Why I drive 60 Miles one way to Work

TLDR || We wanted room for the kids to free range, and closeness to Grandparents. I drive a 2002 insight @ 60mpg, work swing shift 4×10 and I’m obsessed with Audible – my running book list for the year

Three years ago we lived in Woodinville where the Black X is in the picture to the left. Today we live where the Red X is, in Olalla. I still work next to the 520 sign at Microsoft Redmond campus. Six years ago we watched the Introduction to the movie Idiocracy a few too many times and decided to start having kids. Michelle grew up in Puyallup with room and neighborhood to play in. I grew up in Port Orchard on acreage with four wheeler trails, a creek to dam up, woods to play in, and free range parents who rang the dinner bell to have us come in out of the woods where we’d been playing all day unsupervised.

Our home in Woodinville was on an acre, but it backed up to a busy road and was not the best place to allow our kids to roam. Michelle and I agreed we wanted more space to afford our children room to roam, plus we wanted to be a bit closer or our parents, our children’s grandparents. My parents live in the PO, in the same house I grew up in near the Blue X. Michelle’s parents recently built a house and moved to Puyallup near Purple X.

Buying Land

After some talking we started looking at houses and land in-between our parents home, and I asked to move to a swing shift at work. The swing shift happened much soon then I’d planned for and a few weeks later I was on swings. We were not finding anything turning us on house wise and most of the land was kind of sketchy; filled with wet lands or steep banks, or hard to get to, ETC. Then we found the land we ended up buying. The owner had bought 20 acres and sub divided it a number of years before then had issues selling it when it was worth more.

We ended up paying 150,000$ for 10 acres of land. The lot we bought is about 5 acres useable, and 5 acres of land too sloped to build on without engineering. All of the land is great for kids to play and explore. We closed on the land on my birthday 2012 and started clearing. Three years later we live here full time in a home we built with our own bare hands. Somewhere in there we bought some additional acreage to avoid having neighbors.

The Why

We both wanted our children to have a childhood where they’d be able to free range explore a large plot of wilderness and play outdoors with dirt and imagination. Today I watched Maddex and Mila pick up rocks in dump trucks and wheel barrows, haul them across the yard and build what they called a Dam. Later Maddex asked me to help him make some mud to use, as he put it, to “concrete bond the rocks of their dam together.” I spent entire seasons outside in my rubber boots damming up a creek at my parent’s house. Those dams are some of the best memories I have before hitting double digits in age. Helping the kids have similar memories is key to why we live here.

Family is an important part of life for Michelle and I and we wanted to allow our children to build relationships with their grandparents. Living over an hour away them the relationships we wanted were never going to happen. Being closer the relationships are happening. My parents have been taking Maddex overnight a few Fridays a month. My dad and Maddex have a blast building things in the garage and playing. One Friday they tossed rocks on the frozen pond for a few hours. Michelle’s mom has been taken Mila on the nights Maddex ends up with my parents. Our children are creating amazing memories with their grandparents.

An added bonus of being, at a minimum, 300 feet from the nearest property line is privacy. Our kids are not fans of being fully dressed and we don’t feel the need to add dressed in the privacy of your home to the list of battles we chose to waste energy on. Maddex uses the outside as a wash room to pee more then he goes in the house. When we go in the hot tub and have, as Michelle calls it, “Family bath time” the kids hate being dressed. We can play however we want to, whenever we want too, and make nearly unlimited noise without annoying anyone. We even have enough property to allow for the construction and utilization of our own gun range. We have freedom to use our land and not annoy or be noticed.

The How

Driving 60 miles one way to work each day is an insane idea when you look at the surface. Given the benefits above, coupled with the simple fact we’re mostly insane I make it work. When we first moved over here I tried commuting with a GEO Metro, but after the engine over heated the third time and I had to be towed home I gave up on that car. The next car was a 2002 Honda Insight I’ve been driving the insight to work for 28 months now without issue. The Insight averages about 60MPG and by December of this year it will have costs me as much in fuel costs as it did to purchase the car, 3000$. Not too bad cost wise for 60,000 mile of driving. When we lived 12 miles from work in Woodinville I drove a Suzuki Samurai at about 15MPG. The fuels for the 24 mile round trip commute were similar to the current costs, so cost wise it does not change much.

The car keeps the commute cost down, but not the time cost. To avoid a 2+ hour commute in Seattle traffic I work a swing shift 13:00 to 23:00 four days a week. Driving into work I average 73 minutes and occasionally hit traffic and end up spending an extra 20 minutes or so on the road. On the return trip I end with a fairly consistent 62-minute drive time. The biggest sanity helper for me, and the part enabling me to enjoy the commute is Audible. I have a Kindle Fire Tablet mounted in my car Blue Toothed to the stereo used to play audio books while I’m in the car. According to the book diary I’ve been keeping I’ve listened to about 11 books in January. I listen to books at 3x to 4x times normal speaking speed so they don’t take long to finish.

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