Coastal living and driving longer to work – is it worth it?

About 10 years ago, we moved to a sleepy beach village on the outskirts of Auckland (one hour from Auckland CBD). It was a way to get a foot on the property ladder without paying the crazy prices of the city.

At the time, I wasn’t working and was at home with the kids. We had the beach on our front doorstep and a great local community. My husband didn’t mind the commute and could juggle his travel times to avoid the worst of the traffic. 10 years on, we now both work in the city and have one child in high school and another at primary. Both schools are on different bus schedules and the closest is still a 15 minute drive from home. This means we have had to split our travel schedules – I leave early so I can get back to do the after school pick-ups. My husband sorts the morning bus routes and drop-offs. He gets the worst of the traffic and our fuel bill is massive because we can’t carpool. Occasionally, in the middle of winter, when we leave in the dark to get to work, then get stuck in a motorway traffic jam I do wonder if what we are doing is worth it. But every time I weigh the pros and cons there are definitely huge positives to living on the outer edge.

Trying to fit work around family commitments can be challenging enough sometimes without adding two hours travelling time a day into your schedule not to mention an expensive monthly fuel bill. But is there an upside for families that choose to do this? I think so.

  1. The long drive home allows us to process away any work stress and most days we have left it behind us by the time we walk in the door. The environment is so different from the city – there are sheep on the hills and a beach across the road, and it is very easy to let the work day go.
  2. We have spent hundreds of hours in the car with our kids not only getting them to school but to sports practices, games, dancing etc. The front seat/ back seat conversations over the years have been great to build relationships and find out what has really been going on in their lives.
  3. The kids have had access to a rural grassroots upbringing which is what I grew up with and really valued. It is nice to be able to give them that while still being able to access the big city benefits.
  4. We live in an amazing location which would cost millions in the city for a fraction of the cost. I tell myself the savings on mortgage interest alone far outweigh the extra petrol money.
  5. We also save money by living away from all the shops. There are no fast food outlets or supermarkets close, just a basic dairy. We get creative in the kitchen, bulk buy, menu plan and cultivate a good vegetable and herb garden. Within five minutes we can get free cockles, tuatua and fish. All these are great opportunities to do things together as a family with a great tangible benefit at the end.

If you juggle a commute with family life we would love to hear your story, please leave us a comment.