The 10 worst US cities for commutes that cost you time and money

Two cities included in Lending Tree’s top 10 ranking of the US cities with the most expensive commutes, San Francisco and San Jose, are serviced by the Caltrain.

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Two cities included in Lending Tree’s top 10 ranking of the US cities with the most expensive commutes, San Francisco and San Jose, are serviced by the Caltrain.
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Aric Crabb/Digital First Media/Bay Area News/Getty Images

Your commute isn’t just costing you a subway fare or the price of gas – commuting costs time, and time is money.

Online loan marketplace Lending Tree published a report on the most expensive commutes in the 100 largest cities in the US in October. Lending Tree posits that the cost of a commute can be calculated by assuming time commuting has the same worth as time spent working.

Consider a resident in New York, which Lending Tree ranked as the city with the fifth most expensive commute. Using Lending Tree’s findings via 2017 Census Bureau data, the median annual earnings for a full-time employee in New York is $51,573; their hourly wage is $26. Now, consider the mean time of commuting one way, 41.8 minutes. If you make $26 per hour at your job, and you spend 83.6 minutes daily on your round-trip commute, then your time wasted commuting is worth $37 of time you would have been working.

Five cities in California – Oakland, San Jose, Irvine, San Francisco, and Fremont – took top 10 spots in Lending Tree’s ranking, with four of those cities being in the increasingly expensive San Francisco Bay Area.

Here are the 10 US cities with the most expensive commutes per person, given commute time and salary.


10. Oakland, California

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The Fruitvale station BART platform in Oakland, California.
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MediaNews/Getty Images

Median full-time earnings: $56,307

Hourly wage: $29

Average hours worked per week: 38.7

Mean commute time: 33.9 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $33

Annual cost of commute: $8,549


9. San Jose, California

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This Caltrain’s final stop is in San Jose, California.
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Nick Otto/Washington Post/Getty Images

Median full-time earnings: $61,999

Hourly wage: $32

Average hours worked per week: 38.3

Mean commute time: 31.3 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $34

Annual cost of commute: $8,782


8. Seattle, Washington

Median full-time earnings: $72,052

Hourly wage: $37

Average hours worked per week: 39.2

Mean commute time: 28.3 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $35

Annual cost of commute: $9,016


7. Jersey City, New Jersey

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The PATH train terminal in the Oculus.
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Katie Warren/Business Insider

Median full-time earnings: $57,152

Hourly wage: $29

Average hours worked per week: 39.9

Mean commute time: 36.5 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $35

Annual cost of commute: $9,062


6. Washington, DC

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Commuters travel on the WMATA Metro in Washington, DC.
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REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Median full-time earnings: $70,725

Hourly wage: $35

Average hours worked per week: 40.5

Mean commute time: 30.8 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $36

Annual cost of commute: $9,323


5. New York, New York

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New York City subway station in Manhattan’s financial district.
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Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Median full-time earnings: $51,573

Hourly wage: $26

Average hours worked per week: 39

Mean commute time: 41.8

Daily cost of commute: $37

Annual cost of commute: $9,581


4. Irvine, California

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Early morning commuters at the Irvine Transportation Center wait in the rain with their umbrellas to board a southbound Amtrak train.
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Mark Boster/LA Times/Getty Images

Median full-time earnings: $80,944

Hourly wage: $42

Average hours worked per week: 38.3

Mean commute time: 26.8

Daily cost of commute: $38

Annual cost of commute: $9,818


3. Arlington. Virginia

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Commuters board a Metro train at the Crystal City stop in Arlington, Virginia.
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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Median full-time earnings: $82,357

Hourly wage: $39

Average hours worked per week: 41.8

Mean commute time: 29.1 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $38

Annual cost of commute: $9,938


2. San Francisco, California

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Two San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (MUNI) buses enter at the agency’s Presidio Division office.
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Stephen Lam/Reuters

Median full-time earnings: $80,812

Hourly wage: $40

Average hours worked per week: 40.4

Mean commute time: 33.8 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $45

Annual cost of commute: $11,719


1. Fremont, California

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BART train station at Warm Springs/South Fremont.
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Winni Wintermeyer/Washington Post/Getty Images

Median full-time earnings: $82,106

Hourly wage: $42

Average hours worked per week: 38.8

Mean commute time: 34.9 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $49

Annual cost of commute: $12,801