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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 11-02-08, 07:53 AM   #1
nostalgic
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Concern about selling my car (somewhat lengthy post)

This is what I want to do soon. I'm currently unemployed and I'm planning to relocate from Phoenix, AZ to Houston, TX to intern at a school there. It's a huge step for me, because I have no family in TX.
The cost of having a car is taking its toll on me, not to mention the economy. The car is paid for, so I just pay insurance, gas and maintenance. But even paying that is taking more money out of my savings. I only have about $3000 left in savings (and I'm single, so no boyfriend/husband to help out). If I sell the car, that will give me a tremendous windfall. BUT...
What if I need the car for emergencies? Or for something else I haven't considered yet?
Then there are others who say: "But you're a single young lady!" (I'm 26) "What if you need your car to escape imminent danger??"
Plus, my brother gave the car to me as a gift two and a half years ago. He'd be devastated to know I'm selling it, but the economy is bad.
Honestly, I'd rather not have a car at all. But many people keep telling me that I NEED it. gah...
I'm going to buy a bicycle soon (with necessary accessories), which will take more out of my savings, but with good reason. Then after that, I'll have to sell my car to keep from going broke. I won't be making much money interning at the school, but I will be following my passion!
I'd appreciate your input.
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Old 11-02-08, 08:45 AM   #2
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What if I need the car for emergencies? Or for something else I haven't considered yet?
If it's not an emergency, take a taxi. If it is an emergency, I can't see how you would be better off having a car, as compared to calling 911 and having trained medical personnel with basic medical equipment (ambulance) come to get you.

You can take a taxi at least once or twice a month for the cost of insuring a car. You'll want to figure out a way that you can purchase groceries and get to work/internship without a car. As long as you're willing to visit the grocery store twice a week, (which is easier if you happen to pass a grocery store on the regular commute home) you won't even need a particularly large backpack to shop for yourself.

As a "single young lady," you may, or may not, find something interesting for you in the threads about car-free people dating (search this section for "dating").
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Old 11-02-08, 08:48 AM   #3
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I would probably grab a bike first. Look for something used on craigslist or see if a local bike shop has something in the bike. Or try this in Houston. Buying used you can usually pick up a decent bike for $150 or less, and have enough to spare for helmet lock and however you want to carry things.

Give yourself time to head out on the bike to see if it works for you before you sell the car. I don't know how far along you are with the relocation, but make sure wherever you live works with car free. How close are grocery stores? How close is work? School? Doctor? etc...

Also check out the bus lines and any other transit option. I checked Zip Car, and Houston isn't listed. There might be something local, though. If worse comes to worse and you need a car for a weekend, you can always rent.
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Old 11-02-08, 09:42 AM   #4
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If you post the location of the school you're interning at, you might get some great specific suggestions about car free living in Houston.

It would be a stroke of luck if the school happened to be near a light rail stop. If that's the case, all you have to do is find housing somewhere else along the light rail line (an idea frequently mentioned by Dahon.Steve here).

With no family locally, you're unlikely to need a car to go visit them. And as for all other emergencies, Houston is likely to have plenty of resources.

However ... during hurricane season there is always the possibility of an evacuation on short notice. You'll need some kind of plan, even if it's something as casual as making friends who could assist you during an evacuation.
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Old 11-02-08, 10:10 AM   #5
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I lived in Houston 2 years car-free, so if you want any specific information feel free to PM me.

Just a few thoughts:

Houston doesn't have a great public transit system, but there are buses. (You can get to either airport on the public bus - it costs $1.50)

I found biking in Houston on the whole to be quite enjoyable - there is a bike lane/rout system in place, but I generally just used smaller streets and didn't have any problems. Except for January, which can be a little wet, the weather is usually sunny, however you will definitely miss the air conditioning in your car.

In terms of things you will need a car for - moving large items is the toughest thing to do on a bike. (for instance if you need to furnish your apartment. Try to borrow a car from a friend or co-worker. Or if you need to, renting is also an option, as politicalgeek pointed out.

In general I would say the best thing to have when you're car-free is a friend with a car. I'm sure you will have no problem finding friends in Houston - people are generally extremely friendly, at least in my experience.

As far as emergencies go - I can't think of any emergency that specifically requires you to have a car. If there is another hurricane in Houston any time soon, I'm sure you would easily be able to find a car-pool or some other way to get out of the city. For medical emergencies, there are ambulances, etc.

I would agree that it is a good idea to get a bike before you part with your car - just to be sure this works for you. It takes a bit of self determination to get out of bed on a really ugly rainy morning, get on your bike, and pedal to work, change into dry clothes, work all day, and then likely have to put those wet clothes back on and bike home in the rain. (I'm absolutely not trying to discourage you, just let you know of the challenges)

All the best of luck!
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Old 11-02-08, 03:16 PM   #6
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ARGH!!!
I just found out that I can't sell my car. It's a reconstructed vehicle. My brother failed to tell me what that meant in terms of getting it sold. But I still want to get rid of the car, and hopefully get come cash for it.
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Old 11-02-08, 04:09 PM   #7
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Might depend on which state.
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Old 11-02-08, 04:54 PM   #8
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sell the car,

buy a bike, with gear (lights, shorts, helmet, racks ect),

move close to your work

have a small amount saved to call a taxi for when it rains. Unless you dont mind riding in the rain.

Get to know your neighboor. If he/she is nice, you can bug her for emergencies when you cant wait 15min for a taxi. You pay the gas though.

heck of a lot cheaper than owning a car.

scared of being mugged or raped? work on getting a strong grip and sprintiing. That should be enough to stop any attempt from almost anyone. IF they shoot you or stab you not even your car will save you. I think you're more likely to get carjacked than bicyclejacked. I mean who pulls a gun on someone and says "get off the bike!"?
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Old 11-02-08, 08:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by nostalgic View Post
ARGH!!!
I just found out that I can't sell my car. It's a reconstructed vehicle. My brother failed to tell me what that meant in terms of getting it sold. But I still want to get rid of the car, and hopefully get come cash for it.
Vehicles with reconstructed titles can be bought and sold all the time - all this means is that at some point the vehicle has been wrecked, but doesn't specify how badly it's been wrecked. I see this all the time at the motorcycle shop where I work. Guys lay down their sport bikes with enough damage that it get's totalled by the insurance company. Customer gets the settlement, buys the bike back at a fraction of it's net worth, then fixes it himself. Rides the bike, then later sells it off.

The downside of a reconstructed title is that the vehicle is going to be harder to sell, and you're going to get less money for it. And be prepared to do some heavy explaining of exactly why it's reconstructed. There's a lot of people out there who will happily buy just such a car, because they don't want to pay market value for the same model with a straight title.
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Old 11-02-08, 08:18 PM   #10
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I'd keep the car at least until I ensured wherever I moved to would allow me practical access to my job, a grocery store, and so on without a car. In your case, I certainly wouldn't make any decisions before moving and settling down.
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Old 11-03-08, 12:28 AM   #11
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Wish I could sell my car... I could even commute to work, but I need the car for work... so, it's a shame.
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Old 11-03-08, 07:44 AM   #12
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If you really want to get rid of the car, start by not using it. You probably can take the bus or walk for at least some errands right now... so do it. A bike gives you more range, but it's not essential for being car free. All you really need is to live in a neighborhood where you can walk and catch a bus. If you're buying furniture, most stores are happy to deliver or help you hire a delivery person. If you're buying groceries, odds are you can carry most of a week's worth in a backpack.

Then when you move to Houston, you'll have a much clearer idea of what services you want nearby. That will make picking an apartment easy, and you'll find that getting by without a car is much less trouble.
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Old 11-03-08, 08:13 AM   #13
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Vehicles with reconstructed titles can be bought and sold all the time - all this means is that at some point the vehicle has been wrecked, but doesn't specify how badly it's been wrecked. I see this all the time at the motorcycle shop where I work. Guys lay down their sport bikes with enough damage that it get's totalled by the insurance company. Customer gets the settlement, buys the bike back at a fraction of it's net worth, then fixes it himself. Rides the bike, then later sells it off.

The downside of a reconstructed title is that the vehicle is going to be harder to sell, and you're going to get less money for it. And be prepared to do some heavy explaining of exactly why it's reconstructed. There's a lot of people out there who will happily buy just such a car, because they don't want to pay market value for the same model with a straight title.
If you can't sell it where you're at, sell it in Texas. My son bought a car with a Salvage Title (that's what they call it here). It's just a disclosure, and you will take a hit in terms of how much money you can get for it, but it's perfectly legal.

Personally, If I were going to buy a used bike as a primary means of transport, I might buy two if at all possible. There may be something wrong with the bike you buy, and you wouldn't want to be totally stranded if it keeps you from riding the bike until it is fixed. (Or, if you bend a rim or break a cable, you still have an operational bike). It's a nice little insurance policy.
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