Commuting 4 Hours a Day

I am a recent (2011) MSW graduate. Not counting a brief stint at a job from hell, I have been unemployed for over a year. Every day we are losing money from our savings, and we face taking out more loans this Fall if I don’t find work.

I have a job interview in 2 weeks that essentially fills all the requirements of my wish list. I would be working in a community I already have experience with and gaining a significant number of skills that would be directly applicable to advancing in my career. This type of thing is very hard to find, especially at the entry level. It is a small organization, so in addition to having sole responsibility for the organization’s development and fundraising activities, I would receive management experience by overseeing volunteers.

I think I have a very good chance at getting this job. It really could make a huge difference in my career over the long term.

The only drawback (other than low pay, of course): in perfect no-traffic conditions, it is a 1.5 hour drive. To me this means leaving two hours before I need to be there. I’ve already looked into public transit and due to the location of the organization that would add an extra hour to my commute. Driving is the only option.

We have already signed our lease for next year, so I don’t see us moving any closer.

However, this would only be temporary. The following year I will either be moving to another state or moving closer to this job.

Am I absolutely out of my mind for wanting to do this? Will I survive with NPR and audiobooks, or is this really a disaster waiting to happen?

Meant to add - I did an hour and forty five minute commute for 1 year before, but that was via train and subway. It wasn’t great but it was doable.

Well, it’s going to be hard on your car. A lot of people in my area drive upwards of 2 hours each way <prisons aren’t known for being near big towns> and it really adds up. My commute was relatively easy, a 45 minute, country highway route where the biggest pain in the ass was tractors. But even that, wow… We got a bonus for working in this area, and I figured out early that the bonus didn’t even cover the gas it took to get to work and back, much less the stress on the car.

If you only have one car, you might want to take real good care of it, 'cause traffic certainly doesn’t diminish the possibilities of fender-benders and worse accidents. >.<

But congrats on the job!! Been out of work myself for only 4 months, will be for at least another until after we move, and then…hope I can find something too.

I’ve done an almost hour and a half commute before (from Orlando to Palm Bay), lasting about 3 years. I was pretty burnt out at the end of it.

If I had a 2 hour commute each way, I personally would get a second apartment at the end city so I’d only have to commute twice a week. It might save you money in gas. I know that for a couple years I lived at both my condo in Orlando and an apartment in Palm Bay and it only cost me slightly more to have both places once you take into account gas and wear and tear on the car.

If you can’t afford a (temporarily) second apartment, ask yourself if you can even afford 4 hours of gas and vehicle wear a day, since it’s not that much cheaper.

Wow, that sounds like hell to me. But I can sympathize with how hard it is to find a job, so totally understand why you’re considering it. If it were me, I’d try to get out of the lease and move closer to the job, even if it means paying a fine. Talk to your landlord and see what your options are. Maybe they’ll work with you.

As far as the drive itself goes, as long as you aren’t worried about your car, you’ll start finding other things to listen to besides just audiobooks and NPR. (Only NPR where I’m at too, and I like NPR but there are times I just want something else!)

The audio books will help, but depending on your technology level, you can download podcasts, news, and of course all kinds of music. Heck, if you have bluetooth on your phone you can call all your relatives while on the road and just chat :slight_smile:

I did it for a year and it was hell. We were planning 2 years (until my daughter graduated from high school) but after the first year we sat down and talked to her and decided that she could do her senior year at a new school and actually see us when we were all awake for a change.

Knowing it’s only going to be one year will help.

Do it.

  • You’re young enough to have the energy yet.
  • You don’t have kids waiting for you at home yet.
  • If you don’t like the JOB then you’ll have at least tried and you can quit the job.
  • If you don’t like the COMMUTE then you’ll have incentive to keep going every day.
  • Like Athena said, you could always work on breaking your lease. With the amount of $$ you might save on gas by moving closer, enough to cover the cost of breaking the lease.
  • Can you sublet your place?
  • Maybe every so often you could stay at a hotel in the area, or hubby can meet you on a Friday after work out there.
  • In this economy, to find a job that is your “dream job” and to not take it - especially if you don’t have family tying you down - sounds crazier than commuting 4 hours.

DO IT! :smiley: :smiley:

There are plenty of people who do it, but I don’t think I could. I don’t mind driving so much, it’s just tacking on that much at the beginning and end of every workday would really kill me, not to mention the expense. That’s a lot of gasoline and a lot of milage. It’s going to crush the resale value of your vehicle. I’d probably be looking into renting a cheap studio or even a room if I were in your shoes. Possibly even a budget motel, most of which will negotiate rates if you tell them you’re needing four nights a week, every week for the foreseeable future.

Having a defined end point is the only thing that makes it a little bit palatable, I think. It’ll wreak havoc on your social life, your sanity, or both, but it sounds like you think it could be worth it anyways. I’d definitely explore any other potential alternatives to the commute - we have two or three people here at work doing the second apartment thing, actually - but if all else fails, I’d probably still take it.

Would the public transit add an hour total, or an hour to each end? If only an hour total, I’d actually consider it. I’d prefer five hours on a bus, during which I could sleep, read, do crossword puzzles, text, etc., than four hours driving a car. But if it’s four hours vs. six hours, maybe not.

That said, I’d definitely take this. You’re unemployed, you need the job, it’s a good fit for you, and best of all, it’s temporary. And yeah, there are a lot of podcast and audiobook options to keep you entertained.

And congratulations on the job! Woo!

Two ways to approach this:

Emotional: Can you handle being alone with your own company for that many hours per day? Do you have a strong pull towards home (small kids, elderly-but-beloved pet, etc.) that will become a source of self-resentment? Are you comfortable with the environmental implications? How likely is another job offer at a different location?

Cold, hard logic: Do the math: gas prices in your area and, quite literally, YMMV. :smiley: Figure out if the salary is worth the increased costs and/or if you can afford the temporary-closer place suggested by Ludovic.
Good luck either way! :slight_smile:

I would get a McJob outside of my field of specialization before I’d do a two hour commute. That’s why I live in the Midwest.

If it were me, back when I was single, I’d probably do it. If it was now, with a wife and kids, no way in hell.

I had a friend who lived in Iowa and got a great job in Minnesota about 2 hours away. She was planning to move to MN but it would be quite a while before she could, so in the interim she rented a room in a private home during the work week. It seemed to work well for her, so it might be something to consider if you don’t absolutely have to be home every night.

I am originally from the Midwest. I live in the Northeast because my husband is a Ph.D. student in NJ. We’ve been here for four years now. We were expecting to be out of here this summer, but things didn’t turn out that way, and we were kind of blindsided both financially and emotionally.

I don’t have kids to worry about, and his schedule would be pretty similar to mine (he’s usually up at 6:30am and not ‘‘home’’ until 7:30 or 8pm most days.)

I never even considered the damage it could do to my car. My car, a Honda Fit, gets good gas mileage (about 40mpg) and is only three years old, but I’m depending on it lasting a while.

I do plan to ask them if telecommuting would be an option on some days. Most of the job would entail writing which can be done virtually anywhere. I would be willing to live at least part time in a motel - I really value my alone time anyway - but I guess the first thing we have to do is crunch the numbers to see if it would really be worth it.

And no, the odds are not good of me finding something closer that fits my career goals. There are literally only a handful of development jobs available in the state of New Jersey. Everything is either in Philly or NYC. I’ve been applying to department stores close by so I can at least generate some income in the meantime.

Some people around me had found a way to manage this kind of situation by finding a cheap place to stay near the place of employment. Then they would drive out Monday morning, stay near the job Monday night, drive back home Tuesday night and drive back to work Wednesday morning, etc. So they alternated between one night home and one night remote.

Depending on your family situation, and how good a sleep-closet you can find, this could help strike a balance between comfort, family contact, car expenses, living expenses, etc.

With a child, of course, it’s out of the question. But for you - have you considered renting a furnished room for 3 nights per week? You could probably get one for $3-400 per month and then you’d have some “me” time that didn’t involve a steering wheel.

It’s easy to say you’d miss being home, but at that rate you’d go home to fall asleep and then get right back on the road anyway.

At any rate, do find a way to take the job. It checks all the right boxes, and it sound like you really want the challenge.

I calculated the transportation costs and it would be $241 per month including gasoline and tolls. That doesn’t account for wear and tear on the car, though. That’s actually cheaper than when I commuted to Manhattan.

I don’t think I could turn this job down if offered to me.

Plus, you’ll be closing a significant gap in your resume, which will help the next job search.