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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 01-03-06, 03:00 AM   #1
iBarna
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This topic came up in the 'lurkers' thread, and so I'm making it into its own topic.

I have always (well, ever since I wasn't a teenager anymore) liked simple living. I always strive to reduce the number of things I own. Currently I think that apart from a few pieces of furniture (mattress, three comfy chairs in the living room, a rug and the cat tree) I could fit my life into three moving boxes. I just moved and apart from the furniture above, and my animals, which I transported in a friend's car that I borrowed for two hours, I moved by bike. Nothing reduces your life to a bare minimum like moving on a bike

Now I'm not Mr. Scrooge, mind you. To me this is not about saving money (though living simply does save you a chunk) as much as it is about just not having to worry about / store / repair / haul around stuff. I just cannot stand clutter. I think people who know me would be surprised that I own so little, because as I said, I don't deprive myself by any means. I do like nice stuff, and whatever I need, I will get. But, I will think hard if I really need something, and also that once I know that I need something, in what form do I need it? What makes the most sense? Is there something out there that could solve multiple problems at once? I get a huge kick out of this sort of tinkering and simplifying, maybe it's the same joy people get from buying all sorts of crap they use only once?

Just a few examples:

* My laptop is a very important component in my life. Apart from the obvious, I use it to: work from home, watch DVD's, wirelessly stream music to my speakers which are connected to an Airport Express -- basically my stereo. (Accordingly, the laptop must be a nice one. Next iBook or Powerbook is coming up.)

* Most of my documents and pictures, as well as all music I own is in digital form (yes, I do backups). Digital music and photography rule.

* I don't own books. I go to the library. I do buy books as well, but usually I donate them to the library once I read them. The way I see it, the library stores it for me so that I can still access it later, if I need to. I don't own DVD's either. Online rental is a great thing.

* I don't own fancy shmancy kitchenware. My cookware consists of a tried and true cast iron pan, a medium sized pot, one excellent chef's knife and a cutting board. That's it. I have prepared many a scrumptious dinner just with this equipment, to the disbelief of the observer(s).

* I change the contents of my closet. I like to buy clothing, but I am careful to not hoard it. I donate or sell / trade clothing and shoes I don't wear anymore.

* Obviously, I have no car, only a bike. My collection of bike tools is sparse, but allows me to do most repairs at home. If the job is too big, I bring the bike in. Last time this happened was a stuck bottom bracket cup, which the nice girl in the LBS removed for $5, using a special BB tool and a 5ft iron pipe. I would never have been able to do it, so it was a great deal.

Anyone else here who shares this philosophy and lives along these same lines? How much stuff do you own that you can't move on your bike? (And how do you justify it? )

Last edited by iBarna; 01-03-06 at 03:16 AM.
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Old 01-03-06, 03:17 AM   #2
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going for the intel mac eh? The yonah core looks promising though and its dual core. So it should be one of the better lappies out there. when it comes out in the next month or so.

Back on topic. I enjoy having decent stuff, so I may not own as much stuff, but I know its better quality and lasts longer.
The three things I will always hang onto though:
trombone, bike, computer with dsl connection.
i cant carry any of that stuff on my bike

Im in the middle ground don't like clutter (gotta clean room again) but I do like owning some stuff
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Old 01-03-06, 03:25 AM   #3
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Right on... I'm waiting for those Intel Macs Why can't you carry these things? You should see the stuff I have been hauling around (all without a trailer). There's a good chance that I could transport both your trombone and computer w/ DSL stuff on a bike AT ONCE. Hehe Unless you have a 21" CRT monitor.
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Old 01-03-06, 03:28 AM   #4
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well the trombone is in a large and heavy case (roughly 10kgs) and is akward and I certainly do not want to drop it.
Computer again would be heavy w/ 17inch screen and all the cables, speakers etc.

What doesnt fit in a backpack doesnt come with me on the bike
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Old 01-03-06, 04:12 AM   #5
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I've thought about this. But it seems something's gotta give: I'm a music junkie, so I have a decent stereo set, a whole bunch of CDs and a grand piano in the living room. Also my friends think I could easily donate half of my bike related stuff and still be able to ride nicely. Personally, of course, I don't consider any of these excessive.

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Old 01-03-06, 06:49 AM   #6
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I make a good living, so it's tempting to spend the money on stuff, but I don't. I save it. The exception to this is the wonderful bicycle I am currently building up and my Steinway grand piano.

I definitely live more simply than most though.

-I don't eat out, EVER. I cook every meal myself, and I daresay I do a better job of it than most restaurant chefs I've run into.
-I am car-free.
-I live in a small cottage.
-During winter, I resist the urge to warm my home with the furnace, prefering to put on extra layers.
-I hand-wash all my clothes with a 1940's clothes plunger, and hang them to dry outside.
-I grow my own. :groucho eyebrows:
-I hate forms, credit cards, insurance companies, attorneys, etcetera. I try to avoid these things as much as possible.
-My favorite activity is camping by bicycle in summertime.
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Old 01-03-06, 07:10 AM   #7
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well, i think i have a lot more stuff than you but i am moving more in that direction and i like not having TOO much stuff as it is a real pain.

i got out of college and moved to another city with all of my possessions in the back of my pickup truck and i thought that was cool. then in the first few years of working i bought all kinds of stuff: leather couch, big TV, etc... and when i moved from Texas to Portland i had to rent a huge truck!!

then for my next move from Portland to Boston i got rid of about half of my stuff and had the rest shipped... (gave my kayak and my motorcycle to friends - the kayak i sometimes miss but not for the hassel it would have been to keep it)

then i moved to Germany and i got rid of another half of my stuff and put another 2/3 of that in storage and only took a small amount. i had a small apartment and actually did quite fine with "less stuff". then after 2 years of paying storage i finally cleared out my storage stuff in the US giving half of the stuff away to friends and shipping some to Germany.

i do have a lot of stuff: 5 bikes, 2 snowboards, skiis, snowshoes, bike repair tools and parts, massive amounts of outdoor camping, climbing and snow gear, books, etc. but the main difference now is that 1) i have not bought any significant furniture in a while and 2) i REALLY think before i buy something -- and i really like this much better!

on the other hand i don't think i will ever again be able to fit all my stuff in the back of a pickup truck - much less transport it all with my BOB Trailer or XtraCycle (yeah, 2 other things i own)
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Old 01-03-06, 08:34 AM   #8
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I shed most of my belongings when I was moved to Costa Rica. Now that I am back in the states my idea of minimalism is much more minimal. You should really take a look at this site (www.simpleliving.net) go in the forums section that have advice and encouragement (much like here) around all of the different angles of simple living. This site and there are the two that keep me truckin' in a low paying job and living a "rich" lifestyle.
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Old 01-03-06, 08:36 AM   #9
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If I toss all of my school stuff, which I can do after june (yea.) I can fit my life in 7 boxes, not including my bikes, and 2 pieces of furnitune. I agree having a small amount of stuff is great since its just less things to manage. I have been forced into a simple lifestyle since I am a college and time and money is money, which I am short of :{, and I do not want to have things that will waste my time or money with me or on me. Since I hate buying new stuff, I try to make sure my stuff last, so I maintain all stuff tha I have thus the more stuff I have the more stuff I have to maintain. I did not really realize the time needed for this maintenence, until i got my first bike last June. It is just amazing to consider the amount of time that you can put into it, but it is also a great feeling to ride a finely tuned bike versus one that have seen a wrench in a while, but anyway I have left my point. I really like living simply, and I am a big propenent of living within your means, whch including more then money, but also time. If you do not do it weekly or monthly, then its probably something that is not worth your time and money. (Oh course, there are exception like skiing since its seasonly, but if you do not ski each season, then the rules are still the same.) Just saying. Anyway, I am not sure if the bike force me to live simpole. I mean if I had a car. The onyl extra thing I would have is an insurance additon (I already have renters insurance) and gas payments, so I say its the person, not the bike that makes life simple.
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Old 01-03-06, 04:31 PM   #10
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iBarna is a man after my own heart. I live in a small apartment and also cook delicious meals with a couple pans. I have even simplified my cooking and use fewer ingredients, but fresher and tastier. I have a lot of clothes (most from thrift stores) but I weed through them pretty often. I buy and adopt a lot of bikes, but give them all away. The bike I ride is freakishly minimal--nothing added but a lock, and a waterbottle in the summer. I know that's stupid, but I like it anyway. I give a LOT of money away, some to charities and causes, most to people I know who need it. That's stupid too but it makes me happy. My biggest luxury is coffee. I haven't used alcohol or drugs for many years.

Who are your philosophers of simplicity? I like Buddha because he teaches not to get attached to things. I also like Thoreau because he simplified to the core and because he knew how to live outdoors.
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Old 01-03-06, 04:33 PM   #11
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Oh. I couldn't move "everything I own on my back on the bike." I would need a small pickup truck, one load, then ride the bike over to the new crib.

That quote ("move everything I own on my back on the bike") is great. It is really in the spirit of Thoreau!
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Old 01-03-06, 04:43 PM   #12
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i try to run all errands (which isn't much), pay bills, check the internet, etc. while i'm at work. i have very little to do once i get home, except ride my bike. in addition to the bikes i have a small TV so i'm not tempted to watch it that much, a book case of books, and two guitars. that's basically it.
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Old 01-03-06, 04:54 PM   #13
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- i'm retired after telecommuting (writing books and magazine articles via Internet) for nine years... i now ride my bike to do food shopping, banking, etc., and ride a bike 15-20 miles a day at least five days a week... (although i only did six miles today as my 73-year-old mother-in-law rode my wife's beach cruiser with me in the park this afternoon)

- the wife unit now works out of house via telcommuting (job is more than 1,500 miles away)... no more driving to work and back... the bonus is that she got a pay raise on the job move! whoo hoo!

- life is good!

:-)
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Old 01-03-06, 05:14 PM   #14
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I wish I could cut the clutter, but being a packrat isn't by choice! I definitely know how to live frugal, and is a big reason why I commute by bike. I recently moved in to a small house so now I have no choice but to live simply.
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Old 01-03-06, 05:29 PM   #15
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I live pretty simply - most of my friends are amazzed at how minimalist I am. In additon to my bike, I have a few clothes, books TV, bed, and futon, and a few other odds and ends (pictures, etc.) I get most of my media materials (books, DVDs, etc.) from the library.

My last great indulgence is cable TV. I'm trying to work up the discipline to cancel the cable, and realocate that money on a gym membership.
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Old 01-03-06, 05:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanK

My last great indulgence is cable TV. I'm trying to work up the discipline to cancel the cable, and realocate that money on a gym membership.
cancel the cable, put that money into a 401(k) or IRA, and ride your bike instead of going to the gym.
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Old 01-03-06, 05:33 PM   #17
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Being TV-free is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It's not quite so bad if you're also addicted to the Internet. You still have a source for news and _interactive_ entertainment.
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Old 01-03-06, 06:12 PM   #18
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I live in a one-room apartment. I don't drink, smoke, and I'm vegan. I'm a hoarder by nature, but I've tried to fight agianst that as much as I can.

I own very few clothes or books (when I moved at the beginning of last summer, I gave away most of both of these). I use the library a lot, and I rarely (if ever) change my clothes. I've actually been wearing these pants since nov 04, and the same t-shirt since september 05. I DO own an assload of cd's and a fair sized stereo. I don't have the internet at home (I use it at work) and I don't own a tv, either. I do also own a bunch of trashpicked bike parts (mostly wheels) that I hang on to in the hopes that someone can use them down the line.

what blows away most people who see how I live is the fact that I own neither a couch or a bed. I sleep on my floor in my old sleepingbag. most people think I live pretty simplistic, but ever day I look for ways to live even more simple.
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Old 01-03-06, 06:21 PM   #19
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simplicity for the sake of purity will lead to enrichment....i think, thats my goal for this year....but a quote i like is
'live simply so that others may simply live'....it was a sticker so i dont know who to credit.
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Old 01-03-06, 06:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timmhaan
cancel the cable, put that money into a 401(k) or IRA, and ride your bike instead of going to the gym.
Biking alone isn't enough - it's good cardio and lower body workout, but doesn't do much for your upper body strength. I have some freeweights at home (forgot to mention on my earlier post), but it'd be nice to join a gym to have a nice array of equipment to work out with.
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Old 01-03-06, 06:56 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt_savvy
what blows away most people who see how I live is the fact that I own neither a couch or a bed.

I'm the same. No couch. No bed. No TV. I do have two very nice sitting chairs though, one of which is a definite reading lounger and the other which is a wooden antique.

As for a bed, I prefer to sleep on the floor with my Thermarest and a couple of comfy blankets because my back likes a very firm underlying surface. My time spent in tents put this oddball thing into me. I'm going to be getting a kakebuton and a Japanese futon (shikibuton) soon though, because I've grown fond of them. (It's not what we think of as a futon in the US - which is a sort of hybrid couch/bed. A Japanese futon is a thin wool-filled cotton mattress that trifolds and stows in a closet or large cupboard, with a big, heavy, warm quilted comforter that does the same.)

Unlike most here though, my book collection is silly big and needs to be reduced, but I can't bring myself to. I've even used the shelves in my bathroom to house some of it.

Last edited by Alekhine; 01-03-06 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 01-03-06, 09:08 PM   #22
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Gandhi said "live simply so that others may simply live".
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Old 01-03-06, 09:38 PM   #23
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The only thing I have a lot of is bikes: 3 of them -- 1 fixed, 1 road, and 1 mountain. I suppose I don't NEED all 3, but they're nice to have. iBarna, do you have just one bike?
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Old 01-03-06, 10:03 PM   #24
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I been pairing down for a while, and by Feb 1 I will some clothes and books I will be storing at my parents, the living off my bike for 7 or 8 months. I have already donated a ton of books to charity and kept the really good ones, but to be honest I should have donated the really good ones to charity first to let someone else get a chance to read them.
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Old 01-03-06, 11:46 PM   #25
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I have a laptop, a futon, some clothes, some cd's and books (both of which I'm slowly selling off- itunes and libraries - yes!!!) a small tv and vcr which I'm free-cycling (www.freecycle.org) and tools, which I'm keeping because I always need 'em for something. I also have a goal of being able to move with my bike (in june).
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