Case Study: Higher Salary, but Longer Commute


Considering Higher Salary but a very un-MMM commute. Note: I have not received an offer yet, this is all just to see if i should even apply.

Hello, a defense contractor competitor moved into the area and rumor has it they are pulling people in from our location with hefty salary increases. What i’ve heard: 20% increase of current salary with 10k starting bonus.
I have been at my current job for 3 years, and am considering applying.

Case Study:
Current Commute per day: 70 minutes (35 each way)
Current commute per week: 70*4.5 = 315 minutes (both jobs on a 9/80 schedule)
Current Tolls: $25 a week
Miles: 189/week
Current Gas: Avg $25 a week

Commute/day: 172 minutes(est from google @5:30pm)
Commute/week: 172*4.5 = 774 minutes
Tolls: $0
Miles: 639/week (ouch)
Projected gas: $85/week (guess from 25/189 = dollars/mile)

Net Change in income per week: +178.60
Change in tolls per week: +25
Change in gas: -60
Actual Net after adjustments: +$143

Change in total time commuting: 459 minutes/week

Is it wrong to look at this as making that $143/7.6 hours minutes of commute difference?
Commute “Pay” = $18.82/hour take home.

Monthly increase to bottom line: $560 (all would go to paying off my house, which I’m actively doing now, and this would help)

The other option is a carpool to the coast, I know a few guys that do that to get to NASA from the Orlando Area, but I would have to look more into this (it would be preferable to driving myself every day if I could)

What do you guys think? I could use some help thinking something like this through since a commute wouldn’t be the easiest thing. Also this would be my first job hop. My confidence level on getting AN offer is high, but i am unsure of what type of an offer I would get for sure, just going off what others have gotten.

Thank you in advance


It never hurts to apply and sharpen your interview skills. Before you spend a lot of time figuring out commute versus salary I’d find out if their culture is right for you. Who knows maybe telecommute is an option.


For me I would say it is probably not worth the money. I have a pretty bad commute of an hour each way and about 310 miles a week. It wears on you after a while. I had the opportunity to move offices where I could take public transit and I turned it down because of a project I was working on that I loved. That project is winding up so I suspect in the next year or so I will be looking to move offices internally. I am a Federal employee and want to stay with my agency for the rest of my career so that limits my options.


I agree with @FullTimeFinance, if the position sounds like it would be a good move, there’s no harm in interviewing while you consider the commute and your options. Personally, I’d need to be taking home an increase of a lot more than $560 a month to consider that kind of commute, but it may be worth it to you. I have 90 minutes round trip (45 minutes each way) every day, and I feel that’s already long. I do know people who commute about 180 minutes and they’ve worked out one remote day per week to balance out the demands of commuting.

All that said, I would still apply. Why not? You can sharpen your interview skills, see what kind of offer you receive (perhaps there are other benefits besides pay?), and decide then if it’s a wise choice.


do you rent or own?

Do you like driving, i.e. books on tape, time to yourself?

Personally I think that commute would get real old real quick.

Don’t forget wear and tear on your car.


I switched from short commutes near where I worked to long commutes to live where I want, and it’s kind of terrible. So previously I had about 1 hr drive each way, and audio books and podcasts only go so far. I switched to public transit which is 1 hr 10 minutes each way which is better because I get to do stuff during those 2 hours. It’s still pretty terrible, and if you have a family you need to spend time with it’s going to be even worse. I get to work from home a couple times a week, so it’s just a stark difference how much extra time in the day I get without the commute.


Thanks for the responses everyone. I’ll definitely apply, its a good practice to keep my resume up to date and to flex my interview muscle. I’ll come back and revive this discussion again if its an actual offer in my hand, submitting my resume today.


My commute is about 45 minutes from door to door, of which 30 minutes is transit (train and subway) and 15 minutes of walking. So an hour and a half every day.

It’s not too bad. 30 minutes of walking is at the very least a bit of activity on days where I don’t get to do much else (almost always reach the required 10.000 steps :grin:), and I usually spend the rest of the time (on train and subway) productively, either reading, writing or listening to podcasts. In fact I’m on the train right now!

Still, even if I feel those minutes commuting are spent doing something I’d do anyways, I’d rather spend them them at home or outside. new train tracks that are ready in a couple of years will reduce the transit time with 10 minutes each way, which will be a big plus. But, if I can find an interesting job that’ll let me walk or bike spending less time, I’d probably even accept a bit of a pay cut.

Every minute of my time that I get to spend as so please is becoming more and more valuable to me, and I expect that trend to continue with the birth of my first child this summer :baby:t3:

Do let us know what your reasoning is if you end up getting an offer, @Apkanne!


I did a 4.5 hour round trip daily commute for 2 years. Got old quick, but that was also the second time I signed up for that commute as I had previously done that commute for almost a year. So something I was willing to do with a definitive end date. I didn’t have kids at the time. I would hesitate to do such a commute now. But in my area of DC it’s not unheard of as plenty do longer commutes from the outer burbs, Baltimore, Delaware, West Virginia even.

Is there an end goal or strategy? Consider moving closer to work if you get that job? Staying 1-2 years at the new job to reset your salary higher and then starting to look for an employer closer to home and leveraging your now higher salary history? Is the new job an improvement on your career track such that the experience is worth short-term pain? Can you work from home with the new employer a portion of the time thereby reducing the weekly or monthly commuting total and thus making it more bearable? Just some things to consider. I’m sure there are plenty of other considerations that might be factored into the decision along with salary and commuting time.


Don’t do it.

I did something similar for 6 years and can confirm the research that indicates it lowers all measurable forms of well being. I would gladly take a pay cut to avoid what you are considering. So please be aware that I am biased.

With that said, numbers wise, your math seems off based on what I recall - gas isn’t the only cost - having done this - cars get burned up every few years. I remember doing oil changes monthly and that was pushing my luck.

The federal government uses 50 cent per mile for total transportation costs - the depreciated value of the car, repairs and gas and so forth. Doesn’t count for tolls but is a fair enough representation for this exercise.

Using the government number (you will want to double check my math):

Your current commute (50 weeks) = 9450 a year or $4,725 in current annual costs

Your new commute (50 weeks) = 31,950 or $15,975 in annual costs

And this is before extra outsourcing (eating dinner a home would be a challenge with this schedule) and simply no extra time to plan other frugal moves. It is also before the extra gross income required to generate the additional $11K in transportation expenses - probably about $15K raise would be needed to cover it.

Sure, a used car can lower costs but with 30,000 annual commute miles a bit for errands you will easily add 100K in miles to a car every 3 years.Even a new car would be hard pressed to make it to the ten year mark with 333K on the odometer.

If we invert the question and I am reading your use case correctly, we see you would add 100 minutes a day or 500 minutes a week to the drive. That is over 8 extra hours. A full extra day of work.Every week. All year.

You clearly have a high work ethic. I bet you a lunch that if you switched your schedule to work at your current job six days a week and did so consistently that in just a few years that you would be able to get a $500 raise or a new job closer to home that has that raise - or more. And, unlike the commute, the new skills would be readily transferable to future jobs and would result in higher pay for decades. A super long commute will deliver you to work exhausted and less productive simultaneously lowering future raises and increases the likely your salary will go to zero in some future lay off.

PS - I switched up to a new job closer to home for a pay cut. With the extra time I am getting a graduate degree at night and I still have more free time then I did with the long haul. My guess is that the degree will eventually yield more income than a long commute. Plus, I can pop out to the bathroom to pee during class which wasn’t an option on those long drives which always made those last few miles occasionally harrowing.


Indeed, it is 54 Cents/ mile now. If you live in an area with tolls, its essential you include them, as well as any parking fees. Also consider local and state tax on a new car ‘needed’ to get you reliably to work…


@MilitaryFIRE - thanks for the updated numbers. That makes sense that is has gone up and makes our rough estimate more expensive.


On the car note, when I was doing a similar commute I ended up buying two brand new cars (Toyotas!) During my 6 years doing this. You never know how long a car will last and no matter how well you take care of your car long commuters get nervous about getting stranded an hour plus away from home with a beaten down car. That alone pushes you to buy…And to buy new. So also be aware it’s not just upkeep, you end up needing a new car…

I am also biased. It’s not good for my well being to be in a car so long.


Good point - I forgot about the distance/car reliability challenge. When I first started I had a beater and one day it busted on a highway. I remember sitting in the now stalled car desperately trying to restart it when I heard the traffic report talking about - well - me - and all the delays I had caused. I felt bad and for my next set of cars I did the same thing as @Jillena and bought newer (ish). No bueno.