Author Topic: Your thoughts on a longer commute in order to make more money and save on rent?  (Read 5961 times)

latebloomingonion

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Hi there,

As my other post https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/stop-saving-for-retirement-for-the-next-12-months-to-pay-off-student-loans/msg1683305/#msg1683305 indicated I am far behind on saving for retirement and I have student loans I am paying off.  There is an opportunity that I needed some mustachian input regarding.  Namely, a kind family member is offering to rent us a place for $875 (soon we will be paying $1595 for our current place).  This new place is in a new city in the Bay Area of San Francisco (Specifically Vallejo, California).  It would make it possible for me to commute to San Francisco.  I say possible because right now I live in the city I work in and my commute time is only 15 minutes each way.  With this new situation my commute time would be anywhere from 1 hr to 1.5 hours each way (with tolls). 

Also, living in this new location would open up an opportunity for a job transfer and I would make 33k more a year there (pre-tax).  The new job while closer to the lodgings is still much farther than where I live and work now (Currently I work about 5 miles round trip from where I live ... the new job would be approximately 81 miles round trip from where I would live). 

In summary: Is the extra time commuting worth it -- an increase by about 2.5 hours a day (I only work 3 days a week) but save $720 a month in rent and most likely make more than $33k annually (pre-tax)? 

« Last Edit: November 17, 2017, 05:47:35 PM by latebloomingonion »

Linea_Norway

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A 2,5 hour longer commute per day might tempt you to buy a of more stuff that you currently do yourself. I am thinking about eating out or eating precooked meals because you don't have time to cook. Or needing a house cleaner, because you don't have time to clean. Children more hours in child care, if you have children.

It is totally doable, commuting 1:15 hour one way, but it will quickly become more if you get stuck in traffic or have a delayed train/bus. 1:15 will be the minimum time. And it will be tiring. Maybe you should prepare for how to safeguard yourself to make more expensive choices. Maybe cook large portions in the weekends that you can eat during the week.

Do you currently own a car, or will this be an additional new costs? Owning a car is quite expensive: insurance, maintenance, loss of value and parking cost.
Make a sure to calculate the additional cost of commuting and compare it with the 41640 USD that you will earn more and save in rent. I think it might be profitable to make the change, if you take care to not increase your spending on conveniences.

latebloomingonion

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A 2,5 hour longer commute per day might tempt you to buy a of more stuff that you currently do yourself. I am thinking about eating out or eating precooked meals because you don't have time to cook. Or needing a house cleaner, because you don't have time to clean. Children more hours in child care, if you have children.

It is totally doable, commuting 1:15 hour one way, but it will quickly become more if you get stuck in traffic or have a delayed train/bus. 1:15 will be the minimum time. And it will be tiring. Maybe you should prepare for how to safeguard yourself to make more expensive choices. Maybe cook large portions in the weekends that you can eat during the week.

Do you currently own a car, or will this be an additional new costs? Owning a car is quite expensive: insurance, maintenance, loss of value and parking cost.
Make a sure to calculate the additional cost of commuting and compare it with the 41640 USD that you will earn more and save in rent. I think it might be profitable to make the change, if you take care to not increase your spending on conveniences.

Thank you those are good points to consider.  Especially, taking note of NOT spending the extra money.  If we were to make this decision all of the extra funds I made would go into paying off the student loans (effectively taking care of them in 1 years time).  And both our cars are paid off and currently have relatively low mileage.   

Part of me wants to do this because I tend to be lazy, so I have had a difficult time working second job etc,.  But, driving and listening to pod casts and earning more seems like something that may work better ... especially with my current money situation. 

TomTX

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Hi there,

As my other post https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/stop-saving-for-retirement-for-the-next-12-months-to-pay-off-student-loans/msg1683305/#msg1683305 indicated I am far behind on saving for retirement and I have student loans I am paying off.  There is an opportunity that I needed some mustachian input regarding.  Namely, a kind family member is offering to rent us a place for $875 (soon we will be paying $1595 for our current place).  This new place is much farther away.  It would increase our commute from 15 minutes to 1 to 1.5 hours each way.  Also, living in this new location would open up an opportunity to work somewhere else and make 33k more a year. 

In summary: Is the extra time commuting worth it -- an increase by about 2.5 hours a day (I only work 3 days a week) but save $720 a month in rent and most likely make more than $33k annually?

I'm puzzled how moving further away gets you a higher paying job opportunity.

Is the new job opportunity near the new lodgings? If so, get the new job - then move and get the best of both. More money, cheaper rent, short commute.

latebloomingonion

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I'm puzzled how moving further away gets you a higher paying job opportunity.

Is the new job opportunity near the new lodgings? If so, get the new job - then move and get the best of both. More money, cheaper rent, short commute.

Let me see if I can help explain. 

The new job while closer to the lodgings is still much farther than where I live and work now (Currently I work about 5 miles round trip from where I live ... the new job would be approximately 81 miles round trip from where I would live). 


TomTX

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I'm puzzled how moving further away gets you a higher paying job opportunity.

Is the new job opportunity near the new lodgings? If so, get the new job - then move and get the best of both. More money, cheaper rent, short commute.

Let me see if I can help explain. 

The new job while closer to the lodgings is still much farther than where I live and work now (Currently I work about 5 miles round trip from where I live ... the new job would be approximately 81 miles round trip from where I would live).

So have you investigated housing costs within 1 mile of the potential new job?

Why not move THERE instead?

latebloomingonion

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Thanks guys, the new place (offered by family) the cost to rent per month would be $875 (2br + 1.5 bathroom).  The new job is in San Francisco I'm sure rent in that area would be well over $2700-3000 range per month.   
« Last Edit: November 15, 2017, 07:11:45 PM by latebloomingonion »

ShortInSeattle

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As someone who did the opposite thing (moved closer to reduce the commute, even though housing cost more) my two cents is that 2+ hours spent commuting every day is detrimental to your health, your quality of life, and (usually) the environment.

Ten hours of your life every week, *gone*. And all that time sitting in a car, it can grind a person down.

I'd be very leery of making he trade-off. With so much of our lives spent at work, it's important we save some time and happiness for ourselves. 10 extra hours commuting each week may work in opposition to your flourishing as a human being. I didn't realize how much commuting sucked my life force until I cut it way down - it was like being released from prison.

Whatever you decide, good luck! It's good to have options! 😊

SIS




Tass

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A long commute, especially if undertaken alone in a car, is one of the scientifically best-proven ways to reduce your happiness. One study claims that cutting an hour-each-way commute out of your life will improve your happiness equivalently to a $40,000 raise.

This is the video I originally heard this from, but it has tons of sources in the description if you don't feel like listening to Hank Green talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Am-6-jzR68

MMM says "Each mile you live from work steals $795 per year from you in commuting costs."

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/06/the-true-cost-of-commuting/

Maybe you don't agree with his exact figuring, but it's a worthwhile exercise to remind you that there are costs to driving besides just gas - on your wallet as well as your health and happiness. And his calculations assume that you're driving somewhat economically in a reasonable car. But they also assume your time is worth $25/per hour and figures that into the cost. What does the math look like if we pretend your time is not intrinsically worth anything and only look at the $$$?

The IRS says that driving costs about $0.51 per mile, on average for Americans, including gas and wear and tear. $0.51 * 81 miles * 3 days a week * 50 weeks per year = $6196.50. You're talking about saving $8640 per year in rent. By living far away from this great job, you're saving $2443.50. In a year. For 2.5 hours a day, 3 days a week, 50 weeks a year, your commute would be saving you $6.50/hour.

You're worth more than $6.50/hour.

Even if you are an expert ultramiler and can bring your driving costs down to MMM levels of $0.17 per mile, your 12,150 mile annual commute is costing $2065.50, you're saving $6574.50, and your 375 driving hours are earning back $17.50 each. That's a wage that would earn you $35k a year at full time employment. Is your time worth more than that? Whoever's offering you a $33k raise seems to think so.

I think you're getting stuck on these two great but incompatible options (cheap rent and better job) you have in front of you, and you're overvaluing those to the detriment of opportunities you haven't investigated yet: finding closer housing to the great job or finding a better job close to the cheap housing. (I believe there is a name for this cognitive bias, but I don't recall it right this moment.) As you can see, you can be flexible with some of those decisions and still come out ahead: spending an extra $2443.50 per year out of your new $33k-fatter paycheck earns you 375 hours back every year. $6.50/hour is a pretty good price to buy your own time; it's a terrible price to sell it for.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2017, 01:19:39 PM by Tass »

marty998

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(I believe there is a name for this cognitive bias, but I don't recall it right this moment.)

Not being able to see the wood from the trees? :)

Gondolin

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I'm currently enduring a commute like the one you're considering and my life is an endless nightmare from which I cannot wake.

That said, for only 3 days a week I would strongly consider moving. People here like to do back of the envelope calculations on commuting costs to make a point but, I highly recommend running the numbers yourself. The reality is that there's a step function between owning a car and not owning a car and, assuming you're driving an old car of little residual value, I find the incremental costs to be much lower than IRS/MMM math.

Using IRS/MMM averages I'll spend 6000-7000 dollars commuting this year. In reality my total cost of car ownership (insurance, gas, tolls, maintenance, etc.) will be about 3500. Still a big expense I wish I didn't have but, way different when making decisions like the one you're facing.

YMMV (literally)

Tass

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The whole point of that calculation is to remind you that even if you spend less than $6000 one year, you're likely to make up for it the next as your car requires maintenance.

But seriously, the happiness impact alone would be sufficient for me to say no way.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2017, 11:09:09 AM by Tass »

latebloomingonion

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I just wanted to thank everyone for their thoughtful responses.  A lot to consider. 

Gondolin

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Quote
The whole point of that calculation is to remind you that even if you spend less than $6000 one year, you're likely to make up for it the next as your car requires maintenance.

But that's often not at all accurate! The odds that my particular car will thousands of dollars in maintenance next year is near zero. That's because at that cost I would get a new car since mine has, at most, $2-3k of value left.

It's bad enough to use average numbers for mileage but, adding an "average" maintenance cost on top without considering make, model, condition, mileage, usage, etc. is even worse!

The back of the envelope calculation is great when you're writing a pithy blog post designed to wake people up to the costs of commuting. When making decisions in your actual life you need to do the math taking into account the cost of gas in your area, tolls along the commuting route, insurance  and the age/condition/mileage of your vehicle.

Tass

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Okay, fair. You have more information about your own situation than the IRS does. I still think it's probable to assume you'll fall in the range between the two extremes though (.17 vs .51 per mile).

My intent was to show even in the best possible case, the savings are marginal compared to the cost. 375 hours of commuting a year is 15 and a half solid days (or 24 days if you only count waking hours). You're talking about making $33k extra and being afraid to spend maybe 10% of that new income. I would say saving 90% of your raise and putting 10% into a new housing situation that makes the raise possible is very frugal. I know it's taboo to say on this forum (for good reason), but you can afford it - and in this case "it" is something known to measurably improve your happiness over an extended period of time, not a trinket you're going to forget about.

It's ultimately up to OP, of course, but I think the answer is obvious. :)

Gondolin

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Quote
You're talking about making $33k extra and being afraid to spend maybe 10% of that new income. I would say saving 90% of your raise and putting 10% into a new housing situation that makes the raise possible is very frugal

I don't follow. OP only gets the raise if they transfer to SF. They can only work in SF if they either:
A) move in with their relative at $875 a month and have the long commute.
B) move to downtown SF and pay some ungodly amount, likely double what they pay now.

How does spending 3k get them a better living situation?

neil

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I work a fairly high stress (but not labor intensive) job and it is common for the number of hours to vary from 40-80 hours a week - the high end of that end being fairly rare but the crunch periods are really important times to execute well.  Average is usually 50.  Until I met my SO and got married, I always lived less than 2 miles away and could tailor my work hours very flexibly.  I felt I had a lot of balance in my life, always getting a few hours of personal time a day and an adequate amount of sleep when I needed it.

I had a lot of energy for the work and poured into it.  I turned this energy into success production and rewarded accordingly.

Meeting my SO has been very rewarding in many areas, but as a compromise we live in a commute-neutral area where I now have a regular ~25-35 minute drive.  I don't like staying late anymore because I know I won't be home right away.  I generally can't grab food if I stay longer than expected and want a quick refuel and get back to work.  The hour of lost productivity daily kills momentum I have on any ongoing work tasks.  And personally, my creativity peaks around 6-9pm and this time is now rarely leveraged for work purposes because I am either commuting or whatever.

If I had been doing this from day one, I know it would have affected my career negatively. I would have saved a bit more saving money but I don't think I'd be making my current salary.

People are different and this is only my experience.  I can't imagine tolerating such a loss of productivity and time but I am sure others feel the rewards outweigh the work, and it is fine to make that decision as long as you are fairly assessing the costs.  But for me, I would not do such a move unless it was an opportunity to accelerate my career.  Doing this on a long term basis would harm my career in my case because my enthusiasm toward the work would be diminished and it would likely hinder my advancement.  You want to optimize not just for today but looking forward as well.

ACyclist

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Personally, I feel that living close to work and most services is the best way. This way, you really could go car free, if you chose to be. The expenses we save in transportation is really great.  We save  in time as well.  Time in my pocket = happiness.  Time spent in a car is not so happy for us.

Tass

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Quote
You're talking about making $33k extra and being afraid to spend maybe 10% of that new income. I would say saving 90% of your raise and putting 10% into a new housing situation that makes the raise possible is very frugal

I don't follow. OP only gets the raise if they transfer to SF. They can only work in SF if they either:
A) move in with their relative at $875 a month and have the long commute.
B) move to downtown SF and pay some ungodly amount, likely double what they pay now.

How does spending 3k get them a better living situation?

A situation in which you can get to work quickly and without going insane is a better living situation. It is worth some extra money. It sounds like OP would have extra money to invest in that outcome, in the right circumstances.

I also want to reemphasize that I'm not rooting for exactly one solution. I think OP should examine all the options, including ones that haven't been listed here. (Also, frankly, I'm still a bit confused about the details; I'm trying to comment primarily on principles.)

turketron

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I didn't see this mentioned in the original post but forgive me if I just missed it- would the new, longer commute be via car? OP said it's in San Fran, so would this possibly via bart or public transportation? For me, 2.5 hours by car each day is a massive "fuck no." However, 1:15 each way via train where you could read a book, take a nap, or even get some work done with a laptop is a different ballgame entirely. Not ideal, for sure, but much more palatable.

latebloomingonion

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Hi there, be happy to answer any specific questions anyone has to clear up confusion.   I just edited my original post as it was confusing to me on a re-read.  But, to give specifics this would be from Vallejo, California to San Francisco, California.  Rent is just not cheap in SF for anywhere commute friendly.  I work nights so the ferry would not work.  BART is an option but from a google maps search seems to show about a 2 hour process (from bus, bart, and walking) and that is just one way. 
« Last Edit: November 17, 2017, 05:46:19 PM by latebloomingonion »

cchrissyy

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to clarify - the relative's cheap house is in Vallejo, and the higher paying job you might get is in SF?  and you work nights so there's no rush hour factor?

if that's right, it doesn't sound bad at all.  I mean, I don't want that commute but it's not on the level of life-quality-destroyer.

do you have a car?  it's 32 miles and according to google maps if you leave at 9pm tonight driving takes 35-50 minutes, which matches my expectation of no traffic on the freeway.  Of course Bart is slower, especially bus+bart.

is the higher paying job a sure thing, like a transfer within your current employer? or is it just a hope?

latebloomingonion

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to clarify - the relative's cheap house is in Vallejo, and the higher paying job you might get is in SF?  and you work nights so there's no rush hour factor?

if that's right, it doesn't sound bad at all.  I mean, I don't want that commute but it's not on the level of life-quality-destroyer.

do you have a car?  it's 32 miles and according to google maps if you leave at 9pm tonight driving takes 35-50 minutes, which matches my expectation of no traffic on the freeway.  Of course Bart is slower, especially bus+bart.

is the higher paying job a sure thing, like a transfer within your current employer? or is it just a hope?

Yes, the relatives house is in Vallejo.  Yes, I have a car that's paid for.  The higher paying job is in SF.  And yes, I work nights but work longer shifts so I start work at 7pm (again only 3 nights a week).  So google maps shows me some traffic getting TO work but none on the way back home from work. The higher paying job is a transfer, while not a 100% guarantee I have no reason to think it wouldn't happen --- but of course I wouldn't move to Vallejo until I had a job offer. 
« Last Edit: November 17, 2017, 06:09:52 PM by latebloomingonion »

cchrissyy

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that sounds great

Johnez

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If you're working nights, traffic is a nonfactor. Take the money and build a big ass pile with it. If you have a reasonable car that gets decent mileage, the gas and maintenance is going to be a drop in the bucket compared to $33k.

Also, if you have a spouse, consider their thoughts. If being away an extra 2.5 hours a day makes him/her miserable- you will be miserable. This is where relationship problems blossom into nightmares and divorces.

des999

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I moved an hour away from work (used to ride my bike to work).  Main reason was inherited new house, so was able to save a ton of money.  I will say that if I had to do it 5 days a week I don't think I'd still be living here.  But, b/c I'm able to work 2 days a week from home, it breaks up the drive and makes it much more enjoyable.  I've listened to tons of podcasts, and some times I just sit in silence for an hour (kind of like meditation). 

I've noticed I used to get more stressed driving when I was only going a few miles and would hit traffic/bad drivers, etc...  but now knowing that I have a long trip I kind of just let things go that used to stress me out.  It's kind of a fun game I play, try not to be 'that guy' if some one cuts me off.  It sounds silly, but it's improved my overall stress/calmness.

Good luck either way.


MBot

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to clarify - the relative's cheap house is in Vallejo, and the higher paying job you might get is in SF?  and you work nights so there's no rush hour factor?

if that's right, it doesn't sound bad at all.  I mean, I don't want that commute but it's not on the level of life-quality-destroyer.

do you have a car?  it's 32 miles and according to google maps if you leave at 9pm tonight driving takes 35-50 minutes, which matches my expectation of no traffic on the freeway.  Of course Bart is slower, especially bus+bart.

is the higher paying job a sure thing, like a transfer within your current employer? or is it just a hope?

Yes, the relatives house is in Vallejo.  Yes, I have a car that's paid for.  The higher paying job is in SF.  And yes, I work nights but work longer shifts so I start work at 7pm (again only 3 nights a week).  So google maps shows me some traffic getting TO work but none on the way back home from work. The higher paying job is a transfer, while not a 100% guarantee I have no reason to think it wouldn't happen --- but of course I wouldn't move to Vallejo until I had a job offer.

3 nights a week, you have a paid off car, and no traffic on the way back.

Absolutely, I would. That's a decent per hour return on your time and a lot less frustration than a rush hour commute.