Home » What is a Reasonable Commute to Work? (Commuting Distance)

What is a Reasonable Commute to Work? (Commuting Distance)

The commute to work is a significant aspect of your job. Reaching work on time is essential, or else you end up with all sorts of problems with the management. Being late to the workplace adds to your stress and hinders your productivity, but it can become a persistent problem if the commute is too long and you are often delayed en route due to traffic and other issues.

Hence, the question is, what can be considered a reasonable commute distance for your work?

As some would say, whether or not the distance from where you stay to your workplace can be considered reasonable or not is highly relative. For some, what is a reasonable commute can be regarded as quite long by another. A lot also depends on the mode of commute that one takes.

The distance would seem long or short depending on whether one drives their car, takes the subway or the bus, or chooses to cycle. Hence, the distance should be reasonable enough so that everyone can travel safely and without the constant fear of being late or reprimanded at work.

In the US, there is no stringent rule regarding a reasonable distance for the commute. Still, the US census says that, on average, it takes about 26.1 minutes approximately for someone to reach their workplace based on the traffic at peak hours and other factors. Whether that time and the distance covered in that duration is reasonable or not depends on the person’s circumstances.

Variables to Consider While Determining Reasonable Commute Distance

Variables to Consider while Determining Reasonable Commute Distance
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When you have to figure out what will be a reasonable commute distance for you, you need to consider some variables. This will go a long way in helping you determine whether you should take up the new offer. After all, once you join, you will have to make the trip twice a day on all weekdays, and you have to determine whether it is feasible or not.

1. Distance

The actual distance you cover is the predominant factor. How many kilometers or miles you cover in a day will play a significant role in determining whether the commute to cover it will be reasonable or not.

2. Rush-Hour Traffic

Rush-Hour Traffic
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If the traffic during rush hour is particularly bad, even a couple of miles could take hours to cover, whereas even ten miles on a relatively empty suburban road would seem like a breeze. You might even enjoy the commute and look forward to it.

This can change the entire dynamics of your commute, so you should find out about the traffic situations in the neighborhood.

3. Transportation and Gas Prices

Whether you take public transport or have your vehicle, this will play an essential role in your commute. If you spend much of your salary buying expensive gas or paying the fare for a long commute, it might not be a reasonable commute. The same would go towards your car maintenance, as the longer you drive, the more would be the depreciation.

For example, if you are paying 8 to 10% of your salary on the commute, then it might not be feasible to continue.

4. Weather Issues

Weather Issues
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If you live in a city that rains intermittently or gets too snowy during winters, that might make your commute worse when the weather is terrible. Roads might be shut during snowstorms, and you might also need to figure out if there are alternatives route you could take. All of this should be determined before accepting the new offer.

How Much Distance Are Commuters Usually Willing to Travel?

How Much Distance are Commuters Usually Willing to Travel?
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It has been seen that a large percentage of the commuters, about 40%, are willing to travel between 20 to 30 miles if the position is perfect for them. They believe that the commute to work is only a small sacrifice they make for the ideal role. And about 72% of employees feel that around 21 miles or more is a reasonable commute to work.

Hence, employers who are on the lookout to fill a role end up finding the best candidate.

Technically, a reasonable commuting distance is one that is less than 50 straight-line miles from the employee’s residence. If it does not increase their commute by more than five straight-line miles, that would be considered a reasonable distance as well. Driving for near about 30 minutes is also a short distance.

There are, of course, ways in which you might make your commute shorter. Keeping an eye out for alternative routes or breaking your commute into small stretches by using multiple public means of transport rather than staying fixed on one line of commute that is often ridden with traffic issues and other problems is a good idea. It would reduce your travel time considerably, but it would also require extensive planning and an excellent idea of your road transport system.

Try to find out more about subway and ferry services, if available, in your city and find out if there are pick-up points for shuttle services. That would reduce your cost of travel as well.

Also Read About: 4 Best Last-Minute Excuses for Being Late to Work

What Distance is Reasonable if You Prefer to Walk to Work?

What Distance is Reasonable if You Prefer to Walk to Work
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Walking is a brilliant exercise, and those who cannot find time for exercise outside work often choose to walk to work and back. However, that can only happen if the distance is reasonable. Walking a couple of blocks is fine, but not everyone has the opportunity to live close to their workplace.

Nevertheless, if you still feel that the distance you walk is reasonable enough, you can make the experience even better by considering certain factors.

  • Do you wear comfortable walking shoes which are also good enough for work? Or at least you can change into your work shoes once you have reached?
  • Is it safe to walk to work? Do you have to cross too many roads during rush hour?
  • If you perspire profusely during the walk, will you be able to change into fresh clothes once you have arrived?
  • Do you travel light to your work?
  • Is the weather usually bright and sunny where you stay, or do you have to walk through difficult roads amidst rain or sleet?
  • You should also carry water with you if your walk to work is more than 20 minutes.

What Distance is Reasonable if You Cycle to Work?

What Distance is Reasonable if You Prefer to Walk to Work?
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If you want to cut costs, increase your speed, and still get some exercise, cycling to work might be excellent. You will reach your workplace faster, and since many cities today have cycle lanes, you will not have to worry about getting stuck in the traffic either.

However, you need to consider whether you will be able to park and lock your bike in your workplace? Are the roads safe for cycling and the weather conditions fine for the better part of the year? Or you need to cycle with your rain gear on while getting to work.

Also Read: 30 Career Affirmations for Career Success & Growth in 2022

Can an Employer Make You Commute for a Particular Distance?

Can an Employer Make You Commute for a Particular Distance?
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No, according to federal laws, no employer can force you to travel or commute a particular distance if you do not want. And, if the office is located in a challenging area or locality, most employers mention it in their job description or website. There are certain jobs that will compensate you for your travels, thanks to federal norms.

For example, if you have to commute to another city on the same day, or if you have to remain on the work site after hours. You will also be compensated if you have first to visit your manager and then again commute to the worksite. Any traveling due to work that will require you to stay somewhere will also be compensated.

However, you must talk over with your hiring manager when you are joining the new job and make sure all of it is presented to you in writing. The expenses related to travel can amount to a lot, and if you have to pay for your commute as well as work commute from your pocket, then the commute would not be reasonable.


Commuting to work is necessary, but long commutes need not be monotonous all the time. You can make it productive by listening to an audiobook or a podcast. Reading a book, of course, is a most rewarding experience. You can use this time to make plans for the day or the coming week or even make calls to your clients, reducing your actual workload in the office. You might even learn something from the internet.

It all depends on how you choose to spend that time. Nevertheless, the long commute should not take a toll on your health, nor should you have to spend a lot on fares, car maintenance, and gas, so much so that it undercuts your income. By keeping all these factors in mind, you can decide on a reasonable commute based on your circumstances.