Commuting Reality Check
The fact is, commuting is not for everyone. Even if it allows you to have a larger house where the kids can have grass instead of concrete to play on, it’s sometime not worth it. I’ve commuted to New York for the last 15 years, and as much as I hate it, sometimes I’m still drawn to being out of the city. Commuting definitely is not for everyone because by the end of your day, you are drained. I’ve seen what happens to people when they realize that their new home also comes with commuting and the large costs involved with that. I’ve seen people move back to the city within a year, or find a babysitter for the kids and live in the city during the week.
Commuters and Realtors
There are many people who get so caught up in what a realtor is saying that they don’t realize the realtor isn’t saying anything about commuting. I sold real estate, so I know they say very little if anything about commuting. They are there to sell you a house. Do you really think they care about your commute?
The perfect scenario of a home buyer: the couple gets up early on a Saturday morning and packs the kids in the car for the 90-to-120-minute drive to meet their realtor. The realtor meets them with a Kool-Aid smile on her face, and thoughts of hundred dollar bills in her mind. You ride around from house to house, listening to descriptions of each house, community news, and the big selling point for most married house hunters, which is the wonderful schools the area has.
Finally, you head back to the city with so many houses on your mind you don’t remember which was which. You get back to your neighborhood, look around, and before you can make it out the car, you’re dialing the realtor to buy your dream house.
You move in over the weekend, and on Sunday morning, you realize you have to go work the next day. You call the realtor and ask that important question that never entered your mind until now: “How do I get to work from here? This is where the reality of what you have done finally hits home. The cost of two monthly tickets is hundreds of dollars plus the transportation fare once you get into the city. This is a big problem for most people because they have no budget for that big expense. The only thing you can do now is start calculating how to cut down expenses to accommodate this hefty transportation cost. The next awakening comes from not knowing bus or train schedules. This can mean that if you have to be at work by 8:00 a.m., you have to get up at 4:00 a.m. to catch a 5:00 a.m. bus. What an awakening! The only good thing is that one of your mothers is living with you, so you don’t have to worry about getting the kids ready for school.
When you get to the bus station, there are lots of sleepy commuters like yourself waiting for the bus. Ten minutes before bus departure, you start to line up single file to load onto the bus. Thank goodness there are two of you so you don’t have to sit next to someone who smells like garlic (I know some people take garlic for medical reasons) or who just didn’t bathe. The men can be the worst sitting companions because they like to spread their legs so women big or small get scrunched into the corner of their seat. Also, there is always one person who must have gone to bed at 6:00 p.m. the night before because he/she wants to talk the entire ride to anyone sitting in the adjacent seat. When you get that person, all you can do is close your eyes and pretend to fall asleep as soon as they start. You’ll know the person ahead of time because he/she is walking around the bus station trying to start a conversion that will last until the bus comes. There are situations on buses like arguments about reclining seats too far back or sitting in someone’s seat even though there are no assigned seats. This is your 90-minute trip in, and going home is no bargain either, because then you have to deal with the traffic. There is usually traffic no matter what time you want to leave the city, and this can add another 30 or 40 minutes to your trip.
You might be OK for the first week, but by the third week, you’re thinking, “How did I get into this predicament? Oh yeah, better schools, and better quality of life.” I have an issue with the “quality of life” statement, however, because you’re usually too tired to really enjoy that dream house or do anything but lie around the house when the weekend rolls around. If you have kids, there goes the lying around the house, because they need some of your time.
It doesn’t matter if you commute by train or bus; they can both break down and have you sitting for hours. There are people who will say the train is better, but what they don’t say is that it may be a little better for $30.00 more than the bus. The next time you think about your dream house, don’t forget that commuting is part of that dream.
Do you feel commuting is worth it?
Has commuting enhanced your quality of life?