Life Caught In Traffic

We just got back from a week of vacation in Los Angeles and it was a pretty hectic week. We went on some studio tours, visited a few museums, caught a ball game, and went to the new Star Wars area at Disneyland. We tend to try to plan a mid-day break into our traveling whenever we can, but the Los Angeles traffic did not cooperate at all.

Everywhere we went, we ate up precious time sitting in traffic jams. We frequently spent 40-50 minutes just trying to get to places that were just 10-15 miles away from our hotel. The worst traffic was a full hour on the road to go just 6 miles on the way to an Angels game. Over the course of the week, I would estimate we sat in traffic an average of 3 hours a day!

It really made me think about what an awful role traffic congestion can play in our lifestyle. Being early retired gives you the opportunity to do a lot of wonderful things, but what good is it if you can’t get to any of them?

We live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota – Minneapolis & St. Paul – which is the 16th largest metro area in the country. By comparison, we rank 24th in traffic congestion, which means for our population, we can get around pretty easily.

Here’s a listing of the 24 most congested cities in the United States from the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard. The numbers next to each city represent their global ranking (Boston is #1 in US; #8 In world; was #7 last year).

I’m not sure if the myriad of ‘Best Places to Retire’ lists take into account traffic congestion, but they might consider it. I know the traffic in West Florida (around highly rated Sanibel, Fort Myers, and Naples) is pretty bad. While I am fine planning my activities around avoiding rush hour in the morning and afternoon, that wouldn’t help in places that are caught in all-day gridlock.

How have / will you plan traffic congestion into your FIRE lifestyle?

Image Credit: Pixabay

18 thoughts on “Life Caught In Traffic

  1. I have family and friends in Southern CA, and the traffic there is the worst. We never look forward to it when traveling there. What did you think of the new Star Wars land at Disney?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We really liked Galaxy’s Edge. It’s bigger than we thought, and the theming is very good. We went there first thing in the morning & again after dark. These are the notes I shared with friends on Facebook:
      – It’s much bigger than it seems
      – 40 acres behind Big Thunder RR
      – A fully immersive Star Wars ‘land’
      – Really themed + propped well
      – Cool to walk onto the M Falcon!
      – Another ride opening in Autumn
      – Great market / restaurant areas
      – Exceeded expectations overall
      – Will take a few years to fully build out, similar to when Harry Potter first opened right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband and I were in Pasadena this weekend and commented on how horrible the traffic was and how do people live with this everyday. We took a shuttle to the Hollywood Bowl and we would have become crazy people if we’d tried to maneuver driving in that traffic. We’re from San Diego which has its own traffic nightmares during the week, but it was nice to see we’re not on the worst traffic list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We went through the Hollywood Bowl area on our way up to the Griffith Observatory. We tried two different nights to get through to the parking lot, but the Observatory was completely jammed. San Diego’s a terrific California alternative!


      1. We wanted to go to Griffith Observatory but didn’t have enough time. Their website even mentions parking can be difficult. Yes, San Diego is a great alternative. We do have the Palomar Observatory which I forget about! One of the best things about being retired is being able to avoid the bad traffic times. I got gas at Costco about 9:00am and no traffic or waiting in line. Same with my stop at Trader Joe’s!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We ended up catching a shuttle to Griffith – from the Greek Theater parking. When we wanted to leave, the shuttles were so overwhelmed we called an Uber up to bring us back down.


  3. One of these years I’m going to have to ‘officially’ retire. I look for walkable communities and it’s not just because of traffic. It’s become increasing difficult to buy a car. Seems the affordable SUVs have this tendency to flip over and blow up if you get into a fender bender. Not good. One car I was paying attention to was recalled as the steering wheels had a tendency to come off. Good grief. On and on I could go. I’m thinking when the Saturn I own dies, might be time to just get an i-phone and call for an Uber or Lyft and consider that my transportation expense. This just might be better for the environment and potentially save me $1-200/month?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I took Uber to a restaurant and it was $50.00 round trip. It cost more than my meal, but I did get to drink wine and not worry about driving! A friend suggested adding Uber in my budget so I don’t worry about the cost too much. I was thinking I could budget $1000/year.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We have looked at other places to live since retiring just over two years ago, but continually decide we already have it made in the mid-Atlantic area. We live in a very rural area. Our town only has one stoplight and a traffic circle. I get frustrated when I have to wait for one car to pass in the traffic circle! There’s no way I would ever consider living in a place like LA or Boston! (I type this as we head toward Boston this week for a stop over on our way up the Eastern Seaboard toward Portland, Bar Harbor and eventually Nova Scotia…) But I know, that I get to return to our quiet farm life in just a few weeks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s sounds perfect. The older I get, the more I feel like I could live in a small town or rural area. We’re just on the edge of farmland in the Twin Cities, so that’s a nice balance.


      1. Just a follow up…. We just drove into Boston last evening on our way to Salem, MA. Boston is a wonderful city, but I can’t imagine a point in my life, that I would ever even consider driving here again. My hats off to the wonderful people of Boston, who find the patience to deal with this traffic on a daily basis, but life is too short for me to deal with the traffic. But it really is a lovely city otherwise. I see why it’s number one on the list.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I thought that ‘Big Dig’ Project was supposed to alleviate a lot of the issues in Boston, but apparently not. Boston has been #1 in the NFL and MLB recently, but this is a category you don’t want to be #1 in!


  5. Here in CT, our previous Governor referred to our two major west-east highways (I-95 and Merritt Parkway) as “a parking lot and a museum relic.” Here in the all-blue haven, transportation infrastructure is crumbling due to legislative malfeasance in office. Abysmal traffic is a daily downer. People resort to execrable solutions (eg., using the shoulder as a lane, while the rest of us drive legally; or motorcyclists charging along dotted lines between cars, endangering lives, while the rest of us drive legally). Increasing hordes of drivers no longer bother to use turn signals, because it interferes with their texting. I should move to Montana. But it’s not very close to the ocean. 😉


    1. The motorcycle ‘Lane Splitting’ phenomena is widespread in Los Angeles. I believe that California is the only state where it is legal (as of 2016). As slow as traffic is there, it sort of makes sense – although I cringed many times when they went darting by.


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