/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Would you commute longer for a bigger pay packet?

Commuters crossing bridge

When it comes to lifestyle, how important is your journey to work? Are you happy to travel longer for a higher salary, or is your time too precious? Latest figures paint an interesting picture of how we get to work.

The topic of commuting is a bit of a sore subject in my household. My daily route to Which? HQ takes around 45 minutes; I’ve got plenty of options for getting in, but alas, none seem to make the journey any quicker.

My partner, on the other hand, has a five-minute walk (two if he gets on his bike, but hey, why bother?).

Still, I console myself with the fact that most people are in the same situation as me – after all, the trains are always rammed when I’m travelling to work. So I was shocked to hear that 46% of commuters get to work in 15 minutes or less – where exactly do these people live?

London commuting is a different story

Ah – there’s the rub. These latest government figures look at London compared to the rest of the UK – and guess what? In London, the percentage of people who get to work with a hop and a skip drops quite dramatically – to 18%. Still, that’s nearly one in five people who can roll out of bed and get into work before the toothpaste stains have dried.

The data, from the Office for National Statistics, may have just been released, but it was conducted around 18 months ago, which might explain the surprising results for which modes of transports are used for getting to work.

Predictably, commuting by car is almost twice as common (71%) if you live outside London. What I wouldn’t have guessed, though, is that fewer than 5% cycle and fewer than 20% use the underground in the capital. As someone who uses both those modes of transport to get to work, I assumed these figures would be much higher, especially now that many people have taken to two wheels in a bid to avoid rising train costs.

More travel means more money

What wasn’t a shock to me was to hear that people who commute longer earn more. Incorporating upwards of two hours’ travel and a hefty annual train ticket into your life is only worth it if the money’s good. Equally, those who earn less but have a shorter commute reap the benefits of getting up later and arriving home earlier.

I guess in an ideal world we’d all get to work in a few minutes and earn a good salary, but life doesn’t work like that. Jobs are often in areas we wouldn’t want to live – and even if we did, couldn’t always afford to (Regent’s Park is definitely out of my price range). And jobs come and go – basing where we live on where we work just isn’t practical anymore.

Or maybe that’s just the case in London? It’s not uncommon for people to move out of cities and take a salary drop for a better work/life balance, so maybe there is a trend to use shorter commutes as a deciding factor in where you live. What’s your preferred option – have you changed your lifestyle to reduce the number of hours you have to travel?

Would you prefer a big salary or a short commute?

A short commute (51%, 80 Votes)

A big salary (49%, 76 Votes)

Total Voters: 156

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Good points made

Personally, my commute takes about 50 minutes from St Albans into central London. In this I count the walking to the station, the train journey and the 2 stops on the circle, but this is only if I get the fast train.

My girlfriend and I have put a deposit down on a new house in Bedford and we will both be commuting to London from there. Not only can we afford a semi-detached 3 bed house by the tranquil river Great Ouse, but the commute is only about 15 minutes longer. But with this, you don’t have to use Thameslink, you get an express train with a table instead so commuting is much more relaxing.

You can get the Thameslink if you miss the fast one and that only take 55 minutes to st pancras

I think it is all relative. The extra we pay for the commute would otherwise go on the house price alone for something closer to or in London. Considering both of us dislike the noise and crowded nature of London, we weighed up all the options and Biddenham Vale in Bedford ticks almost all the boxes.

Instead of a pokey flat somewhere in the commuter belt or in central London, we get a large 3 bed semi, with garden, garage, 10 mins to the station, a country park and navigable river next to the development and open fields for miles around.

No contest really, its just too crowded, urban and expensive down here, facilitating a culture of “haves” and “have nots”

When my office relocated, my commute went from 15 mins to 45+ mins. Yet I had to keep the same salary. As short commute would win for me, what with the state of the roads, public transport and the cost of petrol etc.

Simon says:
7 June 2011

Short commute hands down. I used to spend three hours a day on trains getting in and out of work in London. It was a hellish experience. My quality of life improved dramatically when I changed jobs to be closer to home (at ten minute cycle).

I used to drive for a total of 3 hours in London daily – this on a good day.
Tried travelling by Tube – totally appalling – standing room only – then there was the 1/2 hour wait at each end for the bus when it was still standing room only.
Cycling was a disaster waiting to happen – took around 2 hours total – because cyclists were banned on some roads. forcing me to go the long way round.

So I changed jobs – travel time 40 minutes total on a bad day – 20 minutes total on a good day

I think a 1 hour commute is acceptable, certainly to me.

Sophie Gilbert says:
13 June 2011

A higher salary isn’t worth a very long commute to me, but everyone’s different.

The quality of the commute has to be considered as well. At the moment it takes me 30 minutes to get to work by car and my journey is to be shortened by… 5 minutes when we move office in September. However, those 25 minutes will be spent walking to work, not driving, thanks to the office being much closer to where I stay. Fingers crossed, this will make me fitter and more relaxed, both when I arrive at work and back at home in the evening.

exactly Hannah, and my current job is the one I have enjoyed most in my 14 in the business, so yes, well worth it 🙂