The Annual Cost of My Cross-Country Relationship

I live in Manhattan, and I used to joke that dating a guy in Brooklyn was a long-distance relationship. In October 2011, I went on a date with Adam, an L.A.-based TV writer who was working in New York. He told me he needed a long-distance relationship like he needed eight years of a Herman Cain presidency. So of course, we fell in love. Adam kept coming to New York for work and convinced me to visit L.A. for pleasure. By May 2012, our bi-coastal romance was official.

I got a travel rewards card, and Adam and I set a goal of seeing each other once a month in 2013. I spent most of the year freelancing from home, so I did a lot of flying. For this tally, I’m not going to figure in the cost of airport snacks, though paying nearly $4 for a liter of water pains me every time. I’m also not counting what I spent on the relationship when we were together in the same city or for Adam’s birthday/Hanukkah/just because, though I’ll confess I get treated a lot. This doesn’t include what Adam has spent over the year coming to see me, either. All that said, here’s how it all added up.

January:

I was so young and naive in early 2013. Paying for cabs both ways, checking bags, and flying a bunch of different airlines before I discovered Virgin America.

Airport cab fare: $136.46
Checked baggage fees: $50.00
Ticket to Miami: $202.80
Days in L.A.: 11

 

February:

No traveling!

 

March:

I knew things were getting serious when I was invited to Adam’s annual family trip. He and I met in Miami for two nights and split the costs of a hotel, plus renting and fueling a douchey red convertible we named Travis Trey Powers. We spent the rest of the time in a rented house with his family. His parents paid for accommodations, food, and fun for not one, not two, but three adult couples. (Thanks, guys!)

Airport cab fare: $36.66
Checked baggage fees: $50.00
Days in Florida: 8

 

April:

Finally, some rewards from my credit card! I purchased a free — well, “free” — flight to L.A. back in February. But I was still wasting money taking cabs and checking bags, which should be a lyric in a rap song about people with mad disposable income. (I’m not one of them.)

Airport cab fare: $140.73
Checked baggage fees: $50.00
Days in L.A.: 8

 

May:

Turns out, riding the LIRR to the AirTrain is really easy. To maximize my time in L.A., I tend to leave in the afternoon and arrive in NYC just after midnight. I’m not sure about public transportation from Jamaica that late, so I always take a cab back home.

Airport cab fare: $69.39
Checked baggage fees: $50.00
In-flight Internet: $21.00
Ticket to L.A.: $274.70
Days in L.A.: 8

 

June:

No traveling!

 

July:

Adam visited me in July and complained incessantly about how hot it was. I’d include the extra-high Con Ed bill I got when he ran the air conditioner non-stop, but that stuff isn’t being tallied.

Ticket to Cleveland: $252.80

 

August:

I spent Labor Day in Akron with Adam and his parents. They took care of accommodations, fun, and even let me stay an extra night when my flight home got cancelled after Adam’s took off. And his mom drove me to the airport at 6 a.m. so I’d make an interview back home the next afternoon. I kept costs low by riding to and from LaGuardia on the M60 bus.

Ticket to L.A.: $323.80
Time in Akron: 6 days

 

September:

I bought my September ticket right before I got a permalance gig mid-September. I worked the first week, took a week off for my trip, and then came back. My new boss was fine with it. With extra money and no extra time, I ended up buying expensive last-minute tickets the rest of the year.

Airport cab fare: $138.68
In-flight Internet: $21.00
Ticket to L.A.: $377.80
Time in L.A.: 8 days

 

October:

Another travel-related expense I’m not tallying up: All the cold medicine I bought after catching something on my September flight back to NYC. I was sick for weeks and then developed a nasty sinus infection in time to be the one miserable, sober person at a vineyard wedding.

10/31-11/3
Time in L.A.: 4 days

 

November:

Adam and I celebrated Thanksgivingkah with his family in Woodstock. Once again, his parents rented the house, made the latkes, and coddled us all like we were giant babies. They’re wonderful hosts.

Cab fare (from previous trip to LA): $69.39
Metro-North train tickets (one-way for the two of us): $34.00
Time in Woodstock: 4 days

 

December:

In addition to traveling with Adam last month, I spent nearly a week in November with my sister as she had her first child. I wouldn’t have missed it, but I’m really sick of flying. I bought a last-minute flight to L.A. for Christmas, which I’ll never do again. Everything was full and super-expensive, so I bought an early morning flight with a layover in San Francisco. I resolve to never do such a thing in 2014.

Cab fare: TBD
Ticket to L.A.: $594.70
Time in L.A.: 12 days

 

In total, I’ve spent $2,893.91 to spend 69 days with Adam in 2013. (Again, this does not include his time in NYC or my upcoming cab fare.)

Getting to spend time with the man I love: Not priceless. Very expensive—and totally worth it.

 

Amanda Green lives in New York.

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12 Comments / Post A Comment

honey cowl (#1,510)

Uff da! I’m glad the two of you are working it out! So which one of you will be moving?

That all sounds fun! We have so much in common! Judaism! Family in Akron (oh boy Akron). I bet Adam’s parents know my dad’s family, many of whom are still in Akron (my dad long ago fled NEO for warmer climes).

However, commenting on a trend I saw in the article:

Throwing this out there as a Jewish girl whose parents are ENORMOUSLY generous (THANKS PARENTS) and who behave pretty similarly to Long-Distance Boyfriend Adam’s parents (paying for everything when we visit, namely, despite the fact that pre-husband and myself are grown people)…

Pre-Husband’s parents are NOT Jewish and while they are not stingy they are certainly not as generous as my parents (though judging by their home and cars they could afford to be although I do not claim to know anyone’s finances). A prime example is that pre-husband is back in school and his parents do not give him any assistance of which to speak. My parents are HORRIFIED by this. My mother says that it is a Jewish vs. Not-Jewish parents thing, that Jewish parents tend to be waaaay more generous than gentile parents. Obviously this isn’t the case across the board but it certainly seems to be the trend among people I know…

…so, Billfold readers, is it the trend with you? Would love to know, very curious.

Allison (#4,509)

@Anonymous for This Comment daughter of a Catholic and an athiest and my parents are pretty damn generous by my standards (and most people’s, I think) but I don’t know that they’d pay for grad school. My mom works with a woman (religion unknown) who is paying for her son’s medical school with the attitude of “why should I be dead before he can benefit from my money” so there’s that.

@Anonymous for This Comment They wouldn’t help out at all? Not even a little bit, or with emergencies? Fiance’s car broke down, he couldn’t afford the repairs because he has no money (this is not a program where he can work part time while being in school) and I couldn’t afford the repairs either. Had I been in that situation, my parents would have loaned me the money for the repairs and I would have paid the back when I was a working person. His parents didn’t even offer (he also didn’t ask so there is that). So now we’re a one-car household. It is fine but sort of absurd.

sariberry (#4,420)

@Anonymous for This Comment – I’m Jewish and my family tends to be on the less-generous side – I guess they would defy your mom’s comment. Although my parents value generosity, they also really emphasized financial independence for my brother and me. We worked jobs starting when we were 16 and paid for a lot (though not all) of our college education. I’m glad they did, because I have many friends (of various religions) that never learned those lessons and continue to rely on their parents very heavily long into adulthood. Being generous to your children is wonderful in theory, but in practice it can create an over-reliance that I’m glad I don’t have. So if it’s a Jewish vs. gentile thing (I don’t think it is, but who knows), I’m glad my parents didn’t fulfill the “Jews are overly generous” image.

@Anonymous for This Comment My husband’s parents are a born-Catholic/honorary Jew (long story) and a kinda-Catholic, kinda-Lutheran, mostly-New Ager. They are extremely generous (and also extremely well-off). I get the impression that giving us money and paying for things is something they want to do, because they love us and want to care for us. We feel fortunate that it doesn’t come with strings attached.

My parents are both Catholic. They pay for us if we all go out to dinner and are generous in probably a million little ways I take for granted because, you know, they’re my parents. But they don’t throw money around like my in-laws, and I’d be uncomfortable if they did– with my own family, I feel more of a need to assert financial independence.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@Anonymous for This Comment Bless your dear mother but I believe this is an anecdote. For instance, my partner has two sets of parents. One is made up of two of the most generous people you could ever meet in your entire life. The other set is still paying back child support despite owning a boat and a horse and several cars. None is Jewish. I think some people, regardless of ethnicity or religion, are just nicer than others!

PS. I should mention that the generous one thinks Obama hates America and food stamps are for suckers so he’s not exactly perfect.

amaeve (#5,095)

@Anonymous for This Comment My parents definitely always pay for dinner and such (I’m living pretty close to the poverty line, I couldn’t afford to go out with them if that weren’t the case), but they wouldn’t help support me through grad school. On three or four occasions they have written me a $100 check when I was in a bind. They are not Jewish.

niq (#5,670)

ok, I know this wasn’t the point, but here is your way around the $4 for water: pack an empty plastic reusable bottle in your carry-on luggage, fill it at a drinking fountain once you get past security. I’ve been doing this for years and I feel very smug about it every time. Some airports even have bottle fillers now.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

@niq This. I bring a refillable bottle with me on planes, fill it in the airports. Saves so much money.

jquick (#3,730)

@niq Seriously. Bring your own empty water bottle and also carry on luggage. Or get an airlines credit card that’ll waive checked bag fee. And $21 for inflight wifi? Yeow.

I would love to know his costs as well. I am also doing the long distance thing after being together for 2 1/2 years a new job took him from Wisconsin to Texas. On top of the travel costs we can figure in separate living expenses since before leaving we were living together. Cost of his 1 bedroom apartment is about as much as my 3 bedroom house. I went for 8 days over Christmas/New Years. Due to last minute change of his work schedule booked flight on short notice cost $718. No, that was not first class – it was a 45 seat puddle jumper that was so small I couldn’t bring a carry on. Checked bag $50 ($25 each way). Parking $120 and $40 to the nice guys that changed my flat tire I had as I left the parking structure in a blizzard with temperature at 10 degrees. Total $928 not including the bottled water or coffee at the airport or the gift for my dog-sitter. UGH

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