Stop the Commute – Part 1

No matter where you live, commuting levies heavy penalties on your finances and your health.

Those who commute are all too aware that commuting has costs in terms of money, time and, perhaps more importantly, your health.  This is particularly so for people stuck commuting in the GTA.  In a recent study conducted by Expert Market, researchers confirmed that Toronto is not only the worst city for commuting in Canada, it is the sixth worst city for commuting in the WORLD.

Commute time, defined as the door-to-door journey from home to work and back again, averages 96 minutes a day in the GTA.  That’s eight hours per working week, or one full unpaid working day.

That means you’re devoting six days a week to work and getting paid for only five of them.  Allowing for statutory holidays and a three-week vacation period, that amounts to the equivalent of 45 work days a year huddled at bus stops or creeping along the highway and city roads.

And these are 45 work days that you don’t get paid for!

According to a Statistic Canada report issued in 2016, there are more commuters now than ever.  The previous ten years saw an additional 3.7 million commuters added into the mix.  That’s a whopping 30.3% increase over ten short years.  Working from home, once trumpeted as the wave of the future, has not caught on.  In fact, that same Statistics Canada report shows that the number of people working from home actually declined from 8.2% to 7.4% during the same period.

The Hefty Financial Toll

When calculating the cost of commuting in terms of money, there are the obvious hard costs such as gasoline, parking, and transit passes.  But there are “hidden” soft costs as well.

As an example, I recently spoke with a business professional who commuted from Durham to Mississauga every day.  His job paid an annual salary of $75K plus a 15% bonus.  This individual felt like he was stuck with his commute as he thought that taking a position locally would reduce his income by 15 to 20 percent.  Not so.

This man, like so many others in a similar situation, usually got on his way to work very early in the morning, generally around 5:00 a.m. to avoid as much of the traffic as he could.  He arrived at the office at 7:00 to 7:30 a.m. and worked until 4:30 or 5:00 p.m., arriving home between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m.

Use The Commuting Calculator!

I started to crunch some numbers using our Commuting Calculator. In a typical 40-hour workweek, he earned $36.00 per hour. With his commute, his actual workday was 15 hours in length, amounting to 75 hours per week (almost two full-time jobs)! Even worse, this means he wasn’t being paid for nearly half his workday OR, put another way, his actual hourly rate was reduced to $19/hr.

On top of that, there are costs for fuel, parking, public transit (subway, streetcar, etc.), vehicle maintenance, and more. We plugged his information into the Commuting Calculator to figure out how much his daily commute was actually costing him. Each day, his commute cost him $86.90 plus $144.00 for unpaid commute time, which amounts to $230.90 lost per DAY.

Annually this worked out to be:

  • Direct hard costs relating to commuting $21,873 = 29% of his salary
  • Indirect costs from unpaid portion of his workday is $36,288.00 = 48% of his salary
  • Combined annual cost (don’t faint) is $58,161 = 77% of his salary

That’s when we began a real conversation about how he could save money and find a great opportunity with a great company here in Durham.

This story has a very happy ending.  We found him a great job that pays $70,000 annually and significantly reduces his to commute to 20 minutes to work.  I caught up with him not long ago and am pleased to report he couldn’t be happier!  He told me that the job is going extremely well and that his overall health has improved dramatically.

Commuting Not Only Takes a Toll on Your Wallet…

It can also wreak havoc on your health and overall well-being. For most people, commuting is exhausting and stressful.  Quite apart from the actual time spent getting jostled around in commuter trains and buses or sitting in heavy traffic (not that there’s any other type of traffic in the GTA), there are other factors that are decidedly NOT conducive to good health and wellbeing.

According to studies conducted by Elsevier Health Sciences, “greater commuting distances are associated with decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, increased weight, and other indicators of metabolic risk.”

That, and other studies, warn of the risks of commuting.

  • Back pain and other aches can result from long hours in a car, or a train, or a bus.
  • Long commutes and changes in routes and modes of transportation can raise your blood pressure.
  • The stress of driving through traffic jams, veering to avoid hazards, driving through rain or snow can all accelerate the body’s production of adrenaline and cortisol. This causes your muscles to tense and increase your heart and respiration rate.
  • Exposure to airborne pollutants can play havoc with respiratory function.
  • All the health evils associated with sleep deprivation are prevalent downsides of commuting.
  • Eating fast foods to save time deprives the body of the nutrients it needs.
  • Missing out on exercise and physical activity reduces overall tone of the body and lowers its resistance to virus and bacteria.
  • A long commute increases the risk of obesity.

The Effects of Commuting on Mental Well-Being

And let’s not overlook the effects other than those that are directly related to the body. Business Insider published the results of a recent study that concluded that “commutes appeared to have a negative impact on mental well-being too, with longer-commuting workers 33 per cent more likely to suffer from depression, 37 per cent more likely to have financial worries and 12 per cent more likely to report multiple aspects of work-related stress”.

Before I opened Durham Recruiting, I struggled with an exhausting daily commute that left me with little time to do anything before or after work. I spent nearly four hours every day commuting from Port Perry to Downtown Toronto. I would drive to the Go Station in Oshawa, then take the train to Union Station, and then rush to my office at Adelaide and Spadina. I was a slave to the schedule of public transit and traffic delays. On an ideal day, I would beat the traffic and arrive home with just enough time to read my daughter a story and tuck her into bed. At the time, I thought commuting to work was the only option. After starting Durham Recruiting, I quickly learned that many other people had the same thought.

But I am here to tell you that you don’t have to endure the hardships of commuting.  There is a solution, there is something you can do about it, and we’re going to tell you what that is.