It is our God-given right as true blooded Americans to commute to work every day at least 30 minutes, maybe 1 hour if we’re lucky.
Are you fortunate enough to be one of these people? Maybe you drive into LA every day or through Santa Barbara because you can’t afford to live in anywhere close to where you have to work.
But is this supporting your dreams of freedom and independence from financial limitations and controlling work environments? If not, how do we get out of this cycle of despair?
I see it as an array of options.
- You can quit your job
- You can make more money
- You can quit your job (vehemently)
The thing is, what is the point of a long commute? Does it satisfy our human desire for routine and familiarity? Chances are, if we have to be at work at a certain time every single day, we have enough routine and predictability.
Does it satisfy our need (as Americans) to sit on our butts for a few hours? Again, if it’s an office job… probably covered.
Maybe we genuinely just want time to chance to listen to music everyday. Okay, you got me, this is a pretty good reason.
WHY then do so many of us torment ourselves? Well, job scarcity is probably the definition that any economist (or snarky college grad) would tell you.
We Don’t Have Any Jobs Left
Okay, there are too many used car salesmen in Los Angeles. There are plenty of jobs there in that industry, but that’s not how job scarcity works. The problem is that there are too many jobs in the used car industry. There are no more left.
How can there be no more left? When the market for used cars is under-supplied, more people WILL enter the industry until supply at least meets demand. This makes it into a crowded employee market.
Nonetheless, there are many people trying to get those few scarce jobs. The ones who do secure these jobs have to live outside of LA because if they were paid enough to afford LA rent, their dealer would be less competitive compared to the dealers who pay their employees minimum wage.
These dealers know that enough people will be willing to drive the commute even if they pay only minimum wage.
Now what’s the more interesting reason?
We Enjoy Torture
Now before you get your leather spread out over the kitchen table, stay with me… If there is a demand for used cars in LA, shouldn’t there be one in the Midwest where you can buy a house on a credit card?
Yes, but who wants to live there? Only enough people to bring the demand for houses up to the supply. Given a (relatively) fixed level of houses in the Midwest, how is the demand altered? By the price.
The price for houses in the Midwest is lower than the price for houses in LA in order to increase the demand. Moving to Racine, WI is much more attractive to some people when they can get a 9 bedroom Mcmansion on an estate for the price of a studio apartment in California.
This brings the price of housing closer to the equilibrium price, which is geographically specific.
The demand for housing is SO high in the City of Angels that people are willing to drive from the valley everyday just for the privilege of entering the fair city’s gates.
Why? God knows… This is not a slam on LA, I love LA as much as the next, but why compromise the quality of life so much just in order to be in a crowded city?
After all, choosing LA over Racine means sacrificing a lot of your time, living space, and garden. You’ll give up fresh air, and you’ll probably be stressed all the time and die sooner.
So, how do we justify this? We love it! We have convinced ourselves as a society that all the action happens in the big city. Our ambition can only flourish in Los Angeles or New York, where the rich and famous live.
Are We Masochists?
But are we missing out on a chance for a better life? After all, there are so many opportunities to work in any industry in any city around the country. If people want accountants in San Francisco, they want accountants in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Sometimes, it’s the right decision to look at how the rest of the country lives and stop swimming against the current for while so we can make positive steps towards our goals and stop running in circles trying to make ends meet in the fantasy version of our lives.
After all, there is plenty of action going on outside of the two coasts.
I’m not telling you to move away from your home if you’re struggling. Running away from a problem is no entrepreneurial mindset to adopt.
However, think about who told you that you need to live in Los Angeles to make it big? Did they do the same thing to try to “make it”? How many other people are doing the same thing as you? Well, next time you’re on the 405, look around. That’s how many.
Opportunities are out there. There are many opportunities that aren’t even location specific (Check out Options trading for example!). All it takes for you to be successful is to do something that the world doesn’t have enough of, and to do it better than others.
This requires a little bit of intuition, and a lot of determination. Do you have both, or are you just grinding your life away?