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Can You Survive Long Commutes? 209

Should I Be a Frequent Flier asks: "I am currently considering a job offer in an Aerospace company, and suffice it to say, I am very excited. Unfortunately, there is a catch - I would have to fly to work. While this may seem appropriate for an Aerospace job, it might not be appropriate for a married life, as it would require that I spend two or three nights a week away from my family. This is a big step, and I don't want to pass up a wonderful opportunity, but I don't what to wreck my marriage for a job. Does anyone have any experience with this sort of arrangement, either pro or con?"
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Can You Survive Long Commutes?

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  • Re:Move? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nighty5 ( 615965 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:57PM (#15418492)
    On your new salary, can you afford to live in the new area?


    I bought a place within 30 minutes walk to my office in Sydney because I was sick to death of relying on a woeful public transport system we have.

    I also sold my car, and get taxi's everywhere. Walk to the shopping centre. I'm fitter for it and its actually saved me time and money.
  • Do it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slashflood ( 697891 ) <flow&howflow,com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:59PM (#15418500) Homepage Journal
    I can really speak from my own experience. Just do it. You don't have to keep the job until the end of your life. And it could be refreshing for your partnership as well.
  • It's Been Done (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TooOldEngineer ( 808047 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @10:00PM (#15418508)
    My boss from two jobs ago lived in FL, commuted to VA via plane, and rented a local apartment for what little weekday sleep he could get with his work hours. It worked for a year or so, before he took another job. It was obviously stressful, and I'm not sure that from what I saw that I would recommend that life to anyone. So much time gets absorbed with travel (and that was pre-9/11) that there wasn't time for a quality life wih this family when he was back home. OTOH, he made a large amount of money and was able to use the experience to get an even better subsequent job that didn't require such a hellish commute. As for me, I wouldn't do it. I'm quitting a job with a two hour commute in the DC area to become stay-at-home-dad for a while. We'll have to cut expenses, but I think it'll be worth it. Maybe I'll have a different view in a year, tho.
  • I did ~.5M miles/year the last few years in a row with wife and child, so I have a few thoughts on this. Just finished printing my boarding pass to Zurich tomorrow - missing out on a traditional three-day weekend here in the States - so yes, there is a dark side.

    Traveling can be really hard on the marriage. Don't underestimate this. Be sure that is in solid ground first and foremost... We were married for about seven years before I became a road warrior, which helped some. It still was not easy. Due to my heavy travel, she ended up switching to a stay home Mom. (So much for having our cake and eating it too on the financial side. A few things help.)
    • When I'm not on the road, I work from home.
    • Massive investment on communication equipment. Unlimited cell plans, skype, sms, blackberries - all used every day.
    • She (and the child) gets my miles. Even flying from Minneapolis to New Delhi, I save my points to fly my Bride and little one whenever I can. Harder since my child is now in school, but much better spent to fly them then upgrade me.
    • Figure out the angles on points for hotel, airline, etc. My Bride gets to stay at a Marriot rather than her Mother-in-law on the holidays.
    • Fill up the gas tank every 3-4 weeks, as the airlines do most of the work
    • Oh ya, the money... Can't buy happiness, but beats being broke. (grin)

    Being willing to be a road warrior was a fast track in on the corporate side. It was fun to 'travel the world' the first six months, but the thrill wears off quickly. One hotel/restaurant/card table at a customer is the same as another. I kept my job, while others did not, so that is worth a fair bit of stability on the home front. Risk vs. rewards, I also made more than those who followed a track that got them home each night.

    Another thing to think about is staying in shape. Very easy to move into the plus sizes when you dine in a restaurant every night. The clean plate club is not a good idea. Much more work than I ever thought it would be.

    I try to strike a balance these days. A few weeks of heavy travel, followed by a couple of weeks close to home.
  • by bergeron76 ( 176351 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @02:27AM (#15419269)
    You're assuming that he _can_ move close to work. If his employer is at Cheyenne mountain, or Roswell New Mexico, he doesn't have that option. Employees are flown in on a commercialesque airline from a normal airline terminal/local airport.

    I commute 45 minutes each way, 5 days a week. At first it sucks, but eventually you adapt and it becomes great thinking time. The only reason I commute is for my family; if it weren't for that, I wouldn't do it.

    Commuting is a sheer waste of time...

  • Re:Move? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RedWizzard ( 192002 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @02:56AM (#15419329)
    You're assuming a consistent destination. What if they are asking for the submitter to travel to different offices around the world?
  • by gujo-odori ( 473191 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @04:46AM (#15419572)
    Well, it depends on the agent. Last year when my wife and I bought a house, we were so disappointed - no disgusted - with our agent it goes beyond words. If we didn't have a friend who is a commercial broker watching our backs (and everything our agent did), it could have been very messy.

    Our experience with that left us both thinking "We could do waaaay better than that ourselves." So, I just recently passed the license exam and will start working in real estate next month while continuing my IT career, at least for now. My wife's studying for her license and will do real estate full time. It's amazing how many of the best agents and brokers I've met have a story like this. Their own bad experience with some idiot led them go into the business because they were sure they'd be better. And they were.

    The thing is, being a good agent is all about customer service. It's very much like being an independent consultant in IT. You work for a brokerage, but you're an independent contractor and you're generally responsible for finding your own customers. Just like in IT consulting, being technically competent isn't enough. To be successful, esp. in the long term, you have to provide excellent customer service. The kind of service that makes people recommend you to their friends and give you referrals.

    If you have good customer service skills (we both do), you can translate those to real estate. Of course, you need a brain too, to be good (last I checked, it was still there), of course.

    I am a nice person (honest ) and next month when I receive my license and start working, there'll be at least one nice real estate agent who shows up with a laptop booting Linux :-)
  • by fwwr5007 ( 977554 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:06AM (#15420459)
    We all have different tolerance levels for this sort of thing. I probably wouldn't have done it six months ago, and right now I *know* I wouldn't do what you're describing. Not quite six months ago I took a job that required about a two hour commute each way (by road...I never would have dreamed to do such a thing by air!). I figured I could handle it every day, and be home to see the wife every night. She agreed, and was behind me 100%. Within a week, I was looking for a place to stay in the town where the job is. It's a seven day a week job (doing IT work to support natural gas exploration) and it had become very evident that the commute was going to wear me down. My wife even drove out to help me find a "crash pad." (And this was before the recent spike in gas prices too!) Now, I maybe make it home about every other weekend, if that. I'm in the process of going a whole month without going home (or, at least, not taking any days off) simply to save up time for a bigger vacation at the end of June. I still get to see the wife on the weekends (she drives out here), but believe it or not I still feel bad for going that long without seeing our damn cat! Bottom line, you must talk with your spouse for sure, and make sure he/she is OK with it. And even if they are, know that over time that dynamic can change (my wife now tends to get a little upset the night before I have to drive back out here sometimes). But at the same time, you can always look for something else. As for me, the resume is polished and I've been sniffing around for opportunities much closer to home. I can't imagine what this would have been like with a longer commute and/or an air commute -- I probably wouldn't have lasted even this long, even with the significant sums of money they're paying me. But, that said, I've still got the experience to show for it on the ol' resume.
  • I left a job with about the same amount of travel you talk about when I was relatively early (five years or so) into my marriage - we simply couldn't cope with being apart that much.

    Now, 16 years into it, I travel even more than that long-ago job required and, although we don't love it, we're at peace with it because we've got more shared history and shared stability together. So I guess I'd give you a classic consultant answer and say "it depends."

    My disclaimer: We didn't have kids. There's no real way to make that much travel work with kids unless you make your peace with being the de facto equivalent of a divorced couple with visitation rights.

  • Re:Move? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @02:58PM (#15421276) Homepage
    My sister's family has tried it both ways. They moved to another state when he got a great job, but they really wanted to live here, so he found another job and brought the family back "home". When that job didn't work out, he took another job out of state, but this time he commutes: driving there once a week, working for a few days, then driving home for a few days and working at home.

    It works for them. Part of the reason is that their kids are old enough that being a "single parent" a few days a week isn't a burden for my sister, and he's involved enough in their lives when he's there. Whether it will work for someone else... really depends on the people involved. If the marriage is strained, something like this will probably break it. If not... ?

    With that said, I've tried both a 1.5-hours/day-by-car commute, and now a 20-minutes/day-by-bicycle commute, and I consider my younger self insane for putting up with that much time behind the wheel.

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