How far is too far to drive to work?

Updated on August 9, 2023
How far is too far to drive to work

Some people are lucky enough to live within walking distance of their workplace. But for the rest of us, we have to commute every day, fight traffic and hordes of people, just to get to the office. But how far is too far to drive to work?

You live too far from work if your daily commute severely interferes with your normal life. If your drive to work and back home exceeds 2 hours, then it is definitely too far. This means that your daily commute takes at least 8.3% of your day.

Here are a few examples to better illustrate how much of your day you spend driving to work:

  • 1-hour commute = 4.1%
  • 2-hour commute = 8.3%
  • 3-hour commute = 12.5%
  • 4-hour commute = 16.6%

If you live in a big city, you know just how hard it can be to get to work if you’re driving, especially during rush hour. Your office is right there, just two miles away, but the traffic is absolutely excruciating.

And sometimes people who come from out of the city to work have to cross greater distances. Such as 15 to 30 miles. So how far are you willing to commute for a job? And what is an acceptable distance to travel to work? Let’s take a closer look.

How many miles is too far to drive to work?

How many miles is too far to drive to work

Consider the answers to these questions to determine if the miles to your work are indeed too much:

  • Are you paying too much for gas and/or electricity due to your daily commutes?
  • Do you dread the morning drive to work because it takes you too long?
  • Do you find yourself coming late at home after work because of the long drive?

If your answer is yes, then I would say that your drive to work is indeed too far.

I would say that the miles to work are too many when the time it takes you to get to work does not comfortably fit into your daily life. Another factor to consider is the gas (or electricity) bills that you pay. And of course, the wear and tear on your vehicle.

Are 30 miles too far to drive to work?

A 30-mile drive (that’s 48 kilometers for our European friends out there) is indeed a long distance to travel on a daily basis to work. But what matters is the time it gets you to arrive at your workplace.

If most of those 30 miles are on the highway with a little bit of city traffic, then perhaps that will be fine. You can do a test drive and see how much time it takes you to get from your home to work.

Is a 30-minute drive to work bad?

A 30-minute drive to work is definitely within the acceptable distance to travel to work. Especially if you live in a big city like, let’s say, New York, London, or Sydney.

Consider that thousands upon thousands of people, if not millions, commute to work for over an hour. So I would say that a 30-minute drive is indeed okay.

How far should you live from work?

The acceptable distance to travel to work is one that fits with your daily life, your personal circumstances, and preferences. If your commute to work does not interfere with your life in any way whatsoever, then you live within a good distance from your workplace.

Personally, I would love to live within a 15 to 20-minute walk within my workplace. I find that a brief walk before work gives me the time to wake up, gets my creative juices flowing.

I am able to listen to a podcast or an audiobook as I walk. Or I can simply think about my work projects – I am an avid practitioner of visualization and mindfulness.

But that’s just me. You might be somebody who enjoys driving and you don’t mind doing it every single day to get to work. Or perhaps you like to use public transportation.

Maybe you like to get comfortable on the bus or the subway, and you use the time to read or study.

So what is a reasonable commute to work? It’s one that you enjoy!

How far is too far to commute?

How far is too far to commute

If you are somebody who works full-time or part-time, and you go to college/university, then every single hour of the day counts.

A long commute to work or school can seriously interfere with your daily life, your sleep, and overall well-being. So if the time it takes you to commute seriously interferes with all of that, then your commute is indeed too far.

If you are a driver and the gas/electricity bills are just piling up and draining away from your bank account, then your daily commute is indeed not sustainable.

You should sit down and review your monthly budget to determine if this can go on or if you should do something about it and move closer to work.

How far can an employer make you travel to work?

The distance from where you live to where you work does not concern your employer. When you start a job that requires your physical presence at the workplace, getting to the said workplace is entirely your responsibility.

If your commute to work becomes unbearable, talk to your employer about a work-from-home if that is a possibility.

Protip: You can bargain with your employer to arrange a home office situation for yourself. Ask them for a trial period of one or two weeks to show that you are capable to be just as productive working from home. This way they will be more willing to let you work from home

Are long commutes to work bad for your health?

Long commutes are linked to increased stress and tiredness. And there are other indirect negative effects such as having less time for health-promoting activities such as exercising.

According to this Swedish study of over 21,000 people, long commutes to work are indeed associated with negative health effects.

Another British study of over 34,000 people has found a link between long commutes and reduced productivity.

Key takeaways

  • A 30 to 60-minute drive is generally an acceptable distance to travel to work, especially in bigger cities.
  • If your drive to work takes too much time and seriously interferes with your daily life and well-being, then your workplace is indeed too far for you.
  • A long commute to work on a daily basis can be detrimental to your well-being.
  • Studies have linked long commutes to negative health consequences.
  • If you live too far from work, consider asking your employer for a work-from-home option.
  • Here are the best excuses for being late to work in case your commute is taking too long.
Written by:
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galin office topics square
co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

4 comments on “How far is too far to drive to work?”

  1. I once had a 65 mile one-way drive to work that took 1 hour and 15 minutes or longer. The job was alright but the commute was too much to deal with everyday. I've found that around 40 minutes in a car is my limit to drive to work daily. After 40 minutes, I start feeling annoyed. Current commute is 12 minutes and it's great.

  2. Is scooters or bicycle too uncool to commute to work, because I feel shy having to ride these junk to work

    1. Riding a bike to work is a wonderful way to get in some extra cardio. I am certain that your coworkers will respect you for choosing an eco-friendly and healthy way to commute!

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