To commute or not to commute is a question that all job seekers must face at one point or another. It’s important during a job search to consider the distance you are willing to travel for work. On one hand, job hunters don’t want to limit their opportunities by narrowing their search radius, but on the other hand, the real cost of commuting may not be worth the trouble. I hear things like this all the time:

I can’t afford to live in the city, so I drive an hour to work every day.

This job offered me a salary I can’t refuse, and the additional income will compensate for the gas I will spend driving to work.

I can get a larger, better home outside of the city, so the drive is worth it.

There are many reasons why people decide to commute. However, not everyone truly considers the real cost of commuting. It’s true, often housing is less expensive in the suburbs, but if you own your home, you are investing that money in a home which you will most likely see a return on. However, spending your money on gas, car maintenance, wear and tear, etc. is money you will certainly not get back. It may be worthwhile to invest that extra money on housing rather than spend it on commuting.

Additionally, if you work an eight hour day, and you drive an hour to work each day, you are essentially spending ten hours of your day on work obligations. Yes, you may be salary, but how much is an hour of your time worth to you? If you make a $50,000/yr salary, this equates to $24.04/hr based on eight hour days. But, if you add the two hours you spend driving, that reduces your hourly wage to $19.23/hr based on ten hour days.

Additionally, commuting is stressful. You’ve already had a stressful day at work, do you really want to sit in bumper to bumper traffic for an hour or more? This added stress can cause health problems, a higher burn-out rate, and professional exhaustion. The time you are spending away from family, less time for the gym, or less time on hobbies can also take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

However, there are times when commuting has its benefits. If you live in a city where you are able to utilize public transit, or if you can find someone to carpool with, this can help offset some of the financial costs, and even reduce some of the stress. When I carpooled to work in the past, I really enjoyed chatting with my carpool buddy every day—it was nice to talk about my work day with a 3rd party. I began enjoying my rides to and from work. Additionally, public transit can give you time to destress on your ride in to work by reading a book, catching up on your social media newsfeed, or even getting a head start on your workday reading emails. In some instances, commuting can in fact save you money in the long run.

Commuter Calculators are available for you to to determine the financial cost of commuting. The emotional cost of commuting, however, you will have to decide for yourself. There’s no right or wrong answer, only you can decide what is best for you in your life. Just make sure consider the total cost, financially, mentally, and emotionally. Click here more professional advice, or to discuss career options.