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Originally published August 24, 2013 at 10:12 PM | Page modified August 25, 2013 at 3:23 PM

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The price of a long commute

Courtney Brookins and her husband moved from West Seattle to Auburn. But her commute to Bothell has the couple seriously considering spending more on a rental farther north.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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When Courtney Brookins, 35, moved out of her 700-square-foot West Seattle apartment with her husband, she wanted the next place they lived to be a house they could own one day.

After she nabbed a job in Bothell that paid more than her Seattle-based one, though, they figured it would be worth it to move out of the city and continue renting for a little while longer. They found a rental home in the Auburn area that was at least three times as big as their apartment but cost about the same per month.

Her husband would use the newer of their two cars to drive to an early-morning security job at Amazon’s South Lake Union campus. She would use a public-transit route that seemed easy and affordable when she mapped it out online.

But her first day using public transit was a rude awakening.

“So I did it, and four hours later I got home. I was like, ‘I can’t believe this.’ I caught it for one day and that was it,” Brookins said. “I had no idea what kind of commute I was biting off when I moved.”

Brookins now uses a King County Metro van pool part-time or drives on her own up and down a clogged Interstate 405 to work. Either way, the trip can take between one and two hours in each direction.

The costs of their commutes quickly add up: about $100 a week for gas, $40 a month for the partially company-subsidized van pool, and about $1,000 in car repairs so far.

But the worst price, she says, is how much of her day goes to commuting. By the time she gets home, eats and takes care of small chores, she says, she doesn’t have much time or energy to spend with her husband before his early 8:30 p.m. bedtime.

Because of that, the couple are seriously considering spending more on a rental farther north, even if it eats at their savings.

“It really makes me wonder, if a job opportunity would pay me what I’m making now and brought me back to Seattle, would I do it?” Brookins said. “I probably would. The commute time alone is so precious.”

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