1) How does commuting affect our choices for where we work and what we do?
2) How does moving to other states / countries impact our decisions on where to work?
Regarding commuting, some factors that affect our decisions are reflected here:
What is considered a reasonable commute? (10 miles, 20? A prior blog entry by Niall Kennedy averaged that Yahoo!, Google, and others commute about 100 miles round-trip- that’s roughly 50 miles in each direction).
How should we measure this? In time? In distance?
Is an hour considered a long commute? How about an hour stuck in bumper to bumper traffic?
Does the quality of the commute make a difference? Would a long smooth commute by train where you get to sleep trump a short, stressful commute, spent in endless lanes of gridlocked traffic?
What happens if your preference is to commute by public transit? Does this affect where you would work? How about the type of work? Getting to and from an office is one thing, but if you are doing sales, you need a car for those onsite/offsite sales meetings.
How about pay offsetting the travel? Let’s say that you would not want to spend more than an hour on the road commuting. If your pay was increased by 10%, would that be enough to convince you otherwise? How about 15%?, 20%? What is a far-off commute worth? What is the price tag on discomfort?
What if your work allowed you to telecommute one day out of the week? Would a long commute for 4 days be more palatable?
I think I have asked enough questions without providing any input, so here’s my two cents on this:
There is no “right” answer to these questions. It’s depends on what your pain threshold is, and “how far you are willing to go.” For some, living on the road to earn a higher salary and obtain for their families the finer things in life is just fine.
However, keep in mind that the less time you spend with family, the less they feel like they have an impact on your life. Absence may make make the heart grow fonder, but it also disassociates you with the subtle changes that life brings on. More time apart often causes distance to form as you have less and less to share (whether it’s personal matters or otherwise).
Humanity is a social species that functions best through interaction. Without that personal connection, we begin to grow insensitive to each other’s well-being and disposition. We care less about others when we stop seeing each other as living, breathing participants in our lives, and more as physical “scenery” for lack of a better word.
Regarding the question of moving to other states/countries for the sake of career, I have no problem with that as long as this does not become the only thing you do with your life. I am not a fan of being a nomad. Although there is pragmatism in not putting down roots, I find it distasteful to not live in one place long enough to establish any connection with others. I see the benefit of moving to another country to begin a new life, to sample and experience the cultures and norms of other lands, and to gain fresh perspective, but if the idea is to leave a place before someone or thing can grow dependent on you, then this is no better than being a transient. You become less of a participant in the lives of others and more of a witness that has little, if any, impact in other’s well-being.