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The Commute will keep them poor

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The Commute will keep them poor

But can we afford to live in Skyscraper Cities?

=================================================

 

The only variable not addressed is that many folks do not work in the same location for an extended period of time - one job change could destroy the equation...

http://lifehacker.com/5848665/the-true-cost-of-commuting

 

traffic-jam_mlWVN_28.jpg

 

Quote

It was a beautiful evening in my neighborhood, and I was enjoying one of my giant homebrews on a deck chair I had placed in the middle of the street, as part of a nearby block's Annual Street Party.

 

I was talking to a couple I had just met, and the topic turned to the beauty of the neighborhood. "Wow, I didn't even realize this area was here", the guy said, "It's beautiful and old and the trees are giant and all the adults and kids hang out together outside as if it were still 1950!". "Yeah", said his wife, "We should really move here!".

 

Then the discussion turned to the comparatively affordable housing, and the other benefits of living in my particular town. By the end of it, these people were verbally working out the details of a potential move within just a few months.

 

Except their plan was absurd.

 

Because these two full-time professional workers currently happen to live and work in "Broomfield", a city that is about 19 miles and 40 minutes of mixed high-traffic driving away from here. They brushed off the potential commute, saying "Oh, 40 minutes, that's not too bad."

 

Yes, actually it IS too bad! … But this misconception about what is a reasonable commute is probably the biggest thing that is keeping most people in the US and Canada poor.

 

Let's take a typical day's drive for this self-destructive couple. Adding 38 miles of round-trip driving at the IRS's estimate of total driving cost of $0.51 per mile, there's $19 per day of direct driving and car ownership costs. It is possible to drive for less, but these people happen to have fairly new cars, bought on credit, so they are wasting the full amount.

 

Next is the actual human time wasted. At 80 minutes per day, the self-imposed driving would be adding the equivalent of almost an entire work day to each work week – so they would now effectively be working 6 workdays per week.

 

After 10 years, multiplied across two cars since they have different work schedules, this decision would cost them about $125,000 in wealth (if they had for example chosen to put the $19/day into extra payments on their mortgage), and 1.3 working years worth of time, EACH, spent risking their lives daily behind the wheel*.

 

(Originally spotted on the Kunstler Forum )

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(Originally spotted on the Kunstler Forum )

Comments from : there

 

(1) Vooch:

It is actually worse than He calculates, because The commuters are not able to run normal errands during the week and therefore need to spend half the weekend shopping or otherwise performing simple errands that other people complete as a trivial part of after work activity.

 

 

(2) Cedar

I had 2 employees that lived 90 miles from work. How they maintained I’ll never know.

 

I love going to farm auctions way out in the country where the people had made their whole living on the farm… before cars were reliable, before roads were safe, before everyone had to GO, GO, GO… and peering into their lives. These people always have terrific hand made crafts, clever labor saving devices and everything they owned is well maintained. They had to occupy themselves since they weren’t burning time on the road. Occasionally they will have a 30 year old car with 80K miles that was their main vehicle.

 

Today, with the fabulously entertaining and informative internet, that old saying has never been more true… time spent in the car is inversely proportioned to intelligence.

 

Hard to calculate all that into the price of commuting but it certainly has a cost.

 

(3) Noodles

Yeah StP, I can't believe the madness of some of the folks out there.

 

I had a coworker at my old gig in Plymouth, MN (10 miles straight west of Minneapolis). She drove a massive SUV and lived in Winsted, MN. If you asked anybody who lived in Minneapolis where Winsted is, most wouldn't have a clue, because it's SEVERAL COUNTIES away.

 

Map for reference: http://goo.gl/cCJrv

 

This story is unremarkable, except for the fact that she would constantly send out email-forwards to the entire company with "10 tips on saving gas" and stuff like that. It included tips like "fill up early in the morning while its still cold out, that way less of the gas vaporizes during the transfer".

 

I was soooo close to just following up that foward with my own "1 tip for saving gas: DON'T LIVE 40 MILES FROM WHERE YOU WORK!"

 

 

LOL -

The shear stupidity of some folks is awe-inspiring

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A GOOGLE SEARCH turns up Gems like these:

 

+

In Los Angeles, Cuts Will Make Lengthy Bus Commutes Longer ...

www.nytimes.com/2011/07/04/us/04bus.html?pagewanted=all

3 Jul 2011 – It will be more than an hour before they arrive at work, and soon the same ... commuter class — the millions of people, most of them poor, who depend on ... had not done enough to keep its fares low or prevent overcrowding. ...

 

+

11 Things To Think About When Buying A House

www.moneysmartsblog.com/11-things-to-think-about-when-... - Cached

If you have young kids or are planning to have them – how far from the ... I would suggest that most house buyers use an agent but keep in mind that ... You have no idea what a short commute will do for your health, happiness, and bank account. ... Isn't avoiding being house poor and not sweating a large down payment ...

 

+

Rising Gas Prices Reduce Take-Home Pay

 

Gas prices have taken a dip in the last few weeks, but they are still making a huge dent into the average American's budget. Salary.com™ has calculated just how big of a dent escalating commuting costs are making. Get the results of their calculations here.

 

gas-price-phillips-pump.jpg

 

The average American worker travels, round-trip, 29 miles each day. Vehicle fuel economy varies, but we will assume an average fuel efficiency rate of 18.8 miles per gallon. We will also assume there are 235 commuting days per year for the average full-time employee (allowing for 10 holiday, 10 vacation, and 5 sick days). Taking these factors into account, the average employee incurs an annual “commuting gas” cost of $1,483 per year. This represents 3.6 percent of the national average annual salary, which is $40,690.

 

What if prices continue to increase? How much deeper will employees dig into their pockets to travel to and from work? The scenarios below use the same criteria listed above and project commuting costs based on various potential price-per-gallon amounts.

 

Price per Gallon

===== : Commuting Cost

===== : ===== : Percent of Salary Spent on Commute (Avg.)

$4.50 : $1,632 : 4.0%

$5.00 : $1,813 : 4.5%

$5.50 : $1,994 : 4.9%

$6.00 : $2,176 : 5.3%

. . .

$8.00 :

$10.0 : (keep it coming !)

$12.0 :

 

/see: http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/gas-pay.htm

 

Want to save the environment? Want to reduce the US oil addiction?

 

Raise the gasoline "until the pips squeak", and people start paying more attention to how much they drive, and where they live. And if they scream, then raise prices faster - it means the medicine is starting to work !

 

Since our politicians are not clever and brave enough to see the importance of doing this, we are waiting for the market to bring this lesson home to the slow-witted majority. (It will come from a weaker dollar.)

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PROBLEMS FINDING A WALKABLE COMMUNITY (at an affordable price, near one's job)

 

Transitional urbanist. That’s my Millennial self.

. . .

Millennials have spent their entire lives entrenched in the suburban experiment and want out. Our vision of city life is not the race riots of the 1960s or the crime waves of the 1980s. These are all but history, and the seemingly irrational fears of dense living aren’t even in the Millennial lexicon. For the college-educated Millennial, at some point, most of us studied abroad and experienced the simple joy of actually being able to comfortably walk somewhere – a task nearly impossible in most American cities.

It amazes me how this idea of walking places eluded so many people. I imagine that at some point most of the decision makers went to college and spent at least 4 years of their young adult life walking through the quads of American, past beautiful academic buildings. Did it not dawn upon them that this environment could be replicated? It confuses me how no one connected the dots.

 

Calhoun%20Gardens%20Condos.JPG

 

We want out, but the problem is that housing options we prefer aren’t really available. And those that are - they’re too expensive. So much of the stuff we would have loved to have lived in was torn down a long time ago, mostly to accommodate parking, and the new infill development is still usually aimed as high-profit generating luxury rentals. This brings us to one of the primary reason that people populated suburbia in the first place – more space for your buck. I think that more Millennials genuinely want to live in a quality urban environment – they just can’t afford it. With the economy as it is today, we’re playing it safe [read: cheap]. This means finding the hybrid option: a place that combines urbanism and affordability.

 

The issue of affordable walking neighborhoods is simple: "I think there’s a definite housing-age problem in central cities (meaning all of Minneapolis/St. Paul, not just downtowns). Theoretically, living in a condo should be cheaper than owning a single-family home. Putting up with neighbors in close proximity and sharing costs with neighbors should cost less than owning a private home where you pay for everything on your own." [not my words, quoted text there]

 

He goes on to describe how that simply isn’t the case. Condos in walkable neighborhoods are either new, and expensive, or ancient and in disrepar. The middle market that would accommodate most Millenials seems to be nonexistant. Of course, this seems analogous of the culture of urban cores in the past two decades: home of the affleunt hip and of the dire. The middle need not apply. For those Millenials looking to buy their first home, it’d be hard to rationalize buying a new condo downtown when the typical cost of a single-family house (the hybrid option) is much more reasonable.

 

The other problem is the geography of metropolitan jobs – they’re dispersed. That’s a huge problem. I have friends who choose to live in downtown and drive to work in the suburbs. This is actually pretty common for Millennials, and this helps continue the demand for parking in downtown, which in turn, hurts urbanism.

 

/more: http://kunstlercast.com/forum/index.php?topic=5088.0

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UK is generally acknowledged to have the longest commuting times in Europe.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13627199

 

_53118658_commute_gra464.gif

 

 

 

Personally I think that this graph under-represents, and most people probably spend longer on their commute than they would admit to. I would seriously doubt, for example, that 18% of Londoners get to work in under 15 minutes!!

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UK is generally acknowledged to have the longest commuting times in Europe.

_53118658_commute_gra464.gif

That's a rather compelling argument for living outside London

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SURPRISINGLY, COMMUTING IN DOWNTOWN "MOTOWN" is not so bad...

 

MI Urbanism : Living in Detroit's CBD

 

Generally, I wake up sometime after a morning walk or jog from Grand Circus Park to Campus Martius Park, and then back to my two bedroom apartment/makeshift low income loft over ten stories over Detroit's CBD. That jog sometimes includes picking up a gallon of milk or breakfast sandwich on the way. The cafe in my building, as well as the grand lobby, always seem to be filled with young people on laptops or reading. This is clearly our little social coffee shop in our corner of Downtown.Generally, I wake up sometime after a morning walk or jog from Grand Circus Park to Campus Martius Park, and then back to my two bedroom apartment/makeshift low income loft over ten stories over Detroit's CBD. That jog sometimes includes picking up a gallon of milk or breakfast sandwich on the way. The cafe in my building, as well as the grand lobby, always seem to be filled with young people on laptops or reading. This is clearly our little social coffee shop in our corner of Downtown.

 

Both a convenience store and cafe are on the first floor of my building. When Detroit Mom is (was) pregnant or one of us is watching the little one, we generally strap her (baby) in the stroller, walk downstairs, and get whatever we need. There is no car rides necessary, no buckling children in car seats. This is important to us, because we are a one car household who is getting the best out of our two door compact car.

 

Woodward_Ave_Detroit_1942.jpg

 

I usually walk to work, but sometimes take the 53 up Woodward to work. We live near both the Rosa Parks Transit Center and a People Mover stop. During times of inclement weather, I swing down a block to the People Mover and jump on for a short ride to the Grand Circus Station, where I can walk under the track (avoiding rain) to the transit stops. The bus is not luxurious, but it isn't as bad as they say. The buses are only a few minutes apart. It takes me no more than five extra minutes to do this than to drive, and saves about thirty from walking. (Click here to use Google Transit to plan your trip).

 

On the way to work, I pass shop keepers, elevator riders, desk clerks, parking lot attendants, and transit riders and operators, all generally friendly enough to have small talk with. I have made some nice friends just on my commute to work.

 

Working in Midtown, less than a mile away, is nice. At lunch, there are many choices for food within walking distance...

 

/more: http://campusmartiuschronicle.blogspot.com/p/day-in-life.html

 

Post-Auto-Age Detroit is becoming a better place to live

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That's a rather compelling argument for living outside London

 

Ironically the dismal figures for London are probably because so London workers do live outside the Capital.

What can you do if that's where the work is?

 

 

I'm lucky enough to live & work in London, although not in Zone 1/2. My commute takes 20 minutes and saves me at about £1000 a year compared to if I had to rely on public transport. I might be able to earn a little bit more if I got a city job, but frankly for the extra time, money, and maybe having to suit-up again the monetary benefit would be marginal.

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I'm lucky enough to live & work in London, although not in Zone 1/2. My commute takes 20 minutes and saves me at about £1000 a year compared to if I had to rely on public transport. I might be able to earn a little bit more if I got a city job, but frankly for the extra time, money, and maybe having to suit-up again the monetary benefit would be marginal.

And by working closer to home, you may be less vulnerable future City job cuts that may be coming

if and when the Financial system implodes

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Can we afford to live in Skyscaper Cities ?

===========================================

 

What kind of cities and towns will we be living in during the Long Emergency

 

JHK here presents a grim view of the future of Cities with Skyscrapers:

 

 

Why?

+ The curtain wall scrapers are expensive to maintain, and so are elevators & airconditioning

 

+ The parcelled out ownership system in a weak economy will leave many residents not making their Condo association fees- Then how does the association run itself when 15-20% have not paid?

 

=== ===

 

/more podcasts: http://www.preservationnation.org/forum/newsroom/?update_type=announcement

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EQUAL TIME? - Another point of view

 

Learn to love Sprawl?

By Kevin Klinkenberg On October 21, 2011 ·

 

One of the downsides of our modern world of communication is that contrary voices are often given equal weight and airtime, whether they deserve it or not. Media is so eager to present “the other side” that nearly anyone can trot out an opinion and give it some amount of credence, even when it’s absurd. The challenge then is – do you respond? Do those of us who know better bother to give our time to someone who is so obviously wrong about an issue?

 

I thought about this as I listened to Robert Bruegmann speak last night at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), giving his lecture titled, “Sprawl: Learning to love it or at least think twice about trying to stop it.” Bruegmann’s title is provocative on purpose, as he promotes a book that he published in 2005. His lecture was rife with so many inaccuracies, cherry-picked statistics and flawed assumptions that, by his own admission, it tends to anger people. With about 200 people in attendance, mostly students, I feel it’s too important not to respond.

 

Since Bruegmann is being provocative on purpose, I feel no remorse for calling much of what he promotes as misleading at best, blatant lies at worst. As I said following the lecture, I almost don’t know where to begin.

 

And so, I’ll begin with how he defines sprawl. Like many people who rely on statistics, Bruegmann lumps all urban expansion of the last 150 years together as the same thing, as if there’s no material difference between the streetcar suburbs of the 19th century and post-WWII automobile-dependent suburbs. Sadly, though, Bruegmann teaches in an architecture school, so he should know better. But for those who don’t, let me reiterate a basic point – all urban expansion is not sprawl.

 

There is a fundamental difference between how cities expanded in the 19th through the early 20th century, and how they have expanded since. In the former, cities expanded as a series of connected neighborhoods. They were arranged on streets designed for walking, riding a bicycle and even had access to quality public transportation. Yes, they were lower density and more spacious than the city centers that they were attached to, but they were fundamentally walkable neighborhoods. Since the end of WWII, cities around the world, but most especially American cities, have expanded as a disconnected set of subdivisions, shopping centers and offices, only held together by a network of car sewers. This is not a minor difference – the two patterns of development are qualitatively and quantitatively different in every respect. Understanding this is Urban Planning 101. Equating all urban expansion as sprawl is a fundamental error underlying this book and lecture.

 

Brueggman then presents us with a series of statistics to show the shocking idea that as people become wealthier they tend to want a little more space, and even single family houses. Well, duh. Those of us who are New Urbanists or critics of sprawl would never argue otherwise. Single family houses do not equate to sprawl. Car ownership does not equate to sprawl. This is the point of decades of critique – it’s not about all the pieces that make up our cities’ growth areas, it’s about how they are arranged. He argues we are “forcing people to live another way” – an often parroted critique of urban planners. I must say, it gets really old to mention that the whole system today in virtually every city and town in the US, whether it’s zoning, lending standards, transportation planning, construction techniques, etc etc is all set up to produce sprawl. But really, shouldn’t a professional in the field know this?

 

/more: http://newurbanismblog.com/learn-love-sprawl/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+180degree+%28New+Urbanism+Blog+-+180%C2%B0+Urban+Design+%26+Architecture%29

 

/more articles: http://www.cyburbia.org/aggregator/sources/163?page=12

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I don't think it's the commuting time, although anything over an hour each way is a pain. There's more to it than that.

 

For the last 5 years i've been doing about 25 miles each way, 45-50 minutes on rural/semi-rural roads with no real stop-start traffic. I do it through choice in a gas guzzling sports car which does 23mpg, but which is an absolute hoot to drive. I would much rather be doing my commute, than 25 minutes on the Northern line, or on a bus, etc, and i get to live in a nicer area in a house that would cost 50% more if it were 10 miles from the office. It's a no brainer to be honest.

 

I rather enjoy driving to and from work to be honest. And i enjoy it more now than when i did it in a dreary diesel econobox.

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LOL -

The shear stupidity of some folks is awe-inspiring

 

And the sheer smug arrogance of others is nauseatng!

 

You seem to think that everyone who commutes does so by choice, and not because of economic necessity, family ties or just wanting their kids to grow up in a good neighbourhood or go to a good school. Perhaps you blame them for being stupid enough to have kids in the first place, given the high ecomomic cost of raising them (just think how much of their mortgage they could pay off if they didn't have to pay for food, clothes and school fees for those pesky brats!). Or perhaps you blame them for being so stupid that they have to take a salary paying job instead of being a whizz trader who can live off their investment income. How terrible it must be to live in a world where everyone is stupid but you!

 

btw I bet the airmiles you rack up every year puts the carbon footprint of the 'average' American commuter in the shade. :rolleyes:

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And the sheer smug arrogance of others is nauseatng!

 

You seem to think that everyone who commutes does so by choice, and not because of economic necessity, family ties or just wanting their kids to grow up in a good neighbourhood or go to a good school. Perhaps you blame them for being stupid enough to have kids in the first place, given the high ecomomic cost of raising them ...

You are obviously a commuter with kids, who doesn't like to have your living arrangement questioned.

 

I do it not from "arrogance", but rather from a passionate belief that we are running out of oil, and burning up a scarce resource will make the future lives of your children and grandchildren more difficult. Do you ever think about that?

 

Why not have "an adult conversation" about the short and long term trade-offs of long commutes here - That's what I want to encourage!

 

As for trading, I have encouraged a very open discussion of the Merits of trading, and how it should be taxed on another thread here. Why not share your opinions there?

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For the last 5 years i've been doing about 25 miles each way, 45-50 minutes on rural/semi-rural roads with no real stop-start traffic. I do it through choice in a gas guzzling sports car which does 23mpg, but which is an absolute hoot to drive. I would much rather be doing my commute, than 25 minutes on the Northern line, or on a bus, etc, and i get to live in a nicer area in a house that would cost 50% more if it were 10 miles from the office. It's a no brainer to be honest.

Yes, I am sure it can be exhilarating. Thanks for pointing that out.

 

Can you comment here on the short and long term costs of living that way? Isn't that something you should way against the pleasure of it?

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Yes, I am sure it can be exhilarating. Thanks for pointing that out.

 

Can you comment here on the short and long term costs of living that way? Isn't that something you should way against the pleasure of it?

 

Tax, fuel and warranty costs in the gaz guzzler probably adds up to about £3k/year over a more fuel efficient car, some of which is offset by lower depreciation. Total transport costs are maybe £5-6k/year excl depreciation.

 

Living closer to work, even if it was walking distance, wouldn't mean that i no longer needed a car (i don't work in London). For a similar house in a similar area, within a 10 mile radius of work, i'd probably need to stump up an extra £100k. Also we'd have to fork out for child care as we wouldn't have exytended family nearby.

 

But then i'd be tied to that one town, whereas now i'm equi-distant from 3 or 4 places with employment possibilities, so if i lose my job i have more options (actually this is the main reason i've stayed where i am, despite driving the same 50-mile round trip every day now since the start of 2006!

 

Having said that, would i still feel the same if i had to fight through gridlock every day? no. The quality of the journey is the important thing - i get time for reflection, it's the only time i really listen to music, and the sound of a 340bhp straight six hitting 8,000rpm is nice too :)

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WALKABILITY - Just a Fantasy ?

 

06 January 2010 16:43 .. Written by Randal O'Toole

 

 

Commentary: Walkable Fantasy

 

Mobility has value independent of any central planners’ dreams…

 

Audio Comments by Randal O’Toole, Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute

 

The Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the Director of Environmental Protection Agency have signed an agreement to require metropolitan areas to limit mobility of the people in those metropolitan areas. They are going to require them to write plans that aim to reduce the amount of driving we do.

 

What people don’t think about much, because we take it for granted, is that the automobile has provided us with a tremendous amount of personal mobility that we didn’t have before the automobile. A lot of people like to imagine some kind of golden age where we all rode around on trains or bicycles or street cars, but the reality is only the wealthy could do that, and the wealthy didn’t do all that much of it. The average American only traveled, in1900, about 200 miles a year by inter-city train, and another two or three hundred miles by street car. And, today we are traveling 18,000 miles per person per year almost all of it by automobile or airplane.

 

The idea that we can go back to some kind of age when we can just have inter-city high speed trains or street cars is foolish, it’s not going to work. Mobility has given us a tremendous amount of benefit.

 

For one thing, it gives employers access to far more workers. If you can draw workers from a thirty-mile radius, instead of a one-mile radius (because you can only get to the ones who can reach you on foot) — because it gives employers access to more workers, workers are more productive and employers can pay workers more. So, mobility has been associated with a seven-fold increase in real, inflation-adjusted incomes, since Henry Ford developed the mass production of the Model T Ford. So, this huge increase in income is largely due to that mobility.

 

Mobility gives us access to lower-cost consumer goods. It gives access to a wide range of social and recreation opportunities.

 

So, when the Obama Administration says they want to coerce people out of their cars — when places like the City of Portland adopt plans that aim to reduce per capita driving by two-thirds in the next forty years — we’re talking about, not just reducing peoples mobility, but reducing their incomes, reducing their access to consumer goods, reducing their social and recreation opportunities. These kinds of impacts will fall hardest on low income people because they are going to be the ones that won’t have access to alternatives.

 

“[The planners] are romanticizing the plan as it worked for the rich. There is a planning advocate named James Howard Kuntsler, who gave a speech a few years ago, in which he said, imagine living in Chicago in 1881 and you could take a train from your downtown office to a wonderful suburban neighborhood. It was a glorious way to live. Yes, it was for the 10 percent who could afford to live that way, or maybe 20 percent, but the vast majority of Americans were confined to travel on foot. They couldn’t afford trains. They couldn’t afford street cars. Even as late as 1910 most travel in America was on foot. So the idea that we can go back to that age and not lose the incomes we have gained since then — not lose the spread of mobility throughout our population since then — is just a fantasy.

 

/more: http://www.bigskybusiness.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=923:commentary-walkable-fantasy&catid=16:guestcommentary&Itemid=23

 

Hmm.

Maybe because of the lesser mobility,

people cared more about their local environment, and did their best to ensure that it was livable. It was not so easy to escape from it.

 

Just look at the parts of New York, Chicago, or Boston or the small towns of New York state. They were far more livable and walkable than we see in the suburbs today. This is no "fantasy" - these neighborhoods are stil popular, and are becoming more so.

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Tax, fuel and warranty costs in the gaz guzzler probably adds up to about £3k/year over a more fuel efficient car, some of which is offset by lower depreciation. Total transport costs are maybe £5-6k/year excl depreciation.

 

Living closer to work, even if it was walking distance, wouldn't mean that i no longer needed a car (i don't work in London). For a similar house in a similar area, within a 10 mile radius of work, i'd probably need to stump up an extra £100k. Also we'd have to fork out for child care as we wouldn't have exytended family nearby.

 

But then i'd be tied to that one town, whereas now i'm equi-distant from 3 or 4 places with employment possibilities, so if i lose my job i have more options (actually this is the main reason i've stayed where i am, despite driving the same 50-mile round trip every day now since the start of 2006!

 

Having said that, would i still feel the same if i had to fight through gridlock every day? no. The quality of the journey is the important thing - i get time for reflection, it's the only time i really listen to music, and the sound of a 340bhp straight six hitting 8,000rpm is nice too :)

 

 

 

The "quality the journey" is a subjective thing in this case; you could argue that a nice family hatch with mod-cons that does twice the mileage provides just as high a quality, although it won't turn any heads.

 

I do agree though that it provides time to yourself, which everyone needs. That's something that is very valuable and difficult to put a price on, especially if you have the attentions of a family to look after. I'd hestitate to say "money well spent", but I wholely understand from a human perspective the rationalisation of it.

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