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Old 12-26-2018, 06:29 PM
 
Location: 49th parallel
2,256 posts, read 1,134,455 times
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It's all about where you live. Some towns and cities are easy to go carless in, and some just won't work for anyone who isn't driving.

We've lived in a city (overseas) where we never ever thought of needing a car because the public transport was so good; we live in a pretty good place now (USA) where we can get most places without a car. As you probably know, many grocery stores deliver these days. Kroger, Publix, Aldi, and probably others use Instacart; you can go online and find out easily if they do it in your area. You'd be surprised at all the places they are. In many cities public transport is free if you're over a certain age.

There are a ton of threads on this forum where people are asking about walkable cities and towns to retire in. This is a trend that is growing.

 
Old 12-26-2018, 09:24 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
17,218 posts, read 21,184,423 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncole1 View Post
I was car-free for over 7 years during grad school due to having a low income. It can be done, if you plan your lifestyle accordingly. But it's not necessarily a good idea long-term since it could limit your job options. Is there a reason you can't try to earn more money? If you have a low-income but very stable long-term job, and no meaningful ways of earning more, then it can make sense to just live super-close to work and go car-less.
Quote:
Originally Posted by meo92953 View Post
She's retired and living on a fixed income. It is sometimes (often) difficult for an older person to find a job.
Right. I'm disabled, too, and working a job outside my apartment isn't feasible. I'm looking at options of things to do to make money at home, but I can't depend on that. I remember learning somewhere that the easiest way to make more money is to spend less - so I'm starting there.
 
Old 12-26-2018, 09:28 PM
 
Location: la la land
28,192 posts, read 11,932,527 times
Reputation: 19910
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoMoreSnowForMe View Post
I'm super low income, and as much as I love the freedom of having my own vehicle, it seems like every time I save up some money, it ends up going into my truck. It's a 93 Nissan pickup, and I paid cash for it a few years agao. I only carry liability insurance on it and it's really cheap to register every year.

But, on my very limited budget, and it's age, and the bad gas mileage it gets, etc., (the best mileage this model ever got even brand new was 19mpg) after crunching the numbers, I think the only way I'm going to be able to save any money, is to get rid of the truck.

I've lived car-free in the past - many years ago - in a very bike-friendly town (Davis, CA). A bike is not an option for me at my age now and where I live - too dangerous and theft is a real problem.

But, I qualify for a cheap transit pass at only $30 per month, and I'll be able to ride the buses and light rail trains without paying for transfers, etc. I think there's a surcharge of around $2 I would have to pay out of pocket, if I take one of the express buses, but that's it. I pretty much never take BART or the Caltrain or Amtrak, so it would be rare for me to pay for those separately.

I will end up spending more on a few things that will be too inconvenient to buy with public transportation, so I'll have them delivered. One thing in particular - I buy a roll of sod from Lowe's every month or so and lay it in a tray on my balcony for my dog to use for relieving herself in-between walks or if she's home alone for a while. There's a delivery service for this on Amazon that will cost me $30, instead of the $8 or so, I've been spending on the sod.

And, I may want to take an Uber once in a while or other train, etc.

I'll be able to sell the truck to the state of CA for about what I could get if I was to put it up for sale on Craigslist - the state wants to get old less-efficient (polluters) vehicles off the road. So, selling it would be no problem and I'd have an instant savings account - and no more repair bills for the truck. No more surprises.

I started trying out a couple buses and the light rail this week, getting my feet wet to be sure I want to do this. It won't be perfect, but I really like the idea of having monthly expenses that are more predictable and growing up an emergency savings account again. And, have more money for entertainment.

Last year I had a savings account of around $2,000, and the transmission died and it cost me $2400. About 6 months before that I'd put $400 into it, and it needs more work for another $400. I just can't get ahead of the maintenance on this vehicle, and any vehicle I can afford would just be another similar situation, I'm afraid. And I trust my mechanic, so I'm not being ripped off by my mechanic.

I'm retired and so don't need to commute, it's just me and my dog and I have a couple of social/volunteer things I do every week, where I'll need to take the bus or light rail train, but for the most part, don't have any time constraints or pressures or schedules that aren't flexible. I can actually walk to do a lot of shopping, too.

My income changed (lower), and I just feel like I need to decide if I want a savings account or a vehicle. There just doesn't seem to be any way to have both, anymore. I think the stress of not having any emergency fund is worse than the idea of not owning a vehicle anymore. I think it's time to accept that I just can't afford one anymore.

And one upside, is I'll walk more, which will be good for me.

Anyway, have any of you taken this plunge and how did it go?
Don't you have to fail smog to get money from the state for your car? If it were me I'd keep the car, but it sounds like not being able to have money in savings is causing you stress so go with your gut.
 
Old 12-26-2018, 09:31 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
17,218 posts, read 21,184,423 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClaraC View Post
You're putting a LOT of money into a car that is too old. I wouldn't put a new transmission into a truck that probably, after the new transmission was installed, wasn't worth the price of the transmission.

Can you get a 10 year old civic instead of this truck?

I don't know about your lifestyle, but I transport stuff ALL THE TIME. Public transportation would be a major headache for me several times a week, as I have stuff with me. Like, enough stuff that I keep a collapsable wheeled hand cart permanently in my car.

How do people who only use public transportation even go to the grocery store?
I agree with you 100% that it would have made more sense - hindsight is 20/20 - to get rid of the truck when the transmission failed. Although, I don't know if I would have had to pay someone to tow it somewhere, etc. I wasn't ready at that point to give up on the idea of keeping it forever and just fixing it as needed.

Also, when the transmission failed, I still was getting food stamp money in cash, instead of food stamps. So, I had more disposable income at the time. Since the transmission was fixed, the cash income went down.

Unfortunately, no crystal ball here.

As far as going to the grocery store - you can always call a cab or Lyft/Uber to get stuff home. But, I plan mainly on just making more trips. And, I do always have the option of using Safeway delivery or Instacart, etc.

As far as getting a 10 year old Civic instead - maybe eventually. Don't have the cash now. But, I'm still not sure I could even afford that. Same issue with potential maintenance costs, etc.
 
Old 12-26-2018, 09:38 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
17,218 posts, read 21,184,423 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacoMartin View Post
If you have a regular income from social security you should consider moving to Mexico. A lot of people live without automobiles and the cities are better organized to support walking around. I met a lot of American retirees living there, in a lifestyle that was much better than they could afford in the USA.

The most common person I met was a widow, and often someone who lived around the world when they were younger and married. They are less intimidated by living in another country. They don't have cars, but they can afford to take a taxi or just a bus. Since the shopping districts are more geared towards people without cars, everything is closer. There is also a lot of stands with quick service for much less than we pay for commercial fast food.
I actually did move to Mexico for almost a year in my 40's, thinking to retire early there. It might work for some people, but it was not for me. If you actually want any amenities that you're used to here, like Internet, television, phone service, running water, electricity, safe neighborhood (and yes, this includes Mexican neighborhoods, which I lived in) - it's not as cheap as people think it will be.

Everything is more expensive in Mexico as far as these types of amenities. And the sales tax was around 16% when I lived there in 2000, and that includes food.

And it's definitely not as safe. Anyway, I was glad to be back, and wouldn't leave the US to live in another country again. There are lots of inexpensive places right here in the states, where you get all of the amenities of living here, least of which includes being able to count on having (for the most part) uncorrupt police, no fear of being kidnapped or having your home invaded, just on and on.

Love the Mexican culture, but won't live in Mexico ever again.
 
Old 12-26-2018, 09:46 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
17,218 posts, read 21,184,423 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unicorn hunter View Post

As for the sod, I have a friend who has a small dog in her apartment, and I think she uses some kind of astroturf or something similar that can be hosed off and used continuously...might that save you on buying sod?
Unfortunately, I don't have access to a hose. Just have an apartment balcony - really tiny, no water faucet out there.

My dog is getting old and it even took a while to get her to use the sod. She came housetrained when I rescued her from a shelter a few years ago, but she has a huge fear of having accidents inside. Must have been the way whoever housetrained her. I was able to convince her that the balcony was "outside", by ordering one of these real grass pieces from Amazon, so I actually had it with me when we moved to this apartment. So, I could just put it out on the balcony from day 1.

She would still rather go for a walk, but at least it gives me an option to let her go on the balcony when I don't feel well. Like today, even. I love my young friends who invited me to spend the last several days being really active for Christmas, but I'm too old to keep up with them, and my neck was absolutely killing me today - so much so, I didn't even want to walk my dog. So, it's so nice that I was able to install a doggie door to the balcony, and if she gets desperate enough, she'll go use the sod.

I tried to train her to use those pee pads when I first got her, and lived in another apartment that didn't have a balcony, and she was having none of it. I guess I just feel lucky she'll at least use the sod.
 
Old 12-26-2018, 09:47 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
21,081 posts, read 38,054,900 times
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get rid of the car / truck ASAP (for frugal and health benefit)

Some of us will be walking 20+ miles / day in the rain and snow. That should build character and keep us healthy. If we ever get cell coverage or internet at home, I could use Uber or Lyft!

In the meantime.. gonna need to WALK! (Sold the horse 40 yr ago)
 
Old 12-26-2018, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
17,218 posts, read 21,184,423 times
Reputation: 32119
Quote:
Originally Posted by duster1979 View Post
You don't have a friend or neighbor who would be willing to occasionally run this sort of errand for you?


You were referring to the sod from Lowe's. Well, I'm just not the kind of person to ask people to do things like this for me. I do have friends who are a young couple with a car who would help me in a pinch, but I'd rather not wear out my welcome with this kind of request, so if I ever need a big favor, I don't want to have already worn them out with running errands for me.

I could take a rolling cart and take two buses, but I think with my bad neck, there are some times when I just really need to consider the physical cost to doing certain things, and just cough up some money to avoid hurting myself.

I could haul the sod into the back of my pickup, and haul it up to my apartment in a cart, and then haul it out onto the balcony where I cut it in half and rolled up half into a bag to use later -- but even that was taxing for me, physically. Add the bus transfers, etc., and forget it.

Anyway, hauling the sod is really not great for my bad neck anyway. I think this is one expense I should have allowed myself a while ago. I tend to want to push my limits and then I pay for it.
 
Old 12-26-2018, 10:09 PM
 
Location: la la land
28,192 posts, read 11,932,527 times
Reputation: 19910
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoMoreSnowForMe View Post
I agree with you 100% that it would have made more sense - hindsight is 20/20 - to get rid of the truck when the transmission failed. Although, I don't know if I would have had to pay someone to tow it somewhere, etc. I wasn't ready at that point to give up on the idea of keeping it forever and just fixing it as needed.

Also, when the transmission failed, I still was getting food stamp money in cash, instead of food stamps. So, I had more disposable income at the time. Since the transmission was fixed, the cash income went down.

Unfortunately, no crystal ball here.

As far as going to the grocery store - you can always call a cab or Lyft/Uber to get stuff home. But, I plan mainly on just making more trips. And, I do always have the option of using Safeway delivery or Instacart, etc.

As far as getting a 10 year old Civic instead - maybe eventually. Don't have the cash now. But, I'm still not sure I could even afford that. Same issue with potential maintenance costs, etc.
you might want to do the math on how many trips you will be making using Uber, Instacart etc. Instacart charges $7.99 and Uber in most areas is at least $6 each way for a 2 mile trip. I don't know what you currently pay for auto insurance but you qualify for the California low cost insurance program and in Santa Clara County your premium would be $26.75 a month https://www.mylowcostauto.com/
 
Old 12-26-2018, 10:16 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
17,218 posts, read 21,184,423 times
Reputation: 32119
Quote:
Originally Posted by NW4me View Post
Hello there NoMoreSnow!

I've been car-free for 20+ years... I'm in SF, though...an unusually easy place to live w/o a car.
I get around on the bus or on foot... there are markets a few blocks away, and I even walked to work.

What is your neighborhood like? A city-style nabe (grocery stores in easy walking distance) or "suburban"
(low-density sprawl, with retail deliberately separated from housing)? Hopefully the former.
Hey there! I'm in San Jose, kind of between downtown and Santana Row. So, high density. I can walk to 2 grocery stores and a Dollar store, as far as groceries. I can also walk to a pharmacy. There's actually a bus stop right around the corner from my apartment building - and that one will even take me straight to a Walmart, and in the other direction, it will take me downtown. I can also walk to several other bus stops that give me other bus route options.

But, even just yesterday I was making something to take to a Christmas lunch and realized I was missing an ingredient, and I walked to a small grocery store that is only a few blocks away to get what I needed. So, it didn't involve having to take a bus.

It's funny, while I was waiting to cross a street to get to the grocery store, I could see that there was a big parking mess because of so many people getting last minute Christmas stuff - and I smiled because I didn't have to find parking ha ha.

So, yes, I'm in a good area. Nowhere near as convenient as SF, but do-able. Unfortunately, many of the places I normally go will require a bus or light rail transfer, but it's still do-able.

I also learned that when it's dark, I don't want to stop at a particular stop again downtown (San Jose) to catch the bus I needed. But, I saw that I could have taken the light rail one more stop, and been in a much busier area where I would have felt safer to catch the exact same bus I needed.

The Google maps public transportation feature is helpful, as far as showing you a possible route and where to make transfers, but it isn't perfect. Learning the better options will just take time.
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