving $3590 more a year than I currently am. Hmmm... Maybe I should move back in with ma and pa.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Should I move?? Cost of Commuting: Car>Bike>Walk
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2014, 09:06:10 AM »
Just my opinion, but I'd need to be saving a lot more than $3590 a year to move in with my parents!

In your situation, I would probably move. You love the area, you could walk to work, which would improve your day to day life, and you can afford it. Yes, as someone said, your work may move, but if you are renting, you can move too, if that happens. You have to chose somewhere to live, you might as well choose based on where you go to work 5 times a week now, rather than what may or may not happen in the future. Especially given you like your job and have no reason to think it's currently in peril (not that you would necessarily know. But you can only based decisions on what you do know).


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Should I move?? Cost of Commuting: Car>Bike>Walk
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2014, 10:14:03 AM »
Move when lease is up, if you like the new neighborhood.  I can't see any downside.  Good luck.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Should I move?? Cost of Commuting: Car>Bike>Walk
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2014, 05:56:20 PM »
I would move as soon as possible if you can get out of your lease.  If you find a tenant to sign a new lease a lot of landlords won't even charge you a penalty.  I absolutely hate long commutes, and yours will be even worse (in time and freezing your ass off) in the winter.