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Relocating where a car isn't really needed?
Old 11-01-2010, 03:11 PM   #1
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Relocating where a car isn't really needed?

My husband and I were unexpectedly retired last year. We had thought we had 5 years to decide where we wanted to move to when we retired so it caught us off guard.

We have been to most of the 50 states (we did a lot of whitewater kayaking from the dry midwest) and never really wanted to stay in any of them except Hawaii (too expensive!) and parts of the PNW (but only in the summer .

We have been thinking lately that we should just find a place that we like during 3 seasons of the year and plan to "vacation" somewhere the fourth when the weather is not to our liking.

We'd like to be somewhere that we could walk and leave the car in the garage most days but we would also like a vegetable garden so a condo in a city with mass transit is probably not for us.

Anyone have any suggestions?
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Old 11-01-2010, 03:58 PM   #2
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My husband and I were unexpectedly retired last year. We had thought wWe'd like to be somewhere that we could walk and leave the car in the garage most days but we would also like a vegetable garden so a condo in a city with mass transit is probably not for us.
At least for this part, I can suggest Get Your Walk Score - A Walkability Score For Any Address. It's not perfect, but it does a reasonable job of pointing to highly walkable neighborhoods. I currently live in a neighborhood that is terrible for walking, and they correctly score it at 15 out of a possible 100, and note that 90% of the people here in town have a better walk score.

Very walkable neighborhoods exist in San Francisco, Manhattan (DD's place scores 100, and I can believe it), Boston, Seattle, and similar cities. None of these have space for a vegetable garden nearby, except perhaps as a community co-op.
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Old 11-01-2010, 04:27 PM   #3
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At least for this part, I can suggest Get Your Walk Score - A Walkability Score For Any Address. It's not perfect, but it does a reasonable job of pointing to highly walkable neighborhoods. I currently live in a neighborhood that is terrible for walking, and they correctly score it at 15 out of a possible 100, and note that 90% of the people here in town have a better walk score.

Very walkable neighborhoods exist in San Francisco, Manhattan (DD's place scores 100, and I can believe it), Boston, Seattle, and similar cities. None of these have space for a vegetable garden nearby, except perhaps as a community co-op.
Thanks for that link, I'm moving to a new place in the next month. It has a walkability score of 92.
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Old 11-01-2010, 05:54 PM   #4
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Here in PA there are many small towns that are extremely walkable. Public transportation is not particularly good, though. In the winter, one would probably want to have the option of a car (also to get to the occasional big box store). I have a favorite walkable town in the county where I currently reside and also in the county where I grew up, but I think I would always keep a car so long as I was capable of driving safely. In either town that I like, homes are very affordable and many are just one block over from the main street where there are groceries, a movie theater, restaurants, doctors and dentist offices, banks, hardware stores...really everything one could need.
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:00 PM   #5
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Just keep in mind that you may not save a lot of money going car-free, since most "livable and walkable" neighborhoods are anything but cheap. Add good weather and it just went a lot higher.
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:08 PM   #6
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I recommend Portland, OR metro area. There are lots of neighborhoods with room enough for a vegetable garden and excellent public transit nearby.

The same is true for homes in "Winslow", the neighborhood near the ferry dock in the city of Bainbridge Island, WA.

However, based on my experience you should look for a community/neighborhood not far from family that meets your needs.
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:12 PM   #7
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Just keep in mind that you may not save a lot of money going car-free, since most "livable and walkable" neighborhoods are anything but cheap. Add good weather and it just went a lot higher.
i hear that. what we slapped down in the heights would get us a mansion in the burbs. but we like it.

i'd personally spring for SLC, up by the u of u. ride your long board down, take the train up. but i'm a bit biased...
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:15 PM   #8
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:41 PM   #9
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AARP suggests Atlanta for retirement. Ignoring the humidity, I guess they must have wonderful transportation systems there and lots to do for them to push that city.
And, yes, I read that Portland is a wonderful spot for public transportation and senior services...just that darn damp air there keeps me away (and the high prices on the west coast).
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:05 PM   #10
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Atlanta is running out of water.
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:19 PM   #11
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At least for this part, I can suggest Get Your Walk Score - A Walkability Score For Any Address.
My house in Waimanalo, east coast of Oahu, got a 29, but the program missed a lot of stuff: 2 very close parks, a close post office, a McDonald's(!), and there's nothing about beaches!

I have some idea of how I could do without a car here (and that is pretty well), since in fact my wife and I went car-less for a couple of years, through penury. We were both working in Honolulu then, and the commute was a bit of a drag, but now we're retired, it would be much easier.
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:49 PM   #12
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A lot depends on the particular location within a city that you like. I would choose a location within walking distance of a grocery store, restaurants, and a few other businesses.

Living without a car, I would just take a cab on the rare occasions when I wanted to go someplace beyond walking distance. A couple of round trip cab fares per month wouldn't be any more expensive than car insurance.
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:44 PM   #13
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AARP suggests Atlanta for retirement. Ignoring the humidity, I guess they must have wonderful transportation systems there and lots to do for them to push that city.
Check out the ATL Beltline.
Atlanta Beltline Map
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:58 PM   #14
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I recently saw a blog post somewhere (sorry, can't recall where to find it) that mentioned being car-free in a small city in Utah that was popular for skiing. Due to the heavy tourism, there is a convenient public transit loop. I found it interesting because I'd always assumed you'd need to be in a large metro area to find transit good enough to make car-free seem easy. Not sure that UT will meet the pleasant-for-three-seasons criterion, but maybe there are other places that would be similar. University towns, maybe?
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:41 PM   #15
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I enjoy this topic. I have been car-bound, with-a-car in a walkable neighborhood, and car-less in a somewhat walkable neighborhood and spent a fair amount of time in each of these lifestyles.

Traveling abroad has given me some perspective on USA transportation. In general, the USA just does not have the population density, even in larger cities, to have convenient public transport everywhere. And combine that with a wealthy population who mostly can easily afford their own cars, and that is why going car-less is often not so convenient. Also, union laws in many state prevent expansion of public transport (e.g., bus drivers making equivalent of $76/hour in California and they can't be fired). And many (most?) communities have laws against private transport collectives. Additionally, it is mostly lower class people on public transport in the USA, and I have found this is a big turn-off for much of the population, especially women (my last public transport experience 1 week before I left the USA -- there was a "Rainman" on board who told me my mom was crazy, among other things, and me and one other large guy almost ended up having to throw him off the bus). OK, it is what it is.

Given that, I have found it difficult to be completely car-less and still live a normal life. The hardest part is not doing things like shopping, but rather seeing my friends. They often live in residential neighborhoods, suburbs, etc. They want to get together at the last minute in an adjacent city, and they can do that with a car. Or there is a barbecue in the evening at a friend's house in the suburbs, 20 miles away. Sorry, but cabs in a high-labor-cost country like the USA just don't work for that. And neither do bikes. Even a motorbike is a stretch for most people.

So I think if you want to live to a high standard of living, you have to have access to a car sometimes. Either through a share, outright ownership (maybe of an older model with liability-only insurance), be able to rent quickly, or a service that allows you to rent by the hour.

If I were the OP, and in town 3/4 of the year, I would own a cheap car and live in a walkable neighborhood. I would choose a hot and dry climate and leave during the hottest months. Oftentimes, such a climate is not too expensive to live in because everyone else is stuck there 12 months per year (e.g., Tucson) and don't value the climate as highly.
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:46 PM   #16
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...We'd like to be somewhere that we could walk and leave the car in the garage most days....
It looks like OP isn't planning to be car-free. Having a car would give them more options of where to live--they could still drive to the grocery store rather than dragging groceries home behind them in a little cart, and they could still drive to friends' homes, restaurants, movies, etc.
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Old 11-02-2010, 12:44 AM   #17
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I recently saw a blog post somewhere (sorry, can't recall where to find it) that mentioned being car-free in a small city in Utah that was popular for skiing. Due to the heavy tourism, there is a convenient public transit loop. I found it interesting because I'd always assumed you'd need to be in a large metro area to find transit good enough to make car-free seem easy. Not sure that UT will meet the pleasant-for-three-seasons criterion, but maybe there are other places that would be similar. University towns, maybe?
Probably Park City. Despite the snow I don't think that it is as cold as New England or the Midwest in the winter and the summers are mild with no noticeable humidity. Las Vegas and the low desert is only a couple of hours away if you get tired of the cold. It is pretty pricey though and the elevation is about 7000'.
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:56 AM   #18
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I just ran my address and got a walkability score of 95. Capitol Hill is a great place to retire but we get muggy summers and moderately cold winters. Spring and fall are great. The yards are often big enough for a very modest vegetable garden but housing is expensive.
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:00 PM   #19
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Or if its just rarely you might need a car, check to see if Enterprise rents cars there. If you need a car just once a month their pick you up and drop you off model might well work. If once a month was the usage it might pencil out.
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:52 PM   #20
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I think Cycling Investor lives without a car, maybe he'll weigh in.

Atlanta would be pitched as a walking/public transport city, because gawd knows you can't get anywhere in a car for all the horrible traffic!
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