Although the kids are usually working themselves into a food-fueled frenzy at about 6.30pm, I managed to overhear this fact on the evening news: people who commute for 45mins or more are 40 percent more likely to divorce, according to a study conducted in Sweden.
It’s not that surprising when you consider how easily commuting can put you into a bad mood. There were days when I would come home seething and sweaty from a disastrous hour-long commute in London. The expert advice? Live closer to work. I am guessing these people have never tried to own more than a closet in central London. You’d need to be on a pretty packet to afford livable space in the city.
The same news program told us that nearly 8 percent of Americans now spend more than an hour commuting each way. The average in the United States is 25mins, and Americans now spend more than 100 hours a year getting to and from work. Maybe my years in London has made me completely out of touch, but this doesn’t actually sound that bad.
New research conducted by the Washington University of Medicine also reveals that those who commute 10 miles or more tend to have bigger waistlines and higher blood pressure, while 33 percent of those with a 90min commute report recurring back and neck problems.
All of these rather depressing statistics seem to be speaking to me personally. The English Husband and I are trying to find somewhere to live in London together as a family. Newsflash: I am returning to London on July 9 after my grand, year-long experiment in the United States. Having spectacularly failed to get a job that would enable our move, I am going to pack up the kids and our growing possessions and head back across the Atlantic. This makes the move sound easy, but it’s not.
One of the biggest things we need to do is to find somewhere to live. It sounds straightforward enough, but we are working with one income at the moment, we have two kids, we want decent storage and we need to be within walking distance of a good school. I’m fairly certain we are a real estate agent’s biggest headache.
The ‘C’ word springs to mind. We either compromise on space or location. It usually comes down to one of the two. We talked about moving further out of London and getting off my beloved tube map. As someone who will not have a car, I cling to the tube map like a child clings to his comfort blanket. But I think I am ready to move further afield and get more for our money. Plus, the schools outside of the inner city tend to be better.
This, however, means embracing a long commute. The Husband drives to work in Maida Vale (northwest London) – an average of 25mins one way from our one-bed flat – and his commute would more than double if we decide to head to the suburbs of south London, where things are more affordable.
And since I now know what this daily grind might do to my marriage, I am wondering if it would just be better to trip over each other in a small and expensive flat, and shelve the idea of a commute for another year. I’d like a study that researches what is more stressful: having not quite enough living space or traveling long distances to work. I want to see the results.