Long Commutes Can Wreck Marriages, Health

Any regular KickingTires reader knows that I love to complain about my daily commute. That’s mainly because of my love of complaining more than my disdain for long, slow drives in gridlock while sitting in test cars. I am, after all, driving brand-new cars and testing their features and gadgets while staring at a sea of red brake lights.

My wife has a similar commute. Yesterday, she emailed me a rather shocking story from Slate.com titled, Your Commute Is Killing You. Of course, her reason for sending it was the lead stat that couples in which one person commutes longer than 45 minutes — like we both do — have a 40% higher chance of divorce. That’s not good.

Slate’s Annie Lowrey then goes into great detail about how studies over the years have shown that lengthy commutes lead to back and neck pain, obesity and just plain everything else that would make life unpleasant.

Is there a bright spot? Let us know your commute remedies in the comment section below. Do you have a favorite shock jock that helps you pass the time? Podcast? Book on tape or CD?

By David Thomas | June 2, 2011 | Comments (9)
Tags: In The News

Comments 

VB5

As if this article does not state the obvious. What's next an article pointing out our President lies?

jstant01

I commuted 80 miles round trip for almost 15 years. Granted, my commute was usually not terribly stressful since I work in a moderately-sized city. There were occasional traffic jams. The majority of stress was caused by weather conditions in the winter when those 45 minutes could turn in to 2 hours of white-knuckle driving or more.

I finally decided I was tired of wasting all of that time, though, so I moved into the city. I'm much happier now. By car, it takes me less than 5 minutes to get to work. However, I'm also much healthier because now I usually ride my bike to work.

I know my demographic (single, no kids) makes it easier for me to make the change, but I honestly do not understand why so many people choose suburbs or beyond when there is plenty of safe, adequate housing in most cities. I'm sure school systems are an issue for parents, but in Michigan we have "schools of choice" which at least opens the possibility for sending kids to a better suburban district. We also have charter schools and of course private schools. Commuting wastes so much time, regardless of what you're listening to while doing it. I am so glad my commuting days are over.

freethinker

"but I honestly do not understand why so many people choose suburbs or beyond when there is plenty of safe, adequate housing in most cities."

I've been all over the country, and I've unfortunately seen the most ignorance like this in cities. The reason people choose to live elsewhere is not just housing and schools, but value.

When you have one person with no kids, you can make the choice to pay often significantly more for a lot of things. But when the number of people the income has to support increases, and the income stays the same or decreases, priorities shift to getting a better value. As in, for the price of one item in the city, you can get 2 or even 3 of that item somewhere else.

Sheth

Suburbs are not always cheaper. Here value is better in the city in most areas. I would never live in a suburb that lacks train service to central city. There is nothing you can do to make a gridlocked commute bearable in truth. My recommendation is move to location that allows you to have short drive or train ride. I hope to never have long driving commute again. If accessible, public trans is way to go.

jstant01

freethinker: your math probably works in many locations, and would certainly work the larger a family a person has. However, where I live, the property tax difference alone would be a huge reason to move in to the city. Most of the suburbs have property tax rates that are at least double, if not triple what they are in the city. The houses themselves are a lot more expensive, and rentals are more expensive too.

In the end, though, I think a lot of it boils down to preferences. Some people like suburban, cul-de-sac living...I hate it. Makes me feel like I'm stuck in Stepford. Some people like the country - been there for a while too, and it really sucks in the winter, not to mention having to drive 10+ miles for gas or some milk.

I like the amenities of the city life, including the music/theatre scene, the abundant exercise opportunities (we have an awesome paved inter-city bike trail in Lansing), and more. I don't pay more to live here than where I lived before. In fact, I'm saving $200-$300 per month just in gas. Oh, and my utilities are cheaper too - the city owns it's own electric plant.

freethinker

Good points. But it also depends on what "city." There are some cities like New York, Los Angeles, etc., but places like Yonkers, White Plains, Jersey City, and other older suburbs are also incorporated as cities. There are rural cities as well, ex in the Midwest cornbelt, for those who have seen them.

And speaking of value, not everyone cares about mass transport to the city, if that's not where they work. If they work or go to school in another suburb, and do not feel a need or reason to constantly go to a high oost environment for leisure, the presence of mass transit nearby only increases housing demand and associated costs.

freethinker

Typo- I meant "high cost environment."

And I have seen firsthand the student housing dilemma. Students without a family who have a 15 minute drive to a suburban professional school care more about lower rent than a train to NYC and good public schools. Their limited income makes good rent value a priority.

Later in life that may change, as they accumulate more income and have a family. But in the meantime, renting in a place with good schools and other services tends to have higher property taxes that get passed along as higher rent.

Jay Goldman

In the Philadelphia area the suburbs are where all the educated well to do folks live. Phila is a classic example of what happens when a city is run by Union workers. They're not the brightest so naturally you get crime and taxes consistently increasing and eventually the majority of the tax payers move out. I live just ten minutes from Center City Phila yet my taxes are 8.4% less, we haven't had a violent crime in seven years, and the last murder was in 1972 committed by a career criminal from Phila. Only the poor and uneducated have to remain living in the city.

There is no bright spot. People get grumpier, more irritable, and try less in their marriages. Cut the commutes quick!

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