How’s My Commute? A Look at the Cost of Commuting

someone driving

Explore this Guide for Commuters:

What Does Commute Mean?

Not already familiar with the word commute? Then you might be wondering what does commute mean? The commute definition is, “to travel back and forth regularly (as between a suburb and a city).”

You can define commute easily by putting it in a typical sentence like, “I commute to work every day on the train.” Commute is a verb that means to travel back and forth regularly. Most often, the word commute refers to the way someone regularly travels to their job every day.

What are the Costs of Commuting?

Some people are lucky enough to live close to their place of work while others are not so lucky. If you do have a long commute to and from work each day of the week then you might be paying for it in more ways than you realize.

Car Ownership

Car Ownership

It costs about $2,600 a year to own a car. When you own a vehicle you have to pay monthly car insurance, monthly car payments, gas to drive with, and you have to pay for regular car maintenance and upkeep. If something breaks down you have to pay for that too.

Many people are going to own a car whether you have a long commute to work or not. But the cost of car ownership and maintenance will increase the more you have to drive it just to get to and from your place of work. The overall value of your car also depreciates the more you drive it.

Gas Prices

Gas Prices

The price of gas is always fluctuating. In some years, the price of gas goes up and in others, the price of gas goes down.

How much you spend on gas is also going to depend on your car and what mileage it can get. But in general, most cars get the worst mileage during long commutes because they’re often stopped by heavy traffic flows. This causes your car to use up more gas than it would if your road to work wasn’t full of congested traffic.

Your Time

Average Commute Time: 30+ minutes

In fact, the average employee spends at least 30 minutes driving to and from work each day of the week. That’s almost a full workday spent just getting to and from your job.

And that’s not considering that some unlucky workers have to drive over 100 miles each way to get to their jobs and that’s usually during high traffic hours. Many more workers usually drive over an hour to work. Just think of all the extra time you’d have on your hands if you didn’t have to spend hours and hours commuting to work.

One way to check the time cost on your commute is to ask Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, Bixby, or Cortana, “how’s my commute to work?” or “how’s my commute home?” before heading out the door. This will check the weather, traffic, and any accidents that might interrupt your commute.

The Environment

One of the impacts of commuting is something that affects us all—the environment.

Long commutes can increase pollution, wear out public roads faster, create heavy traffic congestion, and increase the risks of vehicular accidents on your community’s roads. In more ways than one, we all benefit as a community from shorter commutes and more employees working from home.

Your Health

Finding ways to save on your commute to work can actually be good for your physical and mental health as well.

Gallup did a survey of over 170,000 employees and they found that workers who commute more than 90 minutes to work have an average health index score of 63.9 while workers who only commute 10 minutes have a health index score of 69.2.

The bottom line is that long commutes aren’t good for you. They aren’t good for your car, they aren’t good for your personal health, they aren’t good for the environment and communities we live in, they aren’t good for your wallet, and they aren’t good for your productivity at the job you’re commuting to.

How to Save on Commutes

Don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do to save on long commutes. There are alternatives that can help with some of the costs of commuting and there are ways to save on some of those costs.


Depending on how far you live from work, you could also potentially walk! This option might only be feasible if you live about a mile, give or take, from where you work. But walking can help you get some exercise in each day and can make your trips to and from work more pleasant.

The Best Commuter Backpacks:

Commuter backpacks for women or men are bags that have a light and useful design. This makes them easy to wear while jogging, biking, walking, or riding a scooter or motorcycle on your commute to work.

The best bags for commuting to work also have a useful pocket design for the things you need for work and possibly the things you need to clean up or get changed at work after an exercise-filled commute.


Osprey Packs Metron Backpack: $159.95


Thule Paramount Backpack: $139.95


The North Face Surge Pack: $129.00


Matein Travel Laptop Backpack: $29.99


TIMBUK2 Rogue Laptop Backpack: $39.99


Under Armour Voyager Backpack: $55.00


Jogging is another alternative way to get yourself to work each day. Jogging will get you to work faster than walking and will get you even more great exercise each day. With a full-time job, it can be hard to find time for working out. Why not use your trips to work and/or home from work to get in your daily exercise?


Commuter bikes come with a lot of extra benefits besides saving on gas. Using a commuter bicycle to commute to work can easily be your daily exercise too! A great commuter bike can help you get fit and get to work.

Biking also saves you tons of gas money, keeps the environment cleaner, and keeps your car from getting as much wear and tear. You’ll also be able to avoid dealing with traffic. On a bike, you’ll be able to pass every traffic jam.

The Best Commuter Bikes:

Selecting a bike is a personal preference. There are plenty of different bikes to choose from that provide different uses too. There are even electric commuter bikes that can help you expel less energy going longer distances to work.

  • Road bikes have a drop-handlebar and are designed for smooth pavement, are lightweight, and work best for on-road racing and biking.
  • Cyclocross bikes are a type of road bike made for both smooth pavement and gravel trails.
  • Touring bikes are a type of road bike designed for comfort during longer rides on paved roads.
  • Adventure road bikes is another hybrid of road bike that allows riders to easily bike on any type of road, path, or trail.
  • Triathlon bikes are designed for speed. They are used in triathlon races and are designed to be extremely aerodynamic.
  • Fitness bikes are road bikes that don’t have the drop-handlebar so riders can ride upright instead of crouched over.
  • Mountain bikes are designed for off-roading.
  • Hybrid bikes are a mix between a road bike and a mountain bike. They are comfortable to ride and can manage paved and unpaved roads.
  • Cruiser bikes are designed for comfortable, casual biking. They are best for shorter commutes or for getting around town comfortably and at a leisurely pace.

Another thing you’ll want to consider when getting a bike is whether you want flat handlebars, upright handlebars or drop handlebars. Drop handlebars are for riders who want speed and efficiency, upright handlebars are for riders who want to ride in a more comfortable position, and flat handlebars meet these bike riding types in the middle.


Scooters are another easy and casual way to get yourself to and from work. Scooters are handy for commuting to work too because they’re often foldable and therefore easier to take on the bus or store neatly near your desk.

The best commuter scooter is an electric commuter scooter because it’s kind to the environment, rechargeable and therefore kinder to your wallet, and has it’s own power to get you where you’re going without you having to do all the work.

The best electric scooter for commuting is going to probably be anywhere between $200 and $500, but there are plenty of inexpensive electric commuter scooters to choose from online as well.

The Best Commuter Scooters:

  • Hiboy MAX Electric Scooter
  • Razor EcoSmart Metro Electric Scooter
  • Segway Ninebot MAX Folding Electric Kick Scooter
  • UberScoot 1600w 48v Electric Scooter

The best commuter motorcycle is one that is comfortable to ride on long enough to get you to work. A good commuter motorcycle might also allow attachments and compartments so you can easily carry your work things with you while you ride.

Which commuter motorcycle you choose will also depend on how long your commute to work is. For instance, shorter work commutes are great for smaller, more lightweight motorcycles. But longer work commutes usually do better with larger motorcycles that are easier to sit on for longer stretches of time.

The Best Commuter Motorcycles:

  • Hyundai Grom
  • Piaggio Vespa
  • Kawasaki Versys
  • Suzuki SV650
  • Yamaha MT-07
Commuter Cars

Is your car a gas guzzler? If so, then shopping for the best commuter car might be financially wise. Do some research about which cars make the best commuter cars and find a make and model that will work best for you. You want something that gets great gas mileage, handles well on the highway and is comfortable and easy to drive in the busy city.

In your car research and shopping don’t forget to consider cars that are better for the environment and that don’t cost as much to maintain. Some cars handle depreciation and wear and tear better than others.

The Best Commuter Cars:

  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Chevy Sonic
  • Kia Rio
  • Volkswagen Jetta
  • Subaru Impreza
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Honda Fit

Save on gas by putting together a carpool with your fellow coworkers. Start by asking around at work for who would also be interested in getting in on the carpool.

Then, make a scheduled plan for the carpool rotation, the routes for who gets picked up first and last, whose driving on what days, and make a group chat somewhere with everyone’s contact information.

With some carpools, you might also need to figure out the costs. There might be some passengers that don’t drive or some drivers’ cars might get worse gas mileage than others. Some carpools work just fine with different drivers taking turns being the ones to drive everyone while other carpools work better if you calculate the costs of gas and Venmo each other the money.

Public Transportation

Take advantage of public transport whenever you can! The fees for bus or train fare are usually far less than what you would be paying to drive your own car. Some public transit systems even offer passes or cards that will help you save on fare as a frequent passenger.

Work from Home

Working from home is probably the best way to save on commuting because you stop commuting all together! You can also work from home some days of the week just to ease up on having to travel quite as much. Whether you can work from home will mostly depend on things like your ability to be productive at home, if you can set up an office space at home, and if your work can successfully be done from a remote location instead of at work.


You could also relocate to be closer to your place of work. This is easier said than done for some households, but if you have a really long commute to work, relocating to be closer might be worth at least thinking about. Depending on the kind of place you work in, you could also potentially ask for a transfer to a store, branch, or office building that is closer to where you already live.

Commuter Benefits

Commuter benefits are a savings program that some employees offer their workers. It’s a program that helps employees save on their commute to work. It might help pay for gas, public transit, rideshares, and even parking.

Employers also benefit from offering their workers commuter benefits. By offering commuter benefits, company’s can save on taxes. Ask your place of work about potentially joining a commuter benefits program to help you both start saving!

Calculate the ROI of Commuting

Figure out your Return On Investment (ROI) for commuting. Commuting to work is an investment. You put time and money into commuting to work so that you can have a stable job, income, and essential employee benefits like health insurance.

Sit down and crunch the numbers to make sure your salary and job benefits are worth all the costs of commuting. Here’s how you calculate the return on investment of commuting:

(Salary – Cost of Commuting) / Cost of Commuting = ROI of Commuting

This formula will show you how much your job is paying you back for the cost of commuting in percentage form.

Things to Do During Your Commute

For some of us, a commute to work is just inevitable. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to make your commute more worthwhile and stay busy on the long drive.

  • listen to music
  • listen to podcasts
  • listen to audiobooks
  • make some phone calls to catch up with family and friends
  • get caught up on the news
  • use the commute home to run some errands
  • do the daily commuter crossword

kove commuter

Kove Commuter 2: $209.99

Make your commute more fun by getting a Kove Commuter Speaker. This wireless, Bluetooth speaker is a unique stereo system that can split in half. The cylindrical shape is also optimized for 360-degree surround sound. You can even use it for a better speakerphone!

If your car doesn’t have great speakers or Bluetooth capabilities don’t worry, you can just get a Kove Commuter portable speaker system.

otterbox commuter phone case

Otterbox Commuter Series: $30.95 to $50.95

It might also be worthwhile to get a great commuter phone case. Otterbox has an entire commuter series of phone cases for Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and LG devices. A commuter phone case has a sleek design so they aren’t too clunky to handle on the go. But commuter phone cases are also very protective so your phone stays safe and unharmed while you travel.


It Still Runs. “How Far Do Americans Drive to Work on Average?” by David Harris.

Credit Donkey. “Gas Price History,” by Kim P.

Slide Share. “Bluebook of Maruti Suzuki.”

Edmunds. “Depreciation Infographic: How Fast Does My New Car Lose Value?” by Edmunds.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Fact #915: March 7, 2016 Average Historical Annual Gasoline Pump Price, 1929-2015.”

The Balance. “How Much Does Commuting Cost the Average American? Plus, strategies to save.” by Rachel Morgan Cautero

Smart Asset. “3 Costs of Your Commute to Work.” by Dan Rafter.

Well Kept Wallet. “The Real Cost of Commuting,” by Amy Beardsley.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. “Commute.”

Century Cycles. “Bicycle Types: How to Pick the Best Bike for You.”

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