How is commuting actually like? Also, how often do you actually stay in a crashpad, hotel, apartment,etc?
I suggest you search through some of the threads on commuting as there are quite a few. As to “how is it?” that can vary greatly so there is no short easy answer. There are hard commutes and easy ones. If you’re commuting a short distance from one major airport to another with lots of flights no problem. If however you have to take 2 or 3 flights over long distances it obviously gets harder. I know pilots who commute from Asia, Australia and Europe and others who commute from Maui to Honolulu.
As to how often you’re in any of the listed housing options again it varies greatly. Are you senior enough to hold commutable trips? If so not very often. If you’re junior and on reserve you could be camping out for a week at a clip. Lots and lots of options.
Commuting can be very tough, no matter how easy or hard of a commute it is. I commute from ORF to EWR, which is a rather short commute. However, it can be fraught with delays and cancellations anytime the weather hits. Even on a good day, a maintenance delay or cancellation can rear its ugly head.
I would say that when I am a line holder, I spend about four nights per month in the crashpad. As a reservist, it can be much higher.
I would really recommend that you move to wherever you are based. You and your family will really come to appreciate it.
This is a pretty broad question, but do any regional airlines have restrictions on commuting?
No airlines have any restrictions on commuting that I’m aware of. As I said above I’ve known pilots who have commuted from half way around the globe. The airlines don’t care where you live. They only care that you’re at work on time AND fit for duty. How you accomplish that is your responsibility and yours alone. Again you can chose to live anywhere you like but if you miss a trip your 5 leg 20hr commute is your problem and don’t expect any sympathy.
I am not aware of any airlines that have restrictions on commuting. That being said, I would try to avoid commuting and if you do commute, limit it to one flight and to a city that has plenty of daily flights.
Thank you for the advice!