Admittedly, I’ve been a little late to the ballgame on most things Financial Independence related.
Commuting to work over the years has been no exception. Since graduating college I’ve always had a lengthy commute, no less than 30 minutes one way.
This is mostly due to the location of my various offices being out in the suburbs. As a young, single guy I’ve always liked to live closer to the big cities where (it seems like) there is a lot more going on than in the suburbs.
Unfortunately this has always lead to the double whammy of a long commute, plus higher rent and living costs (can anyone knock some sense into me!?)
However, that’s all changed recently with my recent promotion to a new position at my company.
To recap: instead of my 30 mile, 45 minute (minimum) one way commute for 5 days a week, now for 3-4 days a week my office is only a little over 2 miles away from my apartment.
Talk about a massive change!
I decided that, even though my commute would now be 7 minutes by car, I now really have no excuse not to walk or bike into work on these days.
This has been quite the adjustment to make, but I’m loving my walking commute so much more now.
Here are a few thoughts I’ve had on the last two months of walking to work:
Not Helping Much On The Time Front, Or Is It?
My old thinking around the commute never really took into account the distance between where I lived and worked, it was simply about how much time it would take me to get there.
30 minute one way commutes have always been the minimum, even when I worked in Southern California and work was only 5 miles away! (In hindsight I obviously just should’ve biked to work…)
This new walk to work really isn’t saving me much on the time front.
It takes me roughly 35-40 minutes to walk the roughly 2.2 miles to and from work. Add in changing clothes and shoes (DC is just too humid in the summer and I’m a naturally sweaty person ha) and I don’t save virtually any time on the commute than if I had just driven the 30 miles to my other office.
Or do I save time?
Walking to and from work isn’t just a commute, it’s a built in form of exercise. Getting two 35-40 minute aerobic exercises in each day means I don’t feel the need to go for a 20-30 minute run when I get home from work in order to get exercise in.
Adding it up, in order to get an equivalent amount of exercise in the hour and 20 minutes I spent walking, it would roughly take me 2 hours (1 hour 30 min commute, 30 min run) with my longer driving commute.
So maybe it’s not a huge time savings, but I certainly value having that additional exercise and all the extra time spent outdoors. (We’ll see if I’m still saying that when it’s freezing in the winter!)
Will This Help Me To Live Longer?
As mentioned above, the built in exercise of walking to work is pretty awesome. Everyone knows exercise = good for your health and living a healthy life can do wonders for your lifespan.
There’s evidence out there that confirms this, stating that people who walk to work instead of drive or take the train/bus have a drastically reduced chance of dying.
But the benefits go far beyond just being able to live longer. It may increase the quality of life while also living longer. Sounds like the ideal scenario to me!
Walking has proven to have numerous health benefits that aren’t all just physically related. Mental health is also shown to improve as walking helps to lower stress levels and helps to positively improve you mood.
Benefits extend even little things such as being outside longer helps you get a little more vitamin d – things you normally wouldn’t think of.
I’ve noticed that walking to work has helped me to become more mindful. Now, instead of staring at the cars around me for 45 minutes, while I walk I get to look at the world around me, taking in new sights, seeing new people, experiencing new things on a daily basis.
I could even stop to smell the roses if I wanted to! 😉
So, while walking to work doesn’t necessarily guarantee that I’ll live longer, it’s certainly giving me a better shot than those long drives to work.
I’m Saving (A LOT) Of Money
I put this one last because even though it’s another awesome side benefit, it wasn’t the main reason for me choosing to make the walk into work.
The money side can’t be ignored though!
Firstly, it’s tough to quantify how much money I would save on current and future medical costs from the improved health aspect of walking to work, but it absolutely can’t be forgotten.
Good health usually equates to lower spending on health care, and that’s something “future you” will be very thankful for!
The other obvious cost savings comes from not driving to work. Less driving equates to many different areas of cost savings:
Reduced driving = less fuel used = lower fuel costs. Less time in the car decreases your chance of getting in an accident (and the costs associated with that). Less mileage on the car means less maintenance costs and allows your car to last longer (which I really need in order to help justify my expensive car!)
With fewer total miles driven each year you may also qualify for additional discounts on your car insurance depending on your insurer as well.
If you walk full time you may not even need a car which could wipe out a huge expense!
Bottom line: walking to work can really help you save money.
Thoughts On Walking to Work?
Simply put, walking to work has been awesome.
There are so many more benefits to walking to work that weren’t even mentioned such as being more environmentally friendly and decreasing the overall congestion levels in your area. Things like these can’t be forgotten!
In the future I’m hoping to make walking to work a permanent adaptation.
If that means having to move jobs to continue living where I am, or moving out closer to where I work, then it’s something I’ve got to consider. If I ever move again, which I’ve been debating (it won’t be for at least another year), finding a place nearby work will be a top priority.
The benefits are just too good to ignore!
While this post has been all about walking, I’m not opposed to biking either and everything said above applies to biking as well! Biking just extends the range you can go (so you don’t have to spend 2 hours walking to work if you live 6 miles away!)
If you haven’t already, definitely consider walking or biking to work… you won’t regret it!
Do you walk/bike to work? If so, how long have you been doing it? Are there any other benefits you have noticed that I missed?