Last Updated on February 7, 2021 by Rat Race Running
When I was still in my previous job, I lived two cities away from my work. And anyone who’s ever lived in Metro Manila in recent years can attest that commuting there is a nightmare.
A Timeline of my Metro Manila Commuting Journey
Commuting includes the waiting time, the transfer from one vehicle to the next, buying tickets, and other inconveniences.
With the public transportation inefficiencies in Metro Manila, commuting can almost be more toxic than your work.
From 2015 to 2017, my job was in McKinley Hill, Taguig City, but I lived in Boni Ave., Mandaluyong.
To go to my office, I had to ride in a jeepney to EDSA, followed by a bus or MRT to Ayala, then finally a van to McKinley Hill.
It takes at least 1.5 hours to arrive in my office if I leave early, but it can be as long as 2.5 hours if I leave late.
My last project assignment from 2017 until I resigned in 2019 was at Eastwood City, QC.
I was on the night shift during that time, so I had to go along with the commuters’ heavy flow from Boni Station to Cubao.
That commute would typically take at least 2.5 hours to 3 hours each way but can take longer during “payday Fridays” and rainy days.
So after three years of grueling commutes around the city, I decided to live in Pasig City, a little bit closer to my Eastwood office.
That decision dramatically improved my life, and I realized the importance of living closer to work.
So, when I returned to my home province to work in the academe, my commute time was drastically reduced from three hours to a two-minute bike ride.
How near is “closer to your work”?
Since I am using the two-kilometer rule, I’ll say that anywhere around that distance is considered close.
Based on my experience, here are the pros and cons of living closer to work in Metro Manila.
Cons of Living Closer to Your Work
1. The rent prices closer to the business district are higher.
Most people live far away from their work to avoid the high rental cost, which at face value, can be intimidating.
And according to Dave Ramsey, rent should not be more than 25% of your take-home pay, which is a good rule of thumb.
So, it can be helpful to look for friends or housemates working around the same area to share the rent with.
2. Since you live closer to your work, your boss can quickly contact you in case of a work emergency.
When there are emergencies that need extra hands, it is easier for your superiors to tap you.
Though you can always say “no” to extra work, it would be quite embarrassing if someone who lives farther away comes into the office instead of you.
3. Food costs are higher, so you’ll need to cook or learn to cook.
Living closer to the business district means the cost of living is also higher. And food prices are what usually takes a big slice of your monthly budget.
So, it would be wiser if you’ll learn how to cook your own food.
And as I said in my previous post, cooking is also an adulting skill that everyone should learn.
4. You will live away from your family.
While I was living in Metro Manila, I know many people who prefer living in their home provinces like Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal, and Cavite. They said they’ll get homesick and miss their family if they rent.
That’s why many of them would prefer to take three hours each way and sleep during the commute instead of renting.
Pros of Living Closer to Your Work
1. You’re more likely to arrive early. (Can also be a con if you’re a perennial late-comer.)
The one thing that is expected of people living closer to work is punctuality.
Ironically, it makes some people living closer to work complacent, thinking that there is more time and ends up being late.
2. You have more time to do other things.
The best part about living closer to work is it gives you more time to do other things other than wasting it on traffic.
Re-allocating commuting time to personal hobbies or interests is also a better use of your time.
3. You can sleep in your bed.
Living in Metro Manila taught me that traffic increases exponentially.
On my first few weeks of work in McKinley Hill, I lived in Pasig City. I was on the dayshift from 8AM to 6PM, and my experiences are as follows:
- If I leave before 6AM, I’ll arrive at 7AM.
- If I leave at 6:15AM, I’ll arrive at around 8AM.
- But if I leave at 6:30, I’ll arrive at 9AM.
Living closer to your work gives you more time to sleep in your own bed, instead of sleeping in the headrest of an old jeepney or bus.
4. Living closer to work means lower to no transportation fare.
As mentioned in Cons #1, rental is expected to be significantly higher in areas closer to business districts.
So using the savings from transportation costs can be reallocated and added to rent and food expenses.
5. You are less stressed by traffic.
As my rule of thumb, my commute times should not be more than an hour, regardless of the distance, traffic, and other external factors.
Personally, I’ll choose to live closer to my work even with a higher premium on rent and food.
However, the most significant factor that you should consider where to live is the stress you’ll experience caused by commuting in the urban jungle of Metro Manila.
Strategize your budget so you’ll be able to afford to live closer to your work.