California Cities Have the Most Expensive Commutes as Offices Reopen

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While many are happy to reconnect with co-workers and regain some semblance of normalcy in their working lives as Coronavirus restrictions ease, the reopening of offices also heralds the return of the dreaded commute.
Some may find it a pleasant opportunity for quiet time to unwind with some good tunes. But the majority likely resent the traffic, lost income, and personal sacrifices–frustrations that are notably missing in work-from-home setups.
Americans are re-evaluating their priorities and many want to wave goodbye to their daily commutes forever, and Californians may be particularly eager, according to LendingTree’s analysis.

California cities take top spots for most costly commutes

A young woman behind the steering wheel of a car leans her head into her hand in distress
Not only are they often headache-inducing, commutes can be costlier than you’d think.
Out of 100 cities, Fremont, California has the most expensive commute, which averages 73 minutes round-trip. In fact, with San Francisco, San Jose, Irvine, and Oakland featuring, half of the top 10 cities are in California.
Rankings were chosen based on daily commute time and annual opportunity cost, which refers to the amount of money that could have been earned, if workers spent their commute time working instead.
LendingTree’s analysts calculated the opportunity cost for each city using:
  • Full-time workers’ estimated average hourly earnings
  • Estimated annual hours worked
  • Total commute time
Fremont commuters’ annual opportunity cost is $15,065, more than $2,000 above runner-up San Francisco, which had a commute time of 4 minutes less.
San Jose and Irvine clocked in closer to $10,000, with commute times of 63 minutes and 48 minutes, respectively.
Oakland’s opportunity cost was closer to $9,000, even though it had the same commute time as San Francisco.

Workers in coastal states are disproportionately affected

States on both coasts have high opportunity costs. New Jersey, Virginia, New York, and Washington all feature in the top 10.
But it seems that Southern California experiences the strain acutely. Robert Half conducted a pre-pandemic study of 2,800 workers which revealed that two California cities (San Diego and Los Angeles) ranked #2 and #4, respectively, among cities with the most stress-inducing commutes.
This is not unexpected, as large, high-density cities undoubtedly mean greater congestion and longer commutes. LendingTree notes that these factors can be influenced by the increased earning potential that large cities offer. In turn, higher median earnings are associated with a higher opportunity cost for commutes.

The personal and professional impacts of long commutes

There are pros and cons that come with commuting life, as Business News Daily points out.
Employees can be healthier and more productive in work-from-home setups, although maintaining work-life balance can be more difficult than in an in-office job.
If you like the flexibility of working from home, your wallet will definitely thank you. For example, the SoCal commuters that LendingTree surveyed could be saving $9,000 to $15,000 yearly.
There is conflicting information available, with some sources highlighting that there benefits to commutes and others listing the various drawbacks. Ultimately, it’s important for you to decide what’s right for you based on your lifestyle and personal circumstances.

How commuting affects your car insurance

LendingTree explains that gas, maintenance, tolls, parking, and vehicle depreciation can all impact the cost of commuting, which, in turn, impacts the cost of your car insurance.
More hours on the road usually equates to increased accident risk, especially if your commute is during rush hour.
Regardless of whether you commute, Jerry can help you find the most affordable car insurance that meets your unique needs. It only takes 45 seconds to sign up, and then the app will use artificial intelligence to gather and compare rates from 50 top providers for you. Jerry will even cancel your old policy for you and check up on your new one every six months to save you the hassle and ensure you keep the savings rolling.

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