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How far is too far to commute to work?

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Commuting to work is a huge part of your day to day life. But how far is too far? What things are worth considering to help you decide if the commute is just too big.

Below is a list of useful topics to explore when thinking about how far you have to travel to work:

But it isn’t just a case of gathering all this information. You need to weigh it all up. You need to look at the pros and cons. Maybe that dream job is worth the 2 hour commute? Or maybe having to spend £50 to travel to work every day just isn’t worth it? Let’s have a look at how you might figure it all out.

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Cost

Arguably, the biggest factor in deciding if it’s too far to travel to work is how much it costs you. Is your commute financially sustainable? Bascially, are you making or losing money? If it costs you £70 to travel to work everyday, but you only make £65 in a day then it’s probably just not worth it; because you’ll be losing money. But that isn’t always the case.

Maybe you have an opportunity to work for a great organisation. Maybe the opportunity allows you to get a foot in the door. Maybe this is the job you’ve always wanted. Maybe you only have to make a loss on your commute for a short amount of time while you relocate and find alternative ways to travel. So, maybe making a loss for a short amount of time is worth it?

If making a loss allows you to get what you want in the short term. Then you can worry about and solve the problem of how much it costs you later. You just have to make sure you do something about it so you don’t leave yourself getting further and further into debt.

Distance

Another big factor of commuting is distance. Just how far is it that you need to commute to get to work? Is it 1 mile or 100 miles? Generally speaking distance isn’t really that big an issue. The issue tends to be more of, “Can I travel that distance every day and get to work on time?”.

There are lots of different modes of transport. So the question is, Do you have access to one that allows you to cover that distance quickly and safely to allow you to get to work on time? If the answer is no, then the distance is probably too far. If then answer is yes, then it looks like this job you are looking at is worth accepting or applying for.

Time

You can’t be consistently late for work. You have to be at work in order to do work to justify getting paid. So, if your commute is so far that you you can’t get their on time, then it’s too far.

But again, your commute could be 5 minutes it could be 5 hours. It’s more about whether or not you can do it consistently. There are obviously other things to considered like rest, eating, and drinking. But for a short amount of time, if you really had to commute 5 hours a day, you possibly could do it. It depends on you and your situation. 5 hours is really about the absolute limit though. You’d be pushing yourself to your physical, mental, and emotional threshold if you had to do a 10 hour round trip every day.

But a commute of a couple of hours to and from work isn’t unheard of. Plenty of people do that.

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Tiredness at work

Naturally, another topic to explore is whether or not your commute makes you tired at work. Yeah, you might be able to get there, and get there on time, but when you get there are you exhausted? Can you actually do your job or do you need another 2 hours sleep once you get there?

And remember it’s all relative, the time and the distance you travel have a relationship that is unique to you and your situation. It might take you 30 minutes to get to work. But that might be because you run to work everyday. So, yeah exercise is great, but how long does it take to get into a functional state once you’ve turned up; recovered, washed, refuelled?

Likewise, it could go the other way, your commute could be so unstimulating that by the time you get to work you just have no motivation and enthusiasm. So, perhaps that 3 hour commute isn’t the best idea after all.

Health

Clearly the biggest factor here is your health; mental, physical, emotional, and so on. If your commute is effecting your health in such a way that it’s making you ill, then you really need to reconsider how you travel and look at your options.

This job opportunity you are considering might be the biggest and best opportunity in your life. But if it’s ruining your health, then you might not have much of a life left if you don’t look after yourself. So, you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it?

That said, are you simply out of shape anyway? Maybe the struggle you are facing is only a temporary one whilst you adjust to this new lifestyle. Plenty of people walk to work for an hour everyday. Just because you can’t doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t(in time).

If you are really unsure if your commute is effecting your health then make sure you seek professional advice.

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Straight forward or stressful journey

Do you have to climb a mountain, battle a dragon, recover a precious ancient egg, and recite the entire alphabet backwards 16 times in order to get to work? Or is it a bit more straightforward than that?

It’s not always something that people consider, but your life is a lot easier if your commute to work is less stressful. Seems obvious, but for some reason recognising how stressful our commute is sometimes just slips our minds. Probably because a lot of the time we are just in survival mode and need to make a living.

Maybe you’ve got pets? Perhaps you’ve got children? Or you have to check on the next door neighbour? All these sort of things are part of your commute. They are part of your journey to work. So, all these things contribute to how tired you are, they contribute to how stressed you are, and they contribute to your overall health.

It doesn’t matter if you are making your own way to work or using public transport. There are lots of different ways that your commute can be straightforward or stressful. Focus on controlling what you can to make it more pleasant.

Responsibilities outside of work

This was touched on in the last section, but now we are starting to see how the whole picture ties together. Maybe you do have children, or someone else that needs your care that you have to make time for.

Perhaps you have a second or third job. Maybe you have a hobby that you are really passionate about. People do have a life outside of work.

If your commute is too far and you can’t take care of these other responsibilities then you will have to reconsider your options. Speak to your boss or prospective employer. Explain your situation. Be open and honest. Having other responsibilities outside of work doesn’t mean that you can’t get, keep, and shouldn’t go for a job.

The question is, what is your main priority and focus. Because there is a difference between having a responsibility and just wanting to spend your time watching tv all day.

Working in a Different state, county, or province

This one will seem obvious to some people and not to others. Firstly, because you might live near a border. So, it’s quite natural and simple for you to cross into a different state or county when you go to work. The point is, to anyone that is wondering if it’s too far to commute if you have to go into a different state or county, the answer is no. It really isn’t.

The only thing to consider might be that when you cross from one state or county into another that rules and the way of life might be different. So, potentially your approach to your commute might have to be different. But it shouldn’t be that different that it stops your pursuing a job opportunity.

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Working in a Different country

This is just a slightly more complex version of working in a different state or county. And again, it shouldn’t matter if you have to go from one country into another when you commute to work. It just might make your commute less straightforward and a little more complex.

You’ll have to consider things like your passport. A visa if you need one. Travel insurance is a smart idea. But most obviously you’ll have to consider time and money. But sometimes even that isn’t an issue. For example, in some places in Europe you can sit in a restaurant, get up and go to the toilet and be in a completely different country; because the restaurant is right on a border line.

As long as you are prepared and know how to go from one country to another, working in a different country shouldn’t be a problem when it comes to commuting.

Work from home

So, you work from home. You don’t have to commute. So, why is this section here? Clearly you don’t have to travel too far to work?

Well, yeah, that’s true. But sometimes if you work from home a company will require you to attend meetings at a central venue or the head office. And this location might be nowhere near where you live. So, it’s worth making sure that you can get there. Same as before, as long as you are prepared and organised, this won’t be a problem.

But on this topic, it’s also important to remember that working from home all of the time won’t be great for your health. Exercise and being active is important. So if you don’t have a commute, are you getting any exercise into your day? If not, then maybe you need to add a commute into your day just to stay mobile and active?

Relocation

In the sort term, a long commute might be worth it. To get that foot in the door. To have the job of a lifetime. To get that salary you deserve. To work with someone you’ve always wanted to work with. To work for an organisation you have always wanted to work for. But there will come a point when the early mornings, the late nights, anf the lack or sleep just isn’t worth it.

You don’t want to, can’t afford to, and simply can’t justify spending a quarter of your pay packet on commuting. You’ve got friends and/or family that you need and want to spend more time with, and spend more money on.

If this is the case, then the commute really is too far and you need to look at relocating. Relocating can be and often is a pretty stressful and exhausting time. But, for a small sacrifice, the rewards in the long run will be massive. The effort is worth it.

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Job satisfaction

Are you the type of person that ‘lives to work’ or ‘works to live’? Either way, it doesn’t really matter. You know when you go to work if you are satisfied, if it gives you want you want, and fulfils you. Job satisfaction is a huge and vast topic, which largely comes down to personal perception.

But in this context, if you are wondering about going for that next job and aren’t sure if that commute is too far or if it’s worth the effort? Well, at this point, you’ve already not got the job. So, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s worth it or not.

You need to be certain, you need to convince yourself and believe within yourself that it is worth it. Because when it comes to writing and submitting your job application, when it comes to attending that interview, and when it comes to taking that candidate test everything that impacts whether or not you want to go for it is going to impact your performance. Your attitude towards it is going to play a part in whether or not you get this job. So…

If you want it

The 3 hour commute is worth it, if it’s what you want.

Taking a financial hit in the short term is worth it, if it’s what you want(And you manage your finances and maybe look at relocation options).

Spending £200 a month on travel is worth it, if it’s what you want.

Losing a little bit of sleep here and there is worth it, if that’s what you want.

Walking 500 miles(across the space of a month) is worth it, if it’s what you want.

Waking up at 4am and going to bed at 10pm to go to work is worth it, if it’s what you want.

Battling a dragon and scaling a volcano is worth it, if it’s what you want.

Risk vs Reward

Deep down, I think we all knew this article was never going to provide you with the exact scientific answer of whether or not a particular commute is too far to travel to work. It was never going to answer the question of ‘How far is too far to commute to work?’. Because it simply can’t. Because that’s up to you. It’s your life and your decision what you want to do with it.

But what this article has helped you with is give you some of the important the things to consider when trying to figure out the puzzle of ‘How far is to far to commute to work?’.

If you want it. Go for it.

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