A Long Commute May Turn Your Dream Job Into A Nightmare

February 23, 2011

Rush hour trafficWhat is the job of your dreams worth to you? For most people, a long commute seems to be the deal breaker.

FINS reported that the average commute time for working Americans is 25 minutes each way; however, some 3.2 million U.S. workers commute more than three hours a day for work. New Yorkers typically spent 35 minutes each way on a workday, while D.C. residents travelled 33 minutes each way.

For many, a longer commute may be worth it if the job pays well or if you have a nice home in an ideal location. However, 2008 research from the University of Basel and the University of Zurich showed that the tradeoffs we often use to convince ourselves to take that job in a far off land hardly pays off when it comes to happiness.

Researchers analyzed 19 years of German surveys on happiness and discovered that the stress of commuting usually is not worth the pay. In fact, the report concluded that someone who commutes 44 minutes a day would require an additional $642 a month to be happier than someone who worked from home and, therefore, had no commute time at all.

Unfortunately, for some a lengthy commute is inevitable. According to a press release, many employees in Redwood City, CA are forced to commute 50, 75, even 100 miles in overall commute because of a lack of local housing options.

"I dream about living a short drive from my job, but for now it's just a dream," said Bruce McKay, a law enforcement officer for Redwood City and the San Francisco Peninsula.

A vast majority of Redwood City workers do not live there and as a result, some 40,000 commuters make their way into the city each workday, inflating the city's population by 60 percent. Workers come from distant places such as Stockton, Fairfield and Rohnert Park. Like, McKay, most commuters would gladly live closer to work, but simply do not have the option to do so.

"I have women and men who drive 100 or more miles a day, dealing with the stress of a congested commute before dealing with the stress of being a peace officer," said San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks.

Whatever the reason may be, for those who will continue to suck it up and get in their cars or hop on a bus or train, MSNBC has come up with a few suggestions on how to keep your commute from killing you.

It is no surprise that a long commute five days a week can take a toll on you, emotionally and physically. According to MSNBC, experts say a less than ideal commute can increase stress, bring on fatigue and even make you gain weight, so it is important to find ways to cope. Commuters can try simple things such as listening to a comedy podcast for laughs, an audio book to keep your mind from worrying about work or playing your favorite tunes and singing along in the car. If rush-hour traffic has you stressed, force your body to relax by taking deep breaths and rolling your shoulders to release tension. If you ride the subway, bus or train to work, try closing your eyes and letting the movement or vibration of the vehicle put you at ease.

MSNBC noted that a 2010 Urban Mobility Report stated that stop-and-go traffic has increased in every area since 1982. So, the best thing to do might simply be to surrender: "If it's going to take X amount of time to get to work, accept that and make the best of your time," recommended MSNBC.

Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin


"5 Ways to keep your commute from killing you," msnbc.msn.com, February 2, 2011, Jennifer Nelson

"Dream Job May Not Be Worth Nightmare Commute," fins.com, February 23, 2011, Kyle Stock

"Employee Surveys Identify Thousands Commuting Long Distances Due to Lack of Local Housing," businesswire.com, February 15, 2011

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