The cost of commuting is underestimated

A local job or working over the mountain?

Several of my clients mentioned that they found a potentially good employee but they could not offer the level of wages paid ‘over the mountain’ (which stands for Northern Virginia wages). Or they have a good employee that is considering to leave because of the better salaries offered in Northern Virginia.

That the wages over there are higher is certainly true. But there is a price to pay. Cost of living in Northern Virginia is significantly higher, and if you are considering the grueling commute, consider this as well:

The added Fuel + wear and tear + more expensive insurance (not to mention risks of being in traffic) will cost you more than you think… For example:

  • Gas, at $3.50 per 35 miles (assuming 35MPG), is 10 cents/mile
  • Tires, at $300 per 50,000 miles are 0.6 cents
  • Oil, at $25 per 5,000 miles is 0.5 cents
  • Miscellaneous things like wipers and occasional maintenance visits: $200 per 20,000 miles = 1 cent

Thus it is estimated that it costs for each mile you live from work about $795 per year from you in commuting costs. So adding 40 miles in commute is close to adding $30,000 in expenses. And that is ignoring the fact that those who commute will often drive a more expensive car, for the added comfort and safety.

That was only the financial side, now the aspect of time:

If you do not commute, you save about 2 hours a day, that is 25% more personal time during the workweek!

  • sleep 7 hours, work and travel is 9+ hours, so the remaining personal hours are either 8 (not commuting) or 6 (commuting)

Another way of looking at it: Being away from home for the 10 hours of extra commute a week, is like having a 6 day workweek…

That leads to the crucial question:

Is the added income worth more than the over $30,000 in extra expenses, and losing 25% of your personal time during the workweek?

Ask this to your (potential) employee the next time you are confronted with this situation.


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