I currently live just eight miles from work. It takes about 15 minutes (20 when there are school zones and rush hour traffic) and all on city streets to get there. It’s an easy and stress-free commute. But the short commute is a trade-off – I live close to work, but I live in an area that doesn’t have good public schools.

We live in a beautiful and quite neighborhood with lots of huge old trees and updated 1950s ranch homes (and a few teardowns made into modern houses). It’s a great neighborhood to raise a family, but very few kids living in our neighborhood actually go to the public school near by. Most of our neighbors send their children to private school, so kids are bussed in from other parts of town to the local public schools.

With my son growing up quicker than I thought possible, I’m now faced with trying to decide what to do for his schooling. Do I send him to low rated public schools? Do I pay exorbitant prices for private school? Or do we move to a city with good public schools, but a much longer commute (including busy highways)?

I’ve lived and worked in places where I’ve had both long and short commutes on highways and city streets. My easiest two commutes were the five to ten minute drive to work when I lived in a small town, and a 20 minute walk to work in Australia. My worst two commutes were the three hour commute to the gas plant (only once a month, but still…), and the 30-60 minute commute in heavy traffic and freeways to university when I lived at home with my parents while going to school.

I hate driving in heavy traffic and highways. It is extremely stressful and I always feel like other drivers are careless and selfish. Everyone wants to get where they’re going as fast as possible without a care for the other drivers on the road. It’s exhausting, especially after a long day at work when you just want to be home. Plus time spent in the car commuting is time I’m missing with my son at home.

I would do almost anything to not have to commute long distances and on freeways to work, but the thought of paying several thousands of dollars every year for private school for my son starting in kindergarten seems crazy to me. Ok, maybe paying for one child in private school could possibly be doable since we love our neighborhood so much, but if we have more than one child it would become much too expensive to send them all to private school.

My husband and I both went to public schools and we planned the same for our children. But the public schools we went to weren’t rated 2 out of 10 as schools near my house are. We lived in more suburban areas, and I wonder if that’s what my kids need too.

I still have three years to decide what to do, but I know the time will come sooner than I’m ready for. I’d love your advice. Do you commute so your kids can go to better schools? Do you pay for private school? Are even low rated public schools still good if you find the right teachers?

Please stay tuned for my next post on Thursday, I’m so excited to publish the first interview for the Engineering Emily Interview Series. You’ll meet a very inspiring woman, so don’t miss it!

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