Why do people commute? 10 reasons for commuting

53.3% of Austrians commute to work beyond their communal borders. That saps nerves, eats up valuable time, and has been shown to lead to increased stress levels and physical impairment. But why do more than half of all Austrians do this to themselves every day? What are the reasons against moving or changing jobs? Both structural and individual reasons influence the complex decision to commute. Fluidtime has collected 10 reasons to commute.

10 reasons for commuting:

1. Rising rents and real estate prices in cities are forcing people to move to surroundings.

Most employers are in metropolitan areas, but rents and real estate here are often no longer affordable. Thus, employees move further out to get more housing for their money or to find something suitable at all. Commuting is thus cheaper than moving into an apartment close to the employer.

2. The region of the workplace is not an attractive place to live.

Rural living outside the cities is by far not only financially driven. Some commuters prefer the quiet, spaciousness and familiarity of communities to urban living. They are socially integrated into their place of residence and are reluctant to lose their network. Furthermore, not all workplaces are attractive regions to live in. Especially in industrial areas, there is often a lack of cultural offerings and social facilities, so commuters do not want to move close to their employer. Thus, they willingly take on to commute.

3. Many employees are reluctant to leave their current place of residence if their professional future is uncertain.

The job has just been relocated, employees have a temporary contract, often change jobs anyway or do not see themselves working for their current employer in the future. There are numerous reasons why it is not always advisable to immediately follow the employer.

4. There are no comparable job alternatives close to home.

In addition to relocating, changing jobs can also shorten the daily travel to work. However, many commuters do not want to change their employer because they know they would not find any comparable job close to home. Firstly, because they are doing well at their current employer and enjoy various corporate benefits. But secondly, because they know they wouldn’t find anything comparable close to home. Commuting is therefore a good solution.

5. home office allows less dependence on the workplace.

Through hybrid work location models in recent years, many people have learned about the benefits of home offices. Even in the future, some companies plan to have only two to three days of mandatory office attendance. Especially since many companies have used the time to reduce office space. “Shared desk” concepts, where employees book a workstation in the office but no longer have their own assigned workstation, are becoming increasingly common. The focus on the workplace is thus significantly weakened and employees are visibly less oriented to the connection to the workplace when choosing their place of residence.

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6. Children should not be torn away from their familiar environment.

Children already go to school, they are integrated into the community or should simply grow up in a certain environment. As soon as commuters make a decision not only for themselves, they think twice about tearing their family members out of their social environment. Commuting for a longer time then often is a suitable compromise.

7. Many employees want to be close to their own parents.

Employees’ parents also have a major influence on their choice of residence. Especially in earlier years, grandparents often help employees by taking care of the grandchildren. Many couples would not be able to work full time if they did not have the support of the grandparents. And even when the children don’t need any more help, it is still essential to be close to the older generation. Many employees support their parents in care. Thus, employees are bound in their choice of residence and may have to commute.

8. The partner is tied to a particular location.

However, children and parents are not the only factors influencing the choice of residence. If both partners are bound to a certain place, commuting is often a good compromise to still live together.

9. Austrians are reluctant to give up their property.

Rental apartments can be changed relatively uncomplicated compared to purchased apartments. Especially people from the Anglo-American area change their home from time to time. In contrast, Austrians typically rarely give up their homes. Thus, they are reluctant to move and prefer to accept longer distances to the workplace.

10. commuting is not considered lost time.

In the end, commuting and the time we spend on it is also subjective to each person. Some commuters find long car rides relaxing and reflect on their workday before arriving home. Others use their daily train journeys to work undisturbed on tasks that have fallen behind or to listen to podcasts in peace. The supposed disadvantages of commuting are therefore individual and cannot be generalized.

Certainly, there are some ways to stop commuting. However, the decision to look for a new employer or to relocate is often a complex one. Commuters have to weigh things up: How much is their current place of residence, their employer or an uncomplicated commute worth to them? And they can only make this decision individually. Fluidtime has also addressed the issue of commuting to work in a research project that is described in more detail here.