Chicagoland’s Worst Commutes: More Gas, Higher Insurance and Wasted Time  

Auto Insurance, Insurance
Chicago's Worst Commutes

Whether they’re heading downtown or to Schaumburg, workers commuting in Chicago can expect long and expensive trips. They waste 51 hours each year as a result of congestion. But time isn’t the only casualty of Chi-town traffic. Commuters lose money because of heavy traffic delays, too, starting with higher Illinois car insurance quotes. But which Chicagoland workers face the costliest commutes?

A new NerdWallet study has found that Calumet City and Plainfield are the two worst suburbs for commuters in Chicagoland. To determine the rankings, we analyzed the two major costs associated with commuting: time and money.

Financial Cost

Gas and insurance are two costs that vary depending on your commute. Insurance costs vary greatly among Chicago suburbs. There is a $449.18 annual difference between the Chicago suburb with the most expensive average car insurance premiums, Harvey, and the suburb with the least expensive premiums, DeKalb. Gas prices also fluctuate around Chicago. Drivers across the border in Indiana can expect to pay about 30 cents less per gallon for gas than drivers in Cook County.

Time Cost

In addition to car-related costs, the commute itself can negatively impact workers’ health, happiness and wallets. The time workers spend commuting could be spent working or enjoying friends and family. Driving also takes away from time workers could spend exercising. Researchers have found that people who have long commutes have higher blood pressure and larger waistlines. Long commutes can also increase stress levels, anxiety and the likelihood of depression.

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NerdWallet determined the worst suburbs for Chicago-area commuters by analyzing the following factors:

  1. How expensive is gas? (10%) We looked at average gas prices in each county.
  2. How expensive is insurance? (15%) Insurance is a large cost for commuters. Annual insurance premiums differ greatly from place to place, so we wanted to accurately assess the financial burden it placed on commuters.
  3. How long are workers’ commutes? (55%) We looked at the length of the average worker’s one-way commute.
  4. Are there many commuters? (20%) We looked at the percentage of workers in each suburb who drive alone to work. A suburb with a large percentage of solo commuters will often face increased congestion, which can lead to even longer commutes.

Key findings

  • The average commute time for Chicago-area drivers is 28.89 minutes. Plainfield workers face notably longer commute times, with an average commute time of 38.3 minutes each way.
  • Car ownership costs vary greatly from place to place. Cook County has the highest average gas prices: $3.89. Harvey has the most expensive annual car insurance premiums: $1,340.81.
  • Indiana drivers face relatively cheap car ownership costs. On average, they pay $1,064.96 each year for car insurance and $3.56 a gallon for gas.

 

 

The 10 Worst Chicagoland Commutes

1. Calumet City
Average car insurance premium: $1,275.44
Average gas price: $3.89
Average commute time: 34.7 minutes
Percentage of workers driving to work alone: 76.1%

2. Plainfield
Average car insurance premium: $1,004.46
Average gas price: $3.68
Average commute time: 38.3 minutes
Percentage of workers driving to work alone: 83.3%

3. Algonquin
Average car insurance premium: $982.81
Average gas price: $3.70
Average commute time: 37.3 minutes
Percentage of workers driving to work alone: 80.8%

4. Romeoville
Average car insurance premium: $1,022.63
Average gas price: $3.68
Average commute time: 35.6 minutes
Percentage of workers driving to work alone: 82.8%

5. Tinley Park
Average car insurance premium: $1,050.97
Average gas price: $3.79
Average commute time: 33.9 minutes
Percentage of workers driving to work alone: 81.8%

6. Orland Park
Average car insurance premium: $1,075.09
Average gas price: $3.79
Average commute time: 33.4 minutes
Percentage of workers driving to work alone: 80.5%

7. Harvey
Average car insurance premium: $1,340.81
Average gas price: $3.89
Average commute time: 30.3 minutes
Percentage of workers driving to work alone: 70.4%

8. Bartlett

Average car insurance premium: $991.63
Average gas price: $3.81
Average commute time: 33.9 minutes
Percentage of workers driving to work alone: 81.8%

9. Lansing

Average car insurance premium: $1,133.38
Average gas price: $3.89
Average commute time: 31.1 minutes
Percentage of workers driving to work alone: 80.9%

10. Oak Forest
Average car insurance premium: $1,146.56
Average gas price: $3.89
Average commute time: 30.6 minutes
Percentage of workers driving to work alone: 82.5%

 The Full List

Rank City Annual premium Average Gas price Average commute time Percentage of Workers commuting alone Composite points
1 Calumet City, IL $1,275.44 $3.89 34.7 76.1 16.93
2 Plainfield, IL $1,004.46 $3.68 38.3 83.3 19.45
3 Algonquin, IL $982.81 $3.70 37.3 80.8 23.25
4 Romeoville, IL $1,022.63 $3.68 35.6 82.8 26.07
5 Tinley Park, IL $1,050.97 $3.79 33.9 81.8 27.14
6 Orland Park, IL $1,075.09 $3.79 33.4 80.5 28.13
7 Harvey, IL $1,340.81 $3.89 30.3 70.4 28.36
8 Bartlett, IL $991.63 $3.81 33.9 81.8 28.56
9 Lansing, IL $1,133.38 $3.89 31.1 80.9 29.24
10 Oak Forest, IL $1,146.56 $3.89 30.6 82.5 29.50
11 Oak Lawn, IL $1,169.31 $3.89 30.3 79.4 30.69
12 Cicero, IL $1,282.25 $3.89 30.9 64.7 30.91
13 Bolingbrook, IL $1,066.69 $3.70 32.8 82.4 31.48
14 Burbank, IL $1,115.00 $3.89 30.4 79.5 32.21
15 Berwyn, IL $1,211.88 $3.89 30.4 69.1 32.90
16 Crystal Lake, IL $949.81 $3.71 32.9 81.1 35.32
17 Oak Park, IL $1,145.52 $3.89 31.7 57.4 36.14
18 Streamwood, IL $974.25 $3.89 30.4 81.4 36.19
19 Skokie, IL $1,144.09 $3.89 29.3 73.9 36.22
20 Naperville, IL $917.52 $3.70 33.9 75 36.39
21 Glenview, IL $1,055.34 $3.89 30.1 73.7 37.17
22 Wilmette, IL $1,008.63 $3.89 32.8 58.3 37.50
23 Buffalo Grove, IL $1,039.56 $3.79 29.5 84.7 37.72
24 Hoffman Estates, IL $1,031.69 $3.79 30 81.6 37.99
25 Niles, IL $1,092.81 $3.89 28.8 76.8 38.14
26 Joliet, IL $1,015.20 $3.65 31.4 82.6 38.34
27 Woodridge, IL $978.69 $3.73 31.1 78.3 39.83
28 Carpentersville, IL $962.56 $3.69 31.3 80.7 40.00
29 Chicago Heights, IL $1,171.25 $3.89 27 77.3 40.02
30 Dyer, IN $1,037.13 $3.56 30.2 87.3 41.33
31 Arlington Heights, IL $958.84 $3.89 28.4 81.8 41.77
32 Mount Prospect, IL $999.81 $3.89 28.5 77.2 41.88
33 Park Ridge, IL $1,147.00 $3.89 27.5 70.7 42.02
34 Schaumburg, IL $997.70 $3.89 27.5 83.8 42.06
35 Schererville, IN $1,034.56 $3.56 29.9 86.9 42.35
36 Northbrook, IL $1,034.50 $3.89 28.6 72 42.42
37 Palatine, IL $980.41 $3.89 28.2 79.3 42.51
38 Des Plaines, IL $1,002.06 $3.89 27.7 79.1 43.17
39 Carol Stream, IL $974.88 $3.73 29 82.9 43.69
40 Gurnee, IL $933.94 $3.70 30.2 79.7 43.92
41 Hanover Park, IL $1,019.38 $3.81 28.8 73.8 43.94
42 Highland Park, IL $1,050.75 $3.70 29.9 70.9 44.12
43 Mchenry, IL $951.94 $3.71 29.1 83.4 44.29
44 Elgin, IL $972.13 $3.79 28.3 80.1 44.97
45 Mundelein, IL $959.44 $3.70 29.4 78.6 45.56
46 Wheeling, IL $1,054.44 $3.89 25.5 81.8 46.14
47 St. Charles, IL $921.69 $3.71 29 81.4 46.56
48 Belvidere, IL $978.50 $3.52 30.1 80.7 47.10
49 Elmhurst, IL $970.00 $3.81 27.8 75.4 47.59
50 Aurora, IL $951.63 $3.68 29 77.9 47.69
51 Hammond, IN $1,160.19 $3.56 26.9 81.4 48.05
52 Hobart, IN $1,036.13 $3.56 27.6 86.7 48.37
53 Griffith, IN $1,048.94 $3.56 26.9 90.3 48.41
54 Evanston, IL $1,054.77 $3.89 29.2 49.1 48.82
55 Vernon Hills, IL $984.56 $3.70 27.4 81.5 48.84
56 Merrillville, IN $1,046.75 $3.56 27.2 86.9 48.98
57 Downers Grove, IL $979.97 $3.73 28.1 74.1 49.19
58 Portage, IN $1,016.88 $3.56 27.4 87 49.36
59 Glen Ellyn, IL $976.06 $3.73 28.3 72.5 49.40
60 Glendale Heights, IL $952.19 $3.73 27.1 82.3 49.63
61 Lombard, IL $951.25 $3.73 27.2 81.5 49.70
62 Addison, IL $990.19 $3.73 27 79.2 49.79
63 Crown Point, IN $1,024.50 $3.56 27 87.3 50.10
64 Elk Grove Village, IL $979.13 $3.81 25.2 83.8 50.90
65 Gary, IN $1,181.34 $3.56 25.5 79.3 51.79
66 Melrose Park, IL $1,146.38 $3.89 23.3 71.7 52.61
67 Wheaton, IL $930.16 $3.73 27.5 72 53.21
68 Munster, IN $1,023.56 $3.56 26.4 82.9 53.35
69 Batavia, IL $906.06 $3.69 27.1 78.9 53.51
70 West Chicago, IL $954.56 $3.73 26.3 73.1 55.11
71 Waukegan, IL $978.75 $3.70 26.3 70.3 56.13
72 East Chicago, IN $1,173.06 $3.56 22.3 77.9 60.93
73 Valparaiso, IN $996.47 $3.56 23.3 81.6 62.76
74 Kankakee, IL $976.94 $3.59 20.7 73.3 72.53
75 DeKalb, IL $891.63 $3.55 20.9 70.3 77.02
76 North Chicago, IL $968.38 $3.70 17.2 37.3 92.65

Methodology
The overall score for each place was calculated from the following measures:

  1. Mean travel time to work from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.
  2. Percentage of workers commuting alone by car from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.
  3. Average gas price by county from Gas Buddy.
  4. Average car insurance rates from NerdWallet’s Car Insurance Comparison Tool.

 


Image of Chicago via Shutterstock.