Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The two hour commute dilemma

So, I am interested enough in the job at Dana Farber to be trekking down there on Wednesday for an interview. The journey will give me a taste of what my commute will be like. I've estimated that it'll take me just under two hours, from door-to-door, each way. Huge, HUGE, dilemma.

The job sounds very cool, working in the The Computational Biology and Functional Genomics Laboratory. And, it'd be great to be in a research science environment where people love their work and are more easy going than folks at a struggling for-profit start-up. While the commute would suck, the train ride would give me dedicated study/reading time.

Bear in mind, moving closer to Boston is not an option. Also, only about 30 minutes of the commute will involve car time. I'll have a solid 50 minutes sitting in a comfy commuter train (from beginning of line, to end of line, both directions). Subway ride for another 25 minutes. Then a three block walk.

I'd be leaving the house around 6:45 a.m. and I'd get home around 6:45 p.m. Tell me what you think, please.


davewill said...

Quality of life is a huge issue for me; I love strolling out the door, walk to metro, walk from metro to the office: 35 minutes or less door to door, no driving involved. Before I got my commuter fanny pack as a result of back damage, I loved to read on the metro. Now it's a pain to get to a book or magazine and I use that time getting a jump on work emails (the curse of the crackberry).

But I would go insane spending 4 hours commuting a day. If nothing else, you should factor that time into your salary to figure out what your hourly wage is. Yes it's time you don't have to spend actively working, but work is dictating that the time be spent.

I'm not happy in my current position and looking for a way out of it, but I'm not nearly desperate enough to sign up for that kind of commute. Any chance it would lead to a relocation closer to Dana Farber? I think with that light at the end of the tunnel and working someplace really cool, with good folks and a decent salary and benefits, I would maybe consider it, but likely turn it down.

Of course, I'm spoiled rotten: I was bummed PBS moved; I was willing to take a pay cut to work there (not that big a pay cut for the job they were hiring for). It would have been a 15 minute walk or one metro stop away. That's the sweet deal I'm looking for.

When do we get to see the real fruits of telecommuting?

SZap said...

Are. You. Insane!? A two hour commute? You'll hate it right quick I would imagine. You know better.

Barb Denz said...

Trust me on this -- this will get old FAST, especially if you have to drive any part of it in traffic. Time for A Life becomes non-existent, and in spring/summer, that matters -- especially if any part of the communte involves dealing with tourists on the road. Winter, not-so-much. I did finally factor it into my salary, and came up WAY short on overall pay. But the long and short of it was that I missed having a life.

Now, I telecommute full-time for great pay, and some days, the commute from shower to livingroom is overwhelming. ;)

briwei said...

I have to say that, as exciting as it sounds, it would be brutal. You hubby would have to do all the cooking snd you would only have time with Kiel on the weekend. It wouldn't be as bad if the commute was all on the train, but you have to change modes of transport three times in the process. So, your dedicated time is likely to be slim.

If there were any possibility of moving closer within a couple of years, this would be a good foot-in-the-door opportunity.

Kitten Herder said...

The job thing is going to be a hard call for me. What I didn't mention initially is that I have great doubts about the viability of my current job beyond the fall of this year.

I like where I live, but jobs in my field within an hours DRIVING commute are scarce and pay about half what I make now. To even come close to replicated my current salary, I would have to take on an hour plus DRIVING commute. And the DRIVING would be in brutal bumper-to-bumper traffic. At least with DF, I would have the same, relatively painless, under 30 minute drive. But, I would be adding a 50 minute train ride and a 20 minute subway ride (and a short walk) to that.

I HATE driving. I don't want to drive any further from my house (south towards Boston) than I do now, since the traffic is just so horrendous. However, if my current position goes away, I may find myself jobless with no other choice than to take some job that is AT LEAST a brutal 75 minute drive from my house. And, I doubt that it would be a "cool" job.

I also just stumbled on a Data Security job in a hospital in NH. I doubt that the pay cut will be something I can do at this point, but I'm going to apply to see how painful the cut would be.

Jenna said...

I have to agree with the other comments already posted. If it were entirely on the train, it might be manageable, but the drive-train-metro-walk thing is going to have you hating your life by the end of the first month. Don't forget, too, that you live in a friggin' icebox; you're not going to want to slog three blocks through the snow during the winter.

If I were presented with a similar opportunity, assuming it was my dream job, the only way I'd consider it would be either: a) Double my salary or b) Let my commute count as part of my employment hours (in other words, only work 4-6 hours in the office). Even then I'd have to think about it for a long time.

If it's a job you're really eager to have, maybe you could ask about working from home part-time and only come into the office every other day or something.

If you don't have any flexibility with work hours, and it's simply going to be commute 2 hours-work 8 hours-commute 2 hours, I'd say forget it. (I drive 10 minutes to the train station, ride the train for an hour, then walk across the street to my office, and even that gets old after a while.)

Oh--don't forget, too, that you're at the mercy of the train schedule. If there's an emergency at home, your arrival time will be Next Train + 2 Hours.

Offhand, I'd say it's not worth it.

briwei said...

I think Jenna is onto something with work concessions. You need to gauge how into you they are, though. Get them hooked and then after the offer is when you negotiate telecommute and them paying for wireless broadband access and such for you.

SZap said...

Three modes of transport? You didn't mention that part. What are you thinking? You'll hate it, your family will hate it etc. You know this. Give me a call, I don't have your non-landline number and the one I have for you doesn't work.