Experts who conduct research on commuting estimate there could be hundreds of thousands of super-commuters around the world, who are using low-cost airlines and other technological advancements to work and commute from remote locations, cheaply and conveniently. The concept of super-commuting is rooted in the US, where it is common for people to have to travel from one part of the continent to the other for work and business purposes.
Inspired by BBC’s article The Brave World of Super-commuters, I delve into the world of super-commuting.
Here are some examples of heroic super-commuters worldwide:
The Police Officer who works in London but lives thousands of miles away
For London Metropolitan Police officer, Chris McKee, life and work are normal – except that he has to fly roughly 12,000 miles to get home! The 48-year-old Police Constable whose home is in Dunedin, New Zealand, works half-yearly in London and he works long hours for two months and then takes the next months off. According to McKee, the 26-hour flight back home is well worth it. Not only the cost of living in New Zealand is far less than that of London (the value of his house in Dunedin “would barely buy a two-bedroom flat in London”), but life in his home town is more relaxed and stress-free. The only disadvantage is that he misses his wife and family and important milestones such as birthdays and other celebrations.
Lebanese workers travelling to Persian Gulf countries
With the rise of the oil economies in the Persian Gulf in the past decades, the trend of commuting from Lebanon has become increasingly popular among Lebanese workers who are heading east to financially prosperous places. Companies in the Gulf region have launched programs that allow their employees to commute to the Gulf and return home on the weekends, or for one week out of a month, covering all accommodation (housing or hotel) and flight costs for them.
Salim Tayah, a sales manager at Juji Film’s medical division for the Middle East and Africa region, spends no more than 10 days away from his family in Lebanon. He says that “At first it’s enjoyable, seeing new cultures,” said Tayah, whose French, Arabic and English skills helped land the job, which requires him to travel to up to 40 countries in the region. “But … sometimes I wake up in a hotel, and I don’t know what country I’m in.”
David Furlong, a financier working in the City of London, commuted from the south of France where he recently purchased property. He works in London from Monday to Thursday, as his boss allows him to work once a week from home. Maintaining two homes definitely costs him more, but in exchange he enjoys long weekends with plenty of sun and peaceful life at home. The fact that some friends and colleagues of his passed away (according to him, partly because of over-work) gave him a “wake-up call” and decided to make this drastic change in his life in a quest to find the right balance in his life.
When work beckons
The husband of Megan Bearce, author of Super Commuter Couples: Staying Together When a Job Keeps You Apart, landed a dream job in New York, which is roughly 1000 miles away from Minneapolis, where they had just relocated. After four years of living there, the couple have not looked back. According to Bearce, although commuting long distances can entail more expenses, living in a city such as New York for example, “the salary increase may offset the higher cost”.
These are just a few examples of the world’s super-commuters who are crossing the borders between neighbouring countries (if not heading far beyond nearby regions) to make a living. This really puts things into perspective; you might think twice before making such a fuss about commuting to work, even if it takes you one hour to get to work or even if you are stuck in traffic. What if you were travelling by plane and had to prepare your luggage or briefcase, go to the airport, wait at passport control, then wait at the airport gate for boarding? Would you consider becoming a super-commuter in exchange for a better work-life balance? Let us know in the comments section below…
Image source: CareerOne