How does commuting affect your quality of life?

by Ryan Streeter on March 8, 2013. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

How long is your commute, and how does it compare to those who live around you?

Here’s a great interactive map¬†on average commute times, broken down by zip code.

As someone who’s personally averse to commuting (I have always lived within a short drive or walk of the office), I certainly can’t relate to the “mega-commuters” described at the link, but there certainly are a lot of them across the country.

One thing that jumps out from the map is how long rural commutes are in many areas across the country.

Commute times as a quality of life issue can also become an economic competitiveness issue. For instance, look at Indianapolis compared to Chicago. There are many reasons to live in Chicago, but commuting isn’t one of them. You can earn a similar salary in a professional field in Indy as in Chicago, and you can get home a lot faster to do the things you enjoy when you’re not at the office.

Here’s the greater Indy area:

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And here’s Chicagoland:

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Within the metro Indy area, commute times are relatively short. In the Chicago metro area, they’re quite long. The greater Indy area doesn’t start to look the same until you get to the outlying rural areas.

To me, the differences here speak to a significant quality of life issue. A job has to be really great to be worth all the lost time you could spend doing other things that are important to you. But I would say that, given the history of short commutes I’ve enjoyed in my professional life.