Living in the Suburbs: The Commute

I grew up living in the suburbs and the suburbs are where I still reside with my family. Especially while we’re just starting out in life I like what the suburbs offer. I have a nice, kid-friendly community, good schools, access to all amenities and close to friends and neighbors. These are all reasons that attracted me to consciously buying here myself, but there are a few drawbacks as well. For me, and this is no surprise, the biggest drawback is:

The Commute.

commute from the suburbs

Image via Travis Isaac on Flickr

Commuting is a part of my life. I first started commuting when I was still living at my mom’s house as a young adult. I did it for many years during university, where for my entire undergraduate degree, I relied on a combination of my mom, friends and public transit to get me around. I usually had access to my moms vehicle on weekends and after class, and was within walking distance to my job, so it worked. For four years I got away with not needing a vehicle of my own. By the time I started my second degree though, my schedule was too demanding and using public transit wasn’t working. I bought my first car for $750 and drove it for three years with very little money going into it beyond regular maintenance. I lucked out with that old Corolla.

When my husband and I got our first apartment together, I made the decision to sell my little car for $800. Did we really need two cars? With my husband’s then crazy travel schedule, usually driving, we really could have benefited from two vehicles but we made it work. It helped that we had many friends and family that were around to help me when he was away.

Many years later, we’re slowly approaching a ”should we get a second car?” bridge.

Both my husband and I commute to work. We’re a one car family and because of our work locations we had to decide when we bought this house (in the ‘burbs) if we buy a second car or me rely on public transit. Given that I work during peak hours I can commute via public transit fairly efficiently. It does require a drop-off and pick-up spot from my husband but we make it work, for now. There are many days I wish I could just hop in my own car and drive to work but then am quickly reminded about everything else I’d have to deal with. The stress of driving in rush hour traffic, the cost or parking, the gas, the associated costs of owning a second vehicle…the list goes on. Until we absolutely have to, and I know we will eventually get there as our family grows, we will maintain our one vehicle household.

We will never live in the city. If anything, we will move further out in the suburbs or country. Somewhere I can feel safe yet not see my neighbors. Somewhere where we will absolutely need two vehicles as long as we maintain the jobs that we currently have. Living in the suburbs has many advantages but one big disadvantage, for us at least, is the commute. I think this is a situation where the pros much outweigh the cons. I’d much rather have our house, land, school zones and amenities with a commute than less space for my money, busy streets and no yard.

The suburbs aren’t for everyone that’s for sure but for me, I love it. I can’t imagine calling any other place home. Even if it takes me an hour to get to work.

Do you commute to work? Would you get a second vehicle if it meant saving 45 total minutes every day?

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29 thoughts on “Living in the Suburbs: The Commute

  1. I HATE commuting. My parents live in the suburbs of NYC and I live in downtown NYC. I can bike anywhere in 20/30 minutes. The train to my parents house is about 50 minutes, but add on the subway to the train, the walk to the subway, and the car ride to the house and that’s at least another half hour.
    I don’t want to raise my children in NYC, so when I get to that point I’ll have to reassess the whole situation.

  2. I’ve also lived my entire life in the suburbs, but I’m fortunate that my job is only a mile away. I can ride my bike on most days. However, we’ve been talking lately of moving farther out which would mean I’d have to commute and we’d also have to become a 2-family car. It’s one of the things holding us back from moving farther than a few miles from where we are. If our public transportation was better, I don’t think it would be such an issue.

    • I totally understand what you’re feeling. Though we’re a few years from moving (paying off all mortgage debt before moving) where we look will depend on the car situation too. I would need a second vehicle but would likely only take it as far as public transit and use that the rest of the way.

  3. I only live 2.5 miles from work, but we both have cars, only because trying to juggle one would be next to impossible with our family needs. There are times I do need to be at other sites and my wife has to have a car with two young kids, so I’ve never considered giving up our second car.

    • Having a second car would definitely be a convenience and I can see, especially with kids, not giving it up. I know we will need two, with my husbands job he’s occasionally pulled out of town for days at a time (usually planned last min) and as kiddo gets more involved in stuff we will need to have one.

  4. I live in a city now but I do miss suburban living. I like suburbs that are bike commutable and that’s what I’ll be looking for. My husband’s family live in such a rural area that the nearest grocery store is about a 20 minute drive and the nearest shopping mall is over an hour away. While for things like Costco I don’t mind driving for as I only go once a month, when I do leave the city, I do want to be bikable to the closest grocery store.

    • Yeah I don’t want to be that remote! We live about 10min drive from a main street with grocery, walmart etc. When we move there will be a grocery store, gas and coffee shop sort of thing within about 10 mins but anything like walmart, shopping etc will be about 20-30mins away, which is fine.

  5. I have never been a fan of a long commute. 30 minutes is what i feel to be the longest I can handle. If I have to deal with an hour both ways, I start to get a little stir crazy. Luckily I can usually manage 30 minutes where we live now. We are in the same situation as you are though. We only have one car so we need to live near public transit for B to get to school.

    • If your city has efficient public transit there’s nothing wrong with it and if we didnt have kids one car would suite us just fine as long as we lived like this but time is coming when we will need two!

  6. I never know quite what to classify Fort Collins as. It certainly has a suburban feel, but it is much too far from Denver to qualify as a suburb. It’s closer to Cheyenne, but it’s also much larger than Cheyenne!

    We currently have one car that I am using to commute 40-60 miles each way, depending on the job site. Our current place is less than 2 miles from my wife’s grocery store, so we make it work. But eventually, we want to get a second vehicle again so she doesn’t have to bum rides when the weather is bad or she gets called in early.

  7. I actually do the reverse commute and I would love to move out to the suburbs for several reasons, but minimizing the commute would be right near the top of the list. I would also love to be able to get by with only one car, but right now that isn’t going to happen.

  8. I’m not sure if I live in the suburbs or not…to Manhattanites, Queens is a suburb but to people outside of NYC, it is not the suburbs. I considered moving out to the suburbs which actually make the commute better…I have a reverse commute like Matt. But we’d need a second car because right now my wife takes public transit which is very convenient. We live walking distance to the subway. I live in a somewhat quiet neighborhood but it is very close to the city…I don’t think I’d want to go to far into the burbs.

    • I would love to live where you do! Close to the ”big city” but far enough away that you’re out of the insanity. I don’t blame you for not wanting to move.

  9. I’ve had both long commutes and short commutes, and have to say that one’s quality of life is much better with a shorter commute. That being said, sometimes you just have to do a long commute, and it might really help one’s career for a period of time. There needs to be that benefit plus additional financial rewards for me to consider it to be comparable to a shorter commute. Of course, sometimes we don’t have a choice in the short-term.

  10. time is money. eventually the cost of buying a car will pay itself. If you can afford it and it fits your budget without hurting the savings then why not? Convenience can lessen stress and it will give you more time to do more things or you know.. rest. 🙂

  11. I have an 8.5 mile commute, but it only takes about 12-15 minutes on a good day. Not too shabby. I used to have a 30 minute (each way) commute under ideal conditions, 45-50 minutes in traffic. Soooo happy I don’t have to deal with that anymore.

  12. I live quasi out in the country now, but am still fairly close to all the major suburban conveniences and luckily close to my job. I only have about a 15 minute commute to work which I’m totally fine with making each day. My coworker is making a ridiculous 2 1/2 hr each way commute from new jersey to Harrisburg, PA. I have no idea how or why he does it as that is literally 41+ days each year driving to work…yea, i did the math lol

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