RentingLong Commute Vs High Rent: Is It Worth Paying More Rent For Shorter Travelling Times?
- by Sean
- November 19, 2019
- 5 min read
You leave work at 6 pm, get home by 610 pm, and you are in and out of the gym by 7 pm.
Your friend calls you to ask if you want to grab some dinner.
You look at your watch and shrug your shoulders.
Sure, why not?
It’s only 7 pm, after all, most of your colleagues aren’t even home yet.
You meet up with your friend for some delicious sushi, and get home by 9 pm.
Which still leaves you an hour of flicking through Netflix, before you fall fast asleep at 11 pm.
Sounds like a dream, right?
I’m sure many expats would love to be in this situation.
But the reality in Singapore is very different.
According to Moovit, people here spend an average of 84 minutes commuting with public transport to and from work.
Not to mention, 25% of people travel by public transport for more than 2 hours a day.
In short, most people travel an average of 42 minutes to get to work.
Which if you think about it, that is equivalent to 21,840 minutes a year just on travelling.
Or 364 hours, or 15 days of constant travel.
So why do people still want to subject themselves to all this travelling?
Clearly, it is all about saving money on rent.
Rents paid by expats in Singapore are among the top 10 highest in Asia, at US$4,215 on average for a 3-bedroom unfurnished condo in Singapore.
High rent coupled with shrinking expat packages has led to many expats looking to live further out and resort to long commutes to work instead.
This all leads back to the age-old debate of paying rent versus suffering a long commute.
But is it really worth all that commuting to save on that sum of money?
Long commute times means the less free time you have for family, friends, exercise, and time for yourself to destress.
And that has a massive, and frankly, often overlooked impact on your mental health.
There have been many studies conducted to show the influence that long commutes can take a toll on your mental wellbeing.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
A most recent study conducted in 2019 of Australian commuters showed that people with longer commutes take more unplanned absences from work. Those with shorter commutes were found to be more “relaxed, calm, enthusiastic, and productive.”
Another study in 2017 from Mercer of more than 34,000 UK workers found that people with longer commutes are 33 percent more likely to suffer from depression, 12 percent more likely to report work-related stress, 21 percent more likely to be obese and 46 percent only managed less than 7 hours of sleep each night.
The last 2017 study from the University of West England found that longer duration commutes reduces job satisfaction, reduces leisure time satisfaction, and increases strain and reduces mental health.
In short, let me save you the time reading all those studies to conclude:
A long commute definitely has bad repercussions on your mental health.
So is a long commute worth the savings?
Since we have already concluded that long commutes are bad, the real question still remains:
Is it worth the monetary savings?
Let’s look at another study published by Harvard Business Review, where 500 people were asked to choose between two jobs.
The first job was dangling a $67,000 a year salary with a 50-minute commute.
The second job was offering a $64,000 a year salary with a 20-minute commute.
Now, take a guess which job was the more popular one?
That’s right, the first job was the undisputed winner with 84% of the vote.
In other words, they were willing to forgo one hour each workday to commute for 250 hours per year for the $3,000 hike.
Which basically means $12 per hour of commuting time, as compared to the almost $35 per hour that they would be earning at work.
This essentially tells us that people really underestimate the effects of a long commute, and do not think rationally when it comes to making a wise decision.
So if you are an expat looking to make this decision, we have taken the trouble to do up a table showing the average rent in each district compared to the travelling time and costs that you should expect.
|District||Average Rental||MRT Travel (Mins)||Cost pm||Taxi Travel Time||Cost pm|
- Comparison was made for commute time to District 1, Raffles Place
- Taxi time and cost is based on morning 830 am and evening 630 pm
- Average rental based on typical 1 bedroom unit between 400 to 500 sqft
At the end of the day, only you can decide if a long commute is truly worth your time.
If seeing the costs and time still isn’t enough to help you decide, here are a few more helpful pointers to consider:
- Think about the additional salary – Having the additional cash as opposed to time saved. What would you do with it? Is that incremental gain going to help you save more? Do you have a solid plan for it?
- Think about what you could do with the additional time – Would you be able to indulge in a hobby that you have been neglecting? Spend more time with family and friends?
- Check on job requirements – Perhaps there could be more negotiation in flexibility and being able to work from home. To maintain the level of professionalism you could always meet clients in meeting spaces near your home.
Have any thoughts on the long commute versus high rent debate? Feel free to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below!