|Although I don't necessarily agree that riding a bike will make a person thin, it does require energy to move, unlike a car|
*Image source here
My time in school is coming to and end, and as I realize that I don't have much longer to be on this somewhat freely-adjustable schedule, I've also become increasingly aware that I will have to go back to a job that I likely won't like - and soon. There are days when this makes me sad, as I had envisioned becoming a hippy artist, wearing my paint-stained clothing to conduct business about town, and adopting some sort of anything goes kind of attitude about life. The reality is that nothing is as simple as I would've imagined it.
For starters, I will have a fairly sizable school loan to repay at the end of this return-to-school journey, and while I'm aware that they can't get blood from a turnip (as my grandfather would've said), at some point, the government will expect me to begin repaying this debt. I knew this going into my education, but I also believed that I would have a new career avenue in front of me as payment for that time and money. As I've pursued this avenue, I've realized how unlikely it is that this will take place. There aren't a ton of options for fine art painters in the corporate world (not that I would want that anyway), which leaves me to the skills I gained prior to my return to college (which are, of course, now outdated). It's not quite so black and white and I do realize that there is always a possibility that something in between the two extremes exists, but something else has begun to enter my mind in regard to potential employment opportunities: transportation.
I've started asking myself what I am willing to give up when the time comes. Our city isn't exactly a roaring metropolis, and job prospects generally are minimum wage (or fairly low wage) jobs unless one works in technology, management, or perhaps construction. I've realized that in order to make a decent living, more than likely, I will be a good 20-30+ miles from my future employer - not likely a regular, bike-able commute. So, I've been asking myself the very question posed at the start of this: Would I rather make $7-8/hour and work locally, or would I be better off giving up the bike ride to work in exchange for a more budget-comfortable wage?
It's not an easy question to answer, but I think it's one that more people are thinking about. I know that I ponder being able to give up a car (and payment on that car, insurance, gas spent to fill it up constantly, repairs, etc) and realize what a cost savings it could be, but then find myself wondering if it's truly the most efficient choice. The decision is of course complicated further by the idea that locally there are simply fewer jobs available, and it could take significantly longer to find employment by narrowing the search to places within say, a 15-20 mile radius from home.
I realize that there are potentially other options (such as public transportation, car/van pooling/share-a-rides, etc), but I'm curious if anyone out there has had a similar decision to make and what you did. If you haven't had to make this decision, what do you think you would do? There are many aspects that could be debated here, such as how much money does a person really need, or living in a two-income household, is it necessary to make a ton of money, or any number of other possible questions that could be asked and debated. Ultimately though, I know I do have some time, and things could change significantly before I reach the end of this little section of life's journey. But, I would love to hear what others think about this potential dilemma and/or your own personal experiences.