Ezra Klein has a post on how people undervalue a short commute when deciding where to live. According to an article he links to,
A commuter who travels one hour, one way, would have to make 40% more than his current salary to be as fully satisfied with his life as a noncommuter, say economists Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer of the University of Zurich’s Institute for Empirical Research in Economics.
That number doesn’t surprise me at all, but my personal optimization function places a high value on the amount of time I have outside work to pursue my other interests. Two hours a day sitting in my car would be a huge chunk taken out of that, and it would require a substantial compensation in quality of life for that tradeoff to be worthwhile. I’m always baffled by people who are willing to undertake even longer commutes when they don’t have to.
This will of course be an extremely relevant issue for me soon, once it’s time to relocate. Depending on where I end up working, it could be in competition with some of my other criteria, such as living in a walkable neighborhood. If I take a job in, say, Manhattan, short commute and neighborhood walkability pretty much coincide, but if it’s in an exurban office park somewhere I have to trade off one for the other. This in turn feeds back somewhat into my job decisions. In some ways I have it easy, though: being single, I only have one commute to worry about. The minimization problem for two-income households is certainly more complicated…