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bicycle commuter

If you don’t live near work, do you ever imagine how it could improve your life if you did? Here are five ways it would.

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Working from home is the ultimate lifestyle convenience, because you can live where it most makes sense. For most folks, that’s not an option.

When it comes to choosing where to live, there are so many factors people have to decide on — schools, hobbies, transport, and so much more.

Well, here are 10 arguments for making where you work your biggest consideration in where you live.

1. Cycling and walking to work are reliable.

Both driving and busing to work are extremely incendiary for stress levels and life-planning. Traffic jams, unexpected delays, weather, and more can all wreak havoc on a commute that requires the stars aligning in just the right way to keep you on schedule.

Opting for a cycling or walking lifestyle means investing in proper weather gear for year-round commutes. Anything short of a blizzard and you’re good to go. Traffic, accidents, mix-ups — nothing will interfere with you getting to work in a timely, predictable fashion. Except maybe a flat-tire, but that’s why you’ll learn how to change a tube… right?

2. The money you save on a commute will only be surpassed by the time you save.

When you walk or cycle to work, you’re getting your exercise in. Gym pass? Who needs a gym pass? Like my chiropractor once said, “You think people in equatorial Africa are going to the gym? They lead a physical life and walk everywhere.”

Most of the folks I know who’ve moved downtown to be close to their jobs have been able to give up their cars entirely. Probably half have joined car-share organizations for the occasional shopping trip or adventure, but most love the lifestyle of walking/cycling everywhere.

walking in the city commuters

I live downtown and work at home and I’ve taken back 60 hours of my life I had been losing to buses and commutes. How much time would you save daily if you could walk to work and grab your groceries easily on your stroll home? How much more could you earn or live in those hours?

3. Walking or cycling to work is huge for mental and physical health.

Hop in your car and you’re just watching life evaporate. The average commute, they say, is 25 minutes, which means 50 minutes a day lost to just sitting, and often fuming at the poor driving habits around you.

Imagine instead walking for 30-50 minutes a day and what that would do for your life — from your heart condition to general health, your ability to sleep better, your body mechanics.

Then there’s the mental health aspect of getting that time to just walk or cycle and enjoy fresh air and activity. I handled work stress better than I ever have when I was cycling to work daily. It was like everything just fell away from me, and by the time I got home, my mind had decompressed, I’d changed gears, and I was over whatever my workday was. This was never true of busing or driving.

4. You’ll have community around you.

When you both live and work in a place, you form a better connection to it. Even downtown, you’ll get connected to seeing the same newspaper vendors or corner store owners. You’ll recognize staff at all your favorite haunts.

You’ll be invested in the area for all kinds of reasons. This sense of community is one a lot of folks feel are lacking, and the folks who do have community often hop in a car and drive away from it five days a week.

5. You’ll save the planet while saving for your future.

If you live where you work, not only will you drive less, you won’t need transportation much at all, even buses. You’ll walk, which is free, or cycle, which requires no parking fees. Either way, it’s a money-saver and a carbon-killer.

There’s not just the actual cost of parking or driving that’s an issue with the daily work commute. There’s the cost of licensing or insurance and that of wear and tear. But then there’s the money and the life you lose just by being stuck in your car.

When I cycled to work every day, I’d bring saddle bags. I’d cycle past a store, take 30 seconds to lock my bike up, spend five minutes getting groceries, and back out I’d go. I could get fresh stuff every day or two rather than feeling like I had to stock up for a week. I didn’t shop on my weekends. I didn’t have to fight for a space in a parking lot. And the funny thing was, I’d cycle home in 35 minutes but sometimes would take 55 minutes or more by bus and train if my connections were bad.

It may cost more, but it’s worth it

It can cost you a little more to live close to your work if you’re downtown, but if you’re getting back 20 to 30 hours or more of your life every month, maybe there’s a way that pays off for you. For me, it meant earning more money through self-employment, and the lifestyle improvement was huge — and so were the savings.

From finances to sleeping better to feeling community every day, there are all kinds of ways living near your work can radically transform your whole life. Is it something you can do?

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.