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If you didn’t already think I’m a super weird person, I’m about to solidify that idea for you. My husband and I both commute 100 miles per day, to and from work. Here’s a little background on my situation and our commutes:
My husband and I live in Southwestern Virginia, and we work in vastly different fields (geology & mental health). I still work at the same company that hired me right out of grad school and he works at one of the 9 district offices for the Department of Transportation. His office is 110 miles from my office, and we live in the middle.
Because of where we live, there are a limited number of professional positions. We live in an area that struggles with “human capital flight”: people with professional degrees often leave the area to find better jobs. The end result is a dire need for professionals in the area. So why would be agree to work in this area?
- We’re originally from the general area.
- We both love our jobs.
- We want to give back to the community.
In addition, there weren’t any closer areas hiring a geologist and a non-licensed therapist (“resident”). If you are a licensed therapist, there are so many more options but very few places in the area have the resources to provide the training needed to help residents become licensed.
We looked at a variety of different options, ranging from renting in both locations at once, renting in either location, buying in either location, and buying/renting in several towns in between our jobs. We settled on buying a house in a town in between our jobs.
Now here’s the part where you might want to pay attention.
Because we both work in larger “cities,” costs are considerably higher in either area. Houses cost 2-4 times what houses in our neighborhood cost. A quick search shows houses around my office cost $80,000-$130,000 for 1,000 square feet. There are only two 1,000 sqft houses for sale near his office: one for $289,000 and a fixer-upper for $53,000.
Our house is about 800 square feet and cost around $60,000. It also came with 3 lots, a storage building, and a fenced-in backyard. It is not a “fixer-upper” and required no repairs to move in. Since we have moved in, we have made only a few minor repairs with nothing costing over $300.
So with all of that, our mortgage is less than $350 per month. To me, this is worth the commute.
Yes, we drive a lot during the week. That comes with the decision to live in between two distant jobs.
But let’s look at the breakdown:
My husband and I both fill up our cars about once every 3 days, for $20 or less each time. Assuming we both fill up 7 times during a month, the math looks like this:
Him: 7 * $20 = $140
Me: 7 * $20 = $140
Compare this to other mortgages in homes closer to either of our jobs, averaging between $600 and $800 per month. I’ll take what I’ve got now.
There are several benefits that come along with having a longer commute:
- I am able to put my entire work day behind me by the time I get home. This is incredibly important if you work in a high-stress job, such as medical care or mental health.
- I am able to use this time for reading I normally wouldn’t be able to get done. I have an Audible subscription (30-day free trial affiliate link) and this handy FM transmitter that allows me to listen to audiobooks through my car stereo as I drive. I get two hours of “reading” done per day, just by driving to and from work.
- I’m an auditory learner, so I remember significantly more this way.
- Having a longer commute allows me to value my time more. Because I spend less time at home, I have to prioritize what I want to accomplish each day.
I know that having a long commute isn’t for everyone, especially if you have children. I do not have children which allows me to make more extreme choices like this. It might be worth considering, however, if you need to make some changes to reduce your overall spending. I hope you at least consider a longer commute as an option.
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What choices have you made to reduce your overall spending?