A couple friends needed a ride to the airport this morning. I picked them up at 8:20 AM, dropped them at the airport at 9 AM, then headed to work. On the way to work a radio report said there was a four car accident on the 101. Traffic was backed up for miles. Hopefully no one was seriously hurt.
Traffic started to slow miles before the accident. I heard the report just in time to zip across three lanes and exit the freeway. A few people followed me. Everyone else was stuck bumper to bumper on the freeway with no way off. I took surface streets the rest of the way.
The experience reminded me of an important, eternal truth: I don’t like commuting.
How I Learned Not to Like Commuting
When I lived on Stanford campus I worked 15 miles to the south. I was living in an expensive neighborhood (Stanford — thank you student loans) and working in a less expensive neighborhood (Santa Clara). If any of you have tried to buy a house in Santa Clara you know it’s not “less expensive.” But relative to Stanford, it’s less expensive.
Fortunately for me, my commute was
better less bad because most people commuted the opposite direction from the less expensive to the more expensive neighborhood. It also helped that traffic had thinned from the dot com days. My commute was 20-30 minutes each way. Commuters going the opposite direction were 45-60 minutes each way.
It didn’t take more than two weeks to realize I didn’t like commuting. It wasn’t the financial cost. It was the time. I worked enough hours as it was. I didn’t need to lose another hour driving.
No More Commuting
When I left that job I decided I would never commute that far again. When I got an offer in San Jose even further away, I turned it down. I opted for a position just a few miles away from my on campus apartment.
I now live 3.25 miles from my job. I don’t use the freeway. In light traffic it takes me eight minutes. When the weather’s nice I ride my bike. That takes a few minutes more.
If the 101 asks about me, tell him I don’t miss him. Not one bit.
If you are a regular reader of My Money Blog you know that Jonathan recently bought a house. He has a well thought-out post about commuting.