I recently discovered an interesting fact concerning city driving. Living closer to work doesn't necessarily mean you'll save money on fuel, or cut your commute time.
Until this summer, I used to live 7.5 miles from work. I'd leave home at 8:00am and arrive at work at 8:45am. My average speed was 6 miles an hour. And my fuel costs were $70 a week. My fuel consumption was a depressing 13 miles a gallon. And I was spending an average of 25 minutes a day just standing still in traffic.
Then I decided to make a change. Admittedly, I was motivated by real estate not fuel prices. But buying a bigger house for less money, away from the city center, also resulted in a better commute.
Though I now have to drive 15 miles to work instead of the 7.5 miles I was used to, the average speed limit throughout most of my commute is 55mph (instead of 25mph as before). I drive along open country roads and finish my commute on a short highway stretch.
Because I am driving faster, I am getting far better mileage, averaging 20 miles per gallon instead of 13. This translates to fueling once a week as before, and spending the same $70. To optimize my commute, I changed my work hours, coming in earlier and leaving earlier. As a result, I can circumvent the heaviest rush hour traffic and end up with a 30 to 45 minute drive. Again, the same commute I am used to.
Friends who see the photos of my beautiful new home ask me if the commute is worth it. The thing that surprises them (as much as it did me at first) is that there's a way to increase your commute distance without increasing your commute time or costs. You just have to look for open roads, with high speed limits to replace the slow, congested city streets you're used to. And you have to be a little more flexible with your work schedule.