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Old 07-09-12, 08:05 AM   #1
Mithrandir
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Buying a house...

So I'm in the market for a house. How does this relate to cycling? Well I'm having the damndest time trying to figure out where to buy the house, because I am trying to figure out an optimal position for... cycling.


So here's my conundrum. I don't want an expensive house, just a modest one will suffice. But 90% of the modest ones are in the middle of Suburban Sprawl, and there's utterly no chance of me being able to bike on those roads and enjoy it, as I dodge between Suburban Assault Vehicles running red lights filled to the brim with soccer and baseball teams. It's just not happening. So that's out.

This leaves me with much less choice in where to live. Right now I live pretty much on the cusp of two different terrains; if I head north it's nice and flat. If I head south it's very hilly (for this area). It's nice because I get to choose which kind of ride to take just by heading one direction or another; and all the roads are country roads so they're nice and empty as well. I'd continue living here, but it's too far away from grocery stores (10 miles) and family (25 miles) and friends (15-30 miles), and so my eventual goal of becoming car-free isn't very realistic in my current position, despite having nearly perfect cycling conditions for solo joyrides and training rides.

I'm trying as hard as I can to find another spot, closer to civilization, but still on the relative outskirts, that will offer me the choice of going one way for flats, or another for hills. So far the only houses I'm finding are way into the flat areas, with almost nothing near the hills. Is this a silly goal? Should I just take a house in the flatlands and ride an extra 10 miles every day to even reach the hills?

Or am I going about this all wrong? Am I making cycling far too much of a priority in hunting for a home? Has anyone bought a home and then regretted it because the cycling nearby was terrible?
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Old 07-09-12, 08:12 AM   #2
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Funnily enough, I am considering moving house. And cycling is a big priority, as is having ready access to a City centre. I absolutely don't think you are making cycling too much of a priority, for me it is almost my only reason to move.

If it is only ten miles to the hills, that wouldn't worry me too much. With the way your enthusiasm for cycling appears to be developing, it won't be long until ten flat miles is nothing more than a warm-up. Ten miles out, thirty miles in the hills, ten miles back as a warm-down, what could be nicer?
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Old 07-09-12, 08:20 AM   #3
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When I bought a house three years ago, cycling was not a big consideration. Quality of the neighborhood in our price range was. Unfortunately for the cycling, the house we got has three approaches, the shallowest of which is 6 1/2% for 1/8 mile. The back approach is 1/16 mile @ 9%.

I have learned to accept hills, and have a goal of doing the 9% all in one go. I'm almost there.
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Old 07-09-12, 08:41 AM   #4
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Im in newfane Mit and the terrain changes nicely and the taxes are very reasonable.
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Old 07-09-12, 09:32 AM   #5
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I think your concerns are very valid. I'm like 10 miles away from what would be known as hills around here and I wish It was more like 3 miles. Being 10 miles away I hold back doing them so I have something left in the tank to get home. I wouldn't want to live right in them so I could warm up properly before/after or for those days when I just want an easy cruise.
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Old 07-09-12, 10:23 AM   #6
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I think your concerns are very valid. I'm like 10 miles away from what would be known as hills around here and I wish It was more like 3 miles. Being 10 miles away I hold back doing them so I have something left in the tank to get home. I wouldn't want to live right in them so I could warm up properly before/after or for those days when I just want an easy cruise.
That was one of the things I always enjoyed about living and riding in Peoria. You had a variety of terrains at your fingertips. I miss that a lot.
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Old 07-09-12, 10:42 AM   #7
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If this is your first house, look into the program NYS has for helping save for a down payment. My nephew did that. You pick a time period for saving (I think he picked about a year) and for all the money he put into a given account, NYS matched it and then some (I think they put in 4X what he put in). It sounds too good be be true, but he used it to buy his first house, just closed this summer.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 07-09-12, 10:45 AM   #8
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This leaves me with much less choice in where to live. Right now I live pretty much on the cusp of two different terrains; if I head north it's nice and flat. If I head south it's very hilly (for this area). It's nice because I get to choose which kind of ride to take just by heading one direction or another; and all the roads are country roads so they're nice and empty as well. I'd continue living here, but it's too far away from grocery stores (10 miles) and family (25 miles) and friends (15-30 miles), and so my eventual goal of becoming car-free isn't very realistic in my current position, despite having nearly perfect cycling conditions for solo joyrides and training rides.
Which is more important: being in a good spot for cycling, or being in a good spot for being car-free? Those two things are not the same! Car-free implies that you're close to destinations, close to public transit, etc. Being close to good training/hills is mostly optional if car-free is your goal...

If I were you, I'd stay where you are. You can still use your bicycle for some trips that would normally require a car, as time and weather allow. As you get more fit due to training your car-free options will increase. The 30-mile ride to a friend's house might leave you tired today, but in a few more months it might be the sort of ride you do at the drop of a hat, for instance. Best of all, you won't have excuses to stop going on those training rides because you're in a less-than-ideal starting point!
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Old 07-09-12, 10:57 AM   #9
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I wasn't riding when I bought my house, but it happens to be in the area all the local club cyclists come to for their rides because of the beautiful and relatively empty country roads around here. It's a perfect place for a cyclist. Unless one wanted to go car free, in which case the rural location puts it a bit too far from everything. There are not many places where you can achieve both. The best places for cycling are necessarily going to be a bit out of the way.
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Old 07-09-12, 01:07 PM   #10
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Mith: I have never been up where you live but it does not sound like you are far from much really. All are within distance of where you live. You just have to plan on the trips more that it. The store is not that far away at all.

Perhaps ask this question in the commuting forum and the Living Car Free/Light forum.
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Old 07-09-12, 01:08 PM   #11
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And you will see when you drop weight that riding becomes easier really (as you become fitter). What I thought was tough when I was 360 is much more different now that I am in the 280's.
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Old 07-09-12, 01:42 PM   #12
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I don't think it's at all funny or strange to take cycling, or other outdoor opportunities, into account when deciding where to live. I also agree whole heartedly with those that point out the difference between a good cycling location and a good car-free location.

The cycling and other outdoor opportunities are in part what keep Mrs. Fred and I in our current location. We would very much like to move in toward the central city, where most of our friends live, the cultural events tend to be and where we could come closer to living car-light. But, we currently live in an excellent neighboorhood, great cycling on low traffic streets just out the door, the beach a half block away, a decent walk through a public golf course to a scenic point and low/no crime due to the nature of living out on a peninsula.

Examine which is more important to you at this point in your life, recreational cycling or car-free living. Don't hesitate for one moment to allow that decission to influence your choice of home.
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Old 07-09-12, 02:04 PM   #13
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I'm moving to a new city and we're thinking about buying our first house. Had some of the same thoughts at first. Since our work is going to be downtown, I initially wanted a house nearer the center of the city so I could commute every day without having to deal with highway hell. But the houses were very small and old for the price, the school districts sucked, and that made that area less attractive. Then I thought I could live at the very edge of the city, drive in and be near the middle of nowhere for easy rides. Oh and you got lots more house for the money and the schools were better. But then I was looking at a 40 minute (in good traffic) commute each way in a car (and my wife and I are car free right now and will only have the budget for one car since we'll work within a 10-15 minute walk of each other, so that means if one of us is running late or forgot something, we're both in the same situation). So I think we've decided to look for houses somewhere in the middle. 20-30 minutes in the car each way, not quite as much open space, but enough, not as big of houses, but big enough, and decent schools, but a decent ride on potentially tough roads on the bike to get to open spaces. Now we just have to find that house. Best of luck in figuring out what compromises work best for you.
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Old 07-09-12, 02:46 PM   #14
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Which is more important: being in a good spot for cycling, or being in a good spot for being car-free? Those two things are not the same! Car-free implies that you're close to destinations, close to public transit, etc. Being close to good training/hills is mostly optional if car-free is your goal...

If I were you, I'd stay where you are. You can still use your bicycle for some trips that would normally require a car, as time and weather allow. As you get more fit due to training your car-free options will increase. The 30-mile ride to a friend's house might leave you tired today, but in a few more months it might be the sort of ride you do at the drop of a hat, for instance. Best of all, you won't have excuses to stop going on those training rides because you're in a less-than-ideal starting point!
I see your point, but at the same time it's not that the 30-60 mile rides leave me tired. They do, but that's not really the concern, it's the transit time that's the killer. I just biked 25 miles to my parents for 4th of July fireworks, then 25 back after; it was a nice ride, but I pretty much had to take 4 hours out of my day to do it. At best, down the line I can see doing it in 3 hours, maybe a little less, but it'll never be in the realm of "convenient".

Additionally, the 10 mile ride to the grocery store is troublesome. Not in terms of distance, but perishability of foods. I can't really buy any milk, for example, or anything that needs to remain frozen. There's just too much distance to travel and too much weight to add in order to carry ice packs. I think in terms of every day living convenience I have to move closer to civilization again. But you're spot on about the "excuses to stop going on training rides". I know myself. I'm lazy and that's the reason I'm a clyde in the first place, and I know it will happen at least once, which is once too many times; and if I get weak it might happen far more often. Difficult decisions.
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Old 07-09-12, 03:08 PM   #15
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I see your point, but at the same time it's not that the 30-60 mile rides leave me tired. They do, but that's not really the concern, it's the transit time that's the killer. I just biked 25 miles to my parents for 4th of July fireworks, then 25 back after; it was a nice ride, but I pretty much had to take 4 hours out of my day to do it. At best, down the line I can see doing it in 3 hours, maybe a little less, but it'll never be in the realm of "convenient".

Additionally, the 10 mile ride to the grocery store is troublesome. Not in terms of distance, but perishability of foods. I can't really buy any milk, for example, or anything that needs to remain frozen. There's just too much distance to travel and too much weight to add in order to carry ice packs. I think in terms of every day living convenience I have to move closer to civilization again. But you're spot on about the "excuses to stop going on training rides". I know myself. I'm lazy and that's the reason I'm a clyde in the first place, and I know it will happen at least once, which is once too many times; and if I get weak it might happen far more often. Difficult decisions.
Mith: You really should ask this question in the Living Car Free/Light forum. These people do it all the time bro. For the milk, you can get it home before it hits above 40 degrees (which is the danger zone). For frozen stuff, you can make that happen too simply buy a small collapsible freezer bad with some ice.

To me, and I mean all respect, you seem like you are trying to justify buying the house versus not. But from an outside, I see it as a good way to get exercise with commuting.

Again, no disrespect. Just my opinion.
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Old 07-09-12, 04:05 PM   #16
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Mithrandir, it's very easy for people to tell you that 10 miles from a grocery store and 25 miles from your parents is nothing, and perfectly practicable. I beg to differ.

I'm car free, and have been for the last 18 months. I use my bikes for almost everything. I ride about 800-1000 miles per month, all told. However, I would not be car-free were I ten miles from a grocery store and living in a place without good public transportation. Of course it would be possible, but it would also be unnecessarily difficult. The way to live car-free is to make sensible choices about how close you need to be to amenities, and to the destinations you will frequently visit. If there is good public transport, great. Biggish distances are tolerable. If not, and everything is to be done by bike, you need to be closer. It isn't the distance, it's the time, as you have correctly observed.
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Old 07-09-12, 04:09 PM   #17
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I see your point, but at the same time it's not that the 30-60 mile rides leave me tired. They do, but that's not really the concern, it's the transit time that's the killer. I just biked 25 miles to my parents for 4th of July fireworks, then 25 back after; it was a nice ride, but I pretty much had to take 4 hours out of my day to do it. At best, down the line I can see doing it in 3 hours, maybe a little less, but it'll never be in the realm of "convenient".
You're right, commuting that far by bike will always be a bit of a time sink. As I said, you'll probably need access to a car and you'll only be able to make these time-consuming rides when there's a bit of extra time in your schedule. You might also look into combining bicycling with public transit. In my area, for example, most buses and trains are capable of transporting a bicycle. So you can ride public transit in one direction, then bicycle back home.

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Additionally, the 10 mile ride to the grocery store is troublesome. Not in terms of distance, but perishability of foods. I can't really buy any milk, for example, or anything that needs to remain frozen. There's just too much distance to travel and too much weight to add in order to carry ice packs. I think in terms of every day living convenience I have to move closer to civilization again. But you're spot on about the "excuses to stop going on training rides". I know myself. I'm lazy and that's the reason I'm a clyde in the first place, and I know it will happen at least once, which is once too many times; and if I get weak it might happen far more often. Difficult decisions.
Milk won't go bad if it remains unrefrigerated for an hour. Neither will many frozen foods. Often, an insulated lunchbox will be enough to keep stuff viable for a ride home. If that doesn't work, you'll have the perfect justification for buying an Xtracycle and setting up a cargo bike that's capable of hauling a cooler and ice packs. Or you can look into grocery delivery services. In my area Safeway will deliver frozen foods and gives a 1-hour delivery window. Or keep your car, but plan to reduce the amount of driving by stocking up on frozen food once a month. Lots of options if you're willing to put in the effort to make them work...
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Old 07-09-12, 04:12 PM   #18
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Or am I going about this all wrong? Am I making cycling far too much of a priority in hunting for a home? Has anyone bought a home and then regretted it because the cycling nearby was terrible?
I love my current apartment, but I hate riding to/from it. It's the reason I'll move. Ballard is just too much like the suburbs.
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Old 07-09-12, 09:04 PM   #19
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Tell your friends and family that they have to come see you...not you go to see them.
Then find a smokin hot bike and spend your downpayment on it.
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Old 07-10-12, 04:40 AM   #20
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I too think your concerns are valid. I would even up my budget to get a place that is more convenient to both riding and stores, family, etc, if upping your budget is a possibility and it gets you a better location for everything you want.

I would sooner give up on being car free than give up on having a really good area to bike.
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Old 07-10-12, 04:48 AM   #21
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That was one of the things I always enjoyed about living and riding in Peoria. You had a variety of terrains at your fingertips. I miss that a lot.
First one to the bottom of Grandview Drive is brave . First one to the top of Grandview Drive is tired . Grew up around Peoria and Pekin , and the terrain is as changeable as the weather . Probably built up a lot more now, than in the 70's and 80's
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Old 07-10-12, 08:24 AM   #22
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I'm looking for potential land to build a house. I keep in mind what it takes to get to the bike path when I'm mapping out the location.
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Old 07-10-12, 04:08 PM   #23
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Funny story time. Went to look at a house today. Went downstairs and saw a Lance Armstrong picture on the wall. Look around some more and noticed the current owner's bicycle collection; a few Colnago's and a Specialized; had a truing stand, 2 bike stands, a bunch of bike tools. Honest to God I was paying way more attention to the bikes than the actual house itself!!

Oy!
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Old 07-10-12, 04:52 PM   #24
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The College town was more cycle culture centered,
but they stole too many bikes there.

And Rents rose too fast. with every new Freshman class to Exploit.
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