Unless you land a 100% virtual job, most people have some commute to work. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you can either live in the city and paying more for housing or move out of the city to hopefully save on the cost of housing and get some extra space. While urban sprawl can help lessen the commute time in some major cities, San Francisco is surrounded by water on three sides making finding affordable housing an even greater challenge in a robust job market.
According to VitalSigns, the average Bay Area commute is 32 minutes each way, up from 24 minutes back in 1980. Residents in Contra Costa County have it worse at an average of 38 minutes per day. Approximately 15% of commuters spend more than an hour each way commuting.
Time is money. So how much time do you and/or your partner spend commuting to work? How much is that time worth?
According to a recent article from Bloomberg, the annual cost of this time commuting if you live in Marin is ~$17,500 per year. This doesn’t include Clipper cards, parking, Uber/Lyft, Muni passes, etc. In my work as a financial planner, these extra costs range from $120-900 per month. So, you are looking at commuting costs of ~$19,000 to $28,000 per year.
If you have a pre-tax transit account and spend at least $100 per month commuting, take advantage of it and save ~$360+ in taxes per year.
Take Back Your Time
In a tight labor market, it is hard to find skilled talent. However, most people with good paying jobs are afraid of losing those jobs and would rather keep quiet than either ask for raises or adjustments to their work schedule/location.
The numbers above for the cost of commuting are significant. If you wish you had more time with your family, or even just less time commuting, use this data to present a strong case for virtual work to your manager. If working from home isn’t an option because you have young children or no quiet space, it may be more economical to co-work somewhere or rent office space than commuting. You are probably not the only one in your office who would like to spend less time and money commuting. Find others and join forces to propose options that make sense for you and your employer. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
 Metropolitan Transportation Committee, Bay Area 2018