For many of us, commuting to work is routine and causes little concern.  Others, however, consider it a waste of time and a source of stress and frustration.  This is especially true for workers whose commutes seem to take an eternity and are made even slower by traffic congestion.

Rising gas prices have become an effective pay cut for commuters, and many are starting to think about leaving their job for something closer to home.  In a perfect world, we would all work much closer to home (or even from our homes), but that’s not the reality we live in.

A Long Commute for Canadians

Canadians spent an average of 26 minutes commuting to work in 2010, according to Statistics Canada.

The average commuting time was longest for commuters in Toronto (33 minutes), Montréal (31 minutes), and Vancouver (30 minutes).

In both Toronto and Montréal, more than one-quarter of commuters had travel times of 45 minutes or more, which was much greater than in any other metropolitan area.

Satisfied With Commuting Times?

Some people may consider a commute to work of 45 minutes or more acceptable, while others may find this hard to bear.  In general, satisfaction with commuting times is pretty high.  According to the study, 85% of commuters said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the amount of time it took to get to work, while only 15% were dissatisfied.

Dissatisfaction was more common in larger urban centres, where commuters had more frequent encounters with traffic congestion.

The connection between commuting times and stress was clear.  Of the full-time workers who took 45 minutes or more to travel to work, 36% said that most days were quite or extremely stressful.  This was only the case for 23% of workers whose commuting time was less than 15 minutes.

Considering a Job Opportunity with a Long Commute

A number of factors come into play when choosing a place to work.  One of them is the distance from where you live.  For those of you considering job opportunities that require extensive travel time, here are some things to consider before signing up:

  • Remember your budget.  If you’ve been offered a job that requires a long commute of 45 minutes or more, make sure you factor what it will cost to get you there.  If you drive, there’s gas, frequency of routine car maintenance (oil changes, tune-ups), and tolls.  If you’re thinking about taking public transportation, calculate ticket expenses, travel to and from the public transit station, and parking at the station.  Many employers now offer transit discounts and other commuting perks, so make sure to ask your future employer about the programs they offer to help offset travel costs.
  • Prepare for traffic.  It’s hard not to jump at a job offer in this economy, but think carefully about taking a position that has the drawback of a long commute.  While it might take 30 minutes to get to work with no traffic, the same drive might take 45 to 60 minutes in traffic.  Make sure that the commute is something you are prepared to take on, day-in and day-out.  Jobs will have their ups and downs, but the commute will always be there.
  • Consider a non-traditional schedule.  Some companies no longer require employees to be in the office for the traditional 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.  Check if your new employer is open to a flexible work schedule, like coming in later to help you avoid peak travel times.  Find out if you can work from home for part of the week.  You may need to prove your productivity to your boss, but there are many benefits to having this flexibility.
  • Join a carpool.  Many offices and communities have carpools that you may be able to join.  Check out to find other commuters in your area.  Another option is to simply check in with new colleagues to find out if anyone lives in your neighborhood. Carpooling is a great way to cut back on the mileage and wear and tear on your vehicle.

When deciding whether a job opportunity is right for you, it’s common to just focus on the salary, benefits and other perks.  Don’t overlook what it will take to get you to the office every day.  You need to understand your real hourly wage.  Evaluate your commute options and times when considering a job offer.  It will go a long way towards improving your job satisfaction down the road.

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