Serious commuting used to be the preserve of the upper middle classes. Since the 1980s the trend has reversed with almost 2m working middle class spending 3hrs a day commuting.
Until the 1980’s, the only people who lived more than 45 mins away from work was the well-to-do, they lived in the country and popped into town after the morning rush, maybe 3 days a week.
The 50% growth in super-commuting (now 9% of all commuting journeys) is in spite of a fall in the number of commuting days per person (down 16% since the mid nineties to less than 300 each-way trips).
What’s the cost of commuting?
A recent study shows the average UK worker spends 41 minutes commuting every day at a cost of £2,250 per annum (after tax). The time lost equates 100 hrs, or 14 working days a year.
Not every one is a loser though, the cost might leave the commuters pockets but it goes into other pockets, the car manufacturers, oil companies, government (lots of tax points), train companies and local councils car-parking coffers. This helps the economy hugely so should not be overlooked.
Despite being able to claim the tax back on first-class rail travel and half the VAT from your your contract hire BMW, the poor old commuter cannot claim anything back. The government is trying to force commuters off the roads through the use of toll systems and increased car tax, whilst encouraging working from home by giving a tax allowance for home working.
Not all commutes are equal: If you work in the leisure industry your commute time and cost is negligible, however if you work in London (£4,300 cost) or IT (38.5 miles average) then you’re getting a raw deal. Women spend 20% less time commuting.
Commuting / Life Balance
In London & Birmingham, some people are spending 25% of their entire salary on commuting. This is crazy.
It’s generally thought that spending more than 10% of your disposable income on commuting moves you under the commuting poverty line. Whilst not strictly poverty, a high commute cost in terms of money and time is thought to unduly influence social activities, life planning, happiness and stress levels.
How to get your balance back
If you’re lucky enough to work in the digital space then you’ll be working at home already. Your hours should be flexible, as should your days allowing you to better manage, and even enjoy the travel elements of your commute.
Don’t waste commuting time: use it for work or play or both. If you have to travel, plan it so it fits around your day and your work schedule.
Or quit. And work for a company that is focussed on what you do, not where you do it.