Retiring early means less time on the road

Thanksgiving is on the way.  Do you shop on the Black Friday?  It’s the time again to think about the gift shopping, which could be overwhelming.  Don’t forget to set up a shopping budget, and follow it.  And enjoy the time with family and friends.

This year, oddly I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas in China.  Not many people in this village know about the two western holidays.  I’ll miss the beautiful Christmas decorations in central Ohio, and the lovely snow.

Back to the topic.  Today’s post is a light one: retiring early means less time on the road.

The Dalia Research report in 2017 listed the countries with longest and shortest commutes.  That’s the total number of minutes people spend on the road every workday.  I assume that’s the round-trip time.  Here are the highlights:

  • The shortest commute is Japan, with 39 minutes
  • The longest commute is Israel, with 97 minutes
  • US: 79 minutes
  • UK: 73 minutes
  • Germany: 60 minutes

Probably the commute time for each country doesn’t tell much, as the cities in each country vary a lot.  I guess the data for each city matter much more.

For several years, my commute was 36 miles for the daily round-trip.  If the traffic flew normally, it took me 1 hour (round-trip).  But half of the time, the traffic was bad, and it took me 90 minutes.

Daily commute was not a fun to me.  It was so exhausting, sometimes agitating.  The driving in the winter could be very challenging when there is snow, sleet or ice.  Most of the drivers in central Ohio are nice, but there are some rude and very aggressive ones.  Thanks to my early retirement, I don’t have to drive through the rush hour traffic anymore.

Here is my story that happened 4 years ago, when I was still working.

$600 Christmas gift for myself – the car rear bumper:

In early December 2014, I was driving on the highway going to work.  It was still dark in the early morning.  The traffic slowed down, so did I.  Then suddenly, one car hit the back of my car, and ran off like nothing happened.  It was quite a shock and scare to me.  Luckily no one was injured.  I did control my car, and no other cars were involved.

Yeah, there are bad people on the road, and hit-and-run happens often.  I managed to pull over to the shoulder.  Out of nowhere, one state highway patrol officer showed up in front of me, like an angel.  A nice couple also stopped their van on the shoulder, and made sure I was okay.  I was so thankful to the patrol officer and the couple, and felt lucky in some way.

The incident was documented, but the troublemaker was never caught.

The rear bumper of my car was damaged.  The amount was within the limit of my insurance deductibles.  As a result, there was no need to even file a claim.  I paid $600 to fix the bumper.  What a nice Christmas gift for myself, a brand-new bumper!

After the accident, starting the next day, I kept getting calls on my cell phone while at work.  The calls were from those shameless ambulance chasers: personal injury attorneys, and chiropractors.  The stress was even worse than getting the bumper replaced.  My curse and yell on the phone surprised my coworkers, as I’m quiet and polite, most of the time.

My point is that, daily commute is stressful, and has more probability to get involved in traffic accidents, no matter how good a driver we are.  And the accidents make our life even harder.

Driving after retirement:

I don’t drive that much after retirement.  Once a while, I got caught in the afternoon rush hour traffic.  But, I become more patient sitting in the traffic, and feel how blessed my life is.

On the other hand, obviously my driving skills are not as good as when I was working.  That’s probably the downside of retiring early.  Every 2-3 weeks, I have to force myself driving on the highways to get a practice.

Dear readers, how’s your daily commute?  Do you drive or take the public transportation?  Is it a hassle to you?

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10 Responses

  1. Living and working in a major US metro area, rush hour driving was the bane of my existence Helen. The daily commute was, among other things, what led me to pursue FIRE with a a passion. Now that I rarely drive in rush hour or much at all any more, I find my driving/coping skills have diminished when I do have to drive. It’s just wild out there. Tom

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Tom, yes, rush hour driving is tough. I have not met anyone who enjoys driving in the rush hours. Some may feel it more tolerable than others. It’s part of the baggage that is related to the regular job. Luckily we don’t have to deal with the traffic anymore. What a blessing. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  2. Joe says:

    Oh, I loathe a traffic jam. I can avoid the rush hours most of the time now that I’m retired, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. I find I have much less patience for traffic jam now. I rarely have to deal with it so my tolerance is extremely low. Anyway, enjoy the holidays in China. 🙂

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Joe, yeah, the traffic jam is a hassle. The last place I worked as an engineer, the local traffic close to the office was bad. The roads were designed so poorly, that they even couldn’t handle the non rush hour traffic. It took me 30-40 minutes to go through the local 3 miles to hit the freeway. People started behaving badly when the jam happened. Glad that was part of the history to me. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  3. Caroline says:

    Hi Helen, my commute is between 1/2 hour to 11/2 hour. We got our first snow this week so it took longer:( It’s like people forget to drive!
    I could work from home more often if I wanted to, but I like the interaction with my co-workers (the few still around).
    I hope the holidays still end up being nice for you. Must be hard to be away from your husband for so long. Happy Thanksgiving Helen.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Caroline, thank you. That’s cool you could work from home sometimes. It helps when it snows. Yeah, when working, I prefer going to the office, too.

      Right now, I’m at the 45% point, still a long way to go in this village. Life here is not easy, but I try to make most of it by reconnecting with my childhood friends. I’ll spend several days in Beijing before heading home in Jan. I’ll be able to meet my college buddies in Beijing, and that’s something I’m very excited about. Just can’t wait to get home in US, and have a normal life there with my husband.

  4. GYM says:

    Helen, how did they know to get your number- the chiropractor and personal injury attorneys?

    I hate commuting. I live close to work actually so that’s nice. My max commute that I can tolerate is about 20 minutes or 40 minutes round trip.

    Glad that you were not injured in the car accident, they can be so scary! That sounds like an interesting experience to spend Christmas in the village- do people celebrate there? I bet Beijing will be full of decorations for Christmas.

    Happy thanksgiving!

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi GYM, thank you. I heard the Canadian Thanksgiving is in late October.

      When the accident was documented by the highway patrol officer, I provided my cell phone number, which was a mistake. I thought the person who hit me might come to his/her senses, and come forward to contact the police. Somehow those ambulance chasers have access to the accident database, and the information is being abusively used by them. Yeah, it was very scary when it happened.

      Here in this village people have no idea about Thanksgiving or Christmas. It will be a quiet one. In Beijing, people and retail business do celebrate Christmas. One year, I was going home from Beijing on Christmas Eve. The stores in Beijing was decorated for Christmas, and sooo many retail clerks were wearing the Santa Claus hats. It was fun. When my kid and I boarded the United flight, the occupancy was very low, and the ride was comfortable.

  5. GYM says:

    Your village sounds very remote, I would love to see more pictures of it!

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