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Earlier this year, we published a report revealing the average American will spend roughly 408 days of their life commuting. That’s a lot of time to spend stuck in traffic, going to and from a job most people hate.
But that got us thinking — time is far from the only major expense of commuting. For those who actually drive to work, rather than taking public transportation or carpooling, just how much does commuting cost in dollars and cents over the course of a career? And how many miles will we drive back and forth to work during our working lives?
We did the math for nearly 100 major US cities, and found the average American will spend $108,727 on gas and vehicle maintenance costs associated with commuting, while driving 173,203 miles to and from work in their lifetime. That’s enough miles to drive around the world 7 times!
Using the interactive map below, you can see the financial toll and total mileage you can expect to accumulate commuting in the city where you live.
So, how did we calculate the financial cost and total miles driven commuting in your life in each city?
For the purposes of this study, we assumed the average person starts full-time work at 18 (some people start earlier, others a bit later). We also know the average retirement age is 63 in the United States.
That works out to a total of 45 years working a full-time job.
From there, we operated based on the assumption most people work about 250 days per year, accounting for 2 weeks yearly vacation and time off.
That adds up to a whopping 11,250 days of working/commuting over a career.
From here, we used data from the US Census Bureau on average daily roundtrip commute distances as well as data from AAA on the total cost per mile of operating a vehicle (60.8 cents per mile for the average sedan when gas, insurance, and maintenance costs are considered).
The above map is interactive and easy to use. If you want to see commute times in your area, simply click the pin icon on the upper-left corner of the map, and it will zoom into your city (assuming you aren’t using a VPN). You can also click the magnifying glass to search by city name if you don’t want to use your IP location.
From there, simply click on the nearest dot on the map and you’ll see data on that area’s average daily round-trip commute time in minutes as well as the total number of days you can expect to spend commuting over your career.
One note for mobile users — you may find the map tool displays better if you flip your device to display horizontally.
So, are you rethinking your commute yet?