Suburban Battle Plan

I’m currently living at least a half-hour drive away from my workplace in downtown Calgary; on a good day, not during rush-hour. Driving to work actually takes me about 45 minutes each way, and can cost anywhere from $8.00 to $15.00 a day, not including the cost of gas and maintenance of my vehicle. This might not seem so bad to some people, but for me it’s pretty much unworkable. So I take the train, which includes about 30 minutes actually on the train, 5 minutes of driving to the station and another 5 to walk the final leg to work. No matter how you slice it, I’m out well over an hour of my time each day. If you choose to look at it that way, which I don’t.

I’m of the belief that an experience is what you make of it. Myself, I actually enjoy the time I spend commuting, which sounds rather sick and twisted. Here’s how I cope:

  • Walk as much as you can. If you can avoid driving to the train station, do so. You’ll save on gas, and you’ll feel far more energized when you get to work. If you sit at a desk all day, it may be the only exercise you get. After a while, you’ll start to actually enjoy it.
  • Read stuff. Rather than just sitting like a lump on the train, distract yourself from the odours of your fellow passengers by enhancing your knowledge. Or just read a good novel. It makes the time pass quickly, and is often the only time I have to really concentrate on a book.
  • Get a music player. I use an iPod, because they fit nicely in my pocket, and I can carry every song I own on it. This makes my walking experience much nicer, and helps to filter out passenger noise on the train.
  • Get into podcasts. There are some really good tech-related podcasts on iTunes as well as other sites. There’s also a bunch of crap, but they’re all free right now, so it’s painless to try a few out. My recommendations… This Week in Tech, Diggnation and Digital Life. I alternate between listening to podcasts and reading books to mix things up a bit.

There you have it. I’m not sure how valuable any of this is, but I figured it would be good to put it out there.

3 thoughts on “Suburban Battle Plan

  1. Daren

    Hi there,

    I just came across your blog (a link from your profile on the ASP.NET forums).

    Firstly, congratulations on your wedding and welcome to institution. I’m 29 (been married for a couple of years now). Calgary was actually part of our honey moon destination (we live in Perth, Western Australia).

    Its interesting that you mention you have to travel 30-45mins to work. We are planning on immigrating to Canada (Calgary), and when I was last there I was impressed with the relative distance from Downtown to the far reaches of the burbs. That was about 3yrs ago but I hear Calgary has grown/boomed heaps since then.

    Is your suburb right on the ‘outer’, or somewhere in the middle?

  2. Jeff Perrin

    Hey Daren! I’m living in one of the furthest communities from downtown while still being in the city (Evergreen). One of the reasons for choosing Evergreen was its proximity to the south C-Train line that goes directly to downtown. I can walk to two stations within about a half hour, or drive in 5 minutes. There are other communities that don’t have good access to the train, which means taking the bus or driving.

    Calgary has grown quite a bit in the last 3 years. House prices have doubled, and downtown parking has also doubled (Calgary is the most expensive city for parking in Canada). I’m not sure how it compares to Perth, though.

    Good luck with the move. Overall, Calgary’s a pretty great city. Work is currently easy to find and there are a ton of opportunities for outdoor recreation. You’ll like it here, provided you can afford the housing… :)

  3. Daren

    Hi Jeff,

    Evergreen sounds interesting. I looked at some pictures on the net. It looks like a nice place. Clean and new.

    The interesting thing is that Perth (aside from its geographical differences) is very similar to Calgary. We are also considered the ‘powerhouse’ of the country and we derive a lot of our wealth from natural resources.

    Although this has created great job opportunities, unfortunately it has also doubled/tripled housing prices in the last 5yrs. I get feeling that the same sort of thing is happening in Calgary so we are considering purchasing something in Cal now before the prices go up even more (as our immigration application might still take 12-18 months).

    Did you look at any other suburbs before buying?