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?
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