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Why should anybody live 30 miles from where they work? Phoenix and Los Angeles


As someone who has lived in Los Angeles, and now lives in Phoenix, I've seen people do a lot of commuting. And the question arises: "Why would people do that?" It's certainly not something that I ever considered, in fact, it's the main reason I left California and moved back to Phoenix, I wanted to buy a house, and I couldn't afford anything in the greater Los Angeles area. I would have had to have lived in somewhere like Lancaster, which is about 60 miles away from where I worked in Woodland Hills. And I knew a lot of people who did. They commuted every day for over two hours each way in some of the most congested bumper-to-bumper traffic in the country.

It seems kinda crazy to me, but if you're genuinely wondering why people do that, I think I can explain. And it starts with wanting to have "the American dream" - a house, a place that you can call your own, maybe have a little garden, a garage, bedrooms enough for a family. And as I approached my 30th birthday living in Los Angeles, I knew that even with the good job I had there was no way that I was going to be able to afford anything but a one-bedroom condo anywhere near where I worked.

So let's do the numbers - let's say that a house nearby your job is $300,000 and a house that you have to commute to is $100,000. And I mean exactly the same house, same number of bedrooms, same lot size, everything. That makes the house that costs half as much sound pretty appealing, doesn't it? Just the thought of actually qualifying for a house is a nice thought. And the commute just comes under the heading of "doing what you gotta do". Many people are inspired to do some heroic stuff for the good of their family, to know that their children have a decent house to live in, that sort of thing. I've known people like that, and there's something kind of amazing about them, even if their eyes are always puffy and they're always yawning.

When I was 30, I crunched the numbers and evaluated if I could stand the commute, and decided against it. I never went out to look around at Lancaster, but I knew that it was, as compared to LA, in the desert. And I figured that if I was gonna live in the desert, I might as well live in Phoenix, so I moved back there. I bought a house, the one I'm still in, and my commute to downtown was only about 12 miles. And then I got a different job and my commute was about half of that. My next job was within walking distance, at the local Community College, and the thought of spending time in bumper-to-bumper traffic every day has faded away from my mind - I really can't imagine it.

I've been lucky. Things have worked out for me. I didn't have to do the things that I've seen a lot of people do. And I've seen people do some really crazy things in order to make their life better, and the lives of the people in their family better. These are amazing people, and more than just a little bit crazy!

Image at the top of this post: Anthem, Arizona. From their website http://www.onlineatanthem.com/visitors/our_community/index.php

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