Don't discount short commutes as local advantage

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We had no trouble getting responses from local officials and readers when we sought comments on a USA Today story that listed Red Willow as the poorest county in the state.

We suggested there were better ways to measure wealth than by median income, and now we've seen some confirmation of that idea.

Lifehacker.com passed along an NPR interview with author Dan Buettner who contends the top two things most Americans hate are: commuting and housework.

We know many people commute an hour or more, even in Southwest Nebraska, and that's not unusual in more urbanized areas, but most of us live within a few miles of work.

What's that worth? Buettner says that's the "happiness" equivalent of making an extra $40,000 a year if you're already making $50,000 to $60,000.

What does it really cost to commute?

Lifehacker says you could buy a house priced at $15,900 more for each mile you move closer to work.

How is that figured?

Say you drive 38 miles a day at 50 cents a mile, that's $19 a day, plus you're in your car 80 minutes every day. If two of you work, that adds up to $125,000 over 10 years, or 1.6 work years in your car at 80 minutes a day.

If you've got a great job that pays $25 an hour, and you drive a thrifty car, costing 34 cents a mile, you spend $170 a year for transportation and $625 worth of your time for an extra $795 a year commuting each mile.

That would pay the interest on $15,900 worth of home, borrowed at 5 percent interest, or $477,000 extra worth of home at national rates if you lived 30 miles closer to home.

Make minimum wage?

According to Lifehacker, each mile of car commuting cuts $1.09 from your workday, or paying you $5.32 after subtracting car costs and adding drive time.

Look at the numbers, and that home in McCook looks like a bargain, even with extra city taxes. Live within walking distance of work -- to be truthful, everywhere in McCook is within walking distance -- and the numbers really do add up.

Once the lack of commuting time is taken into account, there should be plenty of time left ... for housework.

Check out the Lifehacker article here: http://bit.ly/1Gp6Kz2

Our original editorial is here: http://bit.ly/1J7ySmt

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: