To Commute or Not To Commute

1.10.2013

Remember this post where I talked about how I long to write about everything but I often have trouble getting it all out. Well Jesse read it one day and he told me it sounded like I was down in the dumps and depressed! I had to laugh at that! I promise you guys I am not depressed. Stressed, maybe. But not depressed.

As I mentioned yesterday, our big move is officially less than a month away! Yep, you read that right! We have less than a month until we say sayonara to this foreign land and hello to the good ol' US of A! We are so, so excited and we absolutely can't wait.

Unfortunately the actual logistics of the move are not the most fun to deal with. We are still debating about where we want to live and it's turning out to be a much harder decision than we anticipated. I've been researching a lot and I've learned that a lot of the military housing areas that I originally liked are no longer a possibility for us because of Jesse's promotion. There is one that I absolutely love but it comes with a 10-12 month waiting list. So that's probably not happening. However, we have been told that we do qualify for at least a three bedroom, which is great news. We've also learned that we have the option of picking from a few places that are open and we can go ahead and pre-lease it before we get there. It would be so nice to have it all taken care of and to know exactly where we will be when we arrive.

Our other option is to live about an hour away from base and have Jesse commute every day. They currently have a vanpool program that is subsidized by the government. Jesse would be able to ride with them without having to pay anything, which is really nice. The houses out in the area are very nice and we can get about twice as much space for less money than renting in the city or living in base housing.

Obviously both options have their negatives and positives. If we decide to live on base we will most likely have a tiny yard or patio and we will be in a townhouse style home which means less privacy and a lot less space. Being that close to your neighbors can lead to some great friendships but I've also seen some major drama and we want not part of that! But the good thing is that Jesse will be just minutes from work and he will have very little traffic to deal with.We already know that he's going to have great hours so if we are nearby he will be home with us quite a bit and we will be able to get out and do more.  He could possibly even come home for lunch every day and I know Emerson would love that! We'll also have all of the amenities right there and we will be in the city so we can easily do things on the weekend. It also means I will have a built in support system with military spouses all around me. And if I decide I want to work again, there are many more opportunities in the city than the suburbs. Not to mention we will be minutes from the beach instead of an hour.

If we decided to live in the suburbs Jesse will spend a minimum of two hours in the car a day. That is two hours less that he gets to spend with Emerson. On the other hand, we will be able to have an almost new and very roomy home with our own yard, our own driveway, and the privacy that we have missed so dearly! After living in a big city for the last 20 months we have learned that we crave a more quiet and slow pace of life. While we love to be able to go into the city when we want to, we're just not city living people.

We've talked to several people out there and they all love it. Since everything they need is right there, they rarely have to go into the city except for work.  There is very little crime and it seems to just be an overall safer and quieter environment. We also know for sure that we can get a home big enough for all of our furniture and with room to grow. We currently have enough furniture to fill our home in North Carolina so if we don't get a larger house we will have to sell most of it because it's definitely not going to fit in base housing.  I'd also love to have a playroom and extra bedroom for baby#2 and all of these houses have that and more.

But- and this a big one- I've heard that the commute can really wear on a person after a while.  When you add it all up, he would be spending at least 10 hours in the car each week. Granted he wouldn't have to actually drive it because of the vanpool, but I'm sure it would still get old really quickly. Instead of getting home by 4:30 or 5:00 he wouldn't be home until closer to 6:15-6:30. He'd also have to leave around 5:00 AM every morning. So in exchange for a nicer home and yard, Jesse would be giving up a lot of time. Is the tradeoff really worth it?

So, that is our big dilemma right now. We're trying to decide which option is going to give us a better quality of life. We're going to be there for several years so we want to get settled and stay in one spot. We would ideally like to stay in the same house as long as possible so we want to make sure that we make the right decision.

I'd love to hear from anyone in a similar situation. Do you our your spouse commute and would you recommend it?

edited to add: I orginally said that he would spend 20 hours in the car each week. Apparently I need to brush up on my math skills. It would be closer to 10, which is still a lot but way less than 20! :)


Erica @ Mi Todo said...

When we lived in Hawaii it was the opposite... we lived in a huge house (4-bedroom) on base, but the houses out in town are a lot smaller for what we could afford with BAH. However, with traffic, I had to drive about 1.5 hours to get to school from our base housing, so that was a major drawback. When I got pregnant, my husband didn't want me commuting everyday so we moved to a much smaller house in town, very close to my school. I almost immediately regretted the move. Having a bigger house in a neighborhood that I like is SOOOOOO worth the commute to me.

Traci said...

I think I would vote for base housing and more family time. 6:30 is pretty late. By the time you eat and clean up dinner it's bath and bedtime. My husband sometimes works late and those are some LONG days especially with two little ones at home. If it doesn't work out you could always move, not that you would want to but it's probably easier to move out of base housing than selling a home.

I think 20 hours a week communing is a lot, especially when you have a little one at home, they are only little once and they grow so fast. It's only a house, you can get one of those later, although a house would be nice too. Tough decision.

I'm sure whatever you decide will work out for you. Yay for coming back to the USA!

Traci said...

FYI...I know nothing about base housing or military life ha ha.

Emily Powell said...

I don't know anything about military life but the commute sounds hard. Time with you and E is valuable! On the other hand, if you lived on base would you have room for a 2nd child? I would go with living on base if you could get something just a bit bigger...I guess that doesn't help! Sorry!

Michelle said...

I think the commute would be super tough, as well as the time apart. Right now, my hubby has a late night on Monday and typically doesn't make it home until 7 p.m. - all other nights he usually beats us home! - and it's hard on us all. But bigger house, yard, etc.? Tough decision! Good luck, friend.

Jessica K said...

Oh man major dilemma! I have no experience with military life but I can tell you my own experience with commuting. I live in the burbs, my work is in the city, about a 35 mile commute one way. I spend about 1.5 hours a day in the car, by myself. Some days I hate it, other days I don't mind it. I don't know about Jesse but I Love my alone time and spending 2 hours a day in a van with other people does not sound appealing to me, although the saving money on transportation does...lol. Good luck with whatever you choose! :)

Lindsay Antenucci said...

oh my that is a huge dilemma. communting here in california is terrible. my husband works 23 miles away, takes him over an hour to get home every night and he leaves at 615am. the commuting definitely wears on a person. its totally exhausting! when we lived in oceanside, i commuted about 1.5 to school every morning. i left the house at 5am. so tiring. but hubs worked at pendleton so he literally had a 2 min drive from our apt off base. it is definitely a hard decision. but think... it is not permanent right? not sure how long, you havent said but based off your 20 over seas i will go with two years. you can live on based for 2 years. see jesse much more often than most spouses see each other. emerson would love, im sure, to see daddy more. if you have #2 you will be closer to jesse in case of emergency and even then he can see #2 at lunch and then be with you all at like 4-5 rather than 6. there are definitely pros and cons to it all. but i can say driving in traffic/communting in california is much different than anywhere else (except maybe NY lol). go with your gut, what feels right deep down.

BeckyJo606 said...

I commute about 30 miles to work and 30 miles back home at night. It only takes me about 40 minutes each way, but honestly I try to go in early so I can leave early before rush hour. My husband works about 5 miles from our house and I am so jealous. I have no experience with military housing, but I know that I would LOVE to get rid of the commute!

Stacey said...

I don't have children, but I do have a spouse that travels and is gone weeks at a time. I can tell you I'd rather have him home for only 2-3 hours every night before bed then not home at all! In the end, in my opinion one less hour or so is not a big deal. It's the bigger picture - having him home to be with Emerson, watching her run in your yard with siblings, ride her bike up and down your suburb sidewalks, etc. I completely understand what you are saying about her and daddy's time together, but will she know any different?
How does he feel about commuting?
Good luck! Do what feels right in your heart - it won't lead you astray :)

Lyndsey said...

You know we deal with commuting and I don't love it. BUT getting home by 6:15-6:30 sounds amazing to me haha so it's really just about perspective. Will doesn't usually get home until closer to 7 so when he does make it home by 6:30, I consider that a good day! I don't know what military housing is like, but if you're going to be home a lot, you don't want to feel like the walls are caving in. And having a toddler and a yard pretty much go hand in hand so that would be a priority to me! We've been doing the commute thing for 2 years now and we've made it work. Will says he enjoys his quiet time driving because at work he's talking to people non-stop. But some days are just really LONG and those are the days that I hate it and want to throw in the towel. I'm a suburb girl so that's my vote! Liam and Will are still really close even though they only see each other an hour or so a day, but it's not something I'm hoping will be permanent, ya know? It works for us now. Phew that was long and probably didn't help your cause, but I know you'll make the right decision for your family! :)

Beth Ann said...

This is such a tough decision! I don't know what I would do! Pray hard! I think by talking things out together and praying for God to show you the best option for your family, you will arrive at the right decision. Good luck!

Mateya said...

Just when you get the chance to be excited about coming back you have to deal with something like this...it's always something isn't it?!

It's such a tough decision, but honestly I think if I had to pick I would choose the bigger house in the quieter neighborhood over the commute. With having kids, I think more space and the room to roam outside will be so important! Then you could have the best of both worlds, access to the city, but yet the quietness of the suburbs.

I can see how the commute would wear on Jesse, but at least he doesn't have to drive it and he'll have others to keep him company, etc.

Mandy said...

I can't technically speak from experience, but when I taught the school that I taught at was 45 minutes away and I HATED the drive every day. I just always dreaded having to leave Jackson that much earlier in the mornings so that I could get there on time and then I always wanted to be out the door as soon as we could b/c I knew I had that drive to make. But, I also have to admit that it was nice to teach in a different city than we lived in b/c I didn't have to worry about running into anyone that might want to have a parent conference in the middle of Walmart! lol I know I'm not being helpful, but I'll be praying that you guys feel led strongly to one over the other. Can't wait for you to be back!!!

Megan said...

SUCH a tough decision! Like most of the others, I don't have experience with military housing or know what that is/could be like. But we live abroad too for my husband's job, and he has to commute (because the job site is on an island) 2 hours each day round trip. The commute involves a van pool, a ferry, and then a bus. He has to leave the house at 5AM and doesn't return until 6:30. Granted, we don't have kids so there's not the factor for us. One thing he has said he dislikes about the commute is the fact that it is "carpool style"- so he doens't get the benefit of the alone time that some people enjoy about commuting. But then again, maybe the van your husband would commute in is nicer and might even allow sleeping?! I know I'm not being the most helpful, but it is such a tough decision. You guys will do what is best for your family, and will make whatever that may be work! It's not forever, and NOTHING is permanent. Yes, it could be a pain to change your mind, but at least you know it could happen if y'all are miserable one way or the other.

~Momma to Twin Girls~ said...

Hi there - I commute 1 hour on a good day to work on a bad day it's 1 hour and 15 minutes. I HATE it... I would do anything to pick our house up and move closer to my job. I feel like I miss so much with my girls because they get home from school at 3:15 and mommy doesn't get home until 6:15-6:30. Thankfully my husband gets off work at 3:00 so they have him... I have to work an hour away to make the money I do. So I guess I am going to be the one that says DON'T DO IT! LOL It may be different for me though if someone else was driving I don't know...

Best of luck!!!

LWLH said...

That's a tricky situation since both come with hefty pros and cons. Hope you can figure out something you're comfortable with.

Giggles said...

I have no experience with military life but I commuted to school which was an hour drive one way. The drive wasn't bad but the it was exhausting being in the car that much. I would enjoy the time with family and having people close by who can help when you don't have family nearby.

luvbnmom said...

I am not in military life, but we moved farther away for a bigger house. I leave an hour and 15 minutes before I have to be to work so that I can also drop my son off at daycare......but when we are at home the quality is so much better and spending time with my family is so much better with the extra space for my son to run around in! I would take the better home situation for a little longer drive, and I pretty much do it all without my husband in the summer because of his hours. I also know that every person is different an has to make the best decision for their own situation, but hopefully what I said will help, either way you go. Good luck!

ajs {of MN} said...

you have a very hard decision on your hands. i would... go with the... i dont know!! thats a hard one, cant wait to see what you guys pick.

Lauren said...

Hey! Glad you only have a month left! So exciting!!!

I have a question about the vanpool... what if Jesse had to get home earlier (because E is sick or something), how would that work? Just curious.

Praying you have a safe and smooth move and flight(s)!

Lauren

calikissa said...

I grew up in outside Orange County California and my dad commuted into irvine. I can tell you from experience the commute gets old fast. My dad started to hate it. He spent an hour driving in the mornings and 2 at night every 3rd week. He rode in with guys from his office who lived near us. We are now stationed at MCB Quantico and I love the on base housing here. Ours is managed through Lincoln and is 3 bed 2 bath townhomes that are great. Good luck in whatever you decide. I hope the move goes smoothly!

Pam said...

This is our fourth duty station since we got married seven years ago and it's the first time E has commuted. It's not horrible for me because he has a 7-3 schedule so that usually means he's gone before we wake up and home by 4, but I know he doesn't love it. When we lived in San Diego we picked a place that was 8 miles or so from the hospital and didn't require highways. We had a friend who was planning on retiring there who commuted from San Marcos to the hospital downtown and it was a bear of a commute. Honestly since you're not planning on being there long term my vote would be to stay close to work and enjoy every last minute of living in California. There's so much to do there and you spend so much time outside that you might not even miss the extra space! Have you tried looking off base for a duplex or other rental? I can't remember if you'll be stationed at Camp Pendleton or Miramar, but there are usually some great for rent by owners places! Good luck in whatever you choose!

The Brannan Family said...

Hubs started at Pendleton, so we lived in O'side. His next assignment was Coronado, and he did the long, treacherous commute. After that, he commuted to Miramar. He hated commuting, but we didn't want to have to move each time, so that's what he had to do. That's nice your husband can be in a vanpool, and not have to pay for it. I think not having to physically drive everyday would make it a little easier as well. I've never lived on base in CA, so no help there. I can say that there are many, many military families that choose to live off-base, so I'd bet you'll meet other military anyway. Good luck on deciding!

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