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Is An Hour Commute Worth It? The Pros And Cons Of Long Commutes

With rising housing costs in major cities and more flexible remote work options, many professionals are choosing to live farther from their offices and deal with longer commutes.

But is an hour’s commute really worth it?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll weigh the pros and cons to help you decide if a 60-minute daily commute is right for your situation.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer:

An hour’s commute can be worth it if it allows you to afford your dream home or live in your ideal neighborhood.

But the costs in time, money, and mental health add up quickly. Evaluate whether the commute aligns with your priorities before committing long-term.

The Potential Benefits of an Hour Commute

While an hour-long commute may seem daunting, there are actually several potential benefits that come with it. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages you can gain from a longer commute:

Lower Housing Costs

One of the biggest advantages of having a longer commute is the potential for lower housing costs.

By living further away from the city center, where housing prices tend to be higher, you can often find more affordable options.

This can be especially beneficial for individuals or families who are looking to buy a home on a budget. With the money saved on housing, you can invest in other areas of your life or save for the future.

More Affordable Suburbs and Neighborhoods

Along with lower housing costs, a longer commute often means access to more affordable suburbs and neighborhoods.

These areas may offer a lower cost of living, including cheaper groceries, transportation, and entertainment options.

Additionally, living in a suburb or neighborhood away from the hustle and bustle of the city can provide a quieter and more peaceful living environment.

Access to Nature and Open Spaces

For nature lovers, a longer commute can be a blessing in disguise. Living further away from the city typically means being closer to nature and open spaces.

You may have access to parks, hiking trails, lakes, or beaches that are not as easily accessible in urban areas. This can provide opportunities for outdoor activities, relaxation, and a healthier lifestyle.

Larger Homes and Yards

Another benefit of having a longer commute is the potential for larger homes and yards. In city centers, space is often at a premium, and houses tend to be smaller with limited outdoor areas.

By living further away, you can typically find larger homes with more room for your family and belongings. This can be especially appealing for those who value space and privacy.

The Downsides of Lengthy Commutes

Less Free Time

One of the biggest downsides of having a long commute is the significant reduction in free time.

Spending an hour or more each day traveling to and from work can eat into precious leisure time that could be spent with family and friends, pursuing hobbies, or simply relaxing.

Commuters may find themselves feeling rushed and overwhelmed, as they try to fit everything into their already busy schedules.

Higher Transportation Costs

Long commutes often come with higher transportation costs. Whether using public transportation or driving a car, the expenses can add up over time.

Fuel costs, tolls, parking fees, and public transportation fares can take a toll on a person’s budget.

Additionally, the wear and tear on a vehicle from long commutes may result in increased maintenance and repair costs.

Increased Stress and Fatigue

Long commutes can contribute to increased stress levels and feelings of fatigue. Sitting in traffic or navigating crowded public transportation can be frustrating and draining.

Commuters may experience heightened anxiety or irritability, which can negatively impact their overall well-being.

Furthermore, the physical and mental exhaustion from a long commute can make it more difficult to focus and perform well at work.

Adverse Health Impacts

Research has shown that long commutes can have adverse effects on a person’s health.

Prolonged sitting during commutes has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions.

Additionally, the stress and fatigue associated with long commutes can negatively affect mental health, contributing to symptoms of anxiety and depression.

It is important for individuals to consider these downsides when deciding whether an hour commute is worth it for them.

While some may be able to tolerate and manage the negative aspects, others may find that the toll it takes on their well-being outweighs any potential benefits.

Ultimately, it is a personal decision that should be carefully considered based on individual circumstances and priorities.

Strategies for Coping with Long Commutes

Long commutes can be challenging and exhausting, but there are several strategies that can help make them more manageable.

By implementing these strategies, individuals can find ways to make the most of their commuting time and reduce stress levels.

Schedule Flexibility

One way to cope with a long commute is to explore schedule flexibility options. If your job allows it, consider adjusting your working hours to avoid peak traffic times.

This way, you can spend less time stuck in traffic and more time doing activities you enjoy. It’s worth discussing with your employer to see if this is a possibility.

Audio Books and Podcasts

Listening to audio books or podcasts is an excellent way to make your commute more enjoyable and productive.

Whether you’re a fan of fiction, self-help, or educational content, there are countless options available to suit your interests.

By immersing yourself in a captivating story or learning something new, you can turn your commute into a valuable learning experience.

Public Transit Options

For those who have access to public transportation, taking advantage of it can significantly reduce the stress of commuting.

Instead of dealing with the frustrations of traffic, you can sit back, relax, and use your travel time more productively.

Many cities also offer free Wi-Fi on public transportation, allowing you to catch up on emails or browse the internet during your commute.

Remote Work

If your job allows for it, exploring the option of remote work can be a game-changer when it comes to long commutes.

Working from home a few days a week can save you hours of commuting time and provide a better work-life balance.

Remote work has become increasingly popular in recent years, and many companies now offer flexible work arrangements.

Carpooling and Ride Sharing

Carpooling or ride sharing with colleagues or friends who live in the same area can help make your commute more enjoyable and reduce costs.

Sharing the ride not only allows you to split the expenses of commuting but also provides an opportunity for social interaction.

Additionally, carpooling and ride sharing can help reduce traffic congestion and contribute to a greener environment.

Remember, what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to find strategies that suit your needs and preferences.

Experiment with different approaches to make your long commute more bearable and even enjoyable.

By doing so, you can make the most of your commuting time and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

Who Might Benefit from an Hour Commute?

While long commutes can be tiring and time-consuming, they may also offer certain advantages that make them worthwhile for specific groups of people.

Here are a few categories of individuals who might actually benefit from an hour commute:

Families Seeking Affordable Housing

For families looking to purchase a home, finding affordable housing can be a challenge, especially in urban areas.

A longer commute can allow them to expand their search to more affordable neighborhoods or even nearby towns, where housing prices may be lower.

While the commute may be longer, the cost savings on housing can make it a worthwhile trade-off for these families.

Outdoor Enthusiasts

For those who love spending time in nature, a long commute can provide an opportunity to live closer to outdoor recreational areas.

This means that after a day at work, they can easily escape to nearby parks, hiking trails, or lakes for some outdoor adventure.

The ability to have quick access to nature can greatly enhance their quality of life and make the hour-long commute well worth it.

Introverts Who Value Alone Time

Introverts often appreciate having some alone time to recharge and reflect.

An hour-long commute can provide a valuable opportunity for solitude, allowing introverts to decompress before and after a busy day at work.

They may use this time to listen to their favorite podcasts, audiobooks, or simply enjoy the peacefulness of their own thoughts.

Those with Predictable Schedules

Individuals who have predictable schedules, such as those working regular office hours, may find it easier to plan their day around a longer commute.

Knowing exactly when they need to leave and return home can help them structure their day more efficiently.

Additionally, they can use this time to catch up on phone calls, plan their day, or even listen to educational content that can help them grow personally or professionally.

It’s important to note that while these groups may find some benefits in an hour commute, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Each individual’s circumstances and preferences should be taken into account when considering whether a long commute is worth it.

When an Hour Commute May Not Be Suitable

While a one-hour commute may be manageable and even acceptable for some individuals, there are certain situations where it may not be suitable.

Let’s explore some scenarios where an hour-long commute may pose challenges:

Jobs Requiring Very Early/Late Hours

For individuals who work jobs that require them to start very early in the morning or finish late at night, a one-hour commute may not be ideal.

Waking up even earlier or arriving home even later can lead to sleep deprivation and overall exhaustion, which can negatively impact both work performance and quality of life.

Unpredictable Schedules and On-Call Work

Jobs that have unpredictable schedules or require employees to be on-call can also make an hour-long commute problematic.

In these situations, employees may need to rush to work or be called in at a moment’s notice, leaving little time for travel.

A shorter commute would allow for more flexibility and reduce stress associated with time constraints.

City Lovers Wanting Urban Access

For those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life, a long commute from the suburbs may not fulfill their desire for urban access.

Living closer to the city center allows for easier exploration of cultural events, nightlife, and a wider range of dining options.

In this case, sacrificing an hour of commuting time may not be worth it for individuals who prioritize city living.

Those Prone to Motion Sickness

Individuals who experience motion sickness may find an hour-long commute challenging. Sitting in a moving vehicle for an extended period can trigger nausea, headaches, and dizziness.

In such cases, it may be more suitable to find employment closer to home or seek alternative transportation methods, such as walking or biking.

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of a one-hour commute and consider personal circumstances before making a decision.

Everyone’s situation is unique, and what may be suitable for one person may not be for another. Ultimately, finding a work-life balance that allows for both productivity and well-being is key.


An hour commute comes with tradeoffs. While longer commutes allow access to cheaper housing, they extract costs in time, money, stress, and health.

Ultimately, whether a 60-minute commute makes sense depends on your priorities. With careful planning, some can make lengthy commutes work to access their ideal neighborhoods.

But if you crave convenience, flexible schedules, and urban amenities, a long commute likely isn’t worthwhile.

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