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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?

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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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224 Responses leave one →
  1. Greg permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live ~5.5 miles one-way from my office, while my wife works in a surgery clinic ~4 miles in the opposite direction. At this point our home is conveniently located in-between, however, moving closer is not likely whereas housing options are limited to either the larger, and more expensive up-scale neighborhoods or older deteriorating homes to choose from. Unfortunately there are no options for public transportation, and the workplace is not equipped with showers and changing areas for those that might otherwise choose to ride bicycles.

  2. Janet permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 94 miles from my job. I’ve been with my company for 21 years. I used to live closer but chose to live on a farm away from the city. My play place is my home and land. My plan is to have retirement income from my farm. Lucky for me is my company is now moving towards ‘green certification’ and is considering telecommuting as one way of reducing our carbon footprint.

  3. Marc permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 21 miles away from work. There are no busses, trains in my area to service me for mass transit. I work crazy hours also and nobody lives close to me to car pool. Also the crazy hours are long ones.I live in the Greensboro NC area

  4. Julia permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 8 miles from work and I play where I live! Taking the bus to work is super easy– Biking, not so much.

  5. Terri permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 2 miles from work and most of my play is with in 10 miles. I use my car to go into Houston-30 miles occasionaly. I live here because they have awsome bike trails and everything from grocery, hospitals and entertainment are close.

  6. Carol Garrison permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 30 miles from work, but play where I live. I had to go this far to find a home in a rural setting that I could afford. Houses on large lots closer to town are much more expensive. Public transportation is not available from my location to work. Since I and my neighbors live in the mountains without any nearby services, most people do their errands and shopping after work, so don’t want to car or van pool. My agency allows me to telecommute one day per week.

  7. Daniel Bachhuber permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 16 miles from work, but it takes me an hour to get to work each day. I drive to the Park and Ride, take the bus downtown (Portland), and then have to walk 15 minutes further. If I time it correctly, there’s a streetcar I can take. I’ve only managed that once in the month since I’ve started.

    I live so far away because I’m living with my parents. As a student, and with the salary I make, it wouldn’t make any sense to live in downtown.

    Ironically, it’s cheaper for me to pay fare each way 4x a week than buy a monthly bus pass. I’m not sure how the economics work out there.

  8. Mike O'Donnell permalink
    June 2, 2008

    Work is 14 miles from home, approximately a 25 minute drive, using the highways. I picked where to live, so that i could de-compress in the car for a few minutes, before i get home in the evening.

  9. Dave permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 31 miles from work. I bought my home when in a previous vocation at a different employer that was only 5 miles away. I prefer the location of my home in a small town and community and have ties there. I used to communte in a vehicle that got 15 mpg but in 2001 purchased a Toyota Prius, which I have commuted in for last few years. The cost of fuel is still relatively reasonalbe compared to housing relocation. As I am nearing retirement there is currently no economically feasible incentive to relocate now. My daily communte fuel costs are approximately $7 per day at $4 per gallon for 8 days every two weeks or ~$150 per month. Mass transit is available but adds about 2 hours per day to already 12 hour-days and does not take me within reasonable walking distance of bus stops. A plug-in hybrid would be a good thing but will be too late for me to take advantage of before retirement. I plan to look very hard at this option or another alternantive powered vehicle in retirement.

  10. Kim permalink
    June 2, 2008

    I live 4 miles from work and my child’s school is on the way. Since I can’t ride a bike and drop her off in the morning, I must drive. We play in our neighborhood and immediate surrounding area. I would not ride a bike to work anyway, because the roads here are just not bike friendly and the traffic is crazy!

  11. Jameel Ahmad Khan permalink
    June 3, 2008

    Just a mile.

  12. Monica permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I work 45 miles away from where I live because I’m a single parent and travel for business on occasion and my child can stay with my parents and attend school with very little disruption to his life. There is no mass transit available.

  13. Scott permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live about 8 miles from work; used to be about 3 miles from work but my employer relocated to a downtown building, and we already had our house. There is not a convenient or close bus route to me, and it is unsafe to bike to work; it would be even less safe to move to a closer location to the office due to crime.

  14. Sharon permalink
    June 3, 2008

    Live 25 miles from work and live in a different state because I want my kids to go to a better school than the area my job is in.

  15. Phil permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live in Battery Park City in New York City, 1/2 mile from my office. My rent is split with two other roommates, so it isn’t very high. I save a lot by not paying for car insurance and gasoline (or even a car). The walk to and from work is relaxing.

  16. Lina Younes-EPA permalink*
    June 3, 2008

    EN ESPAÑOL: Cuando mi esposo y yo compramos la casa que tenemos, escogimos el lugar basado en la proximidad a su trabajo (sólo cinco minutos en automóvil) y el vecindario. Tenemos acceso a una piscina para las nenas y muchos lugares verdes. Yo siempre he tenido que recorrer una distancia aproximada de 20 millas para llegar al trabajo. Aunque no puedo usar bicicleta, sí tengo acceso a buen transporte público que utilizo con regularidad.

    IN ENGLISH: When my husband and I bought our current home, we chose the plase based on the close proximity to his workplace (only 5 minutes by car) and the neighborhood. We have access to the community pool for the kids and many green places. I’ve always had a 20 mile commute. Although I cannot bike to work, I have access to good public transportaion which I use regularly.

  17. Karen permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live 2 miles from work. When we bought our house, I wanted to be able to walk to work, so we really didn’t look beyond that 2-mile radius.

  18. Mary M permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I drive 7 miles to work. Husband walks down 13 stairs to go to work in his home office. I cross two US Highways on my way to work where semis think red lights are optional. I don’t really want to get killed by riding my bike to work.

  19. Jane permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live, work, and often play all in the same place. In the warm weather, I try to ride my bike to local meetings and phone in to distant meetings. I am trying to have environmental groups who run these meetings offer video conferencing so we can all see who is “attending” these meetings.

  20. dee permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live about 1/2 mile from work. I wish I could say I planned it this way, but it just kind of happened. I work at Jackson State which is an urban college in a mostly no-so-desirable community which makes the rent cheap, which is good. I’ve had jobs in other locations that were not affordable. I’ve walked to work a quite a few times, but not as much as I probably should. I just bought a bike yesterday and I am excited about biking to work at least twice a week when the weather cools. It gets hot in Mississippi ya’ll, and my office doesn’t have showers.

  21. Heidi permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live apprx 27 mi from work and a big portion of the drive is interstate. I actually did not plan on living this far from work, however I changed employers apprx 1 yr ago. I guess the better opportunity equates to less now than it was then because of the rise in transportation costs. I have considered moving but the housing market in Florida is very challenging right now.

  22. Tucson permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live almost 7 miles from work. It was the closest house to downtown, where I work and sometimes play, that I could afford. I prefer to be close to downtown for the community and for a biking commute. I think it would have been smarter, for the lifestyle that I enjoy, to have rented downtown instead. The house isn’t working out like the good investment that would have made it feel worth the compromise of living further away. I think I go furthest away for play – to other towns, out camping, to visit other parts of town. Commuting to work is so regular that it is easier than with play to schedule with mass transit or plan my bike trip.

  23. Marilyn permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live approx. 55 miles from my EPA job. I would like to use other modes of transportation, but none exits, such as a bus system, rail system. etc. and the price of gas is killing me.
    I would like to ask if EPA is considering mandating a 4 day work week to conserve energy, and gas? I know EPA has flex time and compressed time, however, outside of those flexible hours could a regular 4 day work week be feasible? Please ask this for your next question to get feel of all employees reactions. Thanks

  24. Brenda Kitchens permalink
    June 3, 2008

    My 15 acre “farm” is between 11 and 13 miles from my EPA job, and about 15 miles from town. I bought as much land as I could afford about 35 years ago, because I love/need space, peace and quiet; I had 2 horses and found boarding them inconvenient and unsafe for them; and I knew that when gas hit $5-6 a gallon (as it has been in Germany since the 1960′s), I would need a santuary where I could relax without having to pay to escape/go anywhere. It is not a safe or healthy idea to bicycle to work, but I ride my motorcycle when weather and errands permit and I am considering buying a smart car.

  25. Marti permalink
    June 3, 2008

    We are looking for a spreadsheet to calculate how long it takes to reach break even if we purchase a higher mileage auto to replace the paid for lower mileage auto we have now. It owuld calculate when the actual savings trigger point would begin. Can the EPA design one for us?

  26. Grace permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live 20 miles from work, and 12-15 miles from play. To live closer in to work would mean moving far away from my friends and family (and would mean living in Research Triangle Park, which I’m pretty sure has no soul and is designed so that nothing is walkable). I probably should live closer to the places I play, but the rent was cheap at my current house. Now that gas prices are rising, though, I find my transportation costs shooting up, and there is no bus service from my town (Hillsborough NC) into work.

    In short, the places that I live, work and play are all designed around car travel. Towns are spread out throughout the Triangle area, making it difficult/time consuming to bike or walk to friends’ houses, and the public transportation system is spotty at best.

    I would love to see a better public transportation system that addressed the actual transportation needs of people in my area.

  27. Nancy permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I have no commute at all — I work from home. I did have to move 1500 miles to get this job, though.

  28. lindsay permalink
    June 3, 2008

    We are currently moving to a central suburb that will put us each within 10 minutes of work. (Right now each commute ~35 mins to get to work) … this will also put the babysitter, grandparents, and “play” within a couple of miles. Can’t wait to save the gas $$!

    I think most people probably will choose to live further from work in order to provide better schooling and community for their children. Children come first!!

  29. Nia permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live about 3 miles from work with a halfway decent bike path going most of the way. That is a six mile round trip which is great. Shopping and fun is mostly within a 2 mile radius which is a quick bike ride or a longish weekend walk. I try to get people to go with me walking on errands and get some social time in that way.

  30. Joan permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live just over one mile from where I work, go to school and play. The only reasoon I haven’t taken a bike yet (which I have purchase with good intentions of using it) is because I don’t live in the best neighborhood. I can only bike in the day light and if it’s not raining outside.

  31. Jerry permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live about 20 miles from work. I live in a rural area and don’t want to live in the concrete jungle. It is about quality of life. It is great to wake up to bird singing and not police sirens blaring.

  32. Jami permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live about 4.5 miles from work – this was the closest place where it would be affordable and safe for me to buy a house in the district.

    I walk to metro and take the train in (about 45 minutes from door to desk) or I ride my bike (about 30-35 minutes).

    Public transportation was a HUGE criteria in my home-buying decision.

  33. Lynn permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live 25 miles from work. Fortunately, my husband only works 1 mile away from where I work so we commute most days. This has helped quite a bit with the increase in the price of gas. I think that it saves us about $7.00 a day.

  34. Desert Dawg permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live less than a mile from where I work and mostly where I play. But the downside is I live in a remote area and have to go over 40 miles to the nearest town of significance.

  35. June 3, 2008

    I live 9 miles from work if I take the streets or 7 miles from work if I take the freeway because I hate commuting for a long time. I also recreate in town most of the time but during the summer we all go to the beach which is about 40 miles from home. I also like that my son’s school is en route to work, and that his sport related activities are within a 5 mile radius. I would not trade this for any super job or super home further away. I used to live inland adn work on the coast but that took me 2 hours each way commuting and I hated it!

  36. Judith permalink
    June 3, 2008

    We live 24 miles from work, and 0 miles from play. Our homestead is our playground. We chose this house because of the acreage, outbuildings, and the condition of the home for the price. Best home of many we looked at for far higher prices–came with lots of land for produce gardens, fruit trees, berry bushes; outbuildings and pastures for livestock for milk and eggs; room for children and parents to play; good school district; low county tax rate. We left the city due to the rising crime in that neighborhood, homeowners associations, high city/county tax rate, too close of neighbors, iffy schools, etc. We only venture off of the homestead to go to work most of the time. We hardly go anywhere else, as we have plenty to keep ourselves entertained right here. We are more self-sufficient with the land we now have. We pay more for gas, but we spend less on food, and find that not being right next to stores all of the time, spend less on almost everything else, too.

  37. Kevin permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live about 15 miles from work, but only 5 miles from the train that takes me to work in downtown Atlanta. I recently got a small scooter (50 cc) that gets me to the train as quickly as driving my car. With the price of gas climbing steadily, I see more scooters and motorcycles on the road. I know it is not a viable alternative for everybody, but you might want to look into this option.

  38. Fred Peyer permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live approx. 5 miles from my job and use a motorcycle (over 50 miles/gallon) most of the time. I also just moved a small business I am operating with my wife from Honolulu (approx. 30 miles roundtrip) to my house, eliminating the daily commute. Total fuel savings at now over $ 4.00/gallon are approx. $ 400 per month! The only comment I have as far as riding a motorcycle is concerned, is that car drivers should be more attentive and courteous to motorcycle riders.

  39. Elaine permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live 13 miles from work in Riverside, CA. My husband is 8.5 miles from his work. He bikes; I drive. My parents live nearby (about 1.5 miles) and help take care of the kids after school. There’s a park, theatre, daycare, and gym about a mile away. We bike or drive (mostly drive) to these locations. Good restaurants and day-to-day shopping are less than 4 miles away. We chose the location because of proximity to the parents, nice neighborhood, and reasonable distance from work. Work locations are not very nice neighborhoods. We used to range far and wide to play at the beach, shop, and visit relatives in San Diego; our world has gotten smaller with the price of gas though. Gas makes day-to-day trips seem sprawled out; but there’s few compact neighborhoods in the Inland Empire. (Forbes named the Riverside/San Bernardino area the 7th or so fattest metropolitan area in the US last year and among the most costly to drive around this year. Yeah IE! Go Lakers!).

  40. Mary permalink
    June 3, 2008

    I live 5 miles from my work place. But I decided last year to take the bus every day to work. I save gas, wear and tear on my car, and my employer pays for my bus card. I’m very lucky to be able to commute this way, I wish everyone could.

  41. magda permalink
    June 4, 2008

    I live in Boston, work and play in Cambridge, also work in Newton and Duxbury. With the high prices of everything outside of gas, I need more than one job, and so happens that the available jobs in my field of work are spread that far and wide. I am lucky because I live with my family and am only required to pay several of the bills. If I moved closer to one workplace, it would be impossible for me to keep my car which would make me more financially unstable because I wouldn’t be able to commute to the other workplaces. Ah yes, I blame the economy for my inability to be better to the environment.

  42. Jose Rodriguez permalink
    June 4, 2008

    I live 45 minutes from work, bike is not possible. With the high price of gas, we are looking into carpooling as an alternative.

  43. Amy Coursen permalink
    June 4, 2008

    I live about 10 miles from work and play. I recently moved out of the city, wish I could have stayed but bad environment and bad schools are bad for my son. High blood lead counts would make any mommy moved (sif he had the option). Never did find out where the lead was coming from- none in the home- must have been the soil he played in.

  44. Amy Coursen permalink
    June 4, 2008

    And yes we do bike.

  45. lisa permalink
    June 4, 2008

    750 miles per week. I work in one state and live in another. Keep an apartment thru the week and drive home on weekends. Apartment is still 68 miles round trip daily because no other living options are available closer to the facility. I am carpooling a couple of days a week with a coworker as our schedules allow.

  46. Sara permalink
    June 4, 2008

    I found my job first, then moved 1.5 bikable miles away. My husband is a mile from his job, as well, so we hardly use the car.

  47. skamaniak permalink
    June 4, 2008

    I don’t live that far from where I work — my little town is about 5-1/2 miles from my work — and I would happily ride a bicycle if I could. The problem is S.R. 14. While it is a scenic highway for a reason and would be a delightful ride, it is exceedingly dangerous and there is no alternate route using back roads. S.R. 14 is a two-lane used heavily by trucks and there are places with no shoulder, blind curves, major drop-offs and hills with little sight distance.
    I gave away my bicycle a couple of years ago, but would love to have it back. I will start looking for a three-speed English nanny’s bike with baskets on the back. I had one when I lived in Portland many years ago, and used it to go grocery shopping, to the library, etc. At least I could tootle around my neck of the woods while avoiding S.R. 14. I have thought about moving to the town where I work, but housing is more expensive there and my current neighborhood is quiet.

  48. quangnguyen permalink
    June 5, 2008

    It takes half hr drive each way (25miles) from Sugarland, TX to downtown workplace. Spent $40-50 on gas and probably contributed some pollution to Houston air. Living in suburb is because of better quality of life and a bit more affordable. Closer to work is either more expensive or cheaper but insecured neighborhood for children/ family life. Future needs: a leadership effort from governments, companies and private parties to solve issue: To have better public transit system, beautify inner city (lower crime rate, better schools), higher MPG/ greener vehicles, fewer work days per week,… In the meantime, slow down vehicle to run the engine more efficient and consolidate trips as much as I can.

  49. BillC permalink
    June 5, 2008

    I live about 2 miles from my office. I have bicycled in the past, but at age 67 and a bad knee (just had another steriod injection in the knee last week) so I have to drive 6 minutes. My home is my recreational area. My garden, watching the deer, the turkey chicks, the red tail hawks, and other wildlife is part of my recreation. I feel for families that have moved far from the cities where they can afford homes and better schools and now the cost of fuel is squeezing them. We pay for the many priviledges that we have.

  50. Elizabeth H. Meservey permalink
    June 5, 2008

    I live about 5 miles from work, but its all interstate driving. Using the back roads would take me far to long to get to work by bike. I think most people don’t bike because it’s an inconvenience. We are all creatures of habit, if we have driven to work for 20 years, thats what we will continue to do. The concept of biking to get to our destination is a fairly new idea, and many people aren’t even concerned about the effects of global warming. I am concerned, and do make a conscious effort to minimize my waste. However, I am guilty of driving to work because it is convenient.

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