Why you can trust Jerry
Jerry partners with some of the companies we write about. However, our content is written and reviewed by an independent team of editors and licensed insurance agents, and never influenced by our partnerships. Learn more baout how we make money, review our editorial standards, reference out data methodology, or view a list of our partners
As work-from-home orders fade away, many Americans are facing the return of the dreaded commute. For the last 40 years, travel times and distances to and from work in the country have gotten longer and longer, and our depression and stress levels have risen along with them.
Studies have shown that commutes as short as 10 miles can significantly reduce a person’s mental and physical well-being. According to data analyzed by Jerry, the average round trip to and from work in the U.S. is over 41 miles a day.
The health effects of commuting are serious, but there are strategies to reduce their impact. At the same time, choosing a job that’s closer to home can improve your life more than you might think.
How does my work commute affect my health?
That data is clear: the longer your drive to work, the worse it is for you. Healthline says commutes can increase blood pressure, make you more susceptible to respiratory illness, deteriorate your posture and diet, and weaken your mental health.
Almost all of these effects are caused by increased stress. A longer commute means less time to exercise, cook healthy meals, and spend time with family. On top of that, the unpredictability and boredom of driving in rush-hour traffic has been proven to lower life satisfaction.
But all these side-effects don’t make commuters a lost cause. Healthline says listening to music or podcasts, varying your route, and keeping your car clean can all reduce the negative by-products of a long commute.
How to decide if your commute is too long
The negative impacts of commuting affect everyone differently. Some people find things like rush hour more stressful than others. When it comes to determining how long of a commute you can handle, you’ll have to take your own temperament into account.
That said, people tend to underestimate how a long commute will affect their lives. A study for the Harvard Business Review asked 500 full-time employees from varying industries to choose between a $67,000 salary with a 50-mile commute and a $64,000 salary with a 20-minute drive.
84% of them chose the higher salary, even though the extra $3,000 doesn’t cover the national average cost of a commute of nearly $4,600 a year, according to Jerry’s data analysis.
Add the potential personal and financial costs associated with the negative impacts of long-distance commuting discussed earlier, and that lower salary starts to look much more appealing.
How to lower the cost of your commute
Only Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming have average commuting distance below 20 miles. Still, there are ways to minimize how much your commute costs you without moving to a different state.
If you’re open to making big changes, switching jobs or moving closer to work can benefit your life in ways you didn’t expect. The reduced stress of a shorter commute can improve the health of your body, your mind, and your relationships.
But if you’re not ready to take such a giant leap, there are other ways to lower driving costs. One of the easiest things you can do is shop around for a better deal on car insurance.
If you’re looking for a new insurance company, Jerry can provide you with competitive quotes in under a minute. Swapping is just as effortless. Jerry takes care of all the paperwork and phone calls and can even assist you in canceling your old policy!