» Paying the toll

National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner in an interview with NPR (via Dan Miller):

“When you look at Americans’ day-to-day activity … the top two things we hate the most on a day-to-day basis is, No. 1: housework and No. 2: the daily commute in our cars. In fact, if you can cut an hourlong commute each way out of your life, it’s the [happiness] equivalent of making up an extra $40,000 a year if you’re at the $50- to $60,000 level. Huge … [So] it’s an easy way for us to get happier. Move closer to your place of work.”

I know it’s not always easy to find work close to where you live and sometimes it’s impossible. People want affordable housing and a well-paying job that’s fulfilling. But commuting is a tremendous cost and should always be factored in to the equation appropriately. As someone who’s commuted in several areas, I would say that amount seems reasonable.

Here’s an gross anecdote about the intangible cost of commuting if you’re not convinced. If you’re highly averse to stories of people being gross, don’t read this.

I used to ride the train up to Seattle from my home in Tacoma. The train was nice. It had tables and power outlets and horrible WiFi and traveled at a speed slightly faster than a glacier. One day I was coming home and sitting across from a guy who was dressed professionally. We were both working on our laptops. At some point I noticed this professional gentleman was idly picking  his nose and wiping it on the seat next to him.

By that point I had already given my notice but I went in the next day and gave it again because good god.

ADDED 1/16/2015: Rian van der Merwe finds something wrong with the cost/benefit analysis on commuting that’s currently being promulgated. Although, I will note, he does not factor in the boogers.