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?