December 3, 2023

Investment Banking

Let Your Investment Banking Do The Walking

“The commute to my banking job begins at 3.40am”

I work in a technology job in a financial services firm and my commute to the office takes nearly four hours. When I go into the office, which currently happens twice a week, my day looks like this:

  • 03:40 Wake up, shower, dress
  • 04:15 Leave my house to walk to station. Outside of London, I cannot rely on a taxi in the middle of the night. I could optimize this with a Brompton bike
  • 05:07 Catch the first train, which is the only Off-Peak Train for £95. If I get the slightly later train, it will cost me £225. If I can book 2-months in advance then I could catch a later train cheaply, but then who knows a finance company that plans things two months in advance?
  • 07:16 Arrive at Paddington Station
  • 08:00 Arrive in the office before most of my colleagues outside of trading. The Elizabeth line makes a big difference here.
  • WORK
  • 19:18 Catch the first off-peak train with everyone else whilst positioning myself strategically in the station to bag seat. Enjoy a sushi bento box.
  • 21:15 Arrive back at home station
  • ~ 21:50 Arrive back home at the end of my 16-hour day

We do not think that it is a lot cheaper living in the beautiful countryside. We prefer London, everything is nearby, shops, groceries, social life, there are plenty of parks around, it is very walkable, transport nearby too, and if we need quietness, and catch more sleep, we just stay in our flat.

Why, you may ask, do I put myself through this? I have a wife and two children. Where I live now, I can buy a house with four bedrooms in a nice area for £600k. In a pleasant area of London I would pay twice as much.

My mortgage is much smaller because of my commute. This gives me more optionality in the jobs I take: the golden handcuffs are less tight. However, I still want to work in London, because this is where the jobs and the money are.

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Clearly, there is a lifestyle sacrifice. I am foregoing sleep: I work on the train on the way in despite the abysmal wifi and on the return journey I rotate between treats, entertainment, work and sleep. I long ago learned that wine is drunk at your peril: the commute home takes twice as long when you drink wine throughout. 

I believe my arrangement to be worthwhile. I would be interested in hearing in the comments whether there are many other people living this lifestyle; I think it has become much more prevalent since the pandemic.

Peyton Meyer is a pseudonym

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Photo by Sawyer Bengtson on Unsplash