How to Determine If Jobs Are Worth a Long Commute

Time in the car means time away from your little ones.

Time in the car means time away from your little ones.

To commute or not to commute, that is the question. And it's not one other people can answer for you. This is one of those "work-life" issues you hear about: How job-related factors -- a long commute, in this case -- affect your personal life and your physical and emotional well-being. If there are truly compelling professional opportunities afforded you by the new job, you may be willing to suck it up and join the crowds of daily commuters. But if your car is on its last legs, you can't afford an increased gas bill or you'd lose your evenings with your new baby, you probably want to stay closer to home.

List the pros and cons of the job requiring the commute. Include the tangible, positive factors, such as salary, job responsibilities and whether it's a step up on the career ladder. On the cons side, include increased wear and tear on your car, spending more each month on gas or parking and things like having to get up an hour earlier each day. At first glance, if your list is heavily weighted on the pros side, the job may be worth the longer commute. If the lists are comparable or leaning more toward the cons list, there may not be enough valid reasons to warrant adding a long commute into your life.

Write down the intangible factors of the prospective job and consider their importance to you. Maybe it's the job you've always dreamed of, or you'd be working with your long-time mentor. Or is it appealing primarily because a couple college friends work there, or it's located near all the best night spots and boutiques? Balance these factors against a long commute -- the first two considerations may make the long commute palatable, but think seriously about whether the latter, more superficial factors are enough to justify it.

Assess honestly how the addition of a long commute would affect your personal life. If you're single and have few after-work commitments, sitting in traffic each evening might not be a big deal. But if you have young kids or attend evening classes close to home, for example, the trade-off might not be worth it. While it might be tolerable for a limited period of time, do you want to come home after the family's already eaten dinner every night? Or give up coaching your youngster's T-ball team? Missing precious family time or being perpetually stressed and tired might be pretty high prices to pay for that distant job.

 

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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