I live 30 minutes away from work and I could afford to live closer
Everybody has different reasons why they’re suffering through a commute and they really are valid reasons like better schools, cheaper rent… But, I think about my reason and I’m thinking that it’s a little strange because in fact I’m in essence paying more to live farther from work and have no real reason to live farther other than the fact that “I want to,” and I don’t know if that’s a good answer anymore.
I work under the tent of suburbia, a city where some people know its name and there are several attempts to put it on the map, but all in all gets lumped into the all encompassing Dallas-Fort Worth. Dallas has a low cost of living, relatively speaking compared to its peers like Austin, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle, so there really isn’t quite the issue of being priced out, which leads to it topping the “20 Cities You Should Move to After Graduation” list.
You would assume that living in Suburbia would be cheaper than living in the city proper. Yes and no. With the competitive job market comes more people trying to get those jobs, which leads to increased housing prices and new construction in the form of high rises everywhere. So yes, I likely could be the first tenant to live in a one bedroom apartment for about $1,300 a month. Shave a bit off the top if I have a roommate and I could be paying less than a grand to live in a new “luxury” complex with all of its fancy amenities that I wouldn’t have time to use.
But I chose to live in an older complex that’s thirty minutes away from work and where I have to pay tolls everyday. I was perfectly aware of the fact and still made that decision.
“You’re stupid for moving farther away from work,” is what my mom said without hesitation. Yes, I know, but she doesn’t understand. She’s lived in suburbia for forever, so she doesn’t really know any different. I describe suburbia as kind of a vast nothingness and a place I’d consider settling when the time is right. Strip malls and shopping malls. 22 isn’t that right time to settle there though and I want more of a community and to be closer to young people and to live in a walkable area. The city gives me the feeling that I can still be young if I want to, when Suburbia gives me the opposite feeling. Forty miles that I would be spinning on my odometer everyday just to get to and from work would be worth it.
The price wasn’t an issue because I was merely signing up for less amenities living in the city. To live in an equivalent in what I would get in the suburbs would be an issue, but I don’t really need hardwood floors because I don’t plan on spending that much time in my apartment anyway. The point of moving to the city is so I would spend more time out in it.
There was a lot left to be desired in the commute because it’s thirty minutes on a good day without ANY traffic, but I knew a regular commute for me would be about 40–45 minutes depending on when I left the house or when I left for work. And that’s without an accident, which there usually is one far too often. If usually try to leave the house by 7:30 A.M. and really try hard to leave before then knowing that traffic is much better. I rarely leave work from 5 P.M. to 6 P.M. because that’s when the worst of the traffic is, so that means picking up some more work or spending more time at the gym. It’s not all too bad because sometimes I’ll go to the grocery store and by the time I’ve finished, the traffic will have died down. But, that also means I get home at 7:30 P.M — 8 P.M. A full twelve hours that I wasn’t enjoying this nice apartment downtown. To quantify the time I spend on the road is also so scary that I try not to think about it. By the time I get home, I head straight to the shower, make some food, and try to be in bed by 10 P.M., so not exactly enjoying the city as I pictured it.
What’s more is that because of how work and home were strategically placed, I have to take a toll road everyday. Yes, there are other options, but it means an even longer commute time and extra mileage. The time I could manage, but the extra $160 a month wasn’t exactly great. The yearly math was something I cringed at because it was a hefty premium to live in the city. Lost time and money. Time and money.
Exactly how much time do I spend in the city is something I find myself wondering quite often. Essentially zero hours spent Monday through Thursday. On Sundays, I go grocery shopping and maybe go outside, but I usually hang out on the balcony at home. That leaves Friday and Saturday. I’ll be honest since I’ve graduated college, I’ve become sort of an… old person. I can count on maybe two hands and one foot the number of times I’ve been out at bars on the weekends since I’ve moved into my apartment in December. A lot more Friday and Saturdays have passed than fifteen fingers.
Saturdays are what I enjoy because I have more time to see the city and go eat out, but there are some Saturdays where I don’t have much going on and end up spending most of my time at home anyway. I still like being able to walk around the city without looking like a weird person and being able to go to the park and see people actually running and walking around me. I like not stressing out about parking in the city, but when I do go out I still have to pay for ubers that are about $6 one way when there’s no surge. I rarely brunch, which is the center of conversation in this city. I still have to use my cars on the weekends when I go grocery shopping unless I want to exclusively shop at Whole Paycheck.
So take away the brunching and the boozing and the days at work, I don’t know if I’m taking advantage of being in the city like I thought I would. The lingering question in my mind is, “Is it worth it?”
I see the constant struggle in each of my coworkers’ mind: live in the city where I spend maybe two or three days of the week in, or live in the suburbs when I go to work five days of the week. It’s not an easy answer and really varies person to person depending on lifestyle habits.
So the answer is both a yes and no. People will always have an argument for one side. I feel like you need to try living in the city at least once before moving closer to work because you might as well see what it has to offer. Granted you can always drive down during the weekend, but it’s not the same because you’ll find yourself making excuses about not coming out. It’s always nice to be out in a minute’s notice when someone asks you to come out.
There will come a breaking point when the rent forces me to be priced out, or the traffic is so unbearable that I can forget being in the city, or when I realize I want to take back the lost time and money. The only question is when as this city grows bigger and bigger. In the meantime, it’s a blessing to even consider the option to move closer to work because there are limitations that many people face.