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wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) PowerDork
6/25/21 5:38 p.m.

So, I've got multiple job offers on the table, and I'm trying to balance the pay differentiation to the true cost of the commute.


Car is paid for. I'm much more likely to buy a beater and keep going when necessary;read no payments.

25 mile (one way)commute vs less than 1mi. $1.50 difference in pay. Closer job pays less.

I get 13K miles a year. Divide by 25 mpg (car gets 30 if I'm easy, 20 if I'm ornery. This can be an aggressive commute, hence 25), and I get for 520 gallons a year @ $3.00 a year, I get $1560 in gas. Say 5 oil changes a year at $50 bucks each (I am rounding up), and that's $1810 just for fuel and oil changes. The difference in pay is $3120 a year, so on paper, that seems okay.

What about the fact that I'm slowly driving nails in my 100K+ car? 

I mean, that's what they're for, but how would you folks value that?

paddygarcia Reader
6/25/21 5:40 p.m.

I always figure some cost per mile of the car itself into the mix. At some point you'll have to buy another, sooner in the case of the more distant job so it needs to put that money in your pocket to be ready.

californiamilleghia SuperDork
6/25/21 5:47 p.m.

I think you need to add  what  your driving time / traffic headache is worth . 

is a 30 minute drive out of town to work (60mph) worth the same as a 30 minute drive into the city center  (stop and go traffic)  ?

The price of sanity ?

Patientzero HalfDork
6/25/21 6:22 p.m.

Your time is worth something too.  Is that extra bit cash worth an extra hour in the car every single day?  It adds up.  Being able to run home in a few minutes during your lunch break is a really nice bonus.

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) PowerDork
6/25/21 6:28 p.m.

Yeah, the close job could be a 15 minute walk, or a 5 minute bike ride (down a steep hill to work. Bonus: free Workout to get home).

It gets complicated because the 25 mile job has people much more up my alley, personality wise, so the comparison gets tough. One hour in/out of the car/city traffic is HUGE, and the city Knoxville, TN is about to hit the rapid growth the other cities in TN have already experienced.

Stampie MegaDork
6/25/21 6:51 p.m.
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) said:

It gets complicated because the 25 mile job has people much more up my alley, personality wise, so the comparison gets tough.

This would be my deciding factor cause it sucks to work with people that aren't cool.

Folgers New Reader
6/25/21 7:07 p.m.

Time commuting is time in which you get nothing done, don’t get paid for,  and time you don’t get back.  

I had a 45 minute one way commute for three years. Never again. 

Current job requires a thirteen mile drive one way. It’s a great place to work but giving away roughly 125 hours of my life each year is borderline unacceptable. 

secretariata (Forum Supporter)
secretariata (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
6/25/21 7:27 p.m.

There are the intangibles of coworkers, but that is not guaranteed to remain stable.  They can leave & you wind up working with shiny happy people...I took a job at a great firm with fantastic people.  It was a major improvement over the place I left.  Got a 10% raise to go there in essentially the same position.  Got promoted to department lead in 3 months (original department lead recommended they replace him with me because he realized I had more/better relevant experience and would be a better teacher to the junior folks) which was another 10% raise. Company got bought out 3 months later.  I got another 10% raise when 1/3 of the office bailed including the office manager and 3 of 4 department leads.  I left 3 months later to take a job for what I was making at my original employer...10 months total at that job.  Salary went up 30% and then back down to 0% increase in that time.  It did work out, I've been with the next employer for over 15 years (longest I've ever been at one employer by at least 2x).

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/25/21 8:16 p.m.

I'd use whatever the current IRS mileage rate is to factor your costs. It'll probably be higher than reality since your driving an older, and relatively solid & economical car. Unless of course something major breaks or you have to replace it for some reason. 

And as others have said, that commute time is more valuable than the cost of operating your car. 

Jay_W SuperDork
6/26/21 2:21 a.m.

I look at commute time as something that has to be made up for. So drive something nice if you have to, cuz doing a commute, any commute, in a e36m3box, makes it so, so much worse. There's more to life than gas mileage. Other than  that I got nuthin. 

frenchyd UltimaDork
6/26/21 5:04 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) :

It's not just the cost of the car, fuel maintenance, insurance.  

It's also how much of your life you want to give to the soul numbing, mind bruising, time of commute. Do not fall for the trap of average.  There will be bad days.  Weather,  stupid drivers, accidents, who knows, maybe Zombie  attacks.  Days when you'll need to make extra trips, get sick and have to drive yourself home.  
    Finally,  nothing is forever. Future job changes, it may have nothing to do with you. New management comes in and wants employees loyal to them, recessions,  depressions, pandemics, inflation, life situations, marriages, deaths, divorces.  Etc. 

  And last, costs!  Fuel has been on a steady rise lately, but who knows how long you'll want to nurse that car along.  At some point at 3:00am while you're trying to align the transmission so you can get to work in the morning you might wonder if you always has to be the one fixing things?  

OHSCrifle SuperDork
6/26/21 5:57 a.m.

If you truly have a choice of two jobs..

Consider the hours you'll spend commuting as part of the work day for that job. Would you rather "work" 8 and a quarter hours per day... or 10 hours per day?

Then divide the total hours "for work" (inclusive of commute) by each salary. This may be unconventional but it is a true reflection of how much of your life you are deciding to give to a company.   

Unless the pay is double, I'd choose a short commute nearly every time.  

bobzilla MegaDork
6/26/21 6:07 a.m.
Stampie said:
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) said:

It gets complicated because the 25 mile job has people much more up my alley, personality wise, so the comparison gets tough.

This would be my deciding factor cause it sucks to work with people that aren't cool.


SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/26/21 7:10 a.m.

It's very likely I have the longest commute of anyone on this board, and commutes are not all bad. The windshield time is quality "me time" that's pretty stress-free. A great time to focus on things, listen to good music, and unwind. But there is definitely a cost. 

It MATTERS who you work with. And counting it as part of your work day is a great idea. 

For $1.50, it's probably not worth it. 

DrBoost MegaDork
6/26/21 9:22 a.m.

I went from 25 miles each way to 58 miles each way to 2 miles each way to working from home. 
i HATE dealieithdealing with traffic and weather. I had a 3-hour ride to work one day, and multiple 2-hour drives. That sucks!  Bad. 
I won't give that much time away again. 
Here's the rub. The drive home could be unwind time (not always).  I do miss the unwind time now and again. 
But I don't ever want to commute more than 10 miles ever again. 

914Driver MegaDork
6/26/21 10:10 a.m.
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) said:

So, I've got multiple job offers on the table .... 

Yeah, intangible contributors. 

Drive 25 miles in a straight line with other polite motorists or 12 miles in NYC traffic?  Factor in the possibility of advancement in each offer, followed by "benefits".  Year end bonus, company turn over, working for a Bull of the Woods 1925 management style or a young engineer who listens and understands.  Company parking or are you paying for a lot?  Is there travel involved with the job (some people hate travel).

I know a guy that travels from the tip of Long Island into the City every day!  I don't care what the pay is, it's not enough.  That's just me.  If you have kids, are they home with Mom or in school?  School near work or home?  Work for us was 25 miles from home, we sent the kid to a school near work, we're closer if something happens and if we go out for dinner or something, we don't have to drive 50 miles.  

Sorry, it's more involved than just driving....

Ranger50 MegaDork
6/26/21 10:19 a.m.

I don't. Time is my only real concern because I work way too much nightshift and my desire to see my pillow outweighs any cost.

fromeast2west Reader
6/26/21 10:21 a.m.

The actual monetary cost would be a minor consideration for me.  The total quality of life is much more important.  For instance, I'd rather drive 45 minutes on some quiet country back roads than 30 minutes on a heavily trafficked freeway.  Add in the opportunity to run errands along the way and anything else important to you.

Weigh that against the quality of life at the job and see how they balance out to you.  Based on the tone of what you're posting you're looking for reasons to take the job that is further away .. so you should probably go with that.

bobzilla MegaDork
6/26/21 11:10 a.m.

I did the 22 mile commute each way in bad traffic for 12 years. Good days it was 20 minutes. Bad days it was 3 hours (literally). I cut that down to 14 miles each way on side streets so less traffic. 17 minutes each way most days. Cut that to under 2 miles for 6 months. I hated the short commute for multiple reasons. One, fuel economy was trash. Sure, I'd get two weeks out of a tank but it would be 12-14mpg average. The drive was so short I didn't listen to the radio for almost 6 months. No point. You'd get into a song and it's time to get out. Or worse, all commercials at the same time because firing up thebluetooth took longer than the drive. And the most important part: I didn't get to drive. I love driving. I use it as me time, to work out all of life's issues before I get home or at the very least to process what I am feeling before I get home to the wife. I need that time and I need to drive. I'm sure there will come a time when I pack it in and hate it but I'm not there yet

OHSCrifle SuperDork
6/26/21 11:38 a.m.

I do agree that commuting offers good "me time" to wake up or unwind but I did between 0:50 and 1:15 each way for years before the pandemic and looking back it just seems like lost hours of my life.

15 months of Covid WFH made me depressed but I'm getting out more lately and still never wish to go back to the old commute (if I have options). 

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) PowerDork
6/26/21 12:47 p.m.

Good point on my trying to justify the job further away. Better pay, better people, bonuses, etc.

Both promise advancement.

A neighbor warned me the close job sucked, but I've been kicked around so much in the past 5 years, our levels of suckitude may differ. I'm waiting to talk to him this weekend before my answer is due monday. 

The commute is 25 tough miles. I-40 and I-75 converge to run through the city of Knoxville, so there is a bottleneck that extends the length of the city. I-81 comes in just the other side. The commute is a major factor. The road connecting me to the interstates is also heinous (poorly designed merges, heavy traffic, half the commute).

It is indeed a tough choice. Either is a big raise from the job I just left. All conversation is appreciated. 

STM317 UberDork
6/26/21 7:15 p.m.

The IRS mileage rate is $0.56/mi this year as a point of reference.

So commuting 50 miles per day is $28/day with the IRS rate. Do that 5 times per week, and 50 weeks per year and the commute costs $7k annually with fuel, depreciation, insurance maintenance, etc.

$1.50/hr X 2000hrs per year is $3k more pay (assuming no overtime) per year. And that's before taxes are taken out, which turns the $3k extra income into something closer to $2500 in your pocket. So the job with the commute and slightly higher pay costs you about $4500/yr financially, plus all of that time spent in the car.

travellering HalfDork
6/26/21 7:51 p.m.

Fellow Knoxvillain here.  You must commute well outside of peak hours if cross-town on I40is only 30 minutes for you.  Sounds like you are going West to east in the morning, so factor in the glare adding to the normal idiot driver level.  


Personally, I'd always lean towards the shorter commute.  Get to work and realize you forgot something, a quick dash home is possible at lunch.  This may be less of a plus if you work in a field that might be "on-call."  They always call the closest guys first...

ProDarwin MegaDork
6/26/21 8:12 p.m.

Personally, I would use IRS #s.  But I agree with other posters that the time component is a much bigger factor than the actual cost difference.  Even with all the money in the world, you can't buy more time.  A <1 mile commute vs. a 25 mile commute?  I doubt I would even bother with the comparison.  My comparison would be:  Do I want to take this job at company A with a 1 mile commute, or move closer to company B?

For those of you who want windshield time/me time/etc.... if your commute it shorter/non-existent, you can still have that time, doing whatever you want.  I like to take my dog for a walk and grab a hot chocolate once in a while at a nearby bakery (for far less than the cost of a commute).


P3PPY Dork
6/26/21 8:30 p.m.
Jay_W said:

I look at commute time as something that has to be made up for. So drive something nice if you have to, cuz doing a commute, any commute, in a e36m3box, makes it so, so much worse. There's more to life than gas mileage. Other than  that I got nuthin. 

Yes. Your car logic is how I ended up with my Z4. It's also why I'm starting to drive the old minivan to work instead now, because Michigan roads != Kansas highways!


OP, I, also, hear that you're trying to talk yourself into the longer commute job? I personally focus on the time frittered away with frustrating other city drivers, but 8 hours with people you get along with can make up for a lot. I might have missed it but I would suggest that your own level of tolerance of city crush needs to come into play. It looks like the money isn't a huge dealbreaker either way, so how much do YOU mind the drive? Apparently most other dudes on here are like me and hate commutes. But maybe the neighbor will explain how you'll hate the new coworkers even more

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