“Extreme commuting” is a new term that describes the intrepid travellers who sit on dusty train seats for more than three hours every working day. These brave workers have often perfected the disapproving tut aimed at dawdling tourists, and their soundtrack is a station tannoy system overlaid with reminders to “mind the gap”.
If you’re considering the transition to being an “extreme commuter”, we can’t tell you if you should or shouldn’t go for it, but we can help you to make that decision with these important questions.
How long is your commute?
Not all commutes are created equal. What is or isn’t a reasonable time to travel every day is your choice entirely. But here’s what to do: work out exactly how much time you’ll spend in transit every day, and go from there.
How much sleep will you get?
If you don’t get home until 9pm, eat dinner and then spend some time with your family or flatmates, you could be going to bed at around 11 or 12pm. But what if you then have to get up at 5am? 6am? Can you function on that little sleep for five days in a row? If you do, will you then spend your weekends catching up on sleep rather than enjoying life?
Lizzie Crowley from the Work Foundation warns that a commute longer than three hours has the potential to cause “extreme stress, chronic fatigue and an increased likelihood of developing indicators that might lead to a heart attack”. The long and the short of it: don’t overdo it. Sleep is important too.
Is it cost-efficient?
In some places, such as Leeds, Norwich and Birmingham, it’s actually cheaper to rent a flat in the city itself than to commute in, according to OnStride Financial. And while on average the cost of commuting into London beats the cost of renting there, an annual season ticket from places such as Canterbury and Folkestone is in excess of £5,000.
Is it productive?
Being able to use your time wisely on the train makes a whole lot of difference. If you have a comfy seat and some personal space you can pull out a book and have a relaxing read, or be efficient and make some last-minute changes to a work document. In some cases, a two-hour commute in cushy surroundings may be preferable to a one-hour commute crammed against a tube door with seven armpits in your face.
Is it temporary?
Ultimately, all of these things can be dealt with if the commute is a temporary solution. A four-hour journey could feel stifling if you knew you’d be doing it for the rest of your working life. But if it’s only for a short piece of contract work or until you find a place closer to your job, you know there’s light at the end of the train tunnel.
Do you commute to work? Why was it the right decision for you? Tell us in the comments section below.
Photo: Simon Pielow / Flickr