In most of the big cities around the globe people live around 20-30 Km away from where they work. There are many reasons for this decision but one of the most important one is rents are higher closer to work than 20Km away. When we shifted to the new expensive city we also had to make the same decision.
We considered our options at length and came to a few conclusions:
None of us wanted to spend over 3 hours every day in traffic burning our money. We value our time and both of us get cranky when we have to spend extended hours in sun and rain doing nothing more than getting from one point to another. In a city known for its traffic jams you would have to really love sitting in a car to be able to justify 3 hours a day.
We wanted the flexibility of leaving work early to get something done at the house or not taking entire day off because something had to be fixed. In past one year since we have moved we have had multiple handymen come in at odd times, a lot of things delivered and for most of the things it has been possible for one of us to take a quick ride to home and take care of things. This is also quite handy when family is visiting.
We don’t own a car and moving 20KM+ away would require us to trade our trusty motorbike for a car. This would mean a lot more money than we would like to dish out on commute. This regular expense would be in addition to shelling out monies to get a four wheeler.
Meeting future needs. Currently there are just two of us but if we do extend our family we would need to be able to run the triangle of home work and day care. Increasing the distance simply did not make any sense. To be fair we have not raised a kid before but none of us were interested in keeping the child on road for long traffic logged hours.
Above are some of the reasons we decided to live within 10 minutes driving distance from our house. That being said we have spent over 20 minutes covering the 2.5km ride because of traffic, congestion, broken vehicle rains or marches. Now imagine how much would these factors affect longer commutes where your time increases at every single red light you have to stop at.
But there are some other factors which might have affected our decision
Even though we can easily afford our current rent, which is over 10K higher than the cheaper suburbs, it does make us question our renting choice multiple times. For many however 10K might be the difference between taking up the job or not. Commuting longer to ensure that you can actually work is a great option provided you cannot find a new job closer to where you live and you cannot find an alternate living arrangement like hostels or paying guest/roommate setting.
We are also blessed to be a dual income household (which does affect our affordability) where both partners work around the same location. This has allowed us to share commute costs as well as ensures none of us have to face longer commute. Most people work at different location than their spouse. So it might be a conscious choice to live closer to one of the spouse’s work in case the spouse is responsible for household errands, managing kids or has any other constraint where being closer to the house is better for them.
We value our time a lot but we also value our living conditions. We are usually not interested in swanky apartments (unless someone else is paying for it), but we need decent clean surroundings and good construction. Our definition of that though might be very different from someone say with kids for whom a park nearby is a requirement. Same people or those taking care of elderly parents might feel a safer environment to be a gated township/society. We are sure we will require these at some point of time, today however we are perfectly content with where we live.
We have parents and guests who live with us every once in a while. We are happy however renting a 1bhk instead of a more common choice of 2bhk or 3bhk to provide for visiting family. We are happy to let our parents use our bedroom and lay a mattress in living for a few weeks in a year that they are here. There are many who rent bigger simply because they need to have space for people to come and visit. If that is a need you would probably be better moving out to suburbs so that you can afford a bigger dwelling.
A few of above factors are the reason why we rent far cheaper than a lot of our colleagues living within the similar distance from office. Others who live over 30Km away spend hours travelling back and forth though a few of them do get the benefit of office provided transport.
Two of the houses we liked last year were 1 bhk and 2bhk for 23K and 30k respectively. Though we deeply debated the pros and cons with the later coming ahead on locality and building services our current location won in terms of price, proximity to office and being the amount of house we could maintain.
Currently our housing expenses make for over 50% of our household budget and we intend to increase the number by reducing our monthly expenses. With current 10% increase in rent we would have spent almost 4 years in the house before the rent would catch up to the other house’s starting rent.
What have been the factors you considered before you decided how far from work you live?
For those who own their house this might have a lot more factors but I am sure we all have theory of what is the best option.