Professionals would rather ‘super commute’ for over 4 hours a day and keep their pandemic-style suburban life than live near the office

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During the pandemic, an exodus of professionals left their urban jungle flats for sprawling suburban homes in more scenic rural areas—and now despite cities bouncing back and offices reopening, they’d rather commute for hours on end on a train (or plane) than give up their newfound life on the outskirts.

New research by Trainline shows that the number of people in the U.K. spending more than 3 hours getting to work and back—otherwise known as, “super commuting”—has doubled since before the pandemic. 

Although super commuters are defined as those with journeys to work of least 90 minutes one-way, the train ticket platform found that most actually spend at least 2 hours traveling in each direction.

Perhaps surprisingly, most super commuters aren’t those lucky few who only have to show face in the office once in a blue moon.

Most professionals who moved far from the office during the pandemic say they have hybrid working to thank (or blame) for their new commuting habit and for being able to keep their after-work country lifestyle.

On average, super commuters are heading into the office three days a week and as a result, wasting at least 12 hours—more than an entire work day—on a train each week, just to sit at their desks. 

Yet despite having less time to actually enjoy their suburban life than those living close to the office, three-quarters of super commuters said they are happier for it, and over a third reported enjoying a better work-life balance.

Others admitted that the hefty journey is worth it for their reduced cost of living on the outskirts. 

Super commuting is a global phenomenon

Super commuting isn’t a U.K.-specific trend. Across the pond in the States, the mean distance to work rose from 10 miles in 2019 to 27 miles at the end of 2023, according to a study from payroll processing and HR services company Gusto.

According to their data, millennials—who are mostly in their thirties and settling down—live the farthest away from their employer.

Take hairstylist Katlin Jay: The 30-year-old travels 650 miles on a plane from Charlotte, N.C. to New York on a biweekly basis. 

But, she told New York Post that she is paying less money on travel (at around $1,000 a month) than she would on rent if she lived near her Upper West side job.

Meanwhile, even in Germany, a 32-year-old director is flying across the continent to London for work to get the best of both worlds. However, to those enticed by Seb’s way of life, he warned in Business Insider that the 5-hour commute won’t be sustainable in the long run. 

But be warned: You may be asked to move back 

Even now that it’s clear most companies will require their workers in the office for part of the week—and having undoubtedly heard their colleagues complain about their long commute—Trainline’s research found that over half of city-living workers are eyeing up the super commute club. 

Why? Just like current super commuters, most think it’ll improve their work-life balance.

“Hybrid working has helped fundamentally shift work and travel habits over the past few years, with more people now choosing a longer commute so they can both live and work where they want,” Sakshi Anand, VP of growth at Trainline, said. 

“Our research shows that not only are these rail super commuters on the rise, but that the phenomenon is here to stay.”

But beware: Bosses could ask you to choose between the office or your life on the outskirts. 

Just last week, Patagonia told its remote customer service employees that they must now live within 60 miles of one of seven “hubs” in Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Reno, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, or Pittsburgh. 

The sustainable outdoors brand gave around 90 workers the ultimatum: relocate or quit.
Likewise, last year TikTok warned U.S. workers whose home addresses aren’t in the vicinity of its office, that they could lose their jobs if they don’t relocate.

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