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How Much of Your Life Do You Lose by Driving to the Office?

On average, Americans spend 26 minutes commuting to work each day.

From Silicon Valley tech workers who have a long commute due to inflated housing costs to farmers who just drive the tractor down the road, commuting to work covers the range of time zones and landscapes. And this year marks the longest that the average commute has ever been since the U.S. Census Bureau started tracking it in 1980. In fact, it’s 20% longer now than it was then.

Driving to the Office

So how much of your life are you spending just getting back and forth to work? We ran the calculations, and the numbers are shocking. If you spend your adult working life, from age 22 to 65, commuting to a full-time job, that would be 43 years spent commuting 52 minutes each workday for 5 days a week and 50 weeks a year. That calculates out to 9,317 hours in your lifetime that you will spend going back and forth to your job. That’s a total of 388 days, just over a solid year of time, spent going back and forth to work. That’s a lot of time!

In reality, some commutes are shorter; 25% of Americans have a one-way trip that’s less than 15 minutes. But some commutes are much longer; 17% of Americans spend 45 minutes or more each morning and each evening.

Cities With The Longest Commutes

For commuting, not all locations are created equal. The unique economy of each city will have a huge impact on the commuting behaviors of the population. When looking at the cities with the highest commute times, 7 of the top 10 are located along the East Coast.


The Longest Average Commute Times
New York City 34.7 minutes
Long Island 33.0 minutes
Washington, D.C. 32.8 minutes
Newark, N.J. 31.1 minutes
Chicago 30.8 minutes
Boston 30.4 minutes
Oakland 29.9 minutes
Riverside-San Bernardino 29.8 minutes
Baltimore 29.4 minutes
Atlanta 29.2 minutes

Other Factors Of Commuters

There is also a statistical difference in commute times between renters and homeowners. In 43 of the top 50 cities, renters had shorter commutes than homeowners.

Certain occupations are likely to have a longer commute than others. Jobs that have a longer average commute time are construction and mining, computer science and math, business, architecture and engineering, and finance. Jobs that have a shorter average commute time are military, food preparation and serving, education, personal care, and farming/forestry.

The Impact Of A Long Commute

In a study about commuting and stress, researchers found that driving to work was by far the most stressful way to commute. A walking commute was the least stressful, even when that walking was done in the cold Montreal winter.

Another study’s findings linked the negative impact of a long driving commute on one’s health. Those with a longer drive had higher blood pressure and BMI, even after the data was adjusted based on the driver’s physical activity. And yet, 86% of U.S. workers drive to work, and 76% are driving alone without a carpool.

And while commuting puts a burden on the personal lives of workers and the lost economic potential of that time, telecommuting is on the rise. In 2015, 37% of workers said they have telecommuted, and that figure has grown from 30% a decade ago. As telecommuting grows, commute times will go down. More than half of the people who telecommute part-time said they wanted to increase the number of hours they work remotely, and 82% of telecommuters report lower stress levels.


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Anat Hazanchuk

Anat is the Sr. Social Media Marketing Manager at Ooma. With over seven years of experience in Social Media, her early adoption of popular social media platforms allows her to stay one step ahead in the social media realm. Her experience, goal-oriented personality, and understanding of engagement and metrics lead her to create social media solutions that provide measurable results. Anat holds a BS in Marketing and a minor in Communications from Arizona State University.

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