Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Commute

Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Commute

For those of us living in Southern New Hampshire, we know that when it comes to a job search, commuting over the border into Massachusetts is often tempting. Maybe the position of our dreams pops up in Cambridge, or we are lured by the higher salary offered for a customer service role in Lowell. Before jumping in, however, make sure you weigh whether or not commuting for that higher salary or dream job is actually worth it. Below we list five pros and cons to help you decide if that commute is for you.

Pros:

  • Pay is generally According to Glassdoor.com, a CNC machinist can earn, on average, $47,637 in Woburn, Massachusetts versus $43,051 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Similarly, an executive assistant’s average pay in Boston is $63,456, while in Manchester, it’s $51,719.
  • More jobs available. Let’s face it; a workforce five times greater in Massachusetts than New Hampshire means five times as many job opportunities are available in Massachusetts.
  • Commuting offers time to decompress. After a stressful day at the office, it’s nice to get in the car and unwind, so you’re not carrying the stress of work into your home when you arrive.
  • Free time to catch up on reading, podcasts, etc. Sitting on a bus or train allows you to put headphones on and listen to that podcast or read a book without worrying about anything else except missing your stop.
  • Truly leave work behind. Say you live in Pelham and commute to Boston every day for a job in the banking industry. Chances are your customers are either from one of the many Massachusetts suburbs, or they live in Boston, leaving it highly unlikely that you’ll run into them at the gym or your daughter’s soccer game.

Cons:

  • Income tax. Massachusetts imposes a 5.1% tax on salaries earned in the state. For a $75,000 salary, that’s $3,825 less than you would earn if you worked in New Hampshire.
  • Cost of commuting. If you are driving to a local bus or train station, the cost to commute is fairly easy to figure out based on the bus or train fare. If traveling by car, the cost can be complicated to calculate. However, if you take your round-trip mileage (Salem, NH to Boston, MA is approximately 70 miles round trip) and multiply it by the IRS standard mileage rate ($.535 for 2017), you will have a good basis of how much it costs for fuel and wear and tear on the vehicle. By that calculation, a commute from Salem to Boston will cost you approximately $37.45 per day.
  • Less time for life. When you work 45 minutes from your job, you’re adding 1.5 hours to your workday. In stormy weather or when there’s an accident, you can easily add on two hours to your work day, tipping the work/life balance scale heavily towards the “work” side.
  • Inability to get home on a moment’s notice. Maybe you forgot your lunch on your counter at home, or your faucet sprung a leak and a plumber can get there in 15 minutes. Quickly running home to retrieve that lunch or meet the plumber is no longer an option.
  • Additional time off for appointments. Remember when you could make an appointment with the dentist for a cleaning during your lunch hour? Unless you change your dentist to a practice closer to your job, you’ll now have to schedule your appointments at the beginning or end of the day and take additional time off.

The decision to commute or not is not one that should be taken lightly. After weighing the pros and cons, you may find that the monetary gain of working in Boston pales in comparison to the time and effort you spend getting to that job every day.