When you’re job hunting, the first thing you’ll probably type into Google is ‘jobs near me’. For obvious reasons, most people want to work close to home! If you add up the time it takes you to commute to work each day, even if it’s just across town, the hours will stack up quickly. A survey undertaken by Moneybarn, one of the UK’s leading vehicle finance providers, shows that the average daily commute time in the UK is 62 minutes. Excluding holiday days, that’s about 240 hours a year, or ten days. 

And some people travel much further than this for work. Whether you live in a remote area, traffic is always awful, or your job is worth the commute, lots of employees spend a lot of time travelling to and from work. The question is, how far is too far? 

Long Commutes and Mental Health

As you could probably guess, travelling long distances every day can take a toll on your mental health. A study of over 34,000 employees found that people with longer commute times are around a third more likely to suffer from depression, while approximately 12% reported of work related stress. Almost half of these people got less than seven hours of sleep a night, and around a fifth were obese. 

There has been a lot of research that shows there’s a correlation between stress, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. That’s not to say that if your commute is longer than average, your physical and mental health will suffer, but you could be more at risk. This is something to consider when you’re thinking about taking a job that’s not that close to home. 

It’s also interesting to note that about 37% of people with longer commutes are more likely to have financial problems. As with your total commute time, if you add up the cost of fuel or other transportation costs, it can get expensive quickly. So even if the salary for a long distance job is better, you may not be better off. 

Can Your Commute Impact Job Satisfaction?

A longer commute may not just affect your mental health, it could also start to make you think differently about your job. Another study, undertaken by the University of West England, found that if you add 20 minutes to your commute time, it’s the equivalent of almost exactly the same percentage of pay cut. So in terms of your overall job fulfillment, every minute you add to your journey lowers satisfaction levels. 

With these studies in mind, why do people choose to travel long distances for work? For some people, there are few other options, but for most people, it’s about the salary. If you’re offered a job with higher pay, you’ll probably consider commuting further. 

And for a lot of people, the pros outweigh the cons. It’s not always a sustainable solution, but for a higher salary, hours of commuting is worth it. If you’re thinking about taking a job that has a lot of travel time though, it’s a good idea to really consider the advantages and disadvantages.

Is a Long Commute Worth It? 

There’s no simple answer to this question. How far you’re happy to travel for work will depend on your own circumstances, and will often be influenced by your commitments outside of work. If you’re unsure, ask yourself the following questions to decide whether a long commute is worth the effort:

Will My Commute Be Expensive?

You probably know roughly how much you spend on your current commute, so try and work out how much the longer distance would cost. You should also think about the costs in terms of having to buy breakfast on the way to work - if you’re getting up much earlier, will you have time to eat at home? 

Does the Commute Time Fluctuate? 

This will often depend on what time you start work - if you’ll be avoiding rush hour, the time it will take you to get to work will probably be fairly predictable. But if you’re travelling on main roads during busy periods, the commute could get pretty stressful. 

How Much Will The Time Impact Me?

With the extra time commitment with your commute, you may no longer have time to do certain things. Evening activities will often be challenging to get to, and if you exercise first thing in the morning, you may have to reshuffle your schedule. 

Will an Increased Salary Be Enough?

Consider what a longer commute will actually mean, and if there are steps you could take to improve it. Could you listen to audiobooks or podcasts on the journey, or try and be productive if you’re travelling by train? Will there be an increase in pay or job satisfaction with this new role, or any other perks? Essentially, you need to determine whether the benefits will make up for the potential costs economically and emotionally. Don’t underestimate the daily toll commuting can take! 

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