The cost of moving closer to work - not what you think
In January 2014 I got my first real corporate job, I was very excited after what was a very grueling recruitment process that took about 6 months from application to getting the final offer of employment.
The employer’s offices were in the northern suburbs of Cape Town roughly 45kms from my current home at the time. I was so focused on entering the job market that the thought of the daily commute hadn’t really crossed my mind.
When I first started working the commute didn’t bother me. A roughly 50-55minutes traveling time one way was surprising easy in the first year. There were the occasional days of incidents on my usual route which would cause massive delays but this could have been avoided if I had been more acquainted with Google maps at the time.
After the first year I will admit that the trip started to take its toll on me. It would tire me out completely, and traffic was getting worse as Cape Town became more and more congested.
In November 2015 I bought a flat 1,5kms away from my work. The drive from home to work would take exactly 2 minutes. The only problem was this flat did not even have one brick yet, it was a development only due to be completed in about November 2016. I would fight it out on the streets of Cape Town for another year until I would no longer have to do this anymore.
Once the flat was ready for occupation I packed my bags with the few belongings I own and I moved in. I bought a couch, bar chairs and a coffee table and I had a minimalist styled one bedroom flat right next to my work.
The drives to work were easy every morning. I could get an extra hour of sleep every day and get home much earlier than ever possible. I was saving plenty of money on petrol and wear and tear on my car.
But as this continued the change was increasingly difficult on me. Yes I now hardly had to drive to work every day but my lifestyle had taken a severe drop and that was causing a negative impact on my life. I still wanted to go back to the South every day to see my girlfriend, to spend time with my friends and family. I did not want to change tennis clubs and continued to commute for practice and matches every week. I would often become boarded because many of the things I enjoyed doing were now no longer possible or I had to do them alone.
So I ended up commuting from my flat back home and to my girlfriend more than half of the week. I was willing to spend this extra money on traveling as it was completely worth it to my own happiness.
After 6 months in my flat I was on the move again and I was more excited than ever to rent out my flat and move back to the South. I was completely happy to get back my usual hourly trips to work because I had learnt the lesson that the lifestyle I would enjoy was completely worth any amount of time I would spent in the car.
It had been over 4 years now since starting my job I am now moving again and it’s the furthest away from work I have ever been. A roughly 1hr 15min commute one way which will cost me a small fortune on petrol and other related travel costs. This is completely by choice and there is no doubt on my mind that this is the right move after all the experience I have gained about living close to work at all costs (of saving money and convenience.
We often read things on the internet telling us to save money this or that way and this is great, many times we can implement this advice and be perfectly comfortable with this decision but often times these things are never as simple as they appear.
We all have things that are very important to us and money often isn’t an important factor when it comes to these areas. For me I would spend even more money if I needed, I would travel even further everyday if it meant that I still got to come home and be with the people I love, in the community I love and do the things I love doing.
I think the most important thing is that we are conscious about the decisions that we make and that we understand the areas of our lives which make us truly happy. We can then go about deciding how we can make this work in the best way possible with our finances and gives us clarity to cut the unimportant things out of our lives.