Affordability and personal decisions

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This is not about Shaw, really. This is sort about a co-worker, but not really. This is sort about the whole housing "affordability" argument that gets thrown around, sort of, or maybe not.

A co-worker/friend is one of the finalists for WTOP's Commuter Idle. Once upon a time, I joined the finalist on the final 30 minute leg of the 3+ hour commute. Then my work was in DC and my commute became awesomely wonderful. I listened to the stories of the 3 finalists and two claim housing affordability being the reason they live in BFE, VA or Way the Freakout, MD.

I've known other people who live way the hell out who cite the same 'can't afford to live in/near DC'  reason. But even if you gave them a rent free place in Columbia Heights or Brookland, they still wouldn't leave nowheresville, because there are other factors at work. Kids, are one. There are schools, then there is closeness of family to babysit, costs of daycare, type of environment, yard space, square footage, etc. If not kids, there are spouses. Spouses who have jobs and the choice is that one person gets the crappy commute while the other has the happy commute. Another is the type of lifestyle desired for themselves and/or their family. I had a co-worker once who lived out in West Virginia, left home before dawn and slept during the carpool ride to DC. He wanted to live near the mountains and out in the woods on a maintenance man salary. No level of 'affordable' DC housing was going to give that to him.

One of the finalists is a firefighter who commutes 235 miles when he comes into work. That comes up in 'workforce' housing discussions here in the city that housing should be built for firefighters, police, teachers, etc. The way he describes it, family is the reason he lives so far away. Housing affordability isn't presented as a factor. It would be interesting to know what percentage of DC municipal first responders live in the District and within the Beltway. Also I wonder if there is a problem recruiting and keeping more locals for these first responder jobs if a number live far out.

It's not just housing, it's also transportation. Believe me, if there was some way to live in Sunny Florida and commute only 3 hours door to door 5 days a week, I'd consider it. I'm a Florida native and I miss not having seasons. They and so many others live so far out because they can. There are so many transportation options around here that you can string together buses, trains, carpools, slug lines, and what have you, to eventually, get to work.  But I wonder if anyone stops to ask how long is too long and too far, before something has to give and serious changes need to be made.

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