You have the job of your dreams, but it’s far away from your home. Alternatively, you have the possibility of buying the house of your dreams, but it’s far away from the job that will pay for it.
What do you do? That’s the question workers, employers, planners and others concerned with commuting times are asking themselves all across the country.
People are living further away from their jobs — because that’s what they can afford. Commute times are up. New housing is being built further away from job centers. And planners in one metro area have even punted on the idea of people living close to where they work.
While there is no clear answer on how to solve the problems associated with long commutes, there are perks like commuter benefits and flexible work hours that can help both employers and commuters.
How long those commutes will extend depends on many factors.
“Few of us choose the job closest to home or the home closest to our job"
A regional planning group in Portland has backed off the suggestion people live near the job centers in the area. Leaders believed that commute times would go down in the area if people lived near where they work. When the Great Recession hit, people thought the concept of the suburb might die.
However, people never moved — at least in the Portland area. Urban apartments were built, and homes were sold, but people tended to cluster or stay in areas near stores, recreation and community gathering spots.
"For years, leaders have talked about a jobs-housing balance — ensuring there are homes close to employment areas. However, evidence and common sense tell us that people's lives don't neatly line up with the available housing inventory," the report said.
New home construction happens further away from job centers
Even if you wanted to live close to work, it’s getting tempting to live further away. It’s getting “cheaper” to buy a new home. According to Bloomberg, the gap between the cost of a new home and an existing home is now the smallest its been since 2010.
There are many reasons why this is happening. Existing homes are rising in price, and the real estate market is still relatively unaffordable for buyers in many markets. Meanwhile, home builders have been able to price new homes that attract buyers willing to live further from job centers. Many of them are first-time home buyers.
If the trend continues, you’ll continue to see longer commute times across the country. The simple fact is it will take people longer to get to work.
Save on the commute
Longer commute times are one thing. The cost of commuting is another. The average cost of an American commute is $2,600, according to the Citi ThankYou Premier Commuter Index.
One way to help both employers and employees with commuting costs is to have a commuter benefits program. Employees can save up to 40 percent in commuting costs if they use public transit, rideshares or pay to park.
The employees set aside the money tax-free in their paychecks. Employers can save up to 7.65 percent in payroll taxes. And administering commuter benefits requires little additional paperwork or stress.
Let Edenred Commuter Benefits Solutions help you set up a commuter benefits program for your business so you can adapt to your employees’ longer commute times.