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Has bike commuting affected your career decisions?

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Has bike commuting affected your career decisions?

Old 08-02-01, 07:48 AM
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ViciousCycle
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Has bike commuting affected your career decisions?

For years, I've been a Chicagoland computer consultant, and the location of my assignments is a crap shoot. Sometimes, I can use a combo of bikes and/or trains to get to work. On the other hand, last winter, I had a 70 mile a day round trip car commute. I am therefore beginning a limited job hunt to find a job in the Loop, where I could use a bike or a train to get to work every day. I could get rid of my car, and save the costs of car payments, insurance, maintenance, repairs, auto club, gasonline, licensing, etc, as well as get rid of the unpleasantness of driving a car.

However, given the current economic climate, this is psychologically a difficult step for me to take. Companies that have no history of layoffs now consider it trendy to lay off workers. And if I do get laid off and need to find a replacement job fast, I wonder how much being car-free would limit the number of job opportunities open to me. (It's thinking like this that could keep me car-dependent for the rest of my working life.)

Has anyone out there gone through the issues involved in changing one's job in order to not be dependent on a car?

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Old 08-02-01, 10:37 AM
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This is an interesting point, well worth considering. Of course, if you can get there by transit or bike (or both), great. But the possibilities might be narrowed when applying for a new job outside your commuting range.

I have not experienced this yet, but you can be sure I will remember your remarks.
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Old 08-02-01, 11:01 AM
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VC,

First let me say there is NO company or industry that can guarantee employment.

I worked for a large university here in Atlanta for 8 years. I had hopes of working for them for many years. But they got "new blood" and new thinkers in administration who decided that it would be much cheaper to outsource several jobs and departments. My department was one that got hit. I always thought working for a university meant "lifetime" employment.

Back to commuting: My wife and I both worked for the university (she's still there luckily) and we "carpooled" to work each day. On the days she was off I would ride my bike (5 miles).
Now that I work in another part of town I have started commuting 3 days a week to save money and the hassle of traffic. I'm hoping to increase to 5 days very soon.

Chicago is larger than Atlanta and has a much better transit system.
Depending on the type of work you are looking for, bike commuting should not limit the number of jobs open to you.
But you may want to "limit" your job searching to areas that are easy to get to by bike or bike/transit combinations.

Good luck :thumbup:
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Old 08-02-01, 01:52 PM
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I have been looking at other options, and I have considered my commute by bike. It's a big factor for me now.

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Old 08-02-01, 04:23 PM
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It hasn't affected me yet, but it probably will at some point in the future. If I was asked to choose right now, I'd choose cycling over career in a second. Money is good, but all the money in the world is wasted if your lifestyle sucks.

That's why when I was applying for graduate jobs a few months back, I stayed well clear of Sydney.

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Old 08-02-01, 05:44 PM
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This definitely a good question to consider. Sorry to hear about your department too, Ron.

My department was recently downsized (they used to call it in the early 90's) . I did consider leaving the company before everyone was axed, but it was so darn close to my house, and I loved my co-workers. However, it wasn't too great for my career either. I guess that situation solved itself, before I made my own move.

In any case, I think it's best to go with what you feel is right for yourself and your career. I guess I could've made some decisions in my own career to do consulting for other companies, but I've turned them down because I value being home, and I don't like to travel on business anymore.

I guess in a nutshell, just think of what makes YOU happy and what's good for you, and the decision will be apparent to you.
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Old 12-19-05, 08:47 PM
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Well yes and no. I live in what BICYCLING mag calls one of the best places in the world to ride, Sonoma County. I avoid full-time permanent jobs unless they look really good. A couple of temp agencies find me work within 20-25 miles of home and I bike to work. I have a beater truck for bad weather and emergencies. Yes, my bike costs about 5 times the cost of the truck. A new HID light system would cost more than the truck! I drive to a new assignment the first day and ask if cycling is a problem. Rarely has been in this county. One place I had to walk in the door with a tie on. I changed at a friendly gas station then walked around the corner to work. I didn't accept assignments at Zerox again.
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Old 12-19-05, 10:29 PM
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I currently have a situation where I can walk to work in 1/2 hour or cycle direct in a few and loop 10 miles home. I have decided to not apply for promotions that would require me to get into a car to get there. They turn up from time to time. I have a car, but the added hassle and cost are not worth it to me right now.
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Old 12-20-05, 08:05 PM
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This is an interesting thread. I suspect as the price of fuel continues to increase - as it surely will - it is something we all might need to consider. I'm lucky enough to be in a reasonably bike friendly location and the boss provides showers and lockers. But the lease is up on this building and they are thinking of moving to the airport. No way will I take my chances cylcing out there with all the buses, taxis and idiots various madly rushing around. Even if I drop 5 or 10 grand on a changeover, I'd take it to be closer in to the city.
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Old 12-20-05, 08:39 PM
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Having a car would mean getting a job that pays about 10-15K more just to break even. There's no way I would take a job that pays the same or even 5K more because you're losing money at that point. A car is a huge money pit and you got to make thousands of dollars more in compensation just to pay for the extra overhead.

My commute doesn't even involve a bicycle but trains. Each day on the train, I see the cars backed up for 2 miles on the Turnpike while my commute is stress and traffic free. You would have to pay me an additional 20K to fight that traffic each day.
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Old 12-20-05, 08:55 PM
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I'm in the process of looking for a new job now, and one big reason why I am willing to quit a high paying job is so I can be closer to home (90 mile round trip commute now) and ride to work more often than I already do - year round, all weather. Not car free, but non-car dependent. I don't need money to be rich (though it helps), and in some cases money and the need for money just makes you poorer overall.
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Old 12-20-05, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by chipcom
in some cases money and the need for money just makes you poorer overall.
Sometimes not having any makes you poorer too. Don't ask me how I know this.

Funny how statements like yours seldom come from people who don't have any.
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Old 12-20-05, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by michaelnel
Sometimes not having any makes you poorer too. Don't ask me how I know this.

Funny how statements like yours seldom come from people who don't have any.
Well to put that into perspective, I didn't have any to speak of until about 2 years ago...seriously, I was happier with less money and more time to concentrate on the things that are really important, like family and friends and doing the things that make you happy. I guess there is a happy medium - having the time for the important things and enough money to live a decent life. I see your point, when I didn't have it I obsessed about making more of it, which is what got me to where I am today and realizing that I gave up far to much to gain far too little.
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Old 12-20-05, 09:18 PM
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I used to live about 10 miles from work, which is the perfect commuting distance in my book. Then my employer relocated further away, so the one way distance is about 20 miles from home. I still bike commute, but only half the time.

Then my employer opened a satellite office about 35 miles away from home. I was "asked" to go to that office, but I couldn't really turn it down since I had taken three months off from work for my cross-USA bike tour. Luckily at the time there was a vanpool that was about 5 miles from my house. I bought a bike rack for the van, so a few days a week I would take the bike on the van in the morning, then ride the 30 miles back to my car in the afternoon. It was the only way I could stay sane with the 10 hour days and the long travel time.

Now I am back in the 20 mile away office, and I still commute about half the time. The work at the satellite office is more interesting, but there is no longer a vanpool from my area, so I would lose the partial commute option. So I could be somewhat limiting my opportunities by avoiding the satellite office with the longer commute.
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Old 12-20-05, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by michaelnel
Sometimes not having any makes you poorer too. Don't ask me how I know this.

Funny how statements like yours seldom come from people who don't have any
.
I think that Chip and Chris L. have an admirable philosophy, and both expressed it well.


"He was not poor because he wanted nothing."
--H.D. Thoreau
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Old 12-20-05, 09:53 PM
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Yes, there is a vast difference between poverty and debt. Poverty is tolerable, debt is terrible.
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Old 12-20-05, 10:30 PM
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The difference between no money and a little money is HUGE. The difference between a little money and a lot of money is small.
  • No money: you have no home and beg, steal, scavenge or rely on charity for all your basic needs; taking care of your basic needs takes all your time and energy.
  • A little money: you rent or buy a modest dwelling. You can buy food. You can buy clothes. You can have entertainment and leisure activities. You can have friends and romance. You can marry and have children.
  • A lot of money. Same as a little money, but in a nicer neighborhood. The big minus is that you have to worry about people stealing your stuff. The big plus is that if you have enough willpower not to spend the bulk of your money on conspicuous consumption, you can invest your "excess" money and have security.
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Old 12-20-05, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ViciousCycle
For years, I've been a Chicagoland computer consultant, and the location of my assignments is a crap shoot. Sometimes, I can use a combo of bikes and/or trains to get to work. On the other hand, last winter, I had a 70 mile a day round trip car commute. I am therefore beginning a limited job hunt to find a job in the Loop, where I could use a bike or a train to get to work every day. I could get rid of my car, and save the costs of car payments, insurance, maintenance, repairs, auto club, gasonline, licensing, etc, as well as get rid of the unpleasantness of driving a car.

I've tended to go for the job I wanted and then figure out how to get there, even moving if necessary. And if I do move, then I really try to work it in a bike friendly way.

I guess for you, you have to look at the quality of customers. As a consultant that should give you a little more latitude. You may be able to find enough clients within cycling distance or ones who will work online with you. My oldest customer is 1,500 miles away. Spend the money on computers not cars.
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Old 12-20-05, 11:15 PM
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Well... this is now over four years old.

ViciousCycle: you posted this in 2001. Since you still participate here, care to follow up? What did you do, and how did it work out?
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Old 12-21-05, 05:37 AM
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I was commuting when I got hired at my current job, but at that point the office building was a 15 minute walk from my apartment.
The company moved uptown and I started commuting again. Luckily, I found out they had an offstreet bike room & I've missed maybe a dozen days over 3 years.
If I changed jobs I would think about the commute but it wouldn't affect my decision if I thought the new position was right for me.
If I had multiple offers, and all things being equal, I would pick the place that was most bike friendly.
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Old 12-21-05, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by chipcom
in some cases money and the need for money just makes you poorer overall.
Over my life, I've seen quite a few people go down that road. Reminds me of a guy at work who took on a bigger job and with his income purchased a huge house in the burbs. He then had to buy two cars because they lived far from anywhere. He could find daycare that was inexpensive so a second job that takes up Saturday and Sunday was now in order. He works seven days a week and in debt up to his eyeballs.

Has anyone noticed that often times the wife's income is just for paying transportation (cars) and food.
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Old 12-21-05, 09:03 AM
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Our company is being sold and will move, likely into one of the industrial parks unaccessible by bike. If that happens, the resumes will start going out.

EDIT: 4 weeks ago we bought a house in the same general area of where we rented. This was so that I could continue to bicycle commute. I made the largest purchase of my lifetime based on the location of my employer, now they are up and moving. Very disappointing.

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Old 12-21-05, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by budster
Well... this is now over four years old.

ViciousCycle: you posted this in 2001. Since you still participate here, care to follow up? What did you do, and how did it work out
?
Well that's one hell of a bump! I never noticed. It would be interesting to get an update from VC.
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Old 12-21-05, 12:30 PM
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Last December I had a choice of two jobs that from the interview perspective were equally attractive. I ended up taking the job that had a 20 mile each way bike commute instead of a 5 mile each way bike commute. The extra 15 miles each swayed me to take that job.
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Old 12-21-05, 12:51 PM
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I specifically chose a job in the downtown core because getting to an office in the middle of nowhere isn't appealing at all. More importantly, my wife and I chose a house that's close to downtown as well. If we would have moved to the burbs, we could have purchased a McMansion on a big lot, but it would have been pretty tough to commute in every day by bike. Our house is 1/3 the size it could have been, but I ride my bike everyday. That makes me a rich man.
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