I commute every week from New York City to Ann Arbor for work. I have to pay my own way and thoug... - 6 minutes read

Susan Miller, a professor, supercommutes weekly from New York to Michigan.Although the school doesn't cover her commute, Miller enjoys the different atmosphere in Michigan.Despite potential downsides, Miller encourages others to consider supercommuting if given the chance.

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This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Susan Miller, a professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, living in New York. It has been edited for length and clarity. 

In January 2022, I began my weekly commute from New York City to Ann Arbor, Michigan. There, I teach a wide range of college classes as a full-time professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

As a supercommuter, I think I have the best of both worlds: I teach bright, well-rounded, caring students from around the world, and I get to return home and take advantage of everything that makes New York City exciting and interesting.

I book my airline tickets months in advance and spend between $120 and $250 for a roundtrip flight. My supercommuter schedule both energizes and fuels me, and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.

I had never supercommuted before this job

I began my career working for large companies, including Xerox, Colgate, American Express, and Warner Bros. My experience ranges from marketing and business development to brand management and licensing. Later, I was an entrepreneur and built a few companies.

While I traveled for all of these work experiences, I never had to commute weekly across state lines like I do now.

I get to enjoy an atmosphere and culture different from NYC. And it usually takes no more than two hours to fly between New York and Michigan. I sometimes joke that it takes me fewer hours to get from my NYC apartment to Ann Arbor, Michigan, than going on the Long Island Railroad into Manhattan for the 23 years I worked there.

Michigan has a different vibe, and I like it

I graduated from NYU with an MBA, so I often get asked why I don't just teach in NYC. There's something about Michigan — the Midwest. I can't explain it. The vibe is just different, and I like it.

When I'm on campus, there's a hyper-focus on being there a few days and then getting to come back home that I wouldn't get to experience if I were not supercommuting back and forth.

When I'm in Ann Arbor, I stay in a hotel attached to the business school and enjoy the faculty rate. I take a 180-step commute from my room to the school. There's an ease of living on campus in a hotel. I don't have a kitchen, so I usually dine at friends' houses or eat out.

I know the hotel staff, and it feels like my second home, without the upkeep.

I didn't become a supercommuter all at once

Starting in 2007, I became a regular guest speaker at the university. I'd been invited by my son's then-girlfriend to serve as a guest speaker in various student clubs — they were both sophomores at the school. While at one of these events, I met a woman named, Dr. Mary Hinesly, who asked me to guest speak in her class.

When Mary became head of her department in October 2021, she invited me to guest speak again, and then she asked if I'd be interested in teaching there full-time.

My initial reaction was that I was flattered but that it made no sense, as I live and work in New York and the school did not offer to pay for my commute. After sleeping on the offer, I called back and said, "It made no sense, it was crazy, but I was in."

Teaching in Michigan has plenty of perks

I get to teach at one of the best business schools in the country with wonderfully well-rounded students, and I have lots of football players in my classes.

One of the best things this year was seeing our football team win the national championship because I had so many of these athletes in my class. There are many events each week, and I can attend anything, including sporting events like basketball and lacrosse — two of my students are captains.

Being around my students is like breathing oxygen, and spending time with them makes me optimistic about the future.

Other than that, I enjoy the fresh air from the lakes and the nature of the Midwest, as opposed to city life.

Supercommuting has made me a better traveler

I know how to navigate flights and Ubers. Plus, I've learned how to maneuver quickly around crowded, bustling spaces — I'd even say I've gotten physically fitter after dashing through airports so many times. I can pack a small bag fast and cut my airport arrival down to the minute. Knowing how to avoid intense NYC rush hour helps me keep my commute short.

I learned how to increase my perks with Delta, as the Detroit airport is a Delta hub. I got an airline credit card, where I get a 15% discount on Delta flights, and just reached platinum status. I've also mastered the app, where I accrue miles I use for flights.

I'm already booking my fall 2024 flights, so I can fly cheaply, and I've learned to take advantage of the Delta Lounge for breakfast.

Supercommuting could have some downsides for some people

A few of my flights were canceled, but Delta has a flight from New York landing in Detroit almost every hour. If I'm ever running late, there's always a chance I could miss a flight and wait for the next one — but I haven't missed a flight yet.

Supercommuting can feel like you're living in two places, which might wear some people out. It could also be a problem for people without proper childcare. However, having grown-up children has made supercommuting easier for me.

I've met many people who supercommute. If an opportunity to supercommute intrigues you, I'd say go for it. You can be anywhere around the country with flights if you plan accordingly.

Source: Business Insider

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