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Question of the Week: How far do you live from where you work or play? Why?

2008 June 2

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Location, location, location: A few weeks ago, we asked Why are you or aren’t you biking to work? We got hundreds of comments and many of you answered that it depends on where you live. We wanted to follow up on this point because where you live affects how you get around – to work, to school, to anyplace – and this affects the environment.

How far do you live from where you work or play? Why?


En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

Todo depende del lugar: Hace un par de semanas preguntamos el por qué viaja al trabajo en bicicleta. Recibimos cientos de comentarios y muchos de ustedes contestaron que dependía del lugar en que vivían. Estamos interesados en dar seguimiento a esta pregunta porque el sitio donde vive influye en cómo usted se transporta – al trabajo, la escuela, a cualquier sitio – y esto influye en el medio ambiente.

¿Cuán lejos vive de su trabajo o del lugar para recrearse? ¿Por qué?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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225 Responses leave one →
  1. Michele permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I work about 30 miles from where I live. In my field, jobs are hard to find, and this one was the closest. I have made the commute for 5 years, though I would like to live closer to work, I need to be near my family for daycare. Sometimes I work crazy hours, I need someone nearby to pickup and drop my son off at day care and watch him when I’m away.

  2. LaVonne permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 37 miles from work but ride a vanpool that originates 1.5 miles from my home.

  3. Steve C permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live about 16 miles from work, driving in each day. Bus transportation is available, but my work schedule varies which makes a rigid transportation timeline often impractical. I’ve looked at car pooling, but had the same schedule issues. I am looking at riding a bike part way into work, parking about 8 miles out. The topography the outside 8 miles is too much up and down hills and traffic issues.

  4. Libby permalink
    June 2, 2008

    Work about 30 miles away from our house (takes an hour to get there however). Husband has the short commute (4 miles).

  5. Cougar Law permalink
    June 2, 2008

    10 miles of rolling hills. Time needed to bicycle is roughly the same as driving an automobile (30 minutes), as long as the time to cool down, shower, and change aren’t included.

  6. mary permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 9-12 miles from work (depending on the route I take in the morning). I live in the country, my job is in the city. I live in the country because I hate city living. I would love to take a train or bus to work (the weather makes it impossible to rely on a bike for most of the year), but not being in a major metropolitan area, and being a “forgetten” part of the state, we do not receive funding for good public transportation. I could take the bus, but the schedule does not afford the flexibility I need. Rails could be used here, but again, incentives are needed for rail companies to invest and maintain the lines.

  7. Allie permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live about 30min drive from work because that’s where the house I am able to afford is. Too far to bike in good weather, and in Chicago winters, forget it. Play ranges from 5min drive to 15min drive, but is with my child and all on busy highways without bike paths. I am not willing to have either myself or my 11 year old riding his bike on the narrow shoulder of a busy state route.

  8. Duane permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 0.8 of a mile from work and walk or bike along the Truckee River to get there. Anticipating the increase in fuel and energy cost, I downsized over a year ago from a 2300 square foot house to a very affordable new 600 square foot condo (for the location) with no regrets. A large park, flyfishing and rafting are just across the street!!!

  9. Renee permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 47 miles from work. My husband and I moved to VA for his new job. I transferred with my job. So we tried to find somewhere to live in between our two jobs. I ride a commuter van every day that my job pays for. I wish I worked closer to home, but it works.

  10. Dawn York permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 24 miles from work. I would love to bike to work (in fact bought a bike to do so), but there are no safe routes or bike paths. I do carpool almost daily.

  11. Alex permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I work from home, and play in town because I live in such a nice city with lots of outdoor activities.

  12. Jeremy permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 2 miles from work.
    I don’t typically ride a bike because of the traffic laws in my area (and the motorists seem to target people on bikes).
    I use around 1/2 a tank of gas every 3 weeks from driving. I only use my vehicle to drive to work. For any other driving we use my wife’s car.

  13. Carrie permalink
    June 2, 2008

    Work 13 miles away, but go to church 30 miles away. Play 8 miles away.

  14. Pedro Cortes permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 80 miles (both ways) from work because it was the only work I could find two years ago. In this job and housing market, the costs of relocating exceed the cost of travel – so far. I am looking for a closer job since there is no good public transportation system close by and I work 50-75% of my time traveling in car.

  15. Bill S. permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I have worked out of my home office for nearly 12 years, and so have had much time to contemplate my environmental footprint. Previously, I commuted 40 miles roundtrip to work and always by public transportation. Essentially then, my transportation was environmentally neutral, as it is today. But running a home office requires energy that in sum exceeds what I was personally responsible for consuming in a large Manhattan office building, particularly in terms of heating and air conditioning. Over time, I’ve switched to Energy Star equipment and compact fluorescent light bulbs so the home impact has gone down. But looking at all the factors, I believe my footprint was smaller when I was commuting.

  16. Rex permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live about 11 miles from work, mainly because I had a horrible real estate agent when I moved to Cedar Rapids – not really her fault, though, she just didn’t have much experience and didn’t know the area as well as she should have. I’d like to move closer to work, but it’s a tough sell on the family and we like our house. So there ya go!

  17. Gwen permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I work 10 miles from home which I drive. I do not bike to work I have three children that need picked up from day care on my way home. As far as play, ususlly we travel into town 10 miles for time spent at the river greenway and Oabache state park. We like to camp and will often travel to the different state parks in Ohio and Indiana to do so.

  18. Liz permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 5 miles from work but the local transportation system is not really reliable and it is too far away to bike there because I live in a rural area with hills and highways nearby. So what takes me 15 minutes in car, would take me an hour and half by bike or 40 to 50 minutes if using public transportation (including waitng time for the bus to arrive and walk to my job place). I also live very far from the nearest bus stop.

  19. Michelle permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live about 30 minutes from work & also 30 minutes from my child’s school. It is a small, rural place that I love and the school is great and exceeds my expectations. I do not like suburbs. If I lived in the city, I’d likely have to pay for school as the public ones are not adequate or safe. So, I made this choice that forces me to drive.

    I am trying to rethink this, but for the next few years, I do not see any alternative at the present time.

    I did get a new car, Honda Civic 2005. It helps and gets about 8 miles more than the 91 Accord.

  20. Sheryl permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 2 miles from work and most of the areas where I play are less than 5 miles away. When I was ready to buy a house, I specifically looked within a 3 miles radius of work and downsized to 900 sq ft. Unfortunately the city where I live is not bike friendly so I have to rely on my car, scooter, or the bus. I only fill up my car once or twice a month.

  21. Jim permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 1.4 miles from work. Because of my age of 70, I drive to work. We bought this home about 15 years ago, and we looked for housing close to both our jobs. This house was the best location for both my wife and I. Previously, I had commuted about 50 miles to work one way, and I was very tired of “losing” the time involved in the two-way drive. Today, I’m glad to use much less fuel.

  22. Kent permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I used to bike to work for years, up to 12 miles one way but had to take a job 45 miles from home. We were thinking of moving closer to where I work but the housing prices where I live have dropped to much so I can’t afford to sell at this time. In addition my wife travels for work and where we live is more centrally located for her work. I also live in a northern climate so you could only bike part of the year but what better way to get your exercise in time wise. I wish I could, if I were within 20 miles I would.

  23. Dean permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live about 20 miles from work. I sometimes play near work during lunch, but mostly close to home. I would like to live closer to work, but housing close to downtown has such a premium attached, it’s priced me out of the market.

  24. June 2, 2008

    I live in a rural area 27 miles from work. My home is 9 miles from the nearest town and “formal recreation activities.” My recreation consists of mowing five acres of grass and all the chores associated with owning a home and pets. No bike paths around here; only deer trails. Wouldn’t want it any other way.

  25. Rose permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 22 miles one way,from work, not my idea. It was only 15 miles but when we consolidated, new building, new location. My play is only 8 miles and I can hit it on the way home.

  26. Judy permalink
    June 2, 2008

    When I bought a home, I moved @10 miles from work. With traffic it’s a 15 minute drive. When it came right down to buying a house, it really was location, location, location. After years of carpooling for an hour each way, I didn’t want spend the extra time in a car.

    My husband changed jobs and now commutes 35 miles one way. We are planning for a Prius for our next car.

    Play? That’s mostly in a 15 minute radius. I grew up in the country and the nearest grocery store was 30 minutes away. I never want to have to drive 30 minutes to get groceries or see a movie.

  27. Tom permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 20 miles from where I work, 5 miles from the bus stop and reside in the community where I grew up and am raising my family. This is where I have choosen to raise my family. My next jop may be next door or 50 miles from my residence. It is more important for me to maintain family stability than to make my commute shorter. I shop and play locally and use mass transit 90 % of the time to get to work. The other 10% is when I have night meetings or afterwork appointments and transit is not a viable option.

  28. Jeff permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 68 miles from work. I just had to buy a Ford Expedition to accommodate my large family, I let my wife drive it to work she only has to drive 17 miles to work. Thats a relief.

  29. Tom permalink
    June 2, 2008

    42 miles from work (1 hour in the morning, 1 hour 15 minutes in the afternoon, typical). I drive because the fastest public transport to work takes 2 an 1/2 hours one way, if the connections are good. Also, we split the commute when we bought our house, my wife worked in New York City and took the train in, timewise we had about the same commute. Now she works from home. Why stay? We are commited to our school system, if we could find an equivalent one, closer to my work, that we could afford we’d move.

  30. Darrick permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 6 miles from work and ride my bicycle usually 4 days a week, as the weather allows. We have decent trails, but I wish gov’t would invest more in bicycle infrastructure. I moved into the city limits specifically so I didn’t have to drive to get anywhere. Goverments should spend a little less money building roads and bridges to the far suburbs – why encourage sprawl while urban cores decay?

  31. Jonathan permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live about four miles from the office, but the house is 8 blocks from my wife’s office so she is the lucky one! I think it is important to live in a place where you can easily reach work (and play) without having to drive. Of course this is easier in a larger city, we have more options to lower our carbon footprint such as public transportation, but too often we as Americans allow excuses to get in the way of making the right environmental choices. Hopefully living this close cancels out some excuses…

  32. Gwen permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live about 50 miles from work. I bought my house when I was at a different employer and was only about 8 or 9 miles from work. But when I changed jobs, the housing market had already taken a significant downturn. So I’m waiting before I relocate.

  33. Sara permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 8 short miles from the office. No bikes for me – traffic is too scary.

  34. Bill permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 8 miles from work, but cant bike because there are no bike paths on the Highway and its to dangerous to bike the back roads.

  35. Wally permalink
    June 2, 2008

    As a freelance journalist, I work from home. I always thought this was a good deal but with the high gas prices, it’s even better.

  36. John permalink
    June 2, 2008

    Nearly 28 years ago, when I got my job in Downtown Cincinnati, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a home (in N. KY) about 7 miles away. Sure it cost more, but I had better schools, and it was on the bus route. I’ve ridded the bus (TANK) to and from work ever since. It is FASTER than driving, and WAY cheaper (fuel, insurance, parking, tires, etc.) And, when we sit in traffic stopped, I’m not burning my fuel, and I can read or nap. Added benefit I walk about 0.6 miles each way to and from the bus each day. I’d be a LOT fatter than I am if I didn’t do these walks each day!! Gas is still to cheap, because my bus is not yet full….

  37. Nadine permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live approx. 15 miles from work and I take public transit to and from work as much as possible. I would live closer but home prices (and parking prices) are much more expensive the closer you are to downtown. In addition, I really enjoy hearing the owls at night and watching the wild turkey in my backyard.

  38. Jeanne permalink
    June 2, 2008

    10 miles to school, 8 miles to play, 10 miles to most retail. Restrictions for bike travel might not be distance, but HEAT. We are in the Mohave Desert, tempuratures can reach up to 130 degrees in the summer. Bike travel is dangerous, as any other physical activity. Automobile or recreational vehicle travel (carts, quads, ect) in this region will always be necessary.

  39. Dean permalink
    June 2, 2008

    Blacksburg, VA: I live 3.5 miles from work and my back yard borders the National Forest where I play. My family really got lucky when my wife landed a professional job within walking distance of my own office. I don’t ride my bike because the road to work is narrow and winding and dangerous, but I do walk whenever I can… if I have time I can even take a Foest Service and local park trail about 2/3 of the way to work, but it adds 30 minutes or so to my walk. Oh yeah, and there are bears. Shuttling the kids to their school/activities is the single item that keeps me from walking as often as I would like.

  40. judy permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live in SE AZ in a small city, so everything is close. My office is in my living room. Had a commercial space 4 minutes away, but the housing down turn and missing the dogs caused me to move me and my employees into my home. I run the dogs on the bike, but on windy days, the dog park is only 10 blocks away. The horses are 18 miles away, but that is the only facility that focuses on Eventing. I WAS having to drive 90 miles to Tucson or 180 to Phoenix for sustainability workshops/education. Got tired of that so I worked w/ a friend to start Green Mixers here. Now I have the speakers drive to us.

  41. Angel permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 25 miles from my office, because it’s more affordable, still, than living closer. Out where I live, we have a cistern and septic tank (no water or sewer bill) and the county has a different system than mandatory trash pickup (no garbage bill). I’m on the rural electric co-op, which is cheaper than Vectren, which serves the area where my office is, and I can grow food and have chickens for eggs. Also, I have managed to get a great deal on rent. I drive to work and back. This area is very rural, so there aren’t a lot of options for jobs close to the house.

  42. Edwina permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 16 miles from where I work. I used to live 3 miles from work. Our new home location is a compromise point for my husband and I (married 11 months). He has to drive 25 miles south. I have to drive 16 miles north. And now the GAS is really making a negative impact on our budget. We MUST start using our own natural resources, in a caring way, in the US and quit being at the mercy of the Middle East.

  43. WNC permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live approx. 30 miles from work. I worked at a different (closer) location when we bought the house and it hasn’t been cost-effective to relocate since I got the new job. My company pays for my mass transit pass, so I drive about 8 miles each way to the light rail station each day. I shop and play very close to my home – in fact, there are three grocery stores, a movie theater and a shopping center within 3 miles of home.

  44. Tom permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 33 miles from work. I carpool with another company employee when possible. This varies between 3 and 5 times per week.

  45. Sorina permalink
    June 2, 2008

    24 miles. I use public transport to go to work. The small town where we live is close to everything, we can walk to grocery stores, ride our bikes, play tennis. My husband rides his bicycle to work 5 miles each way when the weather is nice, or takes the bus. One of us can be close to work, while the other is using public transport. I think it is a fine sustainable arrangement,. I can also have a back yard and a vegetable garden, without living in a McMansion on a huge property of land.

  46. Tom Cat permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I drive 9 miles one way and my play areaa is anywhere in between and the surrounding National Forest

  47. Lisa permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 45 miles from work. I chose to live in a small town so that my children could grow up in a small town atmosphere and because we couldn’t afford an equal house in the city. I have to drive that far to work because there are no jobs with livable wages at home — I can only find work in the City. The gas prices are really starting to hurt us because they are driving the cost of everything else up with them.

  48. Scott permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 7 miles from work. The commute time is the same whether I ride metro, bike, or drive (which I no longer do). I endure the high cost of living and cramped conditions in the District because I like easy access to all the cool stuff to do here (museums, monuments, parks, embassies, restaurants, free concerts, etc.) I would go insane with the long commutes around the beltway and beyond. The trade off for cost of living and sitting in traffic is a no brainer for me… and it’s better for the environment!

  49. Jennifer permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I commute 25 miles each way. Don’t like the area I work in due to crime and safety. Would take rail if they had it and a reasonable time frame. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could make light rail with cardio or workout facilities? beat two birds with one stone.

  50. Stephanie permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 15 miles from work and the closest play area is at least 30 miles away. For good Rock climbing in AR from LR is at 2.5 hours away in Newton county

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