Recently we asked people on Facebook: How long is your work commute? Some said 15 minutes one way while others reported up to 1 to 2 hours. And according to the latest American Community Survey by the U.S. Census, Americans spend on average between 15 and 35 minutes commuting to work each day. In an ideal world we would work closer to home, but for the right job opportunity, would you be willing to take on a longer commute?
For those of you out there considering job opportunities that require extensive travel time, here are some things to consider before signing on the dotted line:
- Be budget conscious. For example, is there a job opening in New York City that you have been offered but you live in Piscataway, N.J.— more than a 45-minute drive away? Factor in what it’s going to cost to get you there. If you drive, there’s gas, frequency of routine car maintenance (oil changes, tune-ups), and tolls. If you’re thinking about taking public transportation, calculate ticket expenses, travel to and from the public transit station, and parking at the station. Many employers now offer transit discounts and other commuting perks, so make sure to ask your future employer about the programs they offer to help offset travel costs.
- Don’t forget the traffic (and more traffic). In this economy, it would be hard not to say “YES!” to a job offer, but think carefully about any position that has the drawback of a potentially long commute. While it may take 45 minutes to get to work without traffic, it may take 60 to 75 minutes in traffic. So if you are thinking about driving to this new job, make sure that the commute is something you are prepared to take on, day-in and day-out–jobs may have their ups and downs, but the commute will always be there.
- Consider a non-traditional schedule. Many companies no longer require employees to be in the office from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. See if your new employer is open to a flexible work schedule, like working “mother’s hours” or coming in later to allow you to avoid peak travel times. Or find out if you can work remotely for part of the week. You may need to prove your productivity to your boss, but there are many benefits to a little flexibility.
- Join a carpool. Many offices and communities have carpools that you may be able to join. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area offers “casual carpooling” so that you can hitch a ride with other people headed from places like Berkeley, Calif., to San Francisco. You get the benefits of speeding along in the carpool lane and a reduced toll. Another option is to simply check in with new colleagues to find out if anyone lives in your neighborhood. Carpooling is a great way to cut back on the mileage and wear and tear on your car, and it gives you an opportunity to build bonds with new friends.
While there are many factors that go into deciding whether a job opportunity is right for you, such as salary and compensation or benefits and other perks, don’t overlook what it will take to get you to the office every day. Be sure to evaluate commute options and times when considering a job offer, as a little forethought can go a long way to enjoying your job several months and years down the road.