This is not a good place to be, yet I happened to find myself right in the middle of it during the summer of 2015. I was living in a great location in downtown Chicago and commuting to a Northern suburb everyday for work. Via train, it consisted of two L-train transfers and a Metra; about 1.5 hours each way. Driving was only 30 minutes in the morning, but 1.5 hours on the way home, and I can’t stand sitting in traffic, so I usually took the train.

Why would you live in the city if you are working in a suburb?

I had never lived in the city before. My last 3 years were spent living in rural Maine where I was stationed for work. So I felt the timing was right to try it out and get closer to all the action. What a great location this apartment turned out to be in! I was right in the middle of everything, could walk to great restaurants, clothing stores, you name it. The view from my balcony provided a glimpse of lake Michigan in between buildings and looked down on the pool.

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Everything was great, until I realized a major problem. I had gotten myself stuck on a path that led nowhere.

What is The Death Loop?

After doing this for over a year, I noticed the days started to blend together. The next had been very similar to the previous. Wake up at 6, get dressed, walk to L-train number 1, connect to L-train number 2, walk to Metra train, walk to office. Spend 9 hours at work and then begin the reverse route back home. Get through the door at about 7 pm. Gym, eat, shower and get ready for bed. Repeat again the next day, and the next. It’s like I was stuck on a figurative treadmill. At the end of each month I had barely spent any time at my apartment. I was spending most my time commuting and at work. Work was necessary to pay rent for an apartment that I barely used because I was at work. The worst part is that I’ve been in this loop in the past but for some reason chose to do it again!

Get out!

If you find yourself in a situation like this, get out as fast as you can. Now it doesn’t mean you have to go to the extreme of “urban vanning” like I did, but it does mean you need to give your situation some serious thought. Maybe you took on a bigger mortgage payment than you should have, or chose an apartment that was a bit beyond what your budget allowed. Either way, this is not a good place to be. Really, if you can’t progress and build financially, then what’s the point? Other than some fun times and good memories, I have nothing to show for those years. A person can’t retire on past fun experiences, so take a good look at where your money is going and make a change to keep it rather than give it away.