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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 02-16-10, 12:33 PM   #1
HandsomeRyan
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Anyone else failed as CFL?

I tried and I failed. I wanted to live car free, really I did but I just can't seem to make it work where I am in life right now.

In May of 09 my wife was just shy of completing her masters degree and had a job offer from the US government to come to MD (from TN) to work at a good job here. About that same time the company I work for laid off a bunch of employees, myself included. We moved to MD last June and since I lost my company car in the layoff I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try living car free.

Since that time I've been miserable. I've not found a job, I've not made any friends here, and I feel very isolated. I know some will say that I just haven't tried hard enough or that if I haven't made friends I must be introverted or something but I do not believe that is the case. In real life I'm quite extroverted and up until the last 7 months I've never struggled to meet people or maintain normal social friendships.

I think part of the problem may be too much change at once. Instead of just making the change to car free, i had to change every single thing about my life all at once. I lost my car, my job, all my friends and family, I moved 500 miles away to a place where I knew no one except my wife. She had this government job lined up but I'm struggling to find something I can enjoy. I don't want to be a bag boy or fast food clerk and it's very hard to find better jobs without the use of a car to expand the area I can travel to.

I know this forum is really more about people succeeding at car free living than about those of us who've failed but I wondered if anyone else reading this had any similar experiences? I'm currently looking at getting a truck to help me get settled and maybe I'll revisit the car-free lifestyle again in a few years once the rest of my life becomes more stable.

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Old 02-16-10, 01:13 PM   #2
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I myself have allways have had a hard time with friendships and moving. I never realy tried to be car free I honestly tried much hard to have a car. It realy just dosen't work for me and i can't justify the expense of something i barely use. I have noticed a hard time looking for jobs not having a car. On occasion I've been asked if i own a reliable vehicle when applying for work. I should just say yes but I never know if there looking for me to move items or make long distance commutes.
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Old 02-16-10, 01:28 PM   #3
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Ryan... if you want to meet folks, there's bicycle clubs ( like the www.baltobikeclub.org ) and there's the "MD People's..." thread, here on BF, at http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...he-MD-people-s

Where do you live? (ok, I see Laurel) I'm sure that we can get you into a social bike scene as soon as the weather stays clear enough for you to ride comfortably.

A club that I ride with in Severna Park is the Severna Park Peloton - http://www.severnaparkpeloton.org - They ride quite a bit around the Annapolis area with occasional forays to Ellicott City and up to Baltimore.

Anyway, feel free to ask for help in the thread (or at the bike club of your choice).

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Old 02-16-10, 01:38 PM   #4
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That's an awful lot to do.

I went from car-lite to car-free when I moved to Arkansas, but I had a couple of things going for me.

I had a job, and so I was able to choose an apartment close by. I had the support of my employer and even first assembled the bike in the lobby at work before I rode it home.

I have been car-free before, so I wasn't encountering that much new except that the weather was cooler than I was used to. And I was blessed with a relatively warm winter that first year.

Car-free is only done one day at a time. So you haven't failed. These just aren't the car-free days for you.

Get a job, get settled and summer should see you in better shape for commuting and utility riding.
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Old 02-16-10, 01:44 PM   #5
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I have noticed a hard time looking for jobs not having a car. On occasion I've been asked if i own a reliable vehicle when applying for work. I should just say yes but I never know if there looking for me to move items or make long distance commutes.
Your bicycle is reliable. They mostly want to know that you will show up. Say "Yes."
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Old 02-16-10, 05:39 PM   #6
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Ryan, seven months really isn't a very long time for reestablishing your life in a new location. Remember, most people make friends at work or school, and that isn't available to you right now. (Have you thought about going back to school to change careers or even just to meet people? Volunteer work is something else to consider.)

As for your being a failure, I reject that notion. There are six unemployed people for every available job in America right now. That's not your fault. Also, city infrastructures are set up to make carfree living difficult--and that's not your fault either. As long as you keep trying, you're not failing--and eventually you will succeed.
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Old 02-16-10, 06:55 PM   #7
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I would not consider it a failure, rather a change in priorities. FWIW I have car free for a period back in the late 70's and early 80's, then a wife and the kids came along. Went car light for the next 15 years or so, until my job disappeared overseas somewhere. I tried for over a year to find a suitable replacement job in the area and ended up having to take a traveling job to even get close to my old pay range. Now I drive somewhere around 42,000 miles a year for work, but cycle as much as I can when I get where I am going and when I get home. No I don't like it, but unless the job market drastically changes, I get laid off or mass ground transit in this country makes major improvements I am stuck for the time being.

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Old 02-16-10, 09:48 PM   #8
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In all honesty, being car free really is not feasable for a large amount of the population. Our cities, countryside, and towns just are not built for it. Don't feel bad about failing at something like that.
Moving like that really is a huge change. I know the feeling. I moved to DC from NC right after college to live close to my wife's family, and I was terribly miserable and depressed and it really took a long time to make friends. Roody is right about it being tough to make friends other than work or school. I wish I had good advice but the best I can think of is for both you and your wife to start making friends together. My wife and I moved to SF a few years ago and other than one guy, all my friends are husbands of her friends. I'm not so sure its not pretty similar for a lot of married couples who move to new places.
As far as being car free, don't worry about it. It is not like it is the "right" thing to do or anything. If anything it is an eccentricity.
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Old 02-16-10, 09:49 PM   #9
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In all honesty, being car free really is not feasable for a large amount of the population. Our cities, countryside, and towns just are not built for it. Don't feel bad about failing at something like that.
Moving like that really is a huge change. I know the feeling. I moved to DC from NC right after college to live close to my wife's family, and I was terribly miserable and depressed and it really took a long time to make friends. Roody is right about it being tough to make friends other than work or school. I wish I had good advice but the best I can think of is for both you and your wife to start making friends together. My wife and I moved to SF a few years ago and other than one guy, all my friends are husbands of her friends. I'm not so sure its not pretty similar for a lot of married couples who move to new places.
As far as being car free, don't worry about it. It is not like it is the "right" thing to do or anything. If anything it is an eccentricity.
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Old 02-16-10, 11:43 PM   #10
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http://www.laurel.md.us/content/transportation

I looked at all the public transit options for Laurel Maryland and there is a lot! The MARC train takes you right down to Washington DC and more. There's the MetroBus and the CTC bus system along with Connect a Ride. I would look for a job that's within biking range of any one of these transit options especially MARC. You can have a multimode commute that invoves biking to the train station and I did that for years. There are a lot of options.

Good Luck.
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Old 02-17-10, 09:27 PM   #11
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HandsomeRyan -
Quote:
I know this forum is really more about people succeeding at car free living than about those of us who've failed but I wondered if anyone else reading this had any similar experiences?
I haven't "failed at car free living" but I have had some experiences that are similar to yours. I went through a substantial period of time living in an unfamiliar area, not knowing very many people, being alone a lot, unemployed some of the time...

Want to encourage you to "don't bite off more than you can chew". Don't place too many constraints on yourself - maybe you can use a car to help you get a job (or go to school) and then give up the car once you feel ready. Or you might prefer to focus on none-of-the-above, and instead focus more on things you can do for fun, ways to meet new friends... or on being self-employed (keeping in mind some small businesses require almost no investment / risk, just time and effort). Any of these things could potentially work for you with or without a car.

Don't call yourself a failure. You tried something difficult, and it didn't work as you wanted it to. Telling yourself you're not good enough won't make it better. Focusing on parts of your life where you feel passionate or energized, or where you feel like you can transcend your weaknesses, may work for you.

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Old 02-17-10, 10:29 PM   #12
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Personally, if I was unemployed, I'd be looking for a job. But I'd also have an eye to doing a few interesting things with my life ... which I normally don't 'cause I'm working 5 days a week.

So yeah... look for a job with your car... but don't forget to explore the neighborhoods with your bike, check out all the close-by amenities, shops, service that are walkable or bike-able.

And while you're at it, get a couple of interesting books and read them.

Life is too short to be worrying about the next job all the time.
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Old 02-18-10, 02:09 PM   #13
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Does your wife have a car? I'm unsure if you went from being a 2-car couple to 1, or 1 to 0, or 2 to 0. 2 to 0 is a big jump!

If you have one car between you and she is using it for her job, could she also cycle? That way if you have an interview you could use it to get to one that day. Or perhaps if she doesn't then you could drop her off at work on days you would need the car (or like to have use of one).

If it were me, I would look for jobs - both ones that I would need a car to get to and ones I don't. Obviously preferring the ones that don't. Don't forget as another poster mentioned about the possibility of mixed-modal, bike and transit. Try to borrow a car or rent one when you have interviews.

Once you land the job, it will make it more affordable if you need to buy a car, and if don't need to, so much the better!
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Old 02-18-10, 02:28 PM   #14
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I've taken that kind of leap before... moved 2000 miles out here to Saskatoon for a new job, knowing nobody, never having ever been here before, had to leave my husband behind for over a year. At least I had the job, I guess, but it's a very isolated job; I can go a week without talking to anyone, easily. It was depressing, absolutely.

The key to making some friends for me was in doing some social activities (in my case, a learn-to-curl course for adults and cycling). Friends make a big difference in shedding that feeling of isolation. Friends are also a great way to network and find a job (it's how my husband eventually managed to get a job here). Also, maybe your wife could try getting together socially with some of her co-workers? You may hit it off with them or their spouses (my husband is friends with many of my co-workers' spouses).

You should hold off on buying that truck a little longer, because it probably won't solve your problems. Plus, if you find a job that you need a car to get to, you'll probably always use the car to get to it. It sounds like car-free was something that you were pretty interested in. Keep up the job search and sign up for some activities instead. Also, is it possible the winter blahs are getting to you? February is a real downer for a lot of people living through winter. Spring will be here soon.
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Old 03-04-10, 04:13 PM   #15
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Hey Ryan,

We still miss you in Knoxville! Sorry to hear that you are struggling in your new home.

Previous posters all have good advice. In all of my moves over the last decades, it has taken a while for me to adapt to the new setting, and it is almost always a challenge to shift over to bikes. Success also ultimately depends on commute distance (once you get a job), and that is is subject to the compromises necessary between your commute, the wife's commute, and availibility of housing in a good place. If you have already bought a house, the last factor may already be fixed. Utility cycling also depends on land use patterns that are reasonably compact. Sometimes, it is just no possible to build bike transportation into your lifestyle.

Explore the area on your bike if you have time. Explore the mass transit options. Keep plugging, and good luck!

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Old 03-04-10, 05:43 PM   #16
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Explore the area on your bike if you have time. Explore the mass transit options. Keep plugging, and good luck!

jrh
That is such good advice. Exploring a new area always helps me feel more connected to it--bonding with my new community. Asking local people what's changed in the area since they first came there is a good ice breaker and gets me started on learning the history of the region.
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Old 03-05-10, 06:50 PM   #17
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Being jobless and friendless really sucks. Keep looking, and get creative in your search: look into possibilities that would mean going back to school, or taking a dock in pay to do something you're new at. Likewise with the friends. Check into all of the social activities in your area and see what interests you. Bike clubs are one thing, but there are lots of other community groups you can join.

Hang in there. Things *will* turn around and you'll come out of this fog. The CF thing is really beside the point. You need a job and you need friends. In this economy and in a new area, neither of those will be easy, but both are possible. Good luck!
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Old 03-09-10, 07:37 PM   #18
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When I moved here I volunteered with the trail building folks and met lots of people. Find a subject you like and volunteer.
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