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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 11-18-10, 07:15 AM   #1
erbfarm
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Is most of the USA unliveable?

Just thought I'd throw this out.....I've been looking for a job for a year now and am finally getting interviews so I've been all over the place recently on job interviews and am really shocked by what I'm finding. I'm looking for a place to live with a 1) strong sense of community (no suburbs) 2) bike friendly layout 3) affordable cost of living if possible 4) at least some green space. You would think I'd come up with a long list but so far, I've got Burlington, VT, Northampton, MA, Madison, WI, Pittsburgh, PA, and Portland, OR on it. That's about it. In the whole USA. I live in NH and drove down the east coast corridor to just north of Philly a few weeks ago and there's nothing but traffic, congestion, concrete, and crowds for a few hundred miles. I was in Oxford, OH last week and while I could live close to my (potential) job there, there's nothing but cornfields near it for 40 miles until you get to Cincy or Dayton and I"d feel trapped in such a small town that I couldn't get out of without spending an hour in a car. Am I missing a bunch of places? I'm thinking Indianapolis, Louisvile, Cincinnati, and Rochester NY look good on paper but I've never been to any of those places.

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Old 11-18-10, 08:11 AM   #2
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Have you checked out Northwest Arkansas?

Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks
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Old 11-18-10, 08:14 AM   #3
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Old 11-18-10, 08:22 AM   #4
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Based on a quick look at stuff on the Internet, I think I could live car free very happily in Oxford. For me, the key would be to establish some sort of connection with the university there so as to have access to the university facilities, programs and social network. Even with a combined town & gown population of only 20,000 there would be so many people there I'd never get around to meeting them all.

If you'd like to be able to make a quick getaway to a place with brighter city lights (or perhaps advanced medical facilities or something like that), you could always hang on to the car.
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Old 11-18-10, 09:15 AM   #5
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You mentioned Louisville. It has suburbs, but it is possible to live in the city and work in the city. Just live and work inside the I-264 loop, and it's easy.

Louisville's bike laws are pretty sensible, even if a few state laws aren't The climate here means little snow. The cost of living is reasonable. Come visit a while.
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Old 11-18-10, 10:58 AM   #6
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Chicago?
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Old 11-18-10, 11:01 AM   #7
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Philly is pretty bike friendly for an american city. There is plenty of green space with fairmount park. The housing is relatively cheap, its by far the cheapest big city.
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Old 11-18-10, 11:03 AM   #8
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You mentioned Louisville. It has suburbs, but it is possible to live in the city and work in the city. Just live and work inside the I-264 loop, and it's easy.

Louisville's bike laws are pretty sensible, even if a few state laws aren't The climate here means little snow. The cost of living is reasonable. Come visit a while.
Are Winters there really mild? How about Summers? Hot and humid? How many sunny days versus rainy days? Can you really ride year round without breaking out heavy duty cold weather gear?
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Old 11-18-10, 12:00 PM   #9
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Believe me, Piitsburgh is virtually unliveable. It's got a county sales tax tacked onto a 6% state sales tax, 3.5% local income tax, 3.5% state income tax, state auto inspection both mechanical and emissions. Amounts to state sanctioned extortion. Not to mention ridiculously high property taxes. If one lives in a borough outside the city limits and work within there's a 'work privledge tax' in addtion to a local borough tax. Usually 1%. It's exceptionally hilly and really, really rough on vehicles. Cycling is very dangerous as many of the main arteries have no shoulder at all. I lived there 10 years. Or should I say I was sentenced. The only thing I can say about Pittsburgh is that's it's obvious W.C. Fields never spent any time there.
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Old 11-18-10, 12:03 PM   #10
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Just thought I'd throw this out.....I've been looking for a job for a year now and am finally getting interviews so I've been all over the place recently on job interviews and am really shocked by what I'm finding. I'm looking for a place to live with a 1) strong sense of community (no suburbs) 2) bike friendly layout 3) affordable cost of living if possible 4) at least some green space. You would think I'd come up with a long list but so far, I've got Burlington, VT, Northampton, MA, Madison, WI, Pittsburgh, PA, and Portland, OR on it. That's about it. In the whole USA. I live in NH and drove down the east coast corridor to just north of Philly a few weeks ago and there's nothing but traffic, congestion, concrete, and crowds for a few hundred miles. I was in Oxford, OH last week and while I could live close to my (potential) job there, there's nothing but cornfields near it for 40 miles until you get to Cincy or Dayton and I"d feel trapped in such a small town that I couldn't get out of without spending an hour in a car. Am I missing a bunch of places? I'm thinking Indianapolis, Louisvile, Cincinnati, and Rochester NY look good on paper but I've never been to any of those places.

Please clarify? You want a place that doesnít have any suburbs 1, with affordable living and green space? 2&4. In most cases in the US suburbs are a result of people looking for more affordable living and green space. Or are you simply saying you donít want to consider any suburbs?
Seems to me if you simply look for bike friendly places the rest of your quest would solve itself.
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Old 11-18-10, 12:03 PM   #11
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Just thought I'd throw this out.....I've been looking for a job for a year now and am finally getting interviews so I've been all over the place recently on job interviews and am really shocked by what I'm finding. I'm looking for a place to live with a 1) strong sense of community (no suburbs) 2) bike friendly layout 3) affordable cost of living if possible 4) at least some green space. You would think I'd come up with a long list but so far, I've got Burlington, VT, Northampton, MA, Madison, WI, Pittsburgh, PA, and Portland, OR on it. That's about it. In the whole USA. I live in NH and drove down the east coast corridor to just north of Philly a few weeks ago and there's nothing but traffic, congestion, concrete, and crowds for a few hundred miles. I was in Oxford, OH last week and while I could live close to my (potential) job there, there's nothing but cornfields near it for 40 miles until you get to Cincy or Dayton and I"d feel trapped in such a small town that I couldn't get out of without spending an hour in a car. Am I missing a bunch of places? I'm thinking Indianapolis, Louisvile, Cincinnati, and Rochester NY look good on paper but I've never been to any of those places.
I live near Dayton and it does not fit your description as it definitely has suburbs and the city itself has it's struggles. Congestion isn't a huge problem but yeah youv'e got an hours drive or more to get to Oxford. You do have over 300 miles in MUPaths in the area so it's great for cycling. It's not in Ohio but Asheville NC fits the description of a city with a definite sense of place. It's hilly and mountainous around it, but it has the amenities of a larger city with the feel of a smaller tight knit community. Finding work could be a challenge. Louisville has suburbs but it seems to be an up and coming city. I was there last September to watch my brother race in the Louisville Ironman. I liked the downtown area. Good luck and I'm sure there are lots of cities that fit your description.
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Old 11-18-10, 12:14 PM   #12
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Outside magazine does an annual article about the best places to live. but people read the article, move there and then it is no longer cool try finding some back issues and see if any cities regularly appear on this list. it is what i would do if i could choose where i live rather than live where I work
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Old 11-18-10, 12:53 PM   #13
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Are Winters there really mild? How about Summers? Hot and humid? How many sunny days versus rainy days? Can you really ride year round without breaking out heavy duty cold weather gear?
Summers are usually hot and humid. I manage.

Every winter is different. I've been here ten years. Sometimes we get nothing more than a dusting of snow through the whole winter. Other times we get several feet dumped at once. We get the occasional ice storm. We have *real seasons* here.

I can't answer the rain vs sunshine question. This past year has been drought conditions, so there's that. It often rains hard enough in the Spring to cause flash flooding.

I've commuted in 6F temperatures (when I had a 33 mile round-trip commute). That's not common, but it happens.

I own studded tires, but I've barely used them.

Basically the weather here is quite variable. Last December we had bitter cold for the first two weeks of the month, then a record-setting 70F for two days, then milder temperatures.
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Old 11-18-10, 02:31 PM   #14
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Summers are usually hot and humid. I manage.

Every winter is different. I've been here ten years. Sometimes we get nothing more than a dusting of snow through the whole winter. Other times we get several feet dumped at once. We get the occasional ice storm. We have *real seasons* here.

I can't answer the rain vs sunshine question. This past year has been drought conditions, so there's that. It often rains hard enough in the Spring to cause flash flooding.

I've commuted in 6F temperatures (when I had a 33 mile round-trip commute). That's not common, but it happens.

I own studded tires, but I've barely used them.

Basically the weather here is quite variable. Last December we had bitter cold for the first two weeks of the month, then a record-setting 70F for two days, then milder temperatures.
Still sounds better than New York City. We can get crazy 100F/100% summers and three months of freezing, windy Winter. Although it varies too year to year. Generally though Winters are nasty cold and windy, snow is not much of a problems. It dumps few feet couple of times and that's all.

Louisville and Tucson (AZ) come up often in different publications as good places to live.
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Old 11-18-10, 02:36 PM   #15
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Rochester isn't bad, aside from Winter.
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Old 11-18-10, 02:54 PM   #16
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Rochester isn't bad, aside from Winter.
Yeah, I heard... Four seasons in Rochester:

Almost Winter
Winter
Still Winter
Summer
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Old 11-18-10, 03:06 PM   #17
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Erbfarm Rochester, MN meets all your criteria and has a growing cycling community and infrastructure. We have bike paths and lanes to get to most places in town easily. It's large enough to have everything but small enough to not have traffic problems. Good economy, low housing costs (compared to any major city), low unemployment and an educated population.
Back in the mid 1990s Money Magazine designated Rochester as the best to live in America.
What type of work are you looking for?
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Old 11-18-10, 03:09 PM   #18
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Yeah, I heard... Four seasons in Rochester:

Almost Winter
Winter
Still Winter
Summer
That's a little unfair. I mean, our summers are just lovely.
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Old 11-18-10, 03:22 PM   #19
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Just thought I'd throw this out.....I've been looking for a job for a year now and am finally getting interviews so I've been all over the place recently on job interviews and am really shocked by what I'm finding. I'm looking for a place to live with a 1) strong sense of community (no suburbs) 2) bike friendly layout 3) affordable cost of living if possible 4) at least some green space.
Boulder, CO is very nice. 40,000 acres of open space and mountain parks for 80,000 residents. It gets a little cold in the winter but it's a dry cold (you can watch snow sublimate instead of melting) and it's usually sunny (300 days a year). It's a college down, the restaurant scene is exceptional, live music is OK.

The San Francisco Bay Area has great weather (I'm still riding in shorts and short sleeved jersey at midnight in the middle of November) once you get out of the city. Things are more spread out; although you can always take the caltrain (with bike cars).

You won't want to buy a single family detached home in either place, but condos/town homes are affordable within city limits in Boulder and you can rent apartments in the bay area for $1200-$1500 a month where the houses list for $1.5M.
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Old 11-18-10, 03:28 PM   #20
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What line of work, that would help out. And ive never heard any good things about northhampton MA i grew up near there and have family that lives in all the other hamptons but for some reason they all avoided north hampton.
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Old 11-18-10, 03:36 PM   #21
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Fort Worth has a nice little bike thing goin' on, along with redevelopment of the city core. I currently live in the suburbs but dream of moving closer in (the near southside perhaps). Housing prices are pretty stable because they were never outrageous to begin with. Rather than falling, they just kind of stopped appreciating for a while. They're seriously looking at a streetcar system, too. The greenspace? Branches of the Trinity River wind through the city complete with wildlife, MUPs (effective for transportation cycling), and some nice city parks alongside the river in some spots. Economy is doing reasonably well, too.

Hot in the summer but if a shower is available at work that's not too bad.
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Old 11-18-10, 03:37 PM   #22
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Chicago?
Yup. The last time I was in Chicago I thought to myself, "Geez, I LIKE this place. I could totally live here."
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Old 11-18-10, 03:42 PM   #23
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Old 11-18-10, 03:55 PM   #24
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Just thought I'd throw this out.....I've been looking for a job for a year now and am finally getting interviews so I've been all over the place recently on job interviews and am really shocked by what I'm finding.
You've been looking for a job for a year and finally getting some interviews? The job market is still bad. If it took you a year to just get interviews, I would be quick to take an offer and worry about how I'm going to get to work later. Unless you have a bundle of money to keep you going without a job, I wouldn't be choosy
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Old 11-18-10, 04:22 PM   #25
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You've been looking for a job for a year and finally getting some interviews?
took me 3 years to find the job I have now. I was working, so i wasn't starving. but i hated every day of my job until i found this one. Job market has been terrible for more than a few years.
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