The DC Commute, or The Slow March

I live in the DC region. If you do not, I want to share something about life here: We spend a lot of time driving.

Poor bastards. And me. DAMN this traffic jam!

Poor bastards. And me. DAMN this traffic jam!

Route I-495 — The Beltway — is often the only way to get where you’re going, especially if you have to cross the river between Maryland and Virginia. It’s littered with broken spirits.

There are multiple studies showing that the cost of commuting can be some $10,000 per year. That is only the cost to the car. It doesn't include the cost to your health (weakened immune system, more sick days, weight, back pain, heart attacks). It doesn't include the cost to your family (relationships with your spouse, kids). It doesn't include the hours lost from your life.

This is your song, every day:

Some people make extreme commutes, juggling remote work and three-hour treks to the office, in order to have a home away from the bustle. Some daily commutes aren't much better. Oh, you might find a job ½ hour away from your home, according to MapQuest, but there’s more to the math:

  • Base time =  ½ hour
  • Rush hour (7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm) = base time x 2 = 1 hour
  • Rain = base time x 3 = 1½ hours
  • Snow = base time x 4 or more = 2 hours and up (and up and up)
  • Traffic Accident anywhere on Beltway = add another hour

So you can leave the office each day at 5:30pm, and have no real idea what time you’ll get home.

So what are you willing to pay for that job? Your marriage? Seeing your kids during the week? Your social life? Your health?

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For the last year and a half, I've worked within walking distance to my home. It was a one-in-a-million job opportunity. Now I’m looking for a job again. Most of the work in my field is over a bridge from here. And I’m asking myself: What am I willing to pay?