"The commute to my banking job begins at 3.40am"
I work in a technology job in a financial services firm and my commute to the office takes nearly four hours. When I go into the office, which currently happens twice a week, my day looks like this:
- 03:40 Wake up, shower, dress
- 04:15 Leave my house to walk to station. Outside of London, I cannot rely on a taxi in the middle of the night. I could optimize this with a Brompton bike
- 05:07 Catch the first train, which is the only Off-Peak Train for £95. If I get the slightly later train, it will cost me £225. If I can book 2-months in advance then I could catch a later train cheaply, but then who knows a finance company that plans things two months in advance?
- 07:16 Arrive at Paddington Station
- 08:00 Arrive in the office before most of my colleagues outside of trading. The Elizabeth line makes a big difference here.
- 19:18 Catch the first off-peak train with everyone else whilst positioning myself strategically in the station to bag seat. Enjoy a sushi bento box.
- 21:15 Arrive back at home station
- ~ 21:50 Arrive back home at the end of my 16-hour day
Why, you may ask, do I put myself through this? I have a wife and two children. Where I live now, I can buy a house with four bedrooms in a nice area for £600k. In a pleasant area of London I would pay twice as much.
My mortgage is much smaller because of my commute. This gives me more optionality in the jobs I take: the golden handcuffs are less tight. However, I still want to work in London, because this is where the jobs and the money are.
Clearly, there is a lifestyle sacrifice. I am foregoing sleep: I work on the train on the way in despite the abysmal wifi and on the return journey I rotate between treats, entertainment, work and sleep. I long ago learned that wine is drunk at your peril: the commute home takes twice as long when you drink wine throughout.
I believe my arrangement to be worthwhile. I would be interested in hearing in the comments whether there are many other people living this lifestyle; I think it has become much more prevalent since the pandemic.
Peyton Meyer is a pseudonym
This article was first posted in September 2023. We're reposting it during the festive break
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