Commute Time Considerations Before Accepting that New Job

Jolene Pilgrim
18 Nov 2017

Remember those times as a child when your mom, dad, grandma or other family members would joyfully drop you off in front of school, waving goodbye with an overly loud and often embarrassing “have a good day sugar bear” in front of scores of your fellow classmates?  Remember how you just couldn’t wait to be able to “drive yourself”?  We’re willing to bet you’d give just about anything to swap a few embarrassing kisses on the cheek with the modern, adult realities of traffic, impatient drivers, waiting for stop lights and rushing to get to work on time.

If the above sounds familiar, you’ve probably experienced the joys of commuting into your office or place of work.  While some of us are lucky enough to work relatively close to where we live, with the increasing spread of suburban living and consolidation of business in major urban centers, commuting is taking up an increasing amount of U.S. workers’ time.  The average commute time of 25 minutes nationally continues to rise on a yearly basis and extreme commutes, those that fall in the 90 minutes or more category, are increasing at a faster clip than ever.  When you do the math, commuting back and forth to the office five days a week can take a substantial amount of time out of your life.

The question for would-be job seekers then becomes, when does it make sense to adopt a longer commute to work?  If you’re in that predicament or considering a similar scenario we’ve got a few commute time considerations to ponder before accepting that new job.

Not All Commutes are Created Equal

When faced with a decision of a lengthened commute, the first thing to consider is the method of transportation.  While planes, trains, and automobiles will definitely ferry you from point A to point B, some of these are less stressful, and painful, than others.  A 90-minute car ride in stop and go traffic with tolls and risk of fume inhalation from the old beater in the lane in front of you isn’t nearly as appealing as sitting on a cushy train seat for an equal amount of time.  The number of connections, amount of walking you can tolerate and the ability to use comfortable and safe public transportation options could all tilt the scales in the favor of a lengthier trek into the office.

Employer Perks, Benefits and Commuting Compensation

Regardless of commuting method, getting into the office is going to cost you a bundle of dough if you have to make the haul over a long distance.  Tolls, bus and train tickets, gas and wear and tear on your personal vehicle are all extra financial burdens to take into consideration.  Some employers will recognize these hurdles, however, and offer generous compensation packages for those utilizing various methods of transportation.  From pre-tax commuter savings accounts to reimbursement for public transportation fees, check on the available benefits if you’re on the fence about taking on a hefty commute time.

How to Assess What You’re Commuting For

While your commute is certainly a major consideration, sometimes assessing the job offer is the correct approach when deciding whether a long commute will be worthwhile in the long term.  If the company, career or position is one that is ideal for your background and experience and is also difficult to land in a closer locale, compromising on a longer commute could be beneficial to your long-term career prospects.  Similarly, a large bump in salary could make spending that time on the train every morning more than worth it.  Ultimately it will be the attractiveness of the individual job position, weighed against the value of your time and other resources that go into a lengthy commute, that will help you decide whether to accept the offer.

The Bottom Line on the Commuting Equation

While longer commutes may get a bad rap by some, it’s important that candidates weigh the individual impact to their personal lives, cutting out all that extra clutter from the Monday morning quarterbacks in their lives.  Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask whether your position has the potential for flex commuting or working from home after a period of time.  Many modern employers are recognizing the impact a long commute has on their workforce and are willing to make accommodations to secure the best and brightest talent.  Weigh all of the factors and then make a decision that is best for your career, lifestyle, and family.  Who knows, that longer commute may mean scoring the job of your dreams, well out of the reach of other candidates who may not be willing to make the commitment.

Jolene Pilgrim