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  1. #1
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Changing & simplifying your life beyond "car-free", how did you get there?

    I'm sorry, I'm not a great writer and English is my second language. I've been thinking a lot about simplifying my life, going car-free or extremely car-light and beyond, moving out of NYC to some quieter, calmer area, using my bike more. I'd also like to be closer to some great outdoors and in warmer, drier climate, I'm thinking Arizona here.

    I already commute every day by bike and run some small errands, but I want to go few steps further.

    It seems to me to be a logical and natural step for me: I'm fed up with commercialism, I don't watch TV, I hate commercials and marketing, I hate rush and crowds, I hate the overabundance of junk in my life, I hate shopping malls, there is just too much of everything around me, marketing running amok, I don't have desires to own fancy cars or a house, I don't care for fashion, my needs are quite basic, I can eat simple meals every day. I'll take a hike in the woods over a club or movie theater any time.

    I'm longing for simpler life and more freedom. I have a decent IT job that keeps me here but if I simplified my life enough I could live off far less money. I'm tired of paying all these bills just to maintain a lifestyle that is required by the society, to be considered "normal". I've been slowly drifting away from it all over the last few years. Spending all my free time either at home or somewhere out of town hiking or biking.

    So, I'm interested to hear from people who not only have gone car free but also simplified their lives and rejected most of the requirements of modern society.

    It seems to me that Car Free Living covers several categories of living. It's not just one type of living. Then on top of "car free" living there are other layers: TV free, credit free, going green, sticking it to the Man, etc.

    Here are are few that I can observe, I'm sure there are more. Of course, this is based on USA.

    1) There are people who chose not to own a car, but they still maintain relative complexity of living with all the bells and whistles that modern economy offers them. They usually live in a large urban area where a lot of services are available within walking distance. In such case owning a car may even be kind of a nuisance and going car-free doesn't really require a lot of compromises and may even be more convenient. They may ride bikes for leisure or short errands only. Their commute times are usually short or they can use mass transit. Bad weather is not much of a problem for them. Going bike free here is often a no-brainer and no one cares that you don't own a car.

    2) There are people who live in less dense suburbs or smaller towns, and they still maintain relative complexity of life. Fewer services are available within a walking distance, perhaps a supermarket, grocery store, etc. A car is helpful but not entirely necessary. Most shopping is still better done by car though, and such, they will require a tougher bike capable of carrying some cargo and generally would need to ride more and their commute times may be longer as well. They can still get many services and goods delivered, however, so they don't need to entirely depend on their bikes for transportation. Bad weather has stronger effect on this type of people. They generally still use most of the goodies that modern life has to offer. Going car free requires some planning and effort and changes to the lifestyle. You would be generally considered strange.

    3) Rural residents. Everything is a few miles away. Lives are generally less complex that in urban areas. But most people would consider a car a necessity and you'd be perceived nuts if you try to do everything on a bike. Deliveries are not widely available or take time. Commute times are long, unless they work from home. They'd need to rely on bicycles most of the time and the weather will have very profound, often crippling effect on their ability to move around. Going car-free would require significant effort and planning.

    4) People who are willing to move somewhere else to live car-free, far from dense centers of civilization and make significant changes to their lives to do that, they would give up significant chunks of their possessions and give up some bells and whistles that modern society and economy has to offer. These are usually people tired of living in a hurry, wanting to go green, live healthier lives, etc.

    5) People who chose nomadic life on a bike, moving from town to town, touring, living on the road. These are the ones who left everything behind, gave up all their possessions in exchange for total freedom. This either caused by the profound curiosity and desire to travel and see the world and/or the need to break away from modern life and all the stress and anxiety associated with it.

    I'm in #2 right now and I'd like to be in #4.

    What motivates each group? Except for #1 each requires effort, planning and changes to lifestyle.

    Which group do you fall in?
    How hard was it for you to get there?
    How long did it take?
    Did you achieve what you wanted?
    Did you ever regret what you have done?
    What are the benefits you see now?
    Would you do anything in a different way if you were to do this again?

    Cheers!

    Adam
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 03-05-10 at 04:19 PM.

  2. #2
    z90
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    Adam, It's great that you are thinking about these things! There is lot to think about there, and I can't really address much of it from experience, but it made me think of a book you may find interesting. We tend to think of rural living as "greener", but the truth is probably the opposite. For a great discussion of this topic, read this book.

  3. #3
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I don't have the time now to respond properly, but I have a quick question for Adam. What do you consider to be a "dense center" or a less dense area?


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    I think perhaps you are mistaking urban for complicated, and rural for simple. It isn't that easy.

    It's early March. We're having what I hope is an early thaw here in Wisconsin. (please oh please let it be a real thaw) Normally, the last frost date is Memorial Day, so May 31. For a wide range of food crops, that is the earliest date it's safe to plant them outside in this climate. To grow many fruits and vegetables, you start them indoors, or you don't eat them. Period. We're far enough north that you can't readily do that off natural light. That means grow lamps, or other technological methods to get enough light and heat. And it has to be the right *kind* of light.

    If the thaw we're having is real, it means that farmers can use cold frames or hoop houses to get plants started outside, but in a protected environment. It's still pretty high tech. You *must* know the light cycle the plant needs to develop, and the soil temperatures. If you go off sheer guesswork, mostly, the plants die.

    Getting food to grow in this climate is a ***** of a problem. Arizona is also a *****, tho in the opposite direction. There, you're fighting against the heat and dry of a desert... and an ecosystem where every animal, plant and microbe will go after whatever water you use. A lot of people look at me funny for knowing all this stuff. But I *like* my food to taste good. That means understanding how it grows, so I can tell which farmers actually know their job. I don't eat much out of season food. Summers can get pretty meatless. You don't slaughter your excess male calves and pigs until fall, so if you're eating meat through the summer, it's because you haven't eaten up what's in the freezer. Chickens you can be more flexible. Fruit is an incredible treat. Some of my favorite fruits are in season for only a week or two every year.

    There's no deadline quite like lambing season or calving season too. And I am *so* glad I'm an urban sort of creature, and can *choose* not to deal with it all.

  5. #5
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    For me a dense area is where you have at least 6-story apartment buildings everywhere, no houses, everything is high-rise, residential is mixed with commercial, ground floors are usually shops, traffic during rush hour is bumper-to-bumper, less than 5mph, unsafe for bikes. Less dense is where there are no buildings taller than a few floors and majority are residential houses, commercial shops are clumped into small malls and strip-malls mainly, no rush-hour gridlock, traffic flows at least at steady 15mph during that time, safer for bikes. Of course, this is my perception, nothing too scientific

    Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about these things for the last few months. I think I was living my life the wrong way trying to comply, to fit it. Thanks for the link.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torrilin View Post
    I think perhaps you are mistaking urban for complicated, and rural for simple. It isn't that easy.
    I know it's more complex than that. What I said in the OP were my perceptions. That's why I wanted to hear some opinions. Not all urban areas are bad and crazy like NYC, I bet. I want more fuel for thinking.

    Adam
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 03-05-10 at 05:23 PM.

  6. #6
    z90
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    Not all urban areas are bad and crazy like NYC, I bet. I want more fuel for thinking.

    Adam
    Seriously, check out that book. He points out that if New York city was our 51st state, it would be the state with by far the smallest carbon footprint per capita. It doesn't necessarily address the quality of life issues that you are also clearly thinking about, but it's unlikely you'll be truly greener by objective measures living anywhere else, at least in the United States.

  7. #7
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by z90 View Post
    Adam, It's great that you are thinking about these things! There is lot to think about there, and I can't really address much of it from experience, but it made me think of a book you may find interesting. We tend to think of rural living as "greener", but the truth is probably the opposite. For a great discussion of this topic, read this book.
    I strongly disagree.

    High density urban life is a product of the post-inustrial oil dependent society. One of the greenest communities right now are the Amish, and they are successful in part because they're an agrian society. Their shunning of modern technology is self imposed, but once our oil party is over it will be unwillingly imposed on all of us. The Amish could not survive at their level of technology, and neither could we, in a high density urban setting. I suspect that the current trend in thinking that ultra-high density urban living is a 'green' or 'sustainable' lifestyle is more fashion than fact.

  8. #8
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    For me a dense area is where you have at least 6-story apartment buildings everywhere, no houses, everything is high-rise, residential is mixed with commercial, ground floors are usually shops, traffic during rush hour is bumper-to-bumper, less than 5mph, unsafe for bikes. Less dense is where there are no buildings taller than a few floors and majority are residential houses, commercial shops are clumped into small malls and strip-malls mainly, no rush-hour gridlock, traffic flows at least at steady 15mph during that time, safer for bikes. Of course, this is my perception, nothing too scientific

    Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about these things for the last few months. I think I was living my life the wrong way trying to comply, to fit it. Thanks for the link.



    I know it's more complex than that. What I said in the OP were my perceptions. That's why I wanted to hear some opinions. Not all urban areas are bad and crazy like NYC, I bet. I want more fuel for thinking.

    Adam
    Adam,
    Lots of options depending on what you want and what you can get for work. I prefer small towns ~8,000-15,000 range is good. If you pick older ones they are quite often still laid out on a grid with shopping out on the edges. Some are fortunate enough to still have bus and rail service, others not so fortunate. They are all over the country by the thousands. Some are better than others.

    Another possibility is some of the first or second ring suburbs of a larger city, so called street car suburbs. Prime example to me would be some of the ones outside Minneapolis, like Roseville, St. Anthony or New Brighton.

    For research start with City Data. It can give you a decent idea of what the town profile is like, crime, housing, etc. Then follow up with weather history to find what suits you.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  9. #9
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    I'm longing for simpler life and more freedom. I have a decent IT job that keeps me here but if I simplified my life enough I could live off far less money. I'm tired of paying all these bills just to maintain a lifestyle that is required by the society, to be considered "normal". I've been slowly drifting away from it all over the last few years. Spending all my free time either at home or somewhere out of town hiking or biking.
    Adam, like a lot of people, you seem to see a solution to your problem by moving locations. I'd argue you are likely to bring the root of the problem along with you... which is yourself! I believe it's possible to achiever a "simpler" life without all the stress of moving, finding new friends, new community.

    Are you even sure a "simpler" life is what you are looking for? I'd argue you would be more satisfied with a "happier" where you were able to share and grow in a community. That community could be an extended family, a group of friends, a bunch of volunteers doing something on a Saturday morning, maybe something with church (don't ask me why I don't know this one...).

    I'd say forget simple. Simple will happen without any conscious effort. Instead look for opportunities for sharing and giving. If you find the right niche, your life will become much simpler.

  10. #10
    Dare to be weird!
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    I'm longing for ... more freedom.
    What you probably mean by freedom is spending less time working for wages in the money economy.

    Best solution: choose parents wisely and inherit a hundred million bucks or so early in life.

    Next best solution: make a living at something you really love to do, so that it feels like getting paid for doing your hobby. (Been there, done that.)

    Otherwise, great personal freedom generally can't be achieved with a partner who doesn't have the same desire, minor children, a mortgage, a medical condition which requires continuous health insurance, a challenging commute situation, or big credit card debt.

    All other things being equal, less employment means lots less income. Less income means inconvenience, less comfort and much lower social status. But you implied you're willing to do that. The payoff is that more of the irreplaceable hours of your life belong to you alone.

    Cut your living expenses to the minimum. The first economizations are easy, but soon you will be looking at some serious life restructuring. Especially confronting your own entitlement issues. When you reach that point you'll know what I'm talking about. What will you do when you get a bad toothache, for example?

    Get some kind of income that covers your basic expenses. If you're an older person it might be income from retirement investments. If you're a younger person it might be income from work that you enjoy.

    Use knowhow, improvisation, moxie, gumption and/or philosophical resignation to make up for the rest of the missing income. Yep, I mean frugal stuff like patching clothes or living with minimum heat/air conditioning.

    Earlier today, my partner and I sang this old song together -

    Well we ain't got a barrel of money...
    We may look ragged and funny...
    But we're travelin' on...
    Singing our song...
    Side by side.
    Last edited by Platy; 03-05-10 at 09:37 PM.

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    Adam, I can feel your pain; I decided 30 years ago to forgo the 'rat-race', being more interested in the 'quality time' in my life rather than just hustling to pay for all the doo-dads I didn't really need, I formed the philosophy of 'making enough to get by and take care of me and mine'.

    Sometimes, nowadays, I regret it, mainly because there are some necessaries that have been forced on us all.

    First thing, though -- no categories. I refuse to be put in a category.

    I've been car-free for five years. I don't miss the car, and can haul just about anything I need to on the bike. I'm also working on getting to the point where all my furniture will be light enough to just 'toss around'. (Example: bamboo or wicker patio furniture for the living room; I already switched to an airbed.)
    I have a cell phone, with a minimum pre-paid plan, that costs me about the same as what a basic landline did 15 years ago. I'm in touch with whoever I need to be, for cheap.
    I do have a TV, but I couldn't tell you anything about most of the current line-ups on networks OR cable. I enjoy watching WWE, NCIS, and the syndicated court shows (people are so stupid, it's funny). Otherwise, ptaaah........
    I have a cheap wardrobe; the only 'designer' stuff in it is what's been given to me. When I see $90 for a pair of shoes, $60 for a shirt, I just shake my head....

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    I don't know if this will help you or not. Depends on what you mean as free? I'm pretty free but there are people more freer than I am. I'm single. I live by myself. My family helps out with the bills but they own the house that I live in. I've have the blessing of having a good mom. Anyway, I defaulted on all my credit cards. I quit my job. Now I'm on food stamps. I do work once per week to maintain the food stamps so it's not like I'm getting something for nothing. I'm essentially, a Govt employee now but they pay me in food. hahahaha. Anyway, I can do whatever I want everyday except the day that I have to work for 6 hrs. That's pretty free don't you think? Now, if you have a lot more money, you could move out in the country and maybe be even freer than I am. I've heard of people moving out in the country, buying one of those windmills that generate electricity and running their household appliances on the electricity generated by it.

    I'm surprised more people aren't doing this actually. With enough money, you could retire in your 30s easily. Buy a solar room, a windmill, some lithium batteries and use the windmill to replenish the lithium batteries. The lithium batteries last 7 yrs or more. Use the lithium batteries to run your appliance. Bingo, you are nearly self-sufficient. You just need to find a way to pay for food. Maybe work once per week somewhere. Ride your bike to work so you don't end up spending all your money on a car. There you go. That's probably as free as you could get.

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    Most of the New Yorkers I know are car-free tho . And they live pretty simply.

    It sounds to me as if the main thing that's upsetting you about life in NYC is that it's bike hostile. And well, yah. It's also even more car hostile. Most of the dense parts of NYC are built for pedestrians. From a New Yorker's point of view, a bike is about on par with a pickup truck in terms of increasing what they can do for cargo hauling and distance. New York is high on the list of cities I love because it is so pedestrian friendly. I like to walk.

    There really aren't any places in the US where your dream of 15mph, no gridlock and safe for bikes happens at rush hour. You're gonna lose out on at least one, unless you're so far out into rural areas that the nearest people are many miles away. And I do mean many. If there are people within my idea of walking distance (7-10 miles), they're probably too close. If you want the 15mph, there are lots of places where that can happen. Safe for bikes... that depends on what you think of as safe. Portland has a lot of bike riders compared to Madison, but it's also got an astronomic theft rate, and a lot of very cranky suburban drivers. When I visit my sister there, I'm a lot happier walking. The streets tend to be laid out for drag races til you get downtown. Madison isn't perfect mind . But a lot of the city is fairly narrow streets. It tends to keep through traffic out. Theft rate is relatively low. And so far I've never had a Madison driver intentionally try to run me off the road.

    The other posters are right that moving will not make you happy by itself.

    Something you might want to consider is that NYC's train system makes the countryside pretty accessible to you with a bike. With a folding bike and an Amtrak station, you can get yourself to an awful lot of places that you couldn't readily get to by bike alone.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    I'm sorry, I'm not a great writer and English is my second language. I've been thinking a lot about simplifying my life, going car-free or extremely car-light and beyond, moving out of NYC to some quieter, calmer area, using my bike more. I'd also like to be closer to some great outdoors and in warmer, drier climate, I'm thinking Arizona here.

    I already commute every day by bike and run some small errands, but I want to go few steps further.

    It seems to me to be a logical and natural step for me: I'm fed up with commercialism, I don't watch TV, I hate commercials and marketing, I hate rush and crowds, I hate the overabundance of junk in my life, I hate shopping malls, there is just too much of everything around me, marketing running amok, I don't have desires to own fancy cars or a house, I don't care for fashion, my needs are quite basic, I can eat simple meals every day. I'll take a hike in the woods over a club or movie theater any time.

    I'm longing for simpler life and more freedom. I have a decent IT job that keeps me here but if I simplified my life enough I could live off far less money. I'm tired of paying all these bills just to maintain a lifestyle that is required by the society, to be considered "normal". I've been slowly drifting away from it all over the last few years. Spending all my free time either at home or somewhere out of town hiking or biking.

    So, I'm interested to hear from people who not only have gone car free but also simplified their lives and rejected most of the requirements of modern society.

    It seems to me that Car Free Living covers several categories of living. It's not just one type of living. Then on top of "car free" living there are other layers: TV free, credit free, going green, sticking it to the Man, etc.

    Here are are few that I can observe, I'm sure there are more. Of course, this is based on USA.

    1) There are people who chose not to own a car, but they still maintain relative complexity of living with all the bells and whistles that modern economy offers them. They usually live in a large urban area where a lot of services are available within walking distance. In such case owning a car may even be kind of a nuisance and going car-free doesn't really require a lot of compromises and may even be more convenient. They may ride bikes for leisure or short errands only. Their commute times are usually short or they can use mass transit. Bad weather is not much of a problem for them. Going bike free here is often a no-brainer and no one cares that you don't own a car.

    2) There are people who live in less dense suburbs or smaller towns, and they still maintain relative complexity of life. Fewer services are available within a walking distance, perhaps a supermarket, grocery store, etc. A car is helpful but not entirely necessary. Most shopping is still better done by car though, and such, they will require a tougher bike capable of carrying some cargo and generally would need to ride more and their commute times may be longer as well. They can still get many services and goods delivered, however, so they don't need to entirely depend on their bikes for transportation. Bad weather has stronger effect on this type of people. They generally still use most of the goodies that modern life has to offer. Going car free requires some planning and effort and changes to the lifestyle. You would be generally considered strange.

    3) Rural residents. Everything is a few miles away. Lives are generally less complex that in urban areas. But most people would consider a car a necessity and you'd be perceived nuts if you try to do everything on a bike. Deliveries are not widely available or take time. Commute times are long, unless they work from home. They'd need to rely on bicycles most of the time and the weather will have very profound, often crippling effect on their ability to move around. Going car-free would require significant effort and planning.

    4) People who are willing to move somewhere else to live car-free, far from dense centers of civilization and make significant changes to their lives to do that, they would give up significant chunks of their possessions and give up some bells and whistles that modern society and economy has to offer. These are usually people tired of living in a hurry, wanting to go green, live healthier lives, etc.

    5) People who chose nomadic life on a bike, moving from town to town, touring, living on the road. These are the ones who left everything behind, gave up all their possessions in exchange for total freedom. This either caused by the profound curiosity and desire to travel and see the world and/or the need to break away from modern life and all the stress and anxiety associated with it.

    I'm in #2 right now and I'd like to be in #4.

    What motivates each group? Except for #1 each requires effort, planning and changes to lifestyle.

    Which group do you fall in?
    How hard was it for you to get there?
    How long did it take?
    Did you achieve what you wanted?
    Did you ever regret what you have done?
    What are the benefits you see now?
    Would you do anything in a different way if you were to do this again?

    Cheers!

    Adam
    Adam, I am not car free but I am more a number 4 car lite.
    While moving might not be right for some it isnít a bad idea if you are looking at getting out of the rat race. Northern Arizona has a lot of small towns that are far more pleasant to live in than where you are now. It is also a lot more bike friendly because if you find a place you like you can cycle almost all year long without the aid of studded tires. I personally like the whole 4 corner state area. Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah have small cities or towns that provide much of what you seem to be looking for. I considered moving to New Mexico myself although I escaped the big city many years ago. The thing about the states I mentioned is you can live just outside of some of the bigger cities if you want and be more by yourself yet have full access to the city of you so choose. And many of them are far more bi friendly. Bolder Colorado come to mind.
    Like you have indicated multiple storied apartment living is a lot like living in a Pigeon hutch, high density. The stress of having to get along with neighbors you may or may not like can be wearing, even if many urban dwellers seem to thrive on it, some of us simply do not. Places like Santa Fe and the cities surrounding have a lot more open spaces and far fewer stacked housing.
    If you look on the net for great affordable places to live you will see most of them are places with 50,000 people or less. So you are not off base in your quest. The bigger consideration is how will you afford to move? Why didnít I move to those places? Because my house is paid for, my car is paid for, I have not credit debt and I live in a small town of 50,000 or less with lots of places to ride. Not to mention the stress free feeling of parking your bike somewhere with just a cable lock and coming back to find it where you left it. At least that has been my experience for the last 2 and a half years.

  15. #15
    z90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclaholic View Post
    I suspect that the current trend in thinking that ultra-high density urban living is a 'green' or 'sustainable' lifestyle is more fashion than fact.
    Here's a report from the Brookings institute that says it is more fact than fashion. Give me some data that suggests otherwise.

    I won't argue that it is impossible to live green in the countryside, just that it will take you much more work. While it is generally true that the Amish don't allow themselves to operate internal combustion engines (some make exceptions) they do hire cars to make trips for groceries, and have no prohibition on using public transportation. I don't have numbers for you, but it seems likely that a poorly insulated Amish farmhouse heated by wood, coal, or kerosene is unlikely to have a smaller carbon footprint than a well insulated apartment in New York. Furthermore, non-carbon pollutants such as sulfides and particulates are likely to be much greater when using a wood or coal stove than they are from the electricity grid. The Amish also eat meat, and some of them use pesticides and herbicides. They can't produce everything on the farm, and order lots of stuff from catalogs. Vehicles then drive these things out into the countryside in a very inefficient supply chain. Contrast that to the supply chains that the urban dweller sits at the end of. The delivery guy has access to way many more people per unit area. The Amish are probably greener than me, but if you chose to make the same level of sacrifice that they do, I think you can live greener in the city.
    Last edited by z90; 03-06-10 at 08:01 AM.

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    #5 seems like alot of fun, would be good for every human being if they could all do that for a year of their lives... i think people would be better humans

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    z90
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    Adam, I am a number 2 car lite. We chose a suburb with a bike-able commute to my job. We moved here because of the job. We though about living in the city, but school systems and access to natural areas for the kids were a factor. Life is full of compromises, and I am reasonably happy with the ones I have made. Smaller cities set in rural surroundings have a lot to offer. Local organic vegetables, community supported agriculture, plus museums and access to cultural events. You might also want to think about your ability to effect change outside of your own life by becoming involved locally with thing like food co-ops, bike co-ops, and town planning initiatives. This is much harder to do if you are out in the middle of nowhere.

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    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Let's focus less on going green, and more on simplifying. Going gree would be secondary or tertiary goal. I'm interested in gettind rid of clutter in my life, getting more time for myself, living calmer life.

    I'm 43, married no kids, no mortgage, some credit car bills, car payments (I'm on track to get rid of all my debt by 2012). My wife thinks a lot like I do, her requirements are minimal too, for a woman. We could probably make it work. So I don't have some of the major obstacles mentioned above.

    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    Adam, like a lot of people, you seem to see a solution to your problem by moving locations. I'd argue you are likely to bring the root of the problem along with you... which is yourself! I believe it's possible to achiever a "simpler" life without all the stress of moving, finding new friends, new community.
    Of course, the problem is "me". But I still believe if I plant "me" into a different environment, it may be a happier "me". We had very few friends an they alreay moved out of NYC. Our requirements for social contacts are minimal too, partially because we find it hard to find like-minded people. We don't like going out and drinking, we prefer small gathering at home. We're not into sports, we'd rather watch a movie at home or read books.

    So "me" isn't happy where it is right now. I'm surrounded by tens of city blocks with minimum greenery, the nearest park is always crowded, wife is afraid to ride on the streets. It would take two-three hours of riding to ride out of NYC on bikes, so it's generally impractical. That's one of the main reasons we have a car, so we can get away on weekends. If we leave before 8am on Sat we can be out in secluded woods in 1-2 hours. But that's still means a special trip to get out.

    I'd like to be able to bike out from home without having to pack my bikes into a car. Queens, like Manhattan, is an island. To go anywhere nice you have to cross at least one crowded bridge, often more. All it takes is one accident and the 1-hour getaway becomes 2-3 hour nightmare in traffic. Can you see that my environment is not serving me well? I've become depressed. If I don't see open space for weeks I get almost sick, I need at least to go to an ocean beach to feast my eyes on the open sea. I can't function in a place where I can't see a horizon. This become clear to me over the last few years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Platy View Post
    What you probably mean by freedom is spending less time working for wages in the money economy.
    Yes, of course that's it. Americans love ot speak about freedom but when you ask them "are you free, can go whenever you wish, wherever you wish?" they get silly look on their faces. Most people associate freedom with being able to buy whatever they want an say whatever they want. To me freedom is the ability to move around freely and I don't have that. I'm restrained by working hours and the transportation problems I mentioned above.

    I like my job. I don't enjoy it as much as I I used to due to some restructuring that's taking place, but it's still not bad. But for many years it was almost like getting paid for doing my hobby. By my interests switched lately from computers to photography. I'd like to be able to spend more time with my camera outdoors. And again, getting out of New York is a problem as main interest is wildlife photography. I need to rive far, 2-3 hours, to get away from weekend crowds so I can have a chance of finding some alive animals. I'm trying to get my employer to allow me to work more hours Mon-Thu so I can have Fridays off, but the chances are small.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    If you look on the net for great affordable places to live you will see most of them are places with 50,000 people or less. So you are not off base in your quest. The bigger consideration is how will you afford to move? Why didn’t I move to those places? Because my house is paid for, my car is paid for, I have not credit debt and I live in a small town of 50,000 or less with lots of places to ride. Not to mention the stress free feeling of parking your bike somewhere with just a cable lock and coming back to find it where you left it. At least that has been my experience for the last 2 and a half years.
    Moving itself won't be a big deal. Besides my computers, bikes, our clothing an some decoractions all our furniture is cheap, disposable IKEA stuff. It would cost me more to transport it than buy new one. So we could move probably just in our minivan with a Uhaul trailer.

    So generally speaking I'm looking for less stress, simpler life, less crowds, being closer to outdoors. In Spring we'll go through some major Spring Cleaninig. We'll sell some stuff and just toss a lot of junk that accumulated in our closets. We'll have a yard sale perhaps. I'm hoping to purge at least 25% of the contents of the apartment.

    I've been looking in Arizona's direction for few reasons: dry climate, perhaps too dry, but I'm tired of 90F/90% summers, shorter and milder winters, there are job opportunities at Universities there (I work for a university right now and I'd like to stick to academic environment), lower cost of living and I heard some towns are really nice and it's great for biking and hiking.

    Thanks to all for posting. Looking forward to more.

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    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Let's focus less on going green, and more on simplifying. Going green would be secondary or tertiary goal. I'm interested in getting rid of clutter in my life, getting more time for myself, living calmer life.

    I'm 43, (yes, maybe it's the midlife crisis, but I started to feel that time isn't stopping more than ever before) married no kids, no mortgage, some credit car bills, car payments (I'm on track to get rid of all my debt by 2012). My wife thinks a lot like I do, her requirements are minimal too, for a woman. We could probably make it work. So I don't have some of the major obstacles mentioned above.

    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    Adam, like a lot of people, you seem to see a solution to your problem by moving locations. I'd argue you are likely to bring the root of the problem along with you... which is yourself! I believe it's possible to achiever a "simpler" life without all the stress of moving, finding new friends, new community.
    Of course, the problem is "me". But I still believe if I plant "me" into a different environment, it may be a happier "me". We had very few friends an they already moved out of NYC. Our requirements for social contacts are minimal too, partially because we find it hard to find like-minded people. We don't like going out and drinking, we prefer small gathering at home. We're not into sports, we'd rather watch a movie at home or read books.

    So "me" isn't happy where it is right now. I'm surrounded by tens of city blocks with minimum greenery, the nearest park is always crowded, wife is afraid to ride on the streets. It would take two-three hours of riding to ride out of NYC on bikes, so it's generally impractical. That's one of the main reasons we have a car, so we can get away on weekends. If we leave before 8am on Sat we can be out in secluded woods in 1-2 hours. But that's still means a special trip to get out.

    I'd like to be able to bike out from home without having to pack my bikes into a car. Queens, like Manhattan, is an island. To go anywhere nice you have to cross at least one crowded bridge, often more. All it takes is one accident and the 1-hour getaway becomes 2-3 hour nightmare in traffic. Can you see that my environment is not serving me well? I've become depressed. If I don't see open space for weeks I get almost sick, I need at least to go to an ocean beach to feast my eyes on the open sea. I can't function in a place where I can't see a horizon. This become clear to me over the last few years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Platy View Post
    What you probably mean by freedom is spending less time working for wages in the money economy.
    Yes, of course that's it. Americans love to speak about freedom but when you ask them "are you free, can you go whenever you wish, wherever you wish?" they get silly look on their faces. Most people associate freedom with being able to buy whatever they want an say whatever they want. To me freedom is the ability to move around freely and I don't have that. I'm restrained by working hours and the transportation problems I mentioned above.

    I like my job. I don't enjoy it as much as I used to due to some restructuring that's taking place, but it's still not bad. But for many years it was almost like getting paid for doing my hobby. By my interests switched lately from computers to photography. I'd like to be able to spend more time with my camera outdoors. And again, getting out of New York is a problem as my main interest is wildlife photography. I need to drive far, 2-3 hours, to get away from weekend crowds so I can have a chance of finding some alive animals. I'm trying to get my employer to allow me to work more hours Mon-Thu so I can have Fridays off, but the chances are small.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    If you look on the net for great affordable places to live you will see most of them are places with 50,000 people or less. So you are not off base in your quest. The bigger consideration is how will you afford to move? Why didn’t I move to those places? Because my house is paid for, my car is paid for, I have not credit debt and I live in a small town of 50,000 or less with lots of places to ride. Not to mention the stress free feeling of parking your bike somewhere with just a cable lock and coming back to find it where you left it. At least that has been my experience for the last 2 and a half years.
    Moving itself won't be a big deal. Besides my computers, bikes, our clothing an some decorations all our furniture is cheap, disposable IKEA stuff. It would cost me more to transport it than buy new one. So we could move probably just in our minivan with a Uhaul trailer.

    So generally speaking I'm looking for less stress, simpler life, less crowds, being closer to outdoors. So both of us could ride bikes more. My wife wouldn't mind doing grocery shopping by bike but she's scared to ride on the streets plus the bike security is a problem.

    In Spring we'll go through some major Spring Cleaning. We'll sell some stuff and just toss a lot of junk that accumulated in our closets. We'll have a yard sale perhaps. I'm hoping to purge at least 25% of the contents of the apartment.

    I've been looking in Arizona's direction for few reasons: dry climate, perhaps too dry, but I'm tired of 90F/90% summers, shorter and milder winters, there are job opportunities at Universities there (I work for a university right now and I'd like to stick to academic environment), lower cost of living and I heard some towns are really nice and it's great for biking and hiking.

    Thanks to all for posting. Looking forward to more.
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 03-06-10 at 09:10 AM.

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    Good question.

    I think I'm a 1.5.

    I live in a city of 170,000, there is a small central area but most of it is pretty spread out. My work is about 10 miles away. I chose my apartment carefully, so I live in a little valley that has just about all the services you'd need, and there are much more over the hills to the south. Maybe a 10 minute ride. 15 minutes to the north, I can connect into a lot of recreation riding locations.

    Being the capitol city, there is all the bright light you could wish for. But bye in large the whole tempo of life is a little more calm and friendly than in the urban mega-centers. So it's a good balance. I do wish there were a few more bookstores though.

    And it helps that we do not have the economic and water problems of states like California and Arizona, though we are a bit wetter and had two snow storms this winter. Who knows, you might like Arkansas.

    I keep it simple first by living in a small apartment and choosing the right neighborhood. My life is work and quiet weekends, punctuated with work for the local bicycle advocacy groups. I'm not credit-free, but I am debt-free.

    The one thing that I don't see in your descriptions of locations is other people. The quality and nature of relationships changes as you scale up or down. Very rural places may be very closed societies, where a newcomer is the fellow who moved to town only 20 years ago.

    In towns of 10-50 thousand people you may get the "tiny little town" syndrome where as you meet people, everyone you know, knows someone else you know. You have no secrets, but at the same time, you can go into a crowd of strangers and probably get to talking comfortably very quickly about common friends and activities.

    In bigger towns like Little Rock, its less so, but within groups, artists, bicyclists etc, the same network exists. A good example is that in 40 years in California, I never came near a Governor. In 4 years in Little Rock, I've met 4 and gotten to know one well.

    I think that larger urban places are what tend to leave you feeling lonely. So many people that except in your little clique that you know, it's just a mass of humanity.

    Have you checked out Texas? It's got universities, a strong economy and good cost of living. TAMU at College Station wouldn't be too metropolitan.
    Last edited by Artkansas; 03-06-10 at 09:12 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

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    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    I don't know much about Arkansas and Texas. I'd have to do some reading. I was focusing more on Arizona and Colorado, but since I'm looking for milder winters AZ seems like a better place. I'll be reading and researching more now since I kind of made up my mind and I'm thinking of setting myself a 2-year deadline to get out of NYC.

    Yes, I know that small communities are very closed to newcomers. But for me anything less than a million people seems small right now I grew up in a town of 60,000 people and that was about right.

    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by z90 View Post
    Here's a report from the Brookings institute that says it is more fact than fashion. Give me some data that suggests otherwise.

    I won't argue that it is impossible to live green in the countryside, just that it will take you much more work. While it is generally true that the Amish don't allow themselves to operate internal combustion engines (some make exceptions) they do hire cars to make trips for groceries, and have no prohibition on using public transportation. I don't have numbers for you, but it seems likely that a poorly insulated Amish farmhouse heated by wood, coal, or kerosene is unlikely to have a smaller carbon footprint than a well insulated apartment in New York. Furthermore, non-carbon pollutants such as sulfides and particulates are likely to be much greater when using a wood or coal stove than they are from the electricity grid. The Amish also eat meat, and some of them use pesticides and herbicides. They can't produce everything on the farm, and order lots of stuff from catalogs. Vehicles then drive these things out into the countryside in a very inefficient supply chain. Contrast that to the supply chains that the urban dweller sits at the end of. The delivery guy has access to way many more people per unit area. The Amish are probably greener than me, but if you chose to make the same level of sacrifice that they do, I think you can live greener in the city.


    Adam wasn't looking just at green I don’t think, but even there big cities have both political and scientific opposition as to being all that green. One is mentioned in an article in a paper close to him.http://www.ccap.org/docs/news/258/NYT%20Big%20cities%20feel%20ignored%207-28-09.pdf
    The other is from a more scientific standpoint. http://www.actionbioscience.org/environment/voogt.html
    This isn’t a new concept and several environmental groups have expressed concerns about it over the years.
    The key is the hustle and bustle of most major urban centers brings on its own stress. The pace in the places he has expressed interest is indeed quite a bit slower and if he has university connections it would make a great way of simplifying his life and increasing his cycling pleasure at the same time.

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    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Correct, as I said above "Going green would be secondary or tertiary goal. I'm interested in getting rid of clutter in my life, getting more time for myself, living calmer life."

    Going green would be nice, but my #1 priority is to find a way of living simpler, less stressful life, closer to nature where I could embrace cycling lifestyle and live a bit further away from the urban noise and crowds, but not necessarily in a hut in the woods I think just by riding a bike more, buying less, creating less trash I'd be already living greener. So IMHO green living will kind of automatically follow, but it's not the main priority.

    Adam

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    Just from my perspective only I think you are leaning in the right direction. Being bike friendly has a very big positive effect on my attitude. I have become a cycling enthusiast more than an anti car person so I consider cycling almost therapeutic in its ability to relieve stress. I moved from a resort community to a modified farming, dairy and orchard community. Modified in that it has a main street with a mall but it also has miles of reasonable roads that are relatively traffic soft. It is connected t several other small cities or townships that make for interesting ride destinations on the weekends. I managed to put in close to 8,000 miles on my bicycle last year and visited several places you might be interested in. When on vacation I take one of my bikes and check out the city to see how bike friendly in might be. But I will stress once again the biggest plus to moving to a university town in Arizona is you can cycle most of the year without ever having to put studded tires on your bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    I'm 43, married no kids, no mortgage, some credit car bills, car payments (I'm on track to get rid of all my debt by 2012). My wife thinks a lot like I do...

    I like my job....for many years it was almost like getting paid for doing my hobby...my interests switched lately from computers to photography...

    ...I work for a university right now...
    Early 40's, plenty of energy, probably years of professional computer experience, general dissatisfaction with being an employee but still inclined to work, no weighty financial obligations, supportive mate, hmm hmm

    All the signs point to one thing --> time to go into business for yourself. If it's Internet based, you can run it on a colo server. Start it as a hobby and see if it grows into something worthwhile. Administer it remotely from a cell phone, and you can live anywhere you want.

    I achieved a lot of personal freedom by being part owner of a hi-tech business in the 90s. It was an enormous amount of work and responsibility, though. If I were to do it again in the Internet era, I'd make it as virtual as possible and not get tied down to a physical operation with offices, factory and employees.

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