When recruiters contact me, I invariably get asked in what region I am willing to work. Well. It depends.
(scroll down for a map if you don’t want to read).
The thing is, I actually enjoy going from point A to point B. At the same time, if it is in much less than ideal situations (lots of traffic, or crowded public transportation), then I may get overstimulated, which leads to fatigue and lack of concentration. The least enjoyable commute was only 20km, by car, but it typically took me more than one hour. This was when a new bridge was constructed over the Scheldt in Temse.
The most pleasant work experiences I had, involved these commute patterns:
- A 3km bicycle ride (about 10 minutes).
- 30 km by car, with the first 15 minutes on almost empty rural roads, and then 25 minutes on a highway in the direction that had the least amount of traffic.
- 5km, which I did on foot in 50 minutes (I was training for the Dodentocht at the time).
- 40km, which I did with 5 minutes bicycle, 35 minutes train, 5 minutes walking. Ideal for listening to one or two episodes of a podcast. Doing the same distance by car would taken me about the same amount of time, in ideal conditions. And I can’t focus on traffic and listen to a podcast at the same time.
- 6km, which was 20 minutes on a bicycle or 12 minutes by car. I preferred cycling, because I had separate bike lanes for about 80% of the way. 20 minutes was also an ideal amount of time to listen to one epidode of a podcast.
That looks like a lot of cycling, even though I don’t really consider myself to be an athletic type. It’s also eco-friendly, even though I don’t really consider myself to be an eco-warrior.
I’m not a petrol head, I don’t know anything about cars. 4 wheels and steering wheel, that’s about the limit of my knowledge. Currently I don’t even have a car, I make use of car sharing services like Cambio on the rare occasions that I actually need a car. At the same time, I do enjoy the experience of driving, especially long, smooth stretches. For example each year I go to a music course somewhere in the middle of Germany. That’s a 5 hour drive, not including stops. I absolutely love the change of scenery along the way. But but me in city traffic for an hour and I get too much input.
I have found a website where you can draw a map of the places you can reach within a certain time: TravelTime (the also have an API! ❤️).
This is a map I made with the following data:
- Yellow: reachable by cycling in 30 minutes or less. That’s about all of the city center of Ghent.
- Red: reachable by public transport in 1 hour or less. That doesn’t get me to Antwerp, Mechelen or Kortrijk, but Brussels and Bruges are just about reachable.
- Blue: reachable by car in 45 minutes or less. That barely touches Antwerp. Brussels: the north, west and south edges. Kortrijk and Bruges are also within reach. Why the cutoff at 45 minutes? Well, I would need really, really good other motivations to consider Brussels. Some time ago I thought that 30 minutes would be my maximum, but it isn’t. I’d rather call it an optimum than a maximum.
Even with this map, I still have a personal bias. Most of my social life occurs somewhere in the triangle Ghent-Antwerp-Brussels. It becomes harder to do something after work when working in West-Flanders. It’s not a hard pass, just a preference.
I have more to tell on this topic, so I might update this blog post later.