What is a Reasonable Commute to Work? (Far From Home)

Unless you are working from home, you will probably need to commute to work.

  • Average one-way commute time to work in the United States have increased to 27.6 minutes in 2020, up from 26.1 minutes in 2016 and 25.1 minutes 10 years ago.
  • 1 in 4 workers left their job stating commuting is their main reason to quit.
  • 25% of workers do not commute to work.

Commuting to work is common for most employees, and traveling long distances to your job each day is not uncommon.

Millions of workers spend hours each day commuting to work.

“But how long of a commute is considered to be reasonable?”

What is a reasonable commute to work?

A reasonable commute to work is determined by two factors; time and distance. The commute to work should be less and 50 miles and within 30 minutes, where the commuting area from your home to the workplace should be within the area of intended employment.

Nonetheless, a reasonable commute to work sometimes vary between individuals and circumstanses.

Average One Way Commute Time to Work in United States
Average One Way Commute to Work in The United States

How long is a reasonable commute time to work?

The commute time to work should be at least 5 minutes long, and ideally the one way commute time should be more than 16 minutes.

According to out recent survey, commute of 20 to 30 minutes to work is generally considered to be a reasonable commute time.

How long is the average commute to work

An average American spend less than 1 hour round-trip commuting for work.

On average, 94% of all workers in the U.S. spend 27.6 minutes to commute each way to work and travel for an average of 18.8 miles to work each way.

With a 5 days work week, the time spend on commuting for average commuters are calculated.

  • Average commuters spend 4.6 hours per week and 239.2 hours per year commuting.
  • Average commuters spend more than 1 week, which is 9.97 days per year travelling to and back from their workplace.

How long is a reasonable distance to commute to work?

A reasonable commute distance to work should be less than 50 miles and the commute will preferably be less than 5 straight lines.

But a good commuting distance to work is highly determined by a variety of circumstances such as the geographical landscape or travelling conditions from your home to your work place.

How long is the average commute distance to work?

On average, 9 in 10 American workers commute 18.8 miles to work each way.

With a 5 days work week, the distance travelled for commuting to work for average commuters are calculated.

  • Average commuters travel 188 miles per week and 9,776 miles per year commuting to work.
  • Average commuters travel a distance equal to 3,309 football fields per week and travel a distance equal to two-fifth of the Earth per year commuting to work.

How long of a commute is too long?

Commutes that is longer than 45 minutes are considered long. With a 5 days work week, you’ll have spent 7.5 hours per week and 390 hours per year commuting. Which is equivalent to 16.25 days travelling to and back from your workplace.

HQHIRE did an analysis on the study performed by Census Bureau on 75.746 million workers in the United States, to understand what percentage of our workers perform commute that is longer than reasonable.

  • Extreme commuting account for 2.26% of all workers who travel 90 minutes or more commuting to work each way.
  • Long-distance commuting accounts for 2.96% of all workers who travel more than 50 miles or more commuting to work each way.
  • Mega commuting accounts for 0.77% of all workers who spend more than 90 minutes and travel for more than 50 miles to work.

Studies have shown, there is a rise of “super” commuters from 1990 till date:

1 in 36 workers spent more than 90 minutes commuting each way to work.

With a 5 days work week, the time spent on commuting for extreme commuters are calculated.

  • Extreme commuters spend 15 hours per week and 780 hours per year commuting.
  • Extreme commuters spend more than 1 month, which is 32.5 days per year travelling to and back from their workplace.

The longer the commute, the lesser time you’ll have for your family, friends, social life, exercise, and self-care.

Workers Commuting to WorkMean Time (mins)Mean Distance (Miles)CommutersPercentage of Commuters
Average27.618.871,203,00094.00%
Extreme117.670.91,714,0002.26%
Long-Distance61.3247.32,242,0002.96%
Mega119166.4587,0000.77%
Commuting to work statistics in the United States

Why long commute is bad?

Employees who require to have a long commute for a prolonged period of time will negatively impact their physical and mental health, environment, and work productivity.

  • Physical Health. You do not have time to exercise as you’ve spent most of your time travelling, thus poorer cardiovascular health.
  • Mental Health. You reduce your time spent socializing, which can lead to loneliness and depression.
  • Mental Health. You feel more stress due to the unpredictability of the traffic events while you are rushing to work.
  • Environmental Impact. You travel longer, thus contributing more to environmental pollution.
  • Work Productivity Impact. You spend most of your time stressing on your commute, which leaves you with less energy dealing with your work, and thus reducing your productivity at work.

Average commute time by different States in The U.S.

The average commute time for each of the states in the United States is compiled and calculated to give you an understanding of where you stand on your commute to work each day.

The state with the longest commute time to work is found to be New York, with an average of 33.3 minutes one-way commute to work.

With a 5 days work week, the time spent for an average New Yorker on commuting is calculated.

  • Average commuters spend 5.6 hours per week and 288.6 hours per year commuting.
  • Average commuters spend almost 2 weeks travelling, which is 12 days per year travelling to and back from their workplace.
State Travel Time (Minutes)
New York33.3
Maryland32.9
New Jersey31.7
District of Columbia30.3
Massachusetts29.7
California29.3
Illinois29.0
Georgia28.4
Virginia28.4
Washington27.6
Top US States with the Longest Commute to Work

The state with the shortest commute time to work is found to be South Dakota, with an average of just 17.0 minute one-way commute to work.

With a 5 days work week, the time spend for an average worker living in South Dakota on commuting is calculated.

  • Average commuters spend 2.8 hours per week and 147.3 hours per year commuting.
  • Average commuters spend less than a week travelling, which is just 6.1 days per year travelling to and back from their workplace.
StateTravel Time (Minutes)
South Dakota17.0
North Dakota17.1
Wyoming17.8
Montana18.0
Nebraska18.6
Alaska18.8
Iowa19.1
Kansas19.3
Idaho20.1
Arkansas21.7
Top US States with the Shortest Commute to Work

The State you are living in the U.S. can determine how much time you spend traveling to and back from work.

  • State with the shortest average commute to work is South Dakota, with a one way commute time of only 17.0 minutes, and 6.1 days per year travelling to and back from work.
  • State with the longest average commute to work is New York, with a one way commute time of 33.3 minutes, and 12 days per year travelling to and back from work.

Depending on which state you live in, you can spend just half the time traveling to work, and more time for your family.

Average Commute to work by States in U.S.
Average Commute to Work by States in The U.S.

How is urbanization rate affected commute time of the high and low income group?

Increased urbanization rate of the Metropolitan areas can lead to an increase in the average commute time of the higher income group but lowers the commute time for the lower-income group.

  • High Income Group. Urbanisation lead to more cars and transports travelling on the road that lead to slower traffic and thus increase the commute time for higher income group.
  • Low Income Group. Urbanisation allows workers of lower income group to be accessable to public transports for commuting to work, thus reducing the commute time for lower income group.

How is commute time affected in a densely populated area?

States or cities with a population higher than the rest will require the workers to take a longer commute to work.

Living in an densely populated area can lead to an increase in commute time as well as non-motorised transport use.

A study on the average travel time to work by Metropolitan Area population size shown, areas with more than 5 million people living will need an average of 33.1 minutes to travel to work, compared to areas with a population of less than 300,000 where it will only need 22.6 minutes to travel.

The difference in the amount of time you travel to work is huge, depending on where you work, you can save up to 7.5 minutes on traveling to work each way.

And if you are living in South Dakota, with an average commute to work of 17.0 minutes, you can potentially save 16.1 minutes each day.

Metropolitan area (Population)Average travel time (Minutes)
5 million or more33.1
3 million to 4.9 million30.3
1 million to 2.9 million26.5
500,000 to 999,99925.2
300,000 to 499,99923.9
Less than 300,00022.6
Correlation between Population of Metropolitan Area and Commute Time

How to make your time commuting worth while?

For most workers, commuting to work is unavoidable, unless you are working from home, or doing your work remotely.

Sitting in traffic, or stuck on the train can be frustrating, but you can utilize ways to maximize your time spend on your traveling.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Take an online course
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Read a book

These activities allow you to maximize your time spend during your travel into an opportunity for you to learn a new skill or be inspired by some new information.

Learning something new on the go has become a popular choice for many successful employees. Here are some popular online courses you might be interested in.

Information Technology CoursesHigh Demand Skills and Certifications
Web DevelopmentGraphic Design & Illustration
Mobile DevelopmentBusiness Analytics & Intelligence
Game DevelopmentDigital Marketing
IT CertificationEntrepreneurship
ONLINE COURSE AND CERTIFICATIONS PROGRAMS

Best way to reduce commute to work

If you want to reduce your time to commute to work, the best way is to get a job near your home, or simply get a remote working job that doesn’t even require you to travel to work.

Remote working has become very popular and many companies have introduced hybrid or remote work arrangements.

FlexJobs is a great place to find jobs that offer remote working opportunities. Otherwise, you can opt to become a freelancer and use a platform such as Fiverr to find work that allows you to work from home.

Up Next… Guide to quitting your job and getting a better one!

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