How much time do you spend in traffic?

In Soviet traffic…

It’s been always funny when local people (we live in San Francisco Bay Area) tell us that the traffic is awful. You have no idea how awful traffic looks like. While you’re in traffic here you are still moving and not stuck from bumper to bumper.

When we lived in Moscow (Russia) we used to spend from 1.5 to 3 hours in traffic every day. And I mean IN TRAFFIC, where you car is moving with the speed of a turtle and you have no other options.

45 minutes from home to work wasn’t that bad.

After we got married we rented an apartment in the outskirt of Moscow. Every morning we had to spend 40 minutes to 1 hour to commute to work. And every evening we had to spend the same amount of time to commute back home.

OK, let me explain you something. I don’t know about other cities in Russia, but in Moscow standard average travel time from home to work is 1 hr. It’s an average. That means someone spends less and someone more.

We were average people, spending average time in traffic. There was at least one benefit: we could read a lot of books while we used public transportation.

Typical subway carriage situation in Moscow

After moving from the apartment in Moscow to a house in Moscow region we started spending in traffic even more.

47 miles or 1.5 hours in one direction every day

You may ask why didn’t we find a new job closer to our new home? It’s a subject for a separate post. But in a couple of words, it’s almost impossible to find a quality, high paying job outside of Moscow.*

We can’t afford being in traffic

After moving to the States we made one very important decision. We decided that we are not going to spend more than 30 min on the way to/from work.

30 minutes is the MAXIMUM we can afford

What do you mean “can afford”? Great question, I am glad you asked it. Let me explain.

Boris have to spend 1 hour driving to and from work. That means he spends 2 hours daily on transportation.

  • Daily – 2 hours.
  • Weekly – 10 hours.
  • Monthly – 48 hours.
  • Yearly – 576 hours.

Not that bad, right? It could be worse.

But lets convert these hours to extra days that Boris has to spend in traffic/transportation without being paid**

  • Daily – 1/4 day working for free
  • Weekly – 1 1/4 days working for free.
  • Monthly – 6 days working for free.
  • Yearly – 72 days working for free.


Boris’ annual household income is $80,000 and he lives 20 miles from work and has to spend one hour driving to and fro. After adjusting his household to the “not being paid” hours Boris’s $80,000 income becomes more like $63,335

And I even haven’t talked about cost of driving, which IRS declares as $0.54 per mile Let’s do some more math:

  • Daily (40 miles) – $21.6
  • Weekly (200 miles) – $108
  • Monthly (900 miles) – $518
  • Yearly (10,800 miles) – $5,832

After all these calculations Boris’ $80,000 household “magically” becomes $57,503. And yes, I know that he would still be getting the same $80,000 minus taxes. I am talking about opportunity cost and $1 value.

It’s not only about money

Money is not everything in our life. And pursuing FIRE we shouldn’t forget very important passage:

1 Timothy 6:10 (KJV)

10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

There’s something more than money. More important and absolutely non-renewable resource – TIME.

You can’t get back the time you spend it traffic. You can’t buy this time back, even for the whole money of the world.

And lack of time affects all the areas of you life. It will affect your relationship with your spouse and kids. You will not have time for yourself; for exercising or studying and even for a good night sleep.

And forget about your weekends, because the will be overloaded with all the tasks you differ from your weekdays.

We made our choice and set the priorities.  What about you? How much time do you spend in traffic?

* If we had this choice now, we’d rather moved closer to work even if it required paying extra rent.
** I know that some companies count the times you spend on the transportation as business/working hours.

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2 Responses to How much time do you spend in traffic?

  1. Maryann says:

    About 15-20 minute one way (by bike). If I took a car, it would be 10 minutes each way but less enjoyable.

  2. wendy says:

    I’m around 45min walking, 15-20min by bike, and about 15 by car. It’s an urban route with about 10 traffic lights, so whether I’m biking or driving a lot of the time variance is due to how I hit the lights.
    I deliberately picked an apartment 2.5mi from work because it seemed pointless to spend my life sitting in traffic. After I found the FIRE movement and was (virtually) punched in the face by MMM, I realized that I should ride my bike to work as much as possible since it’s cheaper, healthier, and better for the environment.

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