The joy of (work) travel

So, one of the fun parts of my role is that I travel a lot more than I used to. The plus side is that I put all the expenses on my rewards card which means more money back, which you have to love! The downside is the distances and the tiring nature of it (the worst case I have to do on a regular basis involves over 10 hours of commuting for about 5 hours in an office). Not ideal, but all part of the job and pays me. The plus side is that bit is coming to an end.

The flip side to this, is I get to do a lot of people watching as some of the trains I can’t work on (as there are no tables), or I have to change too frequently and I am not getting a laptop out for just 5 or 10 minutes. It isn’t the best use of my time, but it is all part of the job so for now I continue to suck it up, and to a degree enjoy the various areas of the UK countryside.

On a recent trip I got to go down the good old “commuter belt” from London and the home counties. Not too surprisingly there was the usual group of suited and booted types heading into work – just like me! There were the odd tourists or people clearly on a day trip, but they really were the minority. Funny how us humans develop our patterns of knowing exactly where to stand to get on the right part of the train to minimise the distance we need to travel when we get to our stopping point. Shame people don’t do the same for their finances. But I digress.

I do enjoy staring out of the train window, and looking at the countryside and houses. Whilst I wouldn’t want to live that close to a railway line, it is always nice to see different types of homes and give me an idea of what could be nice for when we retire. Every so often of course we hurtle (or sometimes stop) at train stations. What really struck me however was as we went past the various railway stations, what was in their car parks!

I am not a secret fan of car parks unlike some, however it was always the cars, and similarity that struck me. You had some of the sensible small cars there, however there was also row after row of high end BMW or Mercedes, Porsche or large 4x4s and it got me thinking of the level of insanity that exists in this country (and that’s without even talking politics!). Whilst I am not up on the costs of these I am fairly certain that these would be at least £30,000 each – and that’s assuming they were bought outright, something I highly doubt. Now I am not familiar with the intricacies of lease hire or hire purchase for cars (for obvious reasons), so I don’t know how much this would cost, but I would guess at least a couple of hundred quid a month.

What really got me laughing was seeing several Porsche 911’s in a railway car park. I am of course assuming the owners were commuting to work (but of course I don’t know for certain). So they spend, I would guess, £500 per month on the car, plus the daily parking charges, plus the train commute. Now I guess not everyone can (or would want to) live close enough to the train station, so I can imagine the belief that they must have a car. But seriously? A 911 and still having to commute and work?

Why on earth would you spend so much (I dread to think of the other associated costs) when you still had to work? Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a Ferrari, but I wouldn’t pay for it in preference to paying down my mortgage!

For reference, years ago someone I know took their Ferrari in for servicing. 4 new brake pads. Can you guess the cost? It was £22,000. You could buy a whole knew car for that!

Over the years, the increase in London property prices has been mad, but compared to the cost (both financially, and health and time wise) of commuting, does living outside and facing that really be worth it?

When I first took a job in London (hands up, I was attracted by the massive increase in salary) I thought I would commute it. Back then my rent (one room in a shared house) was £200 per month, and my transport cost was £250 per month. The commute time? Just over 2 hours each way. The cost of renting (a room in a shared place) a 25 minute walk from work? Just over £600 per month. So £150 per month bought me 3 hours a day, or 60 hours a month – so £2.50 per hour. I knew there was a reason I did it!

Would it be possible to do it now? I suspect it would be a challenge – central London rents being what they are, but it is possible to find something for under £1,000 per month. No you don’t have your own place and you share it, but think of the amount you can save this way. The cost of renting a flat on your own in central London, or even buying, are just prohibitive unless you land some insane banking job.

It’s what I did (share, not land an insane banking job!), and I think it still is, it is just that people would rather live further out and spend the difference on something else they don’t need! I can accept that with a small kid or two people would want more space that you don’t get (at a reasonable price) in London, but that opens up the can of worms of should you have the children if you can’t afford that side. But that is a different conversation!


Author: fireinlondon

Fighting the high cost of living in London

8 thoughts on “The joy of (work) travel”

  1. It’s an awful lot more than £500 per month leasing cost for a fancy car.
    I have a colleague who leases a £40,000 Discovery Sport. Large deposit and £500 per month.
    Dominic Chappell, that nice chap who tried to save BHS, pays 2,666 per month for his Range Rover apparently
    Then you have to add the insurance, fuel, repairs…

    Frankly, people will show off. To those in big finance jobs in the City, it seems to be fancy cars and exotic holidays. Frankly these days in London it’s not so much about how much you earn for property, as it is about your age: even with huge salaries, the relatively young cannot compete with the poor elders who have so much accumulated house price equity. Hence the more subtle competing on current status shows of the car and the holiday.


    1. Hi EPS,
      Wow – I didn’t realise it was THAT expensive! That is truly an insane amount of money for a car… as you say adding in insurance, MOT, tax, fuel, repairs etc. it becomes a huge drain.
      As you say – a lot of showing off that is done and seems to become more of a commute in and then show it, but just baffles me. I guess showing off my ISA size wouldn’t be quite the same as my 10 year old car lol


  2. My biggest regret was leasing my car. I lease a 420d BMW for 570 a month. Yes I need a reliable car for work and yes my work pays half the cost (570 a month for this on 15000 miles a year) and yes there are no other costs which allows me to invest without fear of a major car bill but even so. I am going to bite the bullet and and either lease a much cheaper car closer to my allowance or buy a ten to 15k car outright next time. Giving me all that extra money to invest


    1. Hi FBAB,
      Blimey thats quite steep! Some of the older cars are pretty reliable these days I have found, but a plus if the company pays some of it.
      Funnily enough I was looking at the classifieds in the paper the other day as I was trundling into the London office, and hadn’t realised how expensive even the second hand cars are – as you rightly say its going to be 10 – 15k to get a reasonable one.
      An up front cost but definitely worth it!


    1. But for me that still doesnt make a sensible choice of a debt of £500 per month, but I can see the advantage if a lot less. Right now, I will stick with the 10 year old banger 🙂


  3. O I’m Not disagreeing with you 😂 worst thing I ever did. An is to lease something cheaper in two years time and then switch to buying something second hand after that or. I just can’t bring myself to pay 10 to 15k outright for now. In five years I should have over 100k of non pension savings and psychologically paying out that much wont wont feel too bad lol


    1. Haha with you. I know that I am going to have to replace the car at some point and was looking recently. I know that it is going to cost me about £10k so I need to start looking at drip feeding some savings….


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