Live Where You Work

Many municipalities require an employee to live in the community they live in. For instance, if you’re an employee of the City of Boston you must live in Boston to keep your job. It doesn’t matter if your the mayor or a janitor, a teacher, DPW worker, or cop. The city has a residency requirement that must be adhered to.

This is the norm for a lot of fire departments. The idea is one needs to live close enough to the fire station that, in case of a major incident, one can return to work without having to commute an hour.

I support residency requirements. I believe residency requirements are a phenomenal idea. Instead of municipalities moving away from these requirements I think more towns and cities should require their workers to live in the town they serve.


For a long time the reason I’ve supported residency requirements is because living in the town creates a higher level of accountability for the worker. That is, it’s not just a place s/he works, it’s where s/he lives too. Individual workers are less likely to consider their employment a “job” if they are voting on the taxes to support the very program/job they draw a paycheck from. And because running into the firefighters, teachers, janitors, DPW workers in the store, religious services, at school fairs, and stop lights holds the employer at a higher standard than those who do not live in the community they work in. I don’t want someone who lives and supports another community working in mine because I don’t think they have enough invested.

That said, I recognize a lot of municipal employers do not pay their workforce a wage which allows the individuals to afford a home/apartment in the community. Thus, I support increases in pay AND decreases in cost of living for the particular communities. For instance, if an average house costs $250,000 in the community then wages should be comparable to buying a house for even the lowliest worker. Not only that, but caps should be put on housing costs to prevent the worker from being driven out of the community they live in.

There are, however, many municipal employees who don’t want to live in the town/city they work in. They see their work life and personal life as seperate and don’t want the two co-mingled. Many whom I’ve spoken to over the years want to leave work when they go home and not have to “deal with” seeing students, bosses, neighbors, whomever in the grocery store, at church, or at a stop light. To me this says the individual is not committed to the community, they are committed to the self.

As I’ve been growing my greener side over the last few years I realize there are other great reasons for workers to live in the community: it reduces the amount of petroleum used to power a car everyday to get to and from work. It cuts down on fatigue due to long commutes — do you want your kids kindergarten teacher exhausted from a long commute? How about your local firefighter/paramedic? — it unclogs the roadways cutting down on air pollution. It gives the worker more time with their loved ones and down time thus making a happier worker.

It doesn’t matter if one is a municipal employee. Even if one works at an evil corporation there is nothing wrong with living where you work. It allows one to walk to work, or bike. Or, even if one still has to drive, a ten minute drive is much better than a 50 minute commute.

So when you’re looking for a place to live look in the neighborhood of your workplace. Spiral outward from there. You community members will appreciate it!

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One Response to Live Where You Work

  1. peppylady says:

    It use to be that a county (Boundary) employee had to be a resident of our county. I don’t know if these is the same still our not.
    But I know those who get paid directly by the state don’t have to be resident of a certain area. I know a few teacher here lives in (Bonner) county which is south of were I live.
    One of my cousin works for the state highway dept and he works out of the Bonner County area.
    But my question can require residential for employment.
    To me it sound like your saying “ If you don’t live here your not supporting the community you are employed to service”
    But I understand about carbon foot print and driving less would benift the earth.
    Ok one last question. Doesn’t the fire people in city of Boston sleep there. I know or it use to be the fire person would have a 24 hour shift and off for 48 hours.
    Coffee is on.
    PS…I believe Saturday I’ll be posting a train story and if I recall you like train story.

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