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"The commute to my banking job begins at 3.40am"

I work in a technology job in a financial services firm and my commute to the office takes nearly four hours. When I go into the office, which currently happens twice a week, my day looks like this:

  • 03:40 Wake up, shower, dress
  • 04:15 Leave my house to walk to station. Outside of London, I cannot rely on a taxi in the middle of the night. I could optimize this with a Brompton bike
  • 05:07 Catch the first train, which is the only Off-Peak Train for £95. If I get the slightly later train, it will cost me £225. If I can book 2-months in advance then I could catch a later train cheaply, but then who knows a finance company that plans things two months in advance?
  • 07:16 Arrive at Paddington Station
  • 08:00 Arrive in the office before most of my colleagues outside of trading. The Elizabeth line makes a big difference here.
  • WORK
  • 19:18 Catch the first off-peak train with everyone else whilst positioning myself strategically in the station to bag seat. Enjoy a sushi bento box.
  • 21:15 Arrive back at home station
  • ~ 21:50 Arrive back home at the end of my 16-hour day

Why, you may ask, do I put myself through this? I have a wife and two children. Where I live now, I can buy a house with four bedrooms in a nice area for £600k. In a pleasant area of London I would pay twice as much.

My mortgage is much smaller because of my commute. This gives me more optionality in the jobs I take: the golden handcuffs are less tight. However, I still want to work in London, because this is where the jobs and the money are.

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Clearly, there is a lifestyle sacrifice. I am foregoing sleep: I work on the train on the way in despite the abysmal wifi and on the return journey I rotate between treats, entertainment, work and sleep. I long ago learned that wine is drunk at your peril: the commute home takes twice as long when you drink wine throughout. 

I believe my arrangement to be worthwhile. I would be interested in hearing in the comments whether there are many other people living this lifestyle; I think it has become much more prevalent since the pandemic.

Peyton Meyer is a pseudonym

This article was first posted in September 2023. We're reposting it during the festive break 

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Photo by Sawyer Bengtson on Unsplash

AUTHORPeyton Meyer Insider Comment
  • M&
    5 January 2024

    Just Stop. No job, literally NO job is worth doing this to yourself. Stop encouraging this type of behavior to go to a "job". You have one life to live and its quite sad that people continue to follow the herd and do this. No wonder the world is so miserable.

  • St
    Stress routine
    6 November 2023

    Ouch.That is seriously early starts to your day,then commute into work.Maybe little unnecessary .

  • Ma
    29 September 2023

    Blimey. A huge day but consider staying a few nights in London. I have had London days shorter than yours and less travel cost for a 700 mile return trip by aircraft! House prices are half too

  • Sn
    29 September 2023

    Now do I feel sorry ? I spent years getting up in the early hours to walk 4.3 km's to Solothurn catch the train to Zurich arriving 6.50 to walk again 2 km's to the office Monday to Saturday as head Compliance and Risk. Repeat the to Berne for a bank opening minus the walk of 4.3 km's and later then to Geneva a 2 hour train ride one way.

    Reason I could afford a small house, a car, pay my taxes and afford my mortgage. Not to struggle like many of my associates over years and not be able to save up a Cent.

    Modern times now have arrived many foreclosure to save anything but prefer to have debts that one day will bite them.

  • al
    alberto m
    29 September 2023

    I am an expat living in (central) London and every day I wonder how it is possible that so many colleagues go through excruciating commutes daily in order to have a small garden and one bedroom per child. By the time they get home the children are asleep and they can enjoy the garden in the weekend only.

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