Suburban areas on the outskirts of the red-hot Los Angeles and San Francisco areas grew especially fast last year, state officials reported Monday.San Joaquin County, home to Stockton, grew faster than any other, up 1.3% to 733,000 people. The area has become increasingly popular for people fleeing astronomical San Francisco Bay Area housing prices while remaining within commuting distance. San Joaquin was followed by Yolo, Riverside and Santa Clara counties.
Are these locales really within reasonable commuting distance and when those long commutes are factored in, is the arrangement truly affordable? There’s a huge cost on the personal lives and well being of these super commuters. As I reported in my eBook Last Rush Hour: The Decentralization of Knowledge Work in the Twenty-First Century, the trade-off doesn’t pencil out:
These long commutes also do not make good economic sense. The economic calculus for commuters is the time spent commuting is acceptable if that time is compensated either in the form of higher pay and benefits or more affordable housing. But the economics of that trade-off don’t necessarily balance out, according to an academic paper authored by two economists. “[I]n a direct test of this strong notion of equilibrium . . . we find that people with longer commuting time report systematically lower subjective well-being,” the study authors conclude.
Citation: Alois Stutzer and Bruno S. Frey, “Stress that Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox,” Scandinavian Journal of Economics 110, no. 2 (2008): 339, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9442.2008.00542.x