Tweet on out-of-state commute for Bay Area family sparks debate on housing, traveling costs

san francisco housing

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JUNE 13: A view of homes and apartments on June 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California. According to a new survey by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, renters in San Francisco need an income of $60 per hour to afford a two bedroom apartment in the city. San Francisco is […]

All it took was one tweet to spark a heated debate on social media about skyrocketing housing costs in the Bay Area and the commutes people are willing to go through to make it all work. 

Redditor DudeWhoLived posted a screenshot of a tweet from SF Chronicle columnist Caille Millner in which she shared the plight of her hairdresser’s commute. 

“Bay Area Cost Index. TIL (Today I learned) my hairdresser and her family decided it made more financial sense for them to buy a home in Arizona and commute to their jobs on the Peninsula 4 days/week via Southwest Airlines,” the tweet read.

Bay Area Cost Index from r/bayarea

Sound crazy? 

Redditors began sharing their own commuting stories of 3+hour-long commutes to work in the city. 

“I knew someone who drove from Los Banos to Sunnyale and back for work. That’s like a 2 and a half hour drive just going one way,” one Redditor commented. That user later added “EDIT: It seems that this is actually pretty common based off all the replies I’m getting.”

“I did Los Banos to SF for 6 months. 3.5-4 hour commute each way,” another person shared. 

There’s even a term for this type of person who travels more than 90 minutes each way to work. 

They’re called “Super Commuters,” and not surprisingly, the Bay Area is home to the highest number of workers who commute at least three hours daily. 

“It’s very common for people doing anything from menial jobs (cleaning offices) to retail or sales to commute all the way from the Central Valley. Over a decade ago already I met a guy working the car dealership in Cupertino who commuted every day from Modesto,” Redditor SpaceJackRabbit said. 

“This was my dad for 10 years. Modesto to Mountain View and occasionally Cupertino to help out that store. He works at a grocery store,” another person shared. 

According to data compiled by analysts at Apartment List, the number of super commuters has increased by 31.7 percent since 2005. 

The Bay Area and surrounding regions lead the nation with more than 120,000 people commuting at least three hours.

Data showed super commuters are most concentrated in metros adjacent to large job centers.

“I grew up in San Jose. I don’t work a high-paying tech job or anything but I still work there. Over the last 10 years myself and almost all of my coworkers around my age bought houses at least an hour outside the Bay Area because it’s all that we can afford. My commute is 2 hours and that’s not nearly as bad as some other people. I don’t even like the Bay Area anymore, it’s just where I have to go to make money,” another Redditor chimed in.

“I work with someone who drives from Los Banos to Milpitas everyday,” another person shared. “I thought my drive from Oakland was bad….”

“Guy at my mom’s work commutes from Fresno to Oakland. That’s literally like a 3-4 hour drive depending on traffic and stops,” another person said. “But I mean hey, where else are you going to rent a 4 bedroom house for $1400?

“Sounds like my coworker. I think she says she wakes up at 1am or 3am, I forget which. She works at 6am. Absolutely insane.”

“I have another coworker that commutes daily from Modesto as well,” another person said.

According to the national average, super commuters earn 20.9 percent more than the median American worker employed full-time with a commute under 90 minutes. 

“Almost 25 years ago I worked with a guy who commuted to Redwood City or thereabouts from Tracy, while his wife separately also commuted to Palo Alto from Tracy,” another Redditor shared.

“Up til 2017, before I moved out, my commute from Stockton to Sunnyvale was about the same length one way. I think it is only worse now.”

Stockton and Lodi, located about 80 miles east of San Francisco, share the most number of employed residents who qualify as super commuters. 

The study said among the 11.2 percent of the Stockton workforce that commutes more than 1.5 hours each way, many likely travel to the San Francisco Bay Area. 

“I wanna say 80% of people do this in Los Banos My dad has been doing LB to Santa Clara for 25 years now,” another Redditor shared.

“My hair stylist has been commuting from new orleans for 2 years. she does 8-9 days here, 4 to 5 weeks in NO, rinse and repeat. she’s managed to pay off her credit cards, save for her wedding, and her back taxes paid off. she’s not a cheap stylist either– between chair rent, self-employment taxes, supplies, and actual house rent, she was operating at a huge loss each month.”

“We bought a house in the Sacramento area. It’s so nice building equity in a house we can afford,” another person said.

“My husband drives in Wed around 4am and back Thursday night late to avoid traffic. It’s about 2.5 hours each way no traffic. He works from home the other 3 days.”

“An old boss of mine lives in Las Vegas. His wife flies into Oakland Monday morning and flies out Friday. She lives in a studio apartment during the week and in their LV house on the weekends.”

“For a while, I had a place in LA, drove to work in Palo Alto, and slept in the car in the company parking lot. The commute totaled 12 hours a week – but divided over five days, it’s not even half bad.”

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why 46% of people living in the Bay Area plan to leave in the next few years?

“So many posts on here have reinforced that my decision to leave California was the right one,” one Redditor said. 

Even Bay Area residents are ditching the high cost of living and moving away, citing the lack of affordable housing, high taxes, traffic, or all of the above. 

“You can find a place that’s almost as good as the Bay Area but with a better quality of life that you might be looking for in your later years in life,” Myron Von Raesfeld told us back in Februrary. 

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