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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 12-24-07, 08:18 AM   #1
dcbiker
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Partially car-free in retirement

My wife and I, who live with an 18-year-old in the suburbs, will retire in a year or two. We are planning on selling our house and buying a condo in the city. I was dubious, but I have tentatively agreed to move there if she will let me go car-free and take on whatever driving is needed. Public transportation is good, and I can bike more places. She can also walk to the school where she might still work part-time.

Don't suggest that she go car-free, because she also runs a part-year business in an extremely rural area 200 miles away (which is fabulous for biking). I will probably spend more time there, too, and it would be challenging to go car-free in that area.

An aside: Now the real challenge is getting my daughter to drive less. Without our permission, she drove six blocks to work this morning with our car because she was late. She took ours because the one we have been letting her use is low on gas because she keeps forgetting to fill the tank (with her money). I did chew her out and charged her for gas for using our car and told her she should have walked. If it weren't for Christmas I would take her car privileges away for awhile. @#%$$#@&*.
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Old 12-24-07, 10:06 AM   #2
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Sounds like you are making all the right moves. You are moving to an area that will give you the possibility of living without a car. You are working out strategies that will allow one or more of the family to go without a car.

Just remember that, even if you can't go entirely car-free, you can gain a lot of benefit from using that car less. You will be healthier, have more money in the bank and in a very real sense have yourself prepared for the not-so-unlikely series of events that would make gasoline automobile transportation prohitively expensive or impossible.

Good luck with it.
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Old 12-24-07, 11:05 AM   #3
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The best thing you could do in the near term is to choose the optimum location for your car free retirement. Lots of downtown condos aren't even close to a grocery store. For those that claim to be convenient to retail shops, well, those often turn out to be just galleries, boutiques and hair salons. What you need is to be a block or two away from real honest to goodness life supporting retail like grocery, pharmacy, hardware, full line clothing, etc.
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Old 12-24-07, 11:21 AM   #4
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The best thing you could do in the near term is to choose the optimum location for your car free retirement. Lots of downtown condos aren't even close to a grocery store. For those that claim to be convenient to retail shops, well, those often turn out to be just galleries, boutiques and hair salons. What you need is to be a block or two away from real honest to goodness life supporting retail like grocery, pharmacy, hardware, full line clothing, etc.
What Platy said...plus couple of nice brew pubs and a liquor store My what used to be country turned suburban hell homeplace is getting better by the day. We have a grocery store, drug store, dollar store, chinese restaurant, pizza delivery joint and bank...all with in 1.75 miles of my front door, 1 mile if I cut thru the woods on my MTB We just got alcohol sales approved for the grocery store this year, prior to that it was a 7 mile ride to the store just over the township line for a six pack. My personal preference for retirement would be a small 7,000-10,000 town laid out on a grid with all the basics within cycling/walking range.

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Old 12-24-07, 11:40 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by dcbiker View Post

An aside: Now the real challenge is getting my daughter to drive less. Without our permission, she drove six blocks to work this morning with our car because she was late. She took ours because the one we have been letting her use is low on gas because she keeps forgetting to fill the tank (with her money). I did chew her out and charged her for gas for using our car and told her she should have walked. If it weren't for Christmas I would take her car privileges away for awhile. @#%$$#@&*.
Put a battery lockout switch on your vehicles. They are cheap and easy to install.

As to a car-light retirement.....
We've been doing this for 5 yrs. now. We live in a small town using bi/tri cycles for all our
in town travel. The vehicles we have are older ,paid for & well maintained to avoid the
cost/loss of buying "new" so very often. The vehicles is used only for trips out of town
to doctors or special stores and even then we combine as many tasks into that trip as
possible. There have been many months in 2007 where were able to buy zero fuel
while ending the month with a full tank of fuel!!

Going car light in retirement can be done if you just think outside the box. It's easy
really...
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 12-25-07, 09:07 PM   #6
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Thanks for your ideas about this.

Regarding downtown, it is in the Adams-Morgan area of Washington, D.C. which has all stores, restaurants, etc., you could imagine, though it does have a crime problem. My wife lived in the same building before she married me (and her first husband still lives there with his wife--but that's another story.)

About rural areas, I would like to do mostly biking in the area, but the town only has about 200 people, and the stores are 6 miles away. Since she runs a B&B at the house, which would be our second home, it would take a lot of hauling of stuff. But you did give me a good idea--you can really reduce the amount of car trips if you plan carefully.
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Old 12-26-07, 12:16 PM   #7
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About rural areas, I would like to do mostly biking in the area, but the town only has about 200 people, and the stores are 6 miles away. Since she runs a B&B at the house, which would be our second home, it would take a lot of hauling of stuff. But you did give me a good idea--you can really reduce the amount of car trips if you plan carefully.
One way we reduced fuel usage was to tear a page out of the early 20th century household
managment methods.

We make a once a month "supply" run and stock up on all non-perisables garden & can much of
our own produce and buy everything in bulk that we can. This is how the farmers/ranchers of
the old days kept cost low and it still works today.

If you don't have even a small freezer ...get one. If you don't have "pantry shelving" get some.
You will be amazed at how much time and cost you will save in short order. Oh yes, outlaw the
short hop bread/milk runs or you will save nothing. STOCK UP!!

Make it a hard and fast rule that the car doesn''t move unless the trip will pay for itself in jobs
done. AND MEAN IT!!!! (6 miles on a decent bike ain't as far as you think)
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 12-26-07, 02:33 PM   #8
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One way we reduced fuel usage was to tear a page out of the early 20th century household
managment methods.
An excellent idea; I ran into that very thing this weekend. I have been gradually loading up grocery items as part of bird-flu quarantine preparations (just in case, recommended at the office). This weekend the spouse and kids were about to make cookies and...NO VEGETABLE OIL. But, I saved the day with a backup from the supplies. I realized then that that is how I will protect myself from having to go to the grocery store by bike during a snowstorm (I'm not car-free, but trying to move that way). A loaded pantry will prevent those "must go to the grocery store right now for one item" trips and allow me to go when I want to.

Just a note off topic, if you always have several of some item in backup, then you never "have to" buy it when you are at the grocery store. You can make a standard pass through the aisles and check the prices of the items you regularly get, and buy them only when they are on sale.
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Old 12-27-07, 12:04 PM   #9
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to the OP: heck, in a year or 2 the 18yr old will be outta there anyway right?

And in the meantime, she's under your roof, so she obeys the rules. right? I know how it goes... but if the rules get broken, there must be consequences, Christmas or no. imho.

i envy your near-term future. should be very cool. Enjoy it.

whatever will you do with all your free time??
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Old 12-27-07, 12:38 PM   #10
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Funny thing: When I made my daughter fill up the gas tank herself, I decided that in fairness I should pay her when I use the same car. So I figured out my occasional round-trip drive to Madison Center, six miles roundtrip, where there is a dog run for the dogs and a weight room for me, costs $2 round trip in gas alone, if you assume a 15 mpg on the 12-year-old clunker. And if I drove 12 miles roundtrip downtown, it would cost $4. I never figured that out before I had to do it for her. You're starting to talk about real money.

I bike to work and so I rarely drive downtown. And I'm not paying her for the trip for the dogs because they're her dogs and she doesn't walk them often enough. But I think I will bike to the weightroom instead--it's a good warmup on extremely hilly terrain and I can head to work from there.
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Old 12-28-07, 12:47 PM   #11
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Regarding downtown, it is in the Adams-Morgan area of Washington, D.C. which has all stores, restaurants, etc., you could imagine, though it does have a crime problem. My wife lived in the same building before she married me (and her first husband still lives there with his wife--but that's another story.)
The crime problem in Adams Morgan seems to be diminishing in the past 10 years. With the new development right next door at Columbia Heights you'll have almost suburban like shopping choices- but one fewer farmer's market. You might decide to go completely car free and just rent cars for those 200 mile trips. My car owning neighbors say that as more affluent suburbanites move into the neighborhood it is getting more difficult to find on-street parking. Some car people came over two weeks ago, they drove around looking for a place to park, gave up, drove home and called a cab.
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