For commuters: how long is too long?


My dh and I are discussing moving to a larger house. The main problem is that we can’t afford anything in this area. I’m a SAHM and he works at various factories as a millwright/rigger. His commute can range from 20 minutes to a hour depending on where he is working. Generally, I would say it’s around 45 min each way.

If we move to areas we can afford, his drive would likely increase another hour each way.

What’s your experience with a long commute? Does it affect your family life to a significant level? Would it be better to stay in the little house, but have more time with the family?

We actually found a church (to live in as a family home) that would be pretty cool.

click here


My commute ranges from 1hr15min to over 2 hrs depending on the time of day, day of the week, season, weather and accidents. If it were reliably 1hr15, I think there would be no effect. However, if it si a double 2hr day, aside from just having 4 hrs that I am not with the family, frankly that tires me out more than work sometimes both physically and mentally. Also, sometimes to reduce the commute time I will stay at work a bit later to let traffic clear; but, that often means that I am not home until after 8. Especially during the school year, that leaves very little time for interacting. And, raises the issue of whether the family should eat without me or whether the whole lot of us is still eating at 9:00 or after.

All of this is leading DW and I to look hard at moving much much closer in to my job (after youngest DD finishes high school).

So, remember that free advice is worth what you paid for it, but my call is stay closer.


My husband used to commute 62 miles each way. It took anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours.

He was able to have his schedule adjusted so that he missed most of the traffic. That made it so that he got home earlier than most. But he also had to go to bed early.

We moved to a new job and rented a house until we found one to buy. It was a REALLY SMALL house. For me, it was more stressful to be in a small house than it was to have my husband gone for an hour or two longer during the day. He loved not having to drive, but was also stressed in the small house. The new job and house were close enough for him to come home for lunch. We have since bought a house even closer to work. We now have the best of both worlds. He travels about 4 miles to work, and we have a larger house.

I guess it comes down to, which is less stressful for you and for your husband. What does he think of the commute?


I think it depends on the kind of traffic you will be going through. I currently have a part-time steady job which is a 10-15 minute commute. It’s heaven since I don’t have to wake up too early in the morning. I’m not a high maintenance chick either so it takes me between 15-20 to shower and get dressed/made up in the morning. Once a week, I travel to NYC for my music lessons/coachings which is an hour long train ride up and an hour back unless I take the local train, which would be about an hour and 20 minutes each way. My husband has a 45 minute to an hour commute which isn’t too bad. He’s looking for a new job, though. Normally, I wouldn’t want to travel longer than an hour each way every day. It’s stressful and tiring driving, especially if you are in high traffic. I do get different music gigs, though, that require me to travel long distances. It’s not so bad since they aren’t long gigs, but I did have one for a month where I was traveling back and forth two hours each way. That became hard and I hardly saw my husband. I was happy when that gig was over.


For me, I have a bit over an hour each way. If gas prices go up much more, the options will change :eek:

We can’t have commitments in the evening in our home town before 7 PM - just so I have time to get home and eat something. It does make it difficult when many Parish activities begin at 6…


My commute to work is shorter than my husband’s…
I have a local traffic drive of about 20 minutes…
My husband has to travel on the highway… but he works odd hours (9:30am to 7:45pm on average) so that reduces his commute to just 30 minutes each way… thankfully his job is flexible enough to accommodate the odd schedule for commuting… otherwise his drive would take 45-60 minutes each way.


I did what you are thinking about doing 10 years ago. It is difficult but do-able; however, I am an Auntie and not a Daddy. I think you have brought up a really good point in terms of will it be worth it to have Daddy not around as much or really tired from driving when he is home.
Still, fathers have made such sacrifice for their families for generations. I guess the question would be, are you prepared to make sure he is appreciated for this sacrifice in ways not expressed right now - and I do not mean sexually, I mean everything from being dressed up and looking pretty when he walks in the door to having the kids rub his feet for him while he waits for dinner (two silly examples, I know…but you know what I mean…I hope…unless I am just being too silly to understand…which is possible…it is Friday)


This might be a totally alien idea to any Americans on here, but I have found that commuting is much less of a problem if you don’t have to drive.

If you commute by bus, train or underground, you can read a book on your way to work, listen to music, pray the rosary, have your daily quiet time in your own little space, and then be less stressed at work and on arriving home. It still means being away from the family, but is less of a burden than driving.

If that sounds so totally impossible to you, maybe think about car sharing - that way you only need to drive one day in every two or three, and save on fuel bills. It also means you have companionship and support, rather than spending 3-4 hours a day trapped in your own little steel bubble on your way to work.


I totally agree with this. When I was studying in London and Salzburg, I loved the transportation system - especially the tube in London. :slight_smile: It’s not stressful. I learned that system backwards and forwards. I NEVER drive into New York City, but take the train and use the subway system there as well. I very rarely take the bus or cab. I also loved working in Philadelphia and not needing a car to go anywhere.

The problem over here in the states, though, is that most areas aren’t made for public transportation, so most people do not have the choice but to drive. Also, a lot of people I know don’t work with others around them or live to far away to do the car share thing.

Where I live now, I need to take a care almost everywhere. I drive my car to the train station to New York. I can take the train into Philly, which is nice, although the transportation system totaly stinks. I’ve been stuck on that train more than once and almost missed gigs. Very unreliable if you know you must be somewhere. So, when I do a wedding in the city, I either drive so at least I can take backways if there is a traffic jam, or I leave to get down there way early. But even that isn’t reliable, as I did that once, taking a train 3 hours prior to the wedding, and ended up switching three trains (first two broke down) and missing the first half hour of the wedding. Horriable experience.


My total daily commute is one hour each way. However, only half of that is driving. The rest is a bus ride from a parking lot and then a short walk. Since I’m a student and sometimes keep strange hours depending on what’s happening in the lab, I would prefer to live closer to school, but DH has a half-hour commute in the other direction, so moving is a no-go. It could be worse. I received a Sirius satellite radio for my birthday last year, which has helped immensely with the drive.


I think it depends on what kind of traffic you will encounter on the commute. Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic really stinks, but sailing down a freeway at 75 mph listening to a book on tape or talk radio might not be so bad. My dh regularly travels from our house outside of NYC to Philly which is about 2 hrs each way. He leaves early in the am and is usually home by 8 or 9 pm. He does this about once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Now that my children are older it is not so much as a problem as I am not as physically exhausted as I was then. We do miss him, but in order to live the way we’d like, this is a sacrifice that we must make.

If I had to make the choice, I’d go for the bigger house and longer commute.


I’m not married…but the idea of not being able to spend time with my family during the week in order to achieve a higher standard of living saddens me incredibly. I hope I’ll never be in a situation where I’m forced to do that.

I read this fascinating article on commuting a few months ago. Maybe you would be interested:

When calculating the financial benefit of a move, consider that gas prices may rise over the next few years…and dh may be making this commute until he retires. You’ll also be replacing your car more often and spending more money on repairs. I did the math a few months ago when I was deciding where to live, and I calculated that my marginal cost of driving was .19/mile (I own an average-priced car…)


I would prayerfully consider staying where you are. When children get older they will “brag” about dad playing catch, or how funny it was to be squished in a small bedroom together or about doing fun things as a family.

I have never heard anyone in my life “brag” that their family had a great big house when they were growing up and that their dad had a successful career and a long commute.

Pray about what is best for your children.


Unfortunately, it would be impossible to either use public transportation or share rides if we did move out. We’d be moving to a rural area that doesn’t offer trains or buses. And, my husband drives lots of different locations on an erratic schedule.


I know. I know. But, it’s so stressful being crammed in this little house with six growing kids. There are actually big houses pretty cheap around here, but in cramped old neighborhoods. My husband who is a old farm boy can’t stand the thought of living on less than an acre.


It’s all me. I’m feeling stressed out, tripping over everyone all the time. There’s no where to go to be by yourself. The older kids actually go out to the car to read when they want some private space.


Very good point, I am afraid that I might be so exhausted and drained from dealing with kid problems that I might not be as available and attentive to him if he were gone into the late evening.


I did it for a year. Of course, I also worked 12 hr shifts. :whacky: :nope: :banghead: I would never do that again! :hypno: :sleep: I almost fell asleep driving home more than once. Very bad. I ended up buying a house just a half hour away from my job. But for a regular 8hr day, it wouldn’t be nearly that bad.

But that old church was way cool, I would love to live there!! I’d get it in a heartbeat!


I have lived as close to my job as less than a half mile (military housing) and as far away as 16 miles. Closer is better. Even with the possibility of being able to listen to teaching tapes/MP3s/whatever in the car, I believe that time spent commuting is wasted time that should be minimized in order to be able to do more profitable things.


Well, if he loses 2 additional hours every day commuting, he’ll be so busy, he won’t even notice that he’s living on an acre of land! :rolleyes:

Evenings are already too short. Visualize a normal weekday evening in your head. Now visualize what the evening would be like if he lost 2 of those hours. Which 2 hours would you give up? Would there be much left?

I think your husband should suck it up and move into the old neighborhood. Then you would be happy, and the kids could still play games with him in the evening. But that’s just me.

I think about this a lot because “extreme commuting” is a norm for many here. Too many people are seduced by the idea of living in some far-flung house on the Chesapeake Bay but they can’t give up their jobs in DC. They end up spending all of their waking hours in a car. I think extreme commuting would literally be my option of last resort – I would try to change jobs first.

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