Is the big house in the suburbs really worth it?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Commuting Is a Drag (on the Economy): Money & Happiness - Yahoo! Finance

… classic studies of lottery winners and paralyzed accident victims found only small differences in life satisfaction between these groups and control subjects. But certain experiences – living near a noisy highway, for example – become more aggravating over time, something scientists call “sensitization.” Commuting falls into this category.

A friend at work recently bought a big house pretty far away from where we work.  We don’t really have the option of telecommuting, so he drives an hour and a half or so each way (on a normal day.  Bad days can be much worse).  Is he happier that way?  I don’t know. But it’s interesting to think about what really brings us satisfaction.  I don’t think a big house in the suburbs would bring me much satisfaction.  I mean, I don’t have kids now, so I don’t need a yard for them to play in, or good schools, or anything like that, so it gives me some more freedom to choose where I live.  But I live with my fiancee in a two bedroom condo, about 1100 square feet, in a safe but uninteresting community that’s just a bus ride from the Metro.  Would we like a bigger kitchen and some more storage space?  Sure.  Do I need two more bedrooms and a den?  No, not really. I don’t mean to bash those who live far from work.  Although I do give my friend a hard time about it sometimes.  People have different priorities, and one of mine is a short commute.  I had a two hour or more round trip commute for about a year, and I hated it.  My commute is maybe 25 minutes now, and that includes dropping the fiancee at the Metro.  And I’d still telecommute if I had the opportunity.

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