Saving money with my feet: The joys of a walkable neighborhood

On Saturday, I bumped into Rhonda at the local natural food market. Rhonda is one of Kris's co-workers and friends. I haven't seen her much since the divorce, although we live only a mile-and-a-half apart. For 20 minutes, she and I stood in the freezer aisle and chatted about life and the neighborhood.

“Do you know any other places to shop for groceries?” I asked. “We like this store, but it's pretty expensive. I know there's another market near your house, but its prices don't seem any better and the food quality is worse.” (This is actually the subject of an already-written but yet-to-be published post I've produced for GRS.)

“I know,” Rhonda said. “That store has great seafood at good prices, but that's about it. Their produce sucks. You could always hit the fancy supermarket across the river, I guess.”

“We do that from time-to-time,” I said. “But holy cats, it's expensive. What about the Safeway in Woodstock?”

Rhonda laughed. “You know, that Safeway is only a couple of miles from our house, but it might as well be in another city. People think I'm crazy when I say this, but we're so spoiled from walking everywhere that it's a chore to get in the car to run errands. Besides, if I'm going to go over there, I'd rather go to Trader Joe's.”

Rhonda and her husband, Mike, are typical Portlanders. They own a Toyota Prius, but they bike and walk as much as possible. Soon after I bought my condo, Mike scolded me: “I see you around,” he said, “but you're always driving. What's up with that?”

I nodded in agreement with Rhonda. “Kim and I had to make a trip to Woodstock the other day. It's only three miles from our house — just a 10-minute drive — but it seems like such a hassle. We're spoiled too, I guess. For instance, we used to try new restaurants all over the city. But there are so many great spots nearby it seems like a waste of time to go elsewhere.”

After agreeing that the four of us should have dinner together soon, Rhonda and I went our separate ways — both of us walking home with our groceries.

The Way It Was
Over the past few days, I've thought a lot about my conversation with Rhonda. It's made me realize that perspective is a funny thing. In this case, choosing to live in a walkable neighborhood has made me really appreciate how amazing such a place can be. I used to think I had to own a car, but now I've given serious thought to selling my beloved Mini Cooper.

I grew up in the country. My parents owned a trailer house on two acres of land about five miles outside of Canby, a rural farm community between Portland and Salem. There were a couple of country stores scattered around the area, but they didn't stock much besides Doritos and donuts. Whenever we needed groceries or lumber or health care, we drove to town. And for bigger stuff, it took nearly an hour to drive to Portland or Salem.

During my college years, I lived in downtown Salem. I felt like I'd moved to a metropolis! Many of my classmates complained that the city was too small (about 100,000 people at the time) and that there was nothing to do. I felt like the place was huge and there was so much to do that I'd never get to it all. I walked everywhere I could. I biked to more distant areas.

When Kris and I got married and returned to Canby, we bought a house near the downtown area. (Well, as “downtown” as Canby can get, anyhow.) We did walk here and there — during the years she taught high school, she walked the few blocks to work, for instance — but mostly we drove. The nearest grocery store was only 15 minutes away on foot, and still we drove. If we were ambitious, maybe we'd take our bikes. That didn't happen very often.

Later still, Kris and I bought a home in Oak Grove, an unincorporated area about 20 minutes south of Portland. There I forced myself to bike and walk, but that was more for fitness than out of principle. I had a favorite three-mile loop through the neighborhood, and I'd often take an hour-long stroll while reading a book. (This is a surprisingly non-difficult task, and even after I moved into Portland following the divorce, I'd frequently walk a couple of miles on city sidewalks while reading. This scares a lot of people, but I'm not sure why.)

The Way It Is
Now, Kim and I live in Sellwood, which is a typical Portland neighborhood filled with hip and trendy restaurants and stores. There's a small pod of food-carts nearby. The Westmoreland neighborhood is exactly a mile away, and there we can find a movie theater, a hardware store, and a couple of cool bars. Our gym is just two miles from the house along the Springwater Trail, one of Portland's many multi-use paths. Perhaps best of all, downtown Portland is only four miles away along that same trail. When I'm feeling ambitious, I walk into the city. And on a summer day, I'll sometimes bike into downtown for meetings or errands.

If Kim and I are up for crossing the Sellwood Bridge, we can walk to the fancy supermarket and more restaurants. (And just today, I realized it's only a two-mile walk — albeit half uphill — to one of our favorite supermarkets!)

When I travel, I make a point of exploring my destinations on foot. In Venice (where “on foot” was the only option), I jogged through the twisting maze of tiny streets during the early morning so I could see more of the city. In Rome, while the rest of our tour group rode the bus, I walked from the Vatican back to our hotel. In Paris, I once made poor Kris walk nearly 20 miles across the city in a single day. In Quito last autumn, I spent a Sunday hiking the city's hillsides, soaking in the sounds and sights of South America.

Again, I walk like this more because I enjoy it than out of any noble principle. Sure, it's nice that I use less gas when I bike or walk, but I'm not out to save the world. That said, there is one side effect that I enjoy: I save money.

Saving Money with My Feet
According to the American Automobile Association, the average vehicle costs 60 cents per mile to operate. (Costs range from 46 cents per mile for a small car like my Mini Cooper to 77 cents per mile for an SUV.) The average drive spends just over $9,000 per year on her automobile. That's a lot of money! And in my case, I'd rather spend the money on something else.

So, I walk. Walking saves me money directly (because I'm not using the car), but it also gives me other benefits. It betters my health. It gives me time to think. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks. I meet my neighbors. I see more of the neighborhood. And so on.

Again, I'm not opposed to driving. I know from experience that sometimes it's a necessity. But I've learned that it's important to me to live in a place where I can bike and walk to as many places as possible. I enjoy it. It saves me money. It makes me healthy. And when I can, I encourage other people to consider whether biking or walking might not be an option for them. (This is especially true when they're considering where to live. I think it's always best to prefer a foot-centric neighborhood!)

Transportation is the second-largest expense for most Americans (after housing). Anything we can do to cut our costs on cars and trucks is a good thing, right? Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to walk to gym for my workout!

More about...Frugality, Health & Fitness, Home & Garden, Transportation

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Vincent Duncombe
Vincent Duncombe
6 years ago

I agree walking is a great way to save money. I think one of the problems we face is that we are normally in such a hurry to get things done because we are busy that even if we could walk we opt for faster transport. Maybe we should work on slowing down as well.

MoneyAhoy
MoneyAhoy
6 years ago

We recently visited New York City for the first time recently, and all the walking was a great breath of fresh air. We have two young kids, and I thought all the walking would just be too much for them. But, we probably walked 60-80 blocks a day and they were great sports about it. We burned a ton of calories, saved money, and improved our health. I hope that when we move, we can get out of the suburbs and into a walking/biking community like you’re in JD 🙂

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

Interesting! Though I have to wonder where the $9000/year figure comes from? I don’t think my sedan cost that much even when I had car payments and commuted. I wonder if that average is skewed by the number of people driving SUVs, trucks and luxury vehicles rather than those of us who are driving our paid-off cars into the ground? In my city, the walkable neighbourhoods are more expensive in terms of housing costs, groceries, etc. For me, moving to a walkable neighbourhood would be trading one luxury (a car) for another (being able to walk most places). I think… Read more »

Anne
Anne
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Yes, having lived in Portland the walkability of it is one of its beauties. But people who live in urbanized areas lose track of how much of the living space in U.S. is not of a walkable nature for errands, etc.

The above poster mentioned it could be the more expensive neighborhoods in which case it certainly negates your savings. In my area it’s a bit of the shabbier part of town.

Soooo, I think it might be a relative concept.

KC in ATX
KC in ATX
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I was wondering the same thing about the $9k figure.

I googled “cost per year to own a car” and the first result was the AAA study citing $9,122 per year. It includes:
– $3,571 per year in depreciation costs,
– $2,100 of fuel,
– $745 of maintenance,
– $1,029 of insurance, and
– $150 in tire wear and tear.

I know, those don’t add up, but they’re the numbers in the article’s infographic (see the links).

Dave @ The New York Budget
Dave @ The New York Budget
6 years ago

And you will be saving money on healthcare later in life! Walking (or biking) over driving is great!

Here in NYC it is so easy to make the decision to walk, but I imagine its a little more difficult (cognitively, not in practice) to start walking in other cities.

Keep it up!

FI Pilgrim
FI Pilgrim
6 years ago

I would love to live in an environment like that. Where I live, in the southeast US, neighborhoods and stores/restaurants/attractions don’t mix, unless you live downtown in a major city. In the suburbs there’s nothing within walking distance!

Mrs PoP
Mrs PoP
6 years ago
Reply to  FI Pilgrim

I think in areas that seem less walkable, and some might lump suburban south Florida where I live into that category, it just takes a bit of work and forethought when buying your home. Older neighborhoods (and probably not those giant gated cookie cutter communities) near-ish to main roads are excellent. Our house is in the back of a neighborhood that sits on a tier-2 thoroughfare (if tier 1 are the highways that completely traverse a county or region) near an intersection with a tier-1 thoroughfare. Within walking distance (< 30 min walk) are multiple restaurants, gyms, grocery stores, a… Read more »

Jon @ MoneySmartGuides
Jon @ MoneySmartGuides
6 years ago

I have a lot of businesses around where I live and I have just started to walk there instead of driving myself. I actually look forward to the walk more than getting in the car and driving there now – and I love driving! The only thing I don’t walk to is my big grocery trip because I don’t think I want to carry that many bags along a rather busy road.

Matt
Matt
6 years ago

That $0.60 per mile on the low end looks way too high. My used Saturn costs $0.10 per mile in gas, $0.04 per mile for the initial purchase, $0.04 per mile for license/registration/tax, and $0.03 per mile for insurance. Total: $0.21 per mile.

Sheryl
Sheryl
6 years ago
Reply to  Matt

But you also have to figure in maintenance and repairs. Oil changes, washer fluid, brakes tune ups, new tires, having cracked windshields repaired (and those are just the smaller examples) – those all add to your cost per mile and they add up quickly.

Chris
Chris
6 years ago
Reply to  Sheryl

You are absolutely right! The 60 cents per mile is only partly gas. As you drive your car, not only do maintenance costs increase but your vehicle depreciates even further. The 60 cents per mile is an attempt to account for the total cost of ownership impact while driving, which is much more than just gas.

Matt
Matt
6 years ago
Reply to  Sheryl

Knew I forgot something. Averaging over the 10 years I’ve owned the Saturn, maintenance has come out to less than $0.03 per mile.

Short arms long pockets
Short arms long pockets
6 years ago

We just moved closer to the city (Boston)in order to be able to walk and bike to more places. It is great not to have to get in the car to go everywhere or anywhere. However, given the current (15 F or below for the last few days) outside temperature, the car is getting more of a workout than it has in a while 🙂

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
6 years ago

Same here!! Parking at the local subway station is $6/day, and I’m sure some people here would cringe at the idea that I drove to the station 3 times this week. However, with windchills well below 0 I really didn’t want to risk frostbite waiting for the bus 😛

Brian@ Debt Discipline
[email protected] Debt Discipline
6 years ago

Walking help me lose 40 pounds over the last 2 years. It’s a great way to clear you mind or catch up on music or podcast. Unfortunately I don’t live in an area which walking to stores, restaurants etc is practical.

lmoot
lmoot
6 years ago

I’m about to make a big fat excuse…. For me it’s mainly a time issue. I don’t have much free time…barely enough for the act of grocery shopping, let alone the method of getting there. If I did have the time I would prefer to walk rather than bike, b/c biking is hazardous in my area where cars are not used to sharing the road. At least with walking I can use the sidewalk, but my city only allows bikes on what is supposed to pass for a bike lane. Almost weekly you hear of cyclists getting mowed over. I… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
6 years ago
Reply to  lmoot

I think that’s true for a lot of people. I have two small kids and I don’t have two hours to go to the grocery store on a bike, towing my kids and the food behind me in a trailer. I wouldn’t want to spend the time to walk there either. But, with that being said, we are closing on our new home today and its location was a big factor. It’s within walking distance of a my child’s new school (she starts kindergarten next year!) and two parks. It’s also within walking distance of several stores if we had… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

I think you raise in important issue: living close to what matters. Where I grew up, we could walk to schools, parks, the library and a community pool. My parents didn’t care about living close to dining or shopping — at the time, you didn’t get both together.

It really depends on your lifestyle.

Amanda
Amanda
6 years ago

When I bought my house, over 5 years ago, the length of commute was a big factor for because I dislike it more than the average bear. I bought a place that allows me to walk to work, although that wasn’t the criteria. I love it! Even in the cold weather it’s wonderful. And on a dorky housekeeping side, I can walk home at lunch and take care of one chore, emptying the dishwasher for example.

Becky @ RunFunDone
Becky @ RunFunDone
6 years ago

We just moved to a more walkable neighborhood. I now walk to work, which is great. However, walking to the grocery store is tough because the walkable grocery store is so much more expensive than my “normal” grocery store. I’d prefer to be able to walk for groceries, but then I feel guilty spending 25% more on all the groceries (which of course means that driving is the more cost-saving option when it comes to grocery shopping).

Laura
Laura
6 years ago

When we bought our house just outside Boston, we purposely picked one that would allow us to use the T and walk places so we could keep just our one car (beater) instead of needing to buy a 2nd. This did drive up the cost – $269K for a Cape that would have been about $210K out in driveburbia – but I think it was offset by not needing the 2nd car or substantially more expensive commuter rail passes for a family of 3 to get into Boston & Cambridge for work & school. That said, I drive 3 miles… Read more »

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston
6 years ago

One note for those who walk a lot but still own a car: You need to drive it regularly to avoid costly repairs. I had to pay for new rotors because they had rusted so badly my mechanic couldn’t even fix them by removing the rust. IIRC, the rust was so bad there wouldn’t be enough rotor left. What had happened was we had a few weeks of wet, rainy weather, and I hadn’t driven the car enough for the brakes to burn off any excess moisture or rust. So, the rotors just rusted away. My mechanic advised me to… Read more »

Laura
Laura
6 years ago

When the weather improves, head to the beach! 🙂

Julia
Julia
6 years ago

This morning I posted a facebook update saying I finally managed to bike to work. I kept saying I would do it, but today I finally did. It is only 2 miles, but it is 90 year round and the road is very hilly. I am going to have to work at getting in better shape. I am not sure that I am going to make it up the really big hill on the way back. (I am really impressed that I made it up the 2 hills this morning.) I know I do not have the strength to make… Read more »

Jenni
Jenni
6 years ago
Reply to  Julia

If you have to walk your bike up the hill a few times, do it! When I got my bike from my parents’ house a few years ago, I couldn’t make it up even a small hill without getting down and walking. Last summer I was up to riding 26 miles at a time and am planning on doing a 33 mile Tour de Bier in Kansas City in May! It will get easier all the time and you CAN do it!

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
6 years ago

I left a comment but I think it was eaten. Dang. I live just outside Boston in a walkable neighborhood. I don’t own a car. I don’t even have a driver’s license, and neither do several of my coworkers. Obviously I save lots of money by not owning a car. There is a bit of a tradeoff–I know I lose some money because I can’t buy in bulk, so I need to buy smaller-sized items even if they are less cost-effective (no giant jars of peanut butter, etc). And when the weather is really bad, like last weekend with a… Read more »

Jeff B.
Jeff B.
6 years ago

Living in Orlando, FL., walkable neighborhoods are very few. There are a couple parts of town that could be semi-wallkable, but only in milder weather seasons. Otherwise, crossing massive lanes of traffic and huge parking lots in 90 degree heat to get groceries isn’t an option. I had considered moving to Portland for many years due to it’s walkability, however the city was lacking a couple things really important to me, other than that I loved it there.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
6 years ago

I like the article, but I am curious: Is it really true that for an AVERAGE American or perhaps for the average GRS reader, car expenses are the second highest expense? With most of the people I know, we don’t buy new cars or we hold onto cars for quite some time, so the costs aren’t that high. It seems that utilities, though, are the expense that keeps faster than inflation. Electricity/water is about the same, but now, we seem to universally have created a new must: connectivity. We now have to have internet service, computer devices to run the… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  phoenix1920

Yes, it’s true that transportation is the second-largest expense for Americans, and that’s seen time and again in a variety of surveys. I don’t have the numbers I usually cite, but while reading the latest issue of Money magazine yesterday, I saw a chart that showed housing was the largest expense (at 33% of our incomes) and transportation was second (at 17%). Food was third (at 13%), and everything else was 10% or below.

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Where does childcare factor in?

Skylar
Skylar
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Not owning a car can definitely cut down on transportation expenses for us. Looking at our expenses over 6 years, our largest expenses are taxes followed by rent, the two of which combined account for 50% of our expenses. Public transportation is at 2% (#9), with maintaing a bike at 0.5%. Groceries account for 11% – we do shop at a more expensive grocery than we could get to by car, but there’s no way owning a car would be worth the savings in food.

David S
David S
6 years ago

I love biking to anywhere I have to go and wish more people would get out and walk/bike. (Mainly because then perhaps they would pay attention to objects in the bike lane and not hit me). Can’t wait until the kids are old enough and skilled enough to bike around with me. Then hopefully our car use should be cut by two-thirds.

snarkfinance
snarkfinance
6 years ago

I truly love walking places for errands, or just for fun and exploring. It is tough in the U.S, there really aren’t that many truly walkable areas. I used to live in NYC and that was one component about that place that i really miss… you could just walk and walk and walk all day long. so much to explore. Unfortunately, when you move to a less expensive place you often give up some walkability. Trade off, I suppose?

Kelly @Try New Things
Kelly @Try New Things
6 years ago

Interesting timing on this post. I am right now debating moving to a great walking area in my city. But I have been vacillating on whether to do it or not. Your column is a great support to go do it. thanks!

J
J
6 years ago

I’m trying to imagine walking 10 or 15 minutes home from a grocery store with a week’s worth of food/supplies for a family of 4. I generally have 6-8 reusable shopping bags full of groceries, some of which are heavy with things like milk and juice. Is there something I’m missing here? I would think you would have to go to the grocery store every day to take home just a small load of what was needed that day. That said, I live 12 minutes’ drive from the grocery store. Not sure how long it would take me to walk… Read more »

David S
David S
6 years ago
Reply to  J

Have you thought of biking with a carrier? Don’t know how big your bags are but 4-6 should fit easily into a 2 kid bike carrier. Now if you are doing a Costco run then you’d might need the car or if it is close a bike cargo trailer.

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
6 years ago
Reply to  J

Here’s how it breaks down for me: 1. Grocery store is maybe a 12 minute walk 2. Groceries go in a big canvas bag I carry over one shoulder 3. I do the “European thing” of buying a small amount of groceries every few days, not a big shopping once a week 4. I don’t have kids so I’m only buying for me 5. I go out for lunch (working in downtown Boston means lots of good options) and make that my big meal of the day. Then I usually eat something light like a sandwich or salad for dinner.… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  J

I too live a 12-minute walk from the nearest grocery store. It’s the one we shop at most frequently (the natural-food store mentioned in the article). It takes me 12 minutes to do the walk whether I’m carrying groceries or not. Here’s how I do it: * First, I don’t shop just once a week. I tend to shop at least twice a week. * When I walk to the store, I carry a canvas daypack. In it are two re-usable grocery bags. * At the store, I first load the backpack. I then load the re-usable bags. This makes… Read more »

India
India
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

I also utilized a backpack for carrying groceries, back in my college days It’s a useful method for small loads.

If I had been less cheap, I would have bought one of these bad boys: http://www.target.com/p/black-folding-shopping-cart/-/A-523173 It would have made life a lot easier; I could have loaded up more easily. Though I did get a decent workout carrying gallons of milk by hand.

Mrs. PoP
Mrs. PoP
6 years ago
Reply to  India

Be careful not to overload! I actually popped a rib out of its socket by overloading my backpack with groceries and textbooks in grad school. It was incredibly painful. And incredibly embarrassing to be at the school’s sports medicine clinic getting PT with the athletes when “walking with groceries” was the extreme sport that did you in… =)

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Not keeping much food in the house is just fine until an emergency hits.

Jesse
Jesse
6 years ago
Reply to  J

My family of 4 lives car-free in a cold Canadian city. The cheaper grocery store is a 15 minute drive from our home, and a more expensive, smaller grocery store is a 10 minute walk. We’re part of a car-share co-op so twice a month I take the car (parked 3 blocks away) to the cheaper grocery store and stock up. Then, once a week I walk to the more expensive store to get fresh fruits and veggies for the week. Works great and between planning meals and shopping I’m more efficient and spend less time shopping than when we… Read more »

Art Chester
Art Chester
6 years ago

J.D., thanks for giving us all extra inspiration to use our feet! I just got a Fitbit and your post reinforces its nudges for me to walk more.
It’s worth mentioning for everyone a great website that gives a “walkability” score to any address you put in: walkscore.com
They use a smart algorithm to score the availability of services and entertainment, it’s worth looking at if you’re considering a change of residence. One of the great joys of my current residence is its walkability (score 73). What’s yours?

David S
David S
6 years ago
Reply to  Art Chester

Nice walking score. Mine is only 9. Yes single digits, but everything is within biking distance so I bike a lot (to work and back, to the bank, for groceries, to the bike shop, to the park and trails). Oldest two are just starting to learn how to bike and once they master basic road biking (think residential roads not freeways) then going to the park will not involve a car.

Meghan
Meghan
6 years ago
Reply to  Art Chester

I have to say that I was skeptical of the Fitbit but got one, lost it after a month, and really noticed that my activity decreased when I didn’t have the Fitbit to tell me I was a lazy %&#. Keep your receipt because if you lose it, they’ll send you a new one for free within the first year. I don’t suggest just clipping it to your belt. That’s how mine got lost. I’m not very crafty but am going to try to make a better pouch of some sort with a loop for the belt.

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  Art Chester

My Walkscore is 66, but my effective range is greater than the 20-minute walk they use. I’m willing to walk at least 35 minutes to a destination (such as my gym).

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Just looked up my neighborhood walk score, which is 68. For me, however, it’s more like 100%. To get to the cheaper grocery store, I walk 2.2 miles, although I do take the bus back. The other store is a little over a mile so I walk both ways, and the drug store and bank are along the way. Trader Joe’s is a bus ride, however. The gym is 1 mile down the hill, then 1 mile back up. Three or four coffee shops are within four blocks (it’s Seattle–what can you say?) as well as a deli and several… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago

Just walked back from the gym… a dead oak tree not 40 paces from my house. Took it down old-school, with a felling axe. A really great burn! Tomorrow it’s debarking and bucking, right out the door.

I *hate* commuting.

I still need my 12-year-old Chevy truck to go down to town once a week for supplies though. A car won’t cut it round these here parts.

Patti
Patti
6 years ago

I have been car free for almost 10 years. My ex and I sold the cars when we moved to Manhattan where cars make absolutely no sense and public transportation is pretty good. When I moved to Baltimore in 2009 staying car free was more of a challenge, where the public transportation system is unreliable. Even though I now much lower rent, I had also taken a pay cut. Buying a car would have eaten all of the funds I used to pay down my debt. I had a long commute via public transportation and relied on friends for help… Read more »

Scondor
Scondor
6 years ago

Sometimes you should just move, sometimes you should just improve your neighborhood. Please get involved with your local city council or transit authority, they host community outreach meetings on where to install new bikeways, or where to improve pedestrian crossings, etc. Bike/Pedestrian programs (aka Active Transportation, and Safe Routes To School) are gaining popularity as platforms for hopeful mayors, so your vote can really make a difference. It won’t be overnight (think 1-3 years), but it can and does definitely happen. LA is the car capital of the world, and we installed 150 miles of bikeways over the last 2… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

For me, car ownership is more about my lifestyle than what neighborhood I live in. I live in a very walkable PDX neighborhood (stores, cafes, restaurants) but my life takes me farther than that. Even though I work from home, the rest of my life requires me to get out of my area. I’m currently going to school at night on the other side of town, my volunteer work as CASA requires me to own a car since one of “my kids” lives 30 miles away. My (regular) doctors appoints are both across town and 20 miles away. My therapist… Read more »

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
6 years ago

For me, walking also saves parking meter money. In my LA neighborhood, the parking is crazy, and sometimes the only available spots are meters. Stupid. So if it costs 60 cents to go a mile, and the meter is a buck for an hour, that’s almost $2 just to leave the house with my car!

KevinM
KevinM
6 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

I’d love to park for $1 per hour. Here in Calgary it’s $4.50 to $7.00 an hour.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
6 years ago

I’m doing something like this next year. I plan on selling my house that’s 7 miles out in the country and moving to a smaller, closer-in place in 2015. Then I’ll bike a lot more (probably not walk all that much, really) and when I drive, it will be shorter distances. I’m also going to switch form a 30 to 15-year mortgage and start getting ahead on paying off the house. Big plans!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
6 years ago

Back in 2009 my daughter and son-in-law decided to move from Seattle to Phoenix. I realized I was keeping my car mostly so my daughter could have reliable transportation (she has a chronic illness). So I gave them my car, asking only that they remember this when they have to pick out my nursing home. 😉 I was car-free from September 2009 until I left Seattle three years later. Loved it. No more worrying about insurance, maintenance, gas and whether someone might hit my car and drive off without leaving a note. This wouldn’t have been nearly as easy if… Read more »

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Don’t forget parking fees! People are always mentioning how much time it takes to find a parking place and how much it costs. We moved to Seattle in late April, and I’ve been walking everywhere. From my house, I walk to four different neighborhoods and ride the bus to places not within walking distance. I love the fact that I can walk to four different library branches.

Patti
Patti
6 years ago

A comment from Donna Freedman! YAY! I miss your posts on GRS.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
6 years ago
Reply to  Patti

Aw, thanks. I may show up again some day.

John Schneider
John Schneider
6 years ago

Part of the reason we bought the condo we did in Denver, CO, was because of the walkability. Over the last eight years, the walkability has improved and will soon get better with a Trade Joe’s opening two blocks away next month. Cutting down our driving and walking, especially on weekends, has really saves us money. We love the exercise, too. So, we can relate to all you’re saying. Thanks!

Sam
Sam
6 years ago

We live in a historic neighborhood in a walkable small city. We can walk to the beach, the green market, the bank, the library, the town hall, the park, the municipal golf course, Starbucks, the indy coffee houses (two) and many bars and restaurants. Grocery shopping, we can certainly walk but we rarely do as more often than not we are hitting the grocery store on the way home from work. It really is a different lifestyle down here in Florida as most people live west in gated communities and drive everywhere. When I moved to Florida I wanted to… Read more »

Scooze
Scooze
6 years ago

I live in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. I had a car for the first 6 years I lived there, but five years ago took a job with an easy commute on public transit. I sold my car and never looked back. I figure I save about $400/month. That doesn’t include the $150/month I receive renting out my parking spot. I use a granny cart and walk to every store I need – groceries, clothes, shoes, hardware, etc. There is really nothing I need that is not easy walking distance (half a mile, tops). I love it and it keeps… Read more »

Afz
Afz
6 years ago

We are in a good neighborhood close a good number of grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, haircuts, etc. I can hop on the highway which is a mile from my place. There is also a bus service that takes me to downtown where i work. Quick runs to grocery stores work but with a family of five it doesn’t work out walking everyday. In summers we walk a lot, its fun and adds activity to daily life. It was a good decision to buy a house in this neighborhood which has everything close by and convenient.

Pamela | Hands on Home Buyer
Pamela | Hands on Home Buyer
6 years ago

I sold my car so I walk or bike everywhere. I’ve adapted to how long it takes to do things and managing big bundles. But it’s my friends and neighbors who get freaked out by it.

If I could figure out how to get more of them to try walking for short trips, life would probably become much less complicated for me.

ms.b214
ms.b214
6 years ago

lol. I used to live in Southern Indiana, where walking anywhere would result in catcalls, offers of assistance, or people aiming for you on the road. I guess the general idea was you were just a piece of trash if you didn’t own a car. Once, I tried to walk to the grocery about 1/8th of a mile from my house (estimated, because there were no sidewalks) and got stopped by four cars. My brother is still there and is in subsidized housing for disabilities. Still no sidewalks. There also aren’t any in the assisted living where my parents are.… Read more »

Teinegurl
Teinegurl
6 years ago

My car broke down on me 6 months ago since then i’ve been catching the bus and walking. I dont like it. I have two small kids in elementary and we walk uphill. It takes extra time about 1 hour more each way to and from everyday. Trying to carry groceries that are not to bulky is not really convient or just in general. On the weekends catching the bus further out than the town i live in takes so long it’s really not enjoyable with the kids. Especially when the bus gets crowded. I guess i dont walk to… Read more »

Rose
Rose
6 years ago

I live in Brooklyn, and it’s pretty well known that public transit in NYC is great, and you don’t really need a car. My multimillionaire former boss didn’t even have one, as they used it so infrequently (she lived in Manhattan ) that by the time they would go to their garage to take it somewhere, the battery was dead every time. For 3 years, we rented an apartment 1.5 miles from work, and unless I had a bigbpackage to bring to work, I walked every day. When we bought a small cottage, iI couldn’t really walk any more –… Read more »

ian@buyingbrain
6 years ago

I kind of lost the habit of walking for a while and I am just getting into it again. It is fantastic on a number of levels; free, good exercise and a great way to meet people and see new places.

Steve
Steve
6 years ago

So I’m sold on moving to a walkable neighborhood. Does anyone know of any good online resources that help you locate walkable neighborhoods? Right now using Street View in Google Maps seems to be the only way to figure out how walkable a particular location is. My wife, daughter, and I are probably going to be moving back to the Baltimore-DC area in the next few years, so I would love to be able to start targeting some areas to look at when the time comes.

EMH
EMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Steve
Martha Gonzales
Martha Gonzales
6 years ago

That’s a great blog post I’ll say. Sharing practical life experience in saving money. Yes, groceries is surely a point but the one that pinches us all is surely the gas price. I have never done the per mile calculation of gas price but this blog post surely gives an idea and the extent of money we spend here. In fact, the cost in the gas guzzling SUV is almost double of small cars. In fact, this is one of the reasons I have opted for a small car than a SUV. In fact, now a days I’m cycling a… Read more »

Lincoln
Lincoln
6 years ago

I used to read this blog pretty regularly, but Getrichslowly (GRS) has turned into a bunch of filler. How unfortunate. Where are the new ideas?

Shiv Sharma
Shiv Sharma
6 years ago

I agree walking will save us more money. Normally to get things done in a faster manner, we never go for a walk, that much busy we are in the life.
We opt for a faster transport. May be all should change a lot because health is wealth.

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