Money

The Cost Of A Long Distance Relationship

You find someone, fall in love and things are going great – but it doesn’t take a whole lot to throw a spanner in the works. Something as simple as a job transfer, or an unanticipated move can mean you are suddenly hours apart from your significant other. Or perhaps the distance was always there, and you’re dating someone from another state, or even someone living abroad.

Regardless of the circumstance – long distance relationships suck aren’t ideal. Not only do they take a toll on you emotionally, but going to see your far-flung lover is never cheap. We asked some couples about the cost of their long distance relationships.

Lane, 21

I’ve been with my girlfriend since high school. We started dating, then moved apart to study and have been doing the whole long distance thing since.

I live a 2-hour drive, or 2.5-hour train ride from my partner. We try and see each other 2-3 times a week. Obviously sometimes that doesn’t always work out with other commitments, but we usually manage to work it out.

My girlfriend is completing a work-based apprenticeship, so because of this I’m usually the one to make the trip to visit her, rather than her me (not that I mind). I work nights, so if I travel down after work (around midnight) stay over, then I’m not in a mad rush to get home to next day.

But if she isn’t working the next day, most of the time she will come back with me and stay for a day or two, which is always nice.

There is obviously a strain that distance puts on a relationship, but you don’t often consider the financial burden as well, and a long distance relationship is certainly financially draining.

I worked out that I’m spending at least $100 a week, probably closer to $150 on average. When you’re travelling so often, an extra hour tacked on to the commute makes a big difference, so I very rarely catch the train. This means that one of my biggest expenses is fuel.

The trips don’t seem to bother me too much, but clocking up around 600km a week is rough. My car doesn’t have the most amazing fuel economy, and it doesn’t help receiving the rare speeding fine in the mail from days where my patience has tested me.

I’d go through around a tank a week just on travelling to see her. This isn’t even taking into account me, on any other day, driving to work, class or wherever else I need to be.

Food on the road also adds up. $10-$15 doesn’t seem like a lot for a meal, but when you’re forking out that much twice every trip because you haven’t got enough time to grab dinner or breakfast in order to get back to work on time – it adds up.

I haven’t even considered this in my weekly figure, but there’ve been a fair few times that I’ve been asked to cover a shift at work that I otherwise would have, if I were able to get back in time. So, not only was I spending extra cash, but also missing out on an opportunity to make some. It’s little things like this that would be so much easier to navigate if we were closer.

This is all just the cost of going to spend time with her: obviously doing couple stuff like dinner dates, movies and such always costs more.

It’s certainly worth it though. I am always truly happy when I am with her, so I don’t regret it for a second – she’s totally worth it.

Krissi, 28

We started dating about six weeks before I had planned to leave for America – for good. I decided I owed it to myself to follow through on my plans, and ended up living between LA and New York for around six months; Sean stayed in Sydney.

Sean came to visit, and we spent six weeks driving America’s west coast. That was it for six whole months. Although: we “saw” each other on FaceTime almost every day.

Aside from the trip we did together – which went into the thousands of dollars – it was reasonably cheap to maintain. My Internet bill cost around $30 per month, but that was it!

Emily, 28

My now-husband and I were long distance for close to three years. We started dating in our small country town in NSW, just a few months before I left to study. For the first year, there was 500km between us.

During this time we’d see each other every other weekend. It cost around $100 for a tank of fuel for either of us to make the trip down and back, tacking on any other gifts or dinners out when we would see each other.

This wasn’t working, so I decided to transfer universities and move to Queensland. The plan was my partner Luke would be able to get a job and we would have both move to be together. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. He looked for a good twelve months for work, with no luck: the distance upped to 800km.

During this time we would see each other every semester break, with the odd spontaneous weekend visit. It was an eight-hour drive, and cost around $200 by car, or $400 to fly (rural airports aren’t at all cheap).

On top of all this, I don’t even like to think about how much my partner racked up in phone bills over these years. He would go over his plan a lot, and would get bills over $350 every month.

All worked out in the end though, my partner ended up changing his study-load to full time and getting a job in retail and making the move to come and live with me. Now, we have been married four years and just bought our first home together.

Cost-Benefit

The overwhelming feedback from people in long distance relationships is that their partner is worth it, no matter the financial cost. Choosing to bridge that gap – the physical distance, and the ongoing expenses – is often a good sign that this one’s a keeper.


Bradley is a writer from Newcastle who enjoys travel, Tina Fey and is a connoisseur of cheap red wine.