CYWB Program Manager Augusta DeVries shares insight on her big move and how it affected her commute. Check out what she had to say:
Lots of factors make the priority list when it comes to moving: cost of housing, distance to work, neighborhood amenities, school systems and general affordability. Whether you rent or own, the cost of living and the quality of life can sometimes seem to be at odds. Or are they?
I recently experienced a life change that moved me across the Eastside, a bit farther from work but still close enough that I could take transit. I had to split the distance between my work and my husband’s, without making either of our commutes unbearable. When we were looking for housing, I made it a priority to be on a frequent transit network so I would have the option to take the bus into work. I utilized a tool called Walk Score to evaluate some of our favorite spots to see what amenities were nearby and also utilized the King County Metro Trip Planner to see what my commute by bus would look like. Compared to my old 25 minute walking commute, my commute time would still only be about 25 minutes. Because my employer pays for my transit pass, I am able to chalk up my daily commute to a few calories burned, rather than $5.40 on gas and maintenance that I would have paid if I drove (not to mention the cost of parking).
Taking transit could save you money every month, too. In August the American Public Transportation Association released its Transit Savings Report which shows that the Seattle-area transit riders save about $12,000 a year. That is an extra $1,000 per month that you could spend on housing, recreation or savings! If you walked, biked or if your employer provided a transit subsidy, those savings could be even higher.
Transit wasn’t the only commute option I was able to explore when I made the big move. I even dusted off my bike and took on that challenge earlier this summer. My bike ride and my bus ride bring me through the South Kirkland Park and Ride which conveniently has bicycle parking. If I want to combine my trips, I could bike to the park and ride, secure my bike with the easy to use bike racks and then ride the bus into work.
I am considering braving the weather and biking a bit more this winter. When the clocks fall back, I may try biking in the morning and then putting the bike on the bus on the way home. There really is more than one way to tackle this new commute! Even though I work with commutes every day, I was a newbie at the bike-on-the-bus thing and I had to test it out when I wasn’t in a rush. I boarded the bus with a friend after work and even found a route that would drop me off at the top of a hill where I could ride the bike downhill on the way home: a great option for the hotter days or the days I am just not looking for a workout. How much did this commute cost me? I did buy a backup bike tube for $8.00 but beyond that – just a few calories burned.
Somehow, throughout the process of looking for new housing, and weighing all of my options, we were able to retain a great quality of life in a vibrant neighborhood. Once I factored the cost of my non-drive-alone commute into the mix, we were able to afford much more than we thought we could.
Now I challenge you: What does it really cost to drive? If changes have occurred in your life, you’ve changed jobs, or the change in the weather has you back in the driver’s seat, try the American Public Transportation Association’s commute cost calculator to learn what it is costing you to drive, then consider how much money you could save by taking an alternative mode to work. It may be surprising how much more you could afford in housing if that money didn’t go into your car and you were able to try an alternative mode to work. And just think, if you did live closer to work, how much more time you could spend with family or on hobbies?
Next time your job or life circumstances are pushing you to move, consider your commute. It might be easy to jump on the freeway, but think about what it is costing you, in time, gas and maintenance, and let us help you make your commute the best part of your day with our customized commute concierge service.
-Augusta, of your friendly Choose Your Way Bellevue and On The Move Bellevue Staff