Commuting Is More Expensive Than You Think

Commuting has hidden costs. Davis isn’t exactly cheap, and it might initially look tempting to move out of town, even though that’s where your school or work is. Maybe by relocating to Woodland or Sacramento you think you might be able to afford to live on your own or upgrade your living quarters or even save money. But it pays to take a long hard look at the additional costs of commuting.

The following is the hypothetical commute math of someone who has a daily round-trip commute of 20 miles, and makes about $8/hr. after taxes (roughly comparable to a lot of student jobs).

Her time invested in driving back and forth to work is about half an hour each way…each given day sees her working a seven hour shift and bringing home $8 per hour for that work, totaling $56.

What happens when we include her commute? Out of that $56, she loses $2.80 to fuel, $0.20 to her tires, $0.10 to her oil, and $2.00 to her insurance. Her total goes down to $50.90. She also adds an hour of commute time, bumping her up to eight hours of work.

The commute alone drops her hourly take-home pay for her time away from home from $8 per hour to $6.30 per hour. That’s the reality of a commute.

Take your commute into account when you’re shopping around for a job.

Let’s say she simply takes a job that’s two blocks away at a diner, still working seven hours a day, five days a week. She continues making the same wage as before, but she’s not driving her car each day and her “commute” is just a few minutes.

She’s still losing $2 per day to auto insurance, but she’s bringing home $54 for every seven hours spent outside the house instead of $50.90 for every eight hours spent outside the house. She now has an extra $2.10 to keep in her pocket every single day but, more importantly, she has an extra hour of freedom each day.

One of the best subtle financial moves you can make is to simply live close to your work. Ideally, choose to live close enough so that you can walk there or, even better, find some way to work from home. Your commute length – which is essentially part of your workday – virtually disappears, as do many of the expenses related to your commute. It doesn’t have any impact on your other buying decisions or your quality of life. It just leaves more money in your pocket and more time in your day.

And we haven’t even talked about the damage to the environment.

Bottom line, when you’re considering where to live, don’t just factor in the cost of rent. Use this matrix to add up the very real costs or running your car, including the maintenance and wear-and-tear. We bet it’ll add up faster than you thought.

For the more detailed break-out of real commuting costs, please read the rest of the story at


Image credit: