Posted by: Simon | May 2, 2008

Benefits of a longer commute

Over two and a half years ago now my wife and I decided to move our family from the city to country. It wasn’t a complete ‘tree change’ though. I still work in the city and our kids go to the same school. Many people told us we’d hate the extra travelling, the lack of shops close by, the tank water, the wood heater. The especially cynical said “we’ll give you six months”.

Of all the questions I still get asked the most frequent would have to be “don’t you get sick of the drive”? The short answer is no. And I have to say I’m still somewhat surprised that I feel that way. Initially I thought it would be slightly tedious driving further to and from work each day but believed the benefits would outweigh the costs. In my case a 25 minute drive has become a 50-60 minute one and the bit I dread most is the first or last few kilometres around my work where the traffic is atrocious (and would be wherever I lived). However, when I look at it now the benefits of my longer commute are:

  1. I get to listen to numerous podcasts in worthwhile chunks of time. This is very valuable to me and often pumps me up for the day ahead.
  2. I can relax and unwind on the way home after a busy day. Previously, I’d get home from work still thinking about the day and was not really ‘present’ for 30 minutes or so. This wasn’t fair on my wife and children as they excitedly tried to engage me about their own days.
  3. I use the opportunity to connect with family and close friends. More than two-thirds of my commute is on the highway with the cruise control on so talking on the phone hands free is not a problem.
  4. I often get great ideas or inspirations while driving. I have a program on my BlackBerry called VR+ which allows me to record a voice memo and then email it to myself or anyone else. It’s a poor man’s version of Jott for those of us not living in the US. It’s easy to use and the company support is terrific.
  5. When in the city and stopped at traffic lights I’ll often check my email on the BlackBerry, ruthlessly deleting the junk, quickly skimming and deleting informational ones while filing ones I must action in my @action folder. This simple triage on the move really saves me time in the office and improves my situational awareness as far as what might be coming at me.

So, far from being a trade-off for a different lifestyle, the longer commute is actually something I don’t mind at all. Living on acreage outside the city has taught me, and the rest of the family, that you need to be a little more organised – no question. There’s no ducking down to the corner shop because we’re out of cereal!

That’s a small price to pay for a star-filled sky at night.

Photo: Long Zheng


Responses

  1. It would be totally worth it to me. My hub travels that long or longer to work depending on the traffic and we are not in the country. So how is the gas prices affecting your commute? How much are you paying for it down under?

    I want to retire in the country. I want to live in this wooded mountian area that overlooks a lake. It’s called Beaver lake righ out of Eureka Springs Arkansas. It is beautiful!!!

    What podcasts do you listen to? I love podcasts. I also download audiobooks on my i-pod and listen to them while driving. I also do my best praying in the car.

  2. @Laurie: I’m paying AUD$1.60 per litre (~ USD$6.30 per gallon) for fuel which has most people up in arms these days. It has increased in price a lot over recent times.

    I listen to a variety of podcasts depending on my mood but favourites are anything GTD and Manager Tools as well as Notes in Spanish to keep my language skills up.

  3. wow! We’re paying about $3.53/gal, at least today… I would be riding my bike to work if I had to pay $6.30/gal. How can folks afford to drive those long commutes?

    Oh well…at least you have a wonderful view while you’re driving.


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