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Marchetti's constant (wikipedia.org)
82 points by raldi on Dec 30, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 24 comments

Having had a 3 hour round trip commute time (South Bay to SF), and a 10 minute round trip commute time (3 blocks away), I think that my current time of about 1 hour is the most desirable.

The long commute took a toll for obvious reasons, but even with the short convenient walking commute, I found it led to difficulties maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

An hour total commute (30 minutes each way) is generally enough to keep work life separated from personal life, while not being too much burden, in my opinion.

Having had a 45 minute walk to work ( no car ), and now a 2 minute drive (lazy and it's winter). I'd say the 2 minute drive is most desirable. I can decompress at home however I want and I'll take the extra 250 hours of leisure a year please and thank you. I don't have kids or a family tho.

2 minute drive? What? It takes longer than that to get into the car and get it out of parking.

My bet is that it's at best 10 minutes. Which would mean it's at most 0.5 km if the 2 minutes is actually drive time. Which means by the time you got into a car you'd be there on foot.

Going that distance takes 10 minutes for a reasonably fit person.

Unless your car goes some 300 km/h...

The usual rule of thumb is that going by car is about 6x faster for urban conditions and 20x for long roads.

I've had commutes as far as 35+ miles / 1 hour, and as short as 1 block, and I can report that shorter is always better. Once you walk outside and cross the street, you're going to work.

You don't say what "difficulties" you had but I suspect that a difficulty solved by making something arbitrarily take 30 minutes longer actually has some other root cause. Nobody complains that sending email is 30 minutes faster than walking to the post office.

You don't say how you're commuting, but a sizable community of people commuting by car has a real burden on society.

When it was South Bay to SF I commuted by driving to Caltrain, taking the train up, and then walking across half of SF.

Now I bike most days, unless the weather is crummy or the state is on fire again.

The work life balance issue was definitely partially the fault of the culture of the company I was at at the time, but living so close made it much more difficult to avoid.

And yeah, that’s an issue of willpower in part, and is the same reason I am not able to work remote or from home. But I don’t think that’s an issue unique to me.

I had the same 3 hour commute except from SF to South Bay. It's absolutely soul sucking and the burden is unbearable. Ever since then I won't even subject myself to an hour commute let alone 10 minutes commute. My work for the foreseeable future is exclusively remote.

Perhaps the concept of "commuting" will start to blur as self-driving cars and telecommuting become a more realistic part of remaining productive while still connecting with your coworkers.

I can't wait until we get fully self-driving cars that we can treat like moving workspaces.

Everyone I know who has a 3-hour commute already does that with the train or shuttle.

I've never understood people who say you can live too close to work. My best commute was a 5 minute walk. I lived in the city centre so everything was close to me. Why would it affect my work/life balance? When I didn't want to work I just did other things.

Maybe what is meant is if you live closer to work at the expense of living further away from everything else. That makes sense. But living close to everything was great (shame the job itself sucked or I would have stayed).

The company I was at at the time was very startup-y. Fast paced, high stress. People in the office very late, and gave a stipend for living walking distance to the office.

The result was a perception by myself and many others that we needed to stay later, and could because hey, home is right around the corner.

I’m sure some people could manage that better, but a lot of the company, myself included, could not.

I'll second this, as it has been my experience also. Having a young family I thought a 5 minute commute would be ideal, but found the half hour made me a more tolerable person.

If you need time to unwind, take it in the evening before you get home. You still save time in the morning and can use that unwind time to exercise.

Exactly: just take a walk for 30 minutes. I mean, it's certainly better that you can use that time for something else, even if you don't want to go home immediately - rather than being forced to commute.

I’ve got a 40 minute commute to work on the train and having two kids at home I absolutely love having the time completely free to read or think.

Which kind of difficulties? I have a 6 minuets commute and I find it wonderful.

> Ever since Neolithic times, people have kept the average time spent per day for travel the same, even though the distance may increase due to the advancements in the means of transportation.

I wonder how they deduced this. There isn’t a citation, and it seems pretty extraordinary to be able to figure out the mean travel time of people in the Neolithic era.

As a wild-ass guess, consider some ~uniform fertile plane. Look at the distribution of communities. The mean travel time is arguably at least proportional to the mean separation. I'm not sure, but they might even be equal.

They might have looked at data from current neolithic and other low-tech communities.

Why all these named numbers all of a sudden? It doesn't make them any more significant, it's just useless junk to memorize. Just say the average commute is one hour.

Also, it's not a constant so call it marchetti's number or marchetti's average.

Everyone wants to leave their stamp on the earth.

- Perfmode’s aphorism

I think the point of the “constant” is that the average hasn’t changed over the course of time. So it’s a constant average. Not like a ‘const’ variable.

Well one arrives at such silly average because some have 0 commute and others have very long ones. Ever since we settled as a species, there was no commute to speak of - farming, merchants, blacksmiths all pretty much lived where they worked. Commuting to an office is recent invention and was perhaps necessary before internet, but in my view it feels a bit archaic now, and a waste of time. There is social aspect of course, so if you want social interactions, I'd say they should be deliberate and not some chance side effect of driving to a crowded city centre.

The existence of farmer villages means that farmers did not, in fact, live in the middle of their plot of land.

In Indian cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, one can easily spend 3 to 4 hours a day commuting

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