If a long commute and high gas prices are getting you down, it could be time for a change of scenery.
This is a guest post courtesy of our friends at The Penny Hoarder.
How long is your daily work commute?
If you’re anything like the average American, your commute is at least 26 minutes – more if you live in a major metro area like New York City or Los Angeles. That’s a lot of time spent on the road that could be better spent elsewhere. Not to mention money spent on gas that you could be saving or using for entertainment.
If your commute is affecting your quality of life, it might be time to make a change to how you get to work – or even where you live. Not only will you save money, you’ll get more time back in your life to spend with your friends and family.
Here are a couple things to consider when evaluating your commuting and living options:
Try a Different Set of Wheels
If public transit in your area is unreliable or nonexistent, consider whether you could bike to work instead. Commuting via bicycle means you get a good workout while saving money on a car, parking fees or train tickets.
If you do decide to try cycling to work, make sure you stay safe. The New York Times recommends finding a route with a bike lane and ditching the headphones to ensure you can hear the traffic. You’ll also need to learn hand signals if you’re a newbie cyclist – and remember that biking on the sidewalk is inadvisable, as you’ll be a hazard to walkers.
Move Closer to Work
If public transit or cycling to work from your current home isn’t a viable option, looking for a new place closer to your office might seem like a drastic choice, but it can be one of the best decisions you can make for your quality of life and your wallet.
Living in the city is typically more expensive than living in the suburbs. However, you could offset the added housing expense by ditching your car and all the costs that come along with owning a vehicle. Plus, if you’re really close to the office, you can walk to work and reap the health benefits.
Either Way, Consider Going Carless
Getting rid of your car has numerous benefits to your wallet.
If you have a current car payment, you’ll get that money back in your pocket each month. This means you’ll be able to afford a larger mortgage or rent payment, or you’ll be able to put more in savings each month. According to TheBalance.com, the average car payment in 2017 was $479 – that’s a lot of money, no matter how much you bring home each month.
Another benefit to going carless is that you’ll save on costs like gas, routine maintenance and registration. While gas prices aren’t as much as they were during the Great Recession, you could easily find yourself paying $30 or $40 to fill up every couple of weeks. That money adds up quickly over the course of a year.
Maintenance fees can really compromise your budget, but if you own a car, they are necessary to avoid more costly repairs in the future and prolong the life of your vehicle. And while an annual registration fee usually isn’t unmanageable, it would be nice to avoid. (Especially since you typically pay it around your birthday. Happy birthday, indeed)
Getting rid of your car and either finding an alternative commute to work or moving closer to your office is a smart move if you can afford to make it. Wherever you end up, make sure you consider the walkability or bikeability of your new home before making your final decision.