Cities With the Easiest Commutes
Commutes are serious business. Long commutes can be much worse than your actual job, and if it’s too extreme, it might not be worth the aggravation. Especially now, when we’re getting so used to flying, telecommuting and even hearing about self-driving cars, a long commute just seems so unnecessary.
Thankfully, there are a number of cities that offer relatively easy commutes. If you base the commutes on the number of hours you’ll spend stuck in traffic, the cost of insurance and gas, and the likelihood of an accident, you’ll probably be surprised to see the cities that pop up. These commutes might not be the shortest around, but they are the most relaxing.
- Omaha, NE
Coming in at No. 1 is Omaha. You might not expect much in terms of population in this Midwest state, but according to the United States Census Bureau, Omaha is home to a whopping 446,000 people. With all those people, it’s pretty impressive that they only spend about 24 hours a year stuck in traffic. Of course, that sounds like a lot, since it’s an entire day, but couple that with a -11 percent chance of getting into an accident and you’ll be a pretty happy driver.
- Kansas City, MI
Next up, we’re looking at Kansas City. This place also has a low accident rate at -16 percent, but the really nice thing is the gas prices. Kansas City is currently looking at $1.91 for gas, which is well below the national average of $2.22. Keep in mind that the Kansas City in Missouri is basically the same Kansas City in Kansas. That means that technically, both of these cities are great options for commuters.
- El Paso, TX
El Paso is a big city, which makes sense for the Lone Star State. With the main highway being Interstate 10, it’s not too much of a shocker to see that the accident rate is a bit higher here, coming in at 0.8 percent. It’s technically within the national average, but it’s not as low as some of the other options. However, the unemployment rate in El Paso is below the national average at only 6 percent, and there’s no state income tax. All of those things combine to make El Paso not only one of the best cities for commuters, but also one of the happiest. It actually ranks as the fifth happiest city in the United States.
- Salt Lake City, UT
One of the prettiest cities around, Salt Lake City is also a good one for your drive to work. You won’t have to spend much time in traffic, and the rates for your insurance are the lowest on this list, coming in at about $772 for a yearly expense. That’s only $64 a month, which is much lower than you pay for cable. Add to that the relatively low accident rate and the breathtaking mountains that surround the city and you’re looking at some pretty nice options. Plus, once you get out past the mountains, the sky turns into something out of a painting. There’s no cure for burnout like a weekend spent starting at the Milky Way.
- Albuquerque, NM
Speaking of mountains and starry night skies, it also turns out that Albuquerque makes this list. Again, there’s a super low cost for car insurance at $960 per year, and very few traffic jams that you’ll have to sit through. That’s where the similarities end, though. Albuquerque’s desert is a very different environment from the temperate forests of Salt Lake City. The red rocks, high mountains and long plateaus give the city another kind of beauty, one that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world. The dry desert air is also said to be wonderful for people with breathing problems like asthma, so maybe that’s why it made it to No. 31 on the list of happiest American cities.
- Richmond, VA
As it turns out, one of America’s oldest cities is also great for commuters, and for work. This city basically hits a home run, with only 29 hours of traffic jams a year, car insurance costing only about $875 and gas coming in at less than $2 per gallon. Richmond also lives up to its name, with the average household income landing at just under $60,000. That’s well above the average American income of $53,046. With a short commute, long history and great income potential, it’s no surprise that Richmond is a pretty happy place. This one lands at No. 21 on that list.
- Raleigh, NC
Raleigh’s dirt-cheap insurance comes in at about $828 each year, which is less than $70 per month. Plus, there’s only about 23 hours of traffic jams – you’d expect to sit in traffic for less than five minutes a day. Of course we all know traffic jams don’t really work like that, but it’s something you can ponder next time you’re stuck in one. Raleigh households make an average of more than $60,000 and is the happiest city on our list, coming in at a joyful No. 3.
- Phoenix, AZ
Low gas prices and a surplus of natural attractions makes Phoenix a dream place to live. Not only does it have rock bottom gas prices, but it also has a low accident rate at only 5.7 percent. Plus, it’s close to one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Grand Canyon. There’s also Camelback Mountain to climb, and various other exciting landmarks around the city. On top of that, it’s fairly close to several Native American reservations. Basically, if you want to see what America was like before the Industrial Revolution, Phoenix can take you back to the natural beauty of it.
- Milwaukee, WI
Located near Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is one area where you’re the least likely to have an accident. It comes in at 5.7 percent below the national average for motor vehicle accidents, which is a pretty good deal. You’ll also only sit in traffic for about 28 hours a year, and it lands at just about the national average for household incomes. Right on the edge of the Great Lakes, you can expect a lot of really excellent fish restaurants, as well as plenty of sailing, swimming and beach-laying.
- Tucson, AZ
Finally, you can go from the Northeast of the United States to the Southwest with Tucson. Low insurance prices, gas and even a low accident rate make this one of the best cities to make your commute in. Plus, it’s right on the edge of the Catalina Foothills, so you can go to some of the best open houses in the country.
When you put it all together, any of these places has its appeal. There’s something for everyone in each city, so it really just boils down to personal preference. Any of these cities are some of our nation’s happiest, and they all make getting to and from your job much easier.