It’s a question everyone answers differently; what is a reasonable commute to work?
Is 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour too long?
Is it better to drive from door to door, or is hopping on buses, tubes, and trains too much?
I’ve done it all over the years, I’ve worked from home, traveled more than an hour into the heart of London on public transport, and driven up and down the country.
What I’ve learned from speaking with others is that everyone has their own tolerance and view on how far and long they’re willing to commute!
What Is a Reasonable Commute to Work?
There is no one answer to this question, but what I can do is help you understand the factors that influence how far people are willing to commute.
The main things most people consider when applying for a job where they’ll need to commute are:
What the Job Means to Them
When looking at the commute, one of the most important considerations is how much the job means to you.
I’ve seen people embark on what I would consider crazy commutes over the years, I’m talking around 3 hours each way – because they loved their job.
I knew one guy who took a 2-hour train ride both ways each day, 5 days a week, and he always had a smile on his face.
Maybe that says more about his overall mentality than it does how much he loved his job, but either way, it worked for him.
How Much They’re Getting Paid
For many people, the amount they’re being paid is going to be a significant factor in how much of a commute they’ll accept.
If you have to travel 2 hours a day but you know you’ll get paid thousands more than a job just 30 minutes away, it’s hard to turn that down.
We want job satisfaction, but let’s not make any mistakes here, we work to get paid and support our lifestyles, too.
How Much the Commute Is Costing
The cost of the commute is another factor to consider too.
If the commute is costing you a good chunk of your salary, combined with the time you’re spending on the road you have to weigh up if it’s worth it.
For me, a general rule is that if a commute costs more per hour than you get paid at your job, you should seriously consider if it’s worth it.
You could take a closer job with lower pay but getting that time back would be more than worth it.
What They Can Use the Commuting Time For
Something everyone I’ve met over the years who didn’t mind a long commute had in common is that they used their commuting time to get stuff done.
Even if you’re driving, you can listen to audiobooks or podcasts and learn something, you can send friends voice notes, mentally plan out your day, and more.
If you use the time wisely, it’s not a complete waste and can actually be quite productive.
Their Home Life Situation
A lot of people don’t have a great home life situation and are happy to be out of the house for longer than just their 9-5 or working hours.
It might be that they’re unhappy about something at home, living with annoying housemates, or just mentally want to be outside.
Whatever the reason, there are people who would rather be traveling than hanging around at home, so a commute is no problem for them no matter how long it takes.
The Nature of The Commute
The type of commute makes a big difference to a lot of people as well.
Some are happy to drive door to door, while others don’t want to drive and prefer to use public transport, it really comes down to personal preference.
The bottom line is that whatever kind and duration of commute you’re happy to do is a reasonable commute.
One person’s ‘reasonable’ is not the same as someone else’s.
If you’re pondering job offers and aren’t sure yourself yet, take the things I’ve covered into consideration and make the best-informed decision you can.
What Is Considered a Normal Commute?
Just as one person’s ‘reasonable’ is going to be very different from someone else’s, so is a ‘normal’ commute.
There are so many factors to take into account, it’s almost impossible to say what normal is.
That said, however, I can tell you that in the US it’s estimated that the average commute time is around 27 minutes.
This has been increasing year on year, too, which is something to take into account.
So, a normal commute could be seen as around 30 minutes. But again, I know some people who find a 30-minute commute completely unreasonable!
Is 1 Hour a Long Commute?
This again is going to be subjective, but for many people, 1 hour would indeed be a long commute.
It can depend on the mode of transport and if you’re able to do something productive while traveling, but in general, it’s a fair amount of time spent on the road.
I’m not trying to make you feel worse if you commute an hour each way, but those 2 hours a day mean you’re spending 10 hours a week commuting.
Multiply that by 50 weeks, and that’s 500 hours a year you’ve spent traveling from a-to-b and b-back-to-a each day.
Just think about what you could do with 500 hours. If that hits you hard, maybe it’s time to find another job closer to home.
What Is Too Far for A Daily Commute?
Again, this is going to be something you’ll have to decide for yourself.
If your job pays enough for the cost of commuting and you don’t mind it, then that’s fine.
But if you’ve been thinking the time or cost is too much for you, it’s probably too far for a reasonable commute.
Only you know if your commute feels too long, it’s time to be honest with yourself.
You should never stay at a job where the commute is getting you down, it’s only going to have a negative impact on your mental health and affect your performance in the long run.
I appreciate you need the income, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start looking for another job closer to home!
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.