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How far would you commute?

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  • How far would you commute?

    I am looking at a job opportunity which would add about an hour to my daily commute (total commute would be 2 hours round trip). The job is 4 days per week (as is my current job) and I am estimating it would add 150-200k to my annual income with the potential for more. I am a subspecialist in a saturated job market so there are not any opportunities closer to home for now. We don't want to move because we love the area and don't want to pull my 3 young kids out of schools. The lifestyle at my current job is great, but I am getting screwed financially- <25th percentile income for 50th percentile production and there's not much hope for renegotiation. My wife is also an MD and works part time she plans to go back to full time in probably 6-7 years when our kids are all in school for the full day. Together we gross about 700k but in my specialty many docs are making 1M+

    Would you add the hour to your commute for the extra income? Thanks!

  • #2
    I personally would not do it, but that does not necessarily mean that you should not.

    The extra hour for me means some combination of daily exercise, walking the dogs, food prep time, and more time with family, all of which are worth more to me than and extra $100k or so (post-tax) and extra wear-and-tear on my car and nerves. As they say, YMMV.

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    • #3
      I probably wouldn't either because if you don't like it, you might get stuck with it.  I think commute is a highly underrated aspect of one's job.  After years of various commuting lengths, my personal over/under for commute is 30 mins, but this also depends on traffic.  My current commute is 35 mins but is traffic-free whereas a previous job had 30 mins but dealt with heavy congestion for about half of it.  This will be very city-dependent, but as you've put it, I wouldn't for the $$$ you've proposed.  However, it depends on a lot of things, namely your lifestyle (?HCOL area) and own personal willingness to give up this family time.

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      • #4
        I commuted one hour each way for five years and grew tired of it very quickly. There are only so many podcasts to listen to.
        I purposely bought a home that was within 15 minutes of all the hospitals I work in now. It has been a great decision and when you are talking about 700k vs 850k plus, I think most people could be happy living on 700k with a short commute.
        Half of that raise is going to taxes too. Don't forget that.

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        • #5
          Thanks! I appreciate the input so far. One quick follow-up... is there a level of additional income where you'd make that drive or is the unpleasantness of the commute not worth it for any price? I think the 150-200k extra is a fairly safe bet and there is real potential for an extra 300-400k. The group is a large multi specialty practice so it might also get my foot in the door for something closer in the next 5-10 years but no guarantees.

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          • #6
            I cant stand commuting. Havent been over 15mins away, and under 10 now, since med school.

            You have to consider your time, wear/tear on the car, increased risk, etc...remember even 400k/yr more is only 200kish at your income. If its that worth it, just move. If you think you can handle it, give it a shot, or you can try to use them against your current place to negotiate a better deal, with the idea of doing the commute for a year to see if you can do it. If not you can move or negotiate some middle ground with someone where you are now.

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            • #7
              I decided on my house based on the commute.  I live one mile from the hospital and rarely even think about it.  When I was doing ob I could take call from my own bed.  I own another house one hour away and I have tried driving in from there and hated it.  So as long as I work I keep the one mile house.  A large river is in the area so the bridges are a rate limiter.

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              • #8
                I did an hour commute each way for a couple of years and it was brutal.  For a few extra bucks, totally not worth it.

                That said, for an extra $200k/year, I'd take another commute like that.  Maybe even $100k/year.  Already pulling $700k, do you need it?  Probably not, but that's pretty serious money.

                Would you be just eating the cost of this mileage?  Getting some reimbursement or driving a company car, etc. might make it a little more bearable in your head.  If you're driving, 2/hr a day 4 days/week is easily 20,000 miles/year.

                I know several docs who commute everyday like this, and it's pretty typical.  Some just found a job far away and are unwilling to move, others visit multiple clinics each week in different cities and are making a mint.

                4 days a week really makes this a lot more palatable.   4 days is obviously 20% less than 5, 4 days a week feels less like your whole life is a commute.

                Finally, in general, if I felt I was underpaid, I'd probably be willing to pick up a commute like that to no longer feel undercompensated.

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                • #9
                  I wouldn't consider the commute, but I might consider moving to the other city with the waaaay better job offer, in spite of what you said about not wanting to move.

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                  • #10
                    Does the current 1-hr commute bother you a lot? Could you cut any time off your sleep without suffering? Would you stay over on days you didn't feel like driving? Does your wife have strong feelings either way?

                    I'd at least consider it, especially if it could open the door to work closer to home. That said, I'm one the odd-balls who happens to enjoy driving, thinking purposefully, and listening to books.
                    Working to protect good doctors from bad advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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                    • #11
                      When my  children were young, I would not have commuted at all.  Now, as an empty nester, I commute one hour to a pleasant ER job, no traffic, beautiful drive along the river, and it's easy.

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                      • #12
                        Maybe split the difference and pick up a few days a month out there in Timbuktu?

                        Also something to consider: At my hospital, you are required to live within a 30 minute radius to have hospital privileges unless you are offering a skill that is not already available among the medical staff.  How are you going to cover call?  Our by-laws require you to be present at hospital within 30 minutes of notification.

                        You say your current lifestyle is great, does that correlate inversely with the compensation?  If so, I'd say things are balanced!

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                        • #13
                          One other comment. It has been my observation that money does not just fall from the sky onto physicians and that those in my specialty who make 25% more money, often work at least 25% harder to earn that money. You might find yourself driving further and working more for the extra dough. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but just make sure you check out that part of the equation.

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                          • #14
                            I did  1+ hour commute from NJ -NY over GW bridge for 5 years during my residency and fellowship. Brutal traffic, horrible NJ / Ny drivers. I swore that all future jobs will be 15 minutes or less commute time.

                            I have had < 5 minute drive from my home to my office with no traffic at all. I would not give that up for anything. Certainly not for $100K more post tax.

                            You have 3 small children and enjoying their company before they grow up is one the most beautiful things in the world. Don't regret later on that you have 10M+ but did not have family time when your kids are young.

                            If your jobs sucks due to administrative reasons, move to the new place. You and the kids will adjust to it soon and before you know, it will be the place you love and not want to leave.

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                            • #15




                              One quick follow-up… is there a level of additional income where you’d make that drive...?
                              Click to expand...


                              Not for me.  If the income was good enough, I'd move, but I wouldn't commute an hour for the long term future.

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