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A few weeks ago Thanh Tan lamented how hard it was to live without a car ($) in Seattle:

King County Metro became my main form of commuting between home, work and play. I learned quickly about the hidden costs of a car-free life when your family lives an hour away.

Like a growing segment of urban Seattleites, I turned to Zipcar, Car2Go, Uber, taxis, Amtrak and weekend rentals from Dollar and Enterprise. The cost and amount of time required for me to get where I needed added up to hundreds of dollars every month…

Smartphone-tracking apps like OneBusAway helped with planning, but they couldn’t make up for the loss of autonomy I felt when the system was unpredictable. The route between Capitol Hill and South Lake Union would get so full that new passengers could not board.

Whenever the subject of how “possible” it is to be carless comes up, it’s important to first remember that thousands of Seattle households do it every day. It isn’t impossible, though by the standards of the car owner it might be inconvenient.

The key, of course, is to structure one’s life around what’s accessible via transit. Decades of bad land use planning and inadequate transit investment mean that many origin-destination pairs are utterly impractical. A few neighborhoods have great, 360-degree connectivity to points of interest, and I’d strongly recommend that people keen on living car-free find themselves in one of those neighborhoods. But ultimately the transit-dependent will have to pick the grocery store that’s accessible over the one they might  prefer.

Unfortunately, not all points of interest are a matter of choice. If  a desirable job or an important person is not in one of those corridors, one may have to fall back on the other somewhat more expensive options Ms. Tan suggests, or as she hints later on, get a bike.

In other words, one’s experience will vary based on how particular one is about shop, work, and play locations; one’s ability and inclination to bike; and tolerance for the occasional inconveniences of bus travel. I’d agree with Ms. Tran’s implication that decades of public policy have made it too hard, in general, to function without a car. I think that’s a tragedy for both our economy and the environment, and it’s why STB supports all the things for which it stands.

103 Replies to “Living Without a Car”

  1. I’m carless in Seattle and the big issue is really the weekends, when you want to get out of town or visit people outside the city. Zipcar is great for short trips but the weekend rate + mileage has cost us more than $300+ for a weekend. Enterprise is probably a better bet but then you have to get back home from the Enterprise dealer (assuming you are returning after hours), and when you include gas and insurance it sometimes adds up to more than Zipcar.

    However, even with Zipcar and Enterprise weekend rates you really need to sit down and do the math. Including the net value of the vehicle, gasoline, registration, insurance, parking, and maintenance, the per mile cost of car ownership can easily be higher than the alternatives.

    The big gap for us carless folks that needs to be filled is a service that combines the convenience of Zipcar with the prices of a rental car agency for multi-day trips…or alternatively copy Europe and connect every city and village with rail service :-)

    1. Even with all of the new driving alternative solutions it seems to me there’s a big gap in the market above Zipcar that could be profitably filled. Recently my wife needed a car for the day, and we’re not zipcar members. We thought of the “we’ll pick you up” of Enterprise, but they wanted an hour to come and get her. Then I suggested to them that she’d just take a cab there, and they warned me between lines and paperwork to expect a good 45 minutes once she’s there, whether they pick her up or not. (“we’ll pick you up”, then drive you all the way back, then you stand in line, then do paperwork, then you finally get your car)

      A car rental company that really drops off your car could be quite popular. It can’t be too hard to pre-register renters online. And zipcar is great up to a few hours, but a rental car would be cheaper for a whole day or a weekend.

      1. Matt:
        I worked for a short time at a car rental company which did exactly that (in a Chicago suburb in the 80’s). You called and gave us your info, we filled out the paperwork and towed the car with a tow dolly right to your location. Oddly enough, a little known company called Enterprise was our closest and biggest competitor. We were just a branch of a major car dealership.

      2. I never wait more than 10 minutes to get my car at Enterprise. I’ve also never waited more than 30 minutes to get picked up. I’m pretty sure that someone who’s decided to drive for the entire day would know more than 30 minutes ahead of time they’re going to do so. I calculate 1 hour total for calling Enterprise, gettting picked up, filling out paperwork (sometimes it’s already done for me), getting back to my house and heading down the road. If you’re leaving town a car on the Enterprise weekend deal is cheaper than driving your own car (real cost, not just the cost of gas) for trips over 200 miles.

      3. Zipcar is now owned by Avis. Zipcar gives the option to extend from the hourly basis to a per day rental.

  2. The way I think about it, transit : time :: driving : space.

    That is, transit makes your travel time “discrete”, and driving makes your physical location discrete. You can’t cut through gaps in hedgerows and hop low country fences in a car, and you can travel by bus only on its schedule / route.

    (Incidentally, I came up with the analogy to help myself be less impatient when new to driving on Seattle roads, i.e. when i just wanted to be on the other side of Aurora but none of the roads go through)

  3. I’ve been living car free for 3 months now and I can say I really don’t miss having one. Martin is exactly right though, it only works for few neighborhoods, and you have to accept that there are parts of the city that you won’t be visiting any more.
    Prior to moving to a new apartment on Terry and Stewart, I lived in Belltown with my wife and stepson. Living car free there would have been much more challenging, though it’s only a mile away. The grocery options are much worse, for example.
    And while it’s working for me, it won’t for everyone. I couldn’t have afforded my apartment 3 or 4 years ago, and certainly couldn’t have afforded to have Whole Foods as my only grocery store. There are also a lot more car sharing options now, and I can’t wait for bike share to get started.

    1. Try living car free in the suburbs and then once you’re good at that you’ll look at living ANYWHERE in Seattle car free to be a dream. It is possible, I’ve done it for years.

      1. Well, ANYTHING is possible. I could walk across the Sahara if I really applied myself. But do I want to? No. And if we’re going to have larger numbers of people live like this, it has to be nearly as convienient as living with a car.

      2. I totally agree with Mark Y. I bike to work everyday but use a car to go to the grocery store, visit friends at night, and take weekend trips. The problem isn’t with car ownership, it’s with people using cars to make EVERY SINGLE trip.

        I was car free for years in Seattle (living in Belltown) and the lifestyle was very difficult. I certainly survived but my quality of life was lower. I didn’t have the chance to get away on weekends, running errands was hell, and I was spending a ton of money on zipcars and my bus pass.

        Seattle needs to get serious about transit & bikes to lure as many commuters out of their cars as possible; even if it means having to pay a toll to drive downtown on weekdays. Having lived 100% car free for years, I truly believe that the perfect balance is to commute by bike/transit and only use the car for errands and weekends.

      3. The problem isn’t with car ownership, it’s with people using cars to make EVERY SINGLE trip.

        Let’s coin an acronym for those folks: DEFEAT (Drive Everywhere For Everything All the Time)

  4. I realize I probably sound like a broken record here, but a lot of what Ms. Tan lamented with Metro is a combination of bad network design, inadequate frequency, and underinvestment in speed and reliability improvements. The fastest, simplest, cheapest way to make living carless in Seattle more viable is to restructure routes to make them more frequent and direct, build bus bulbs and consolidate stops, and get more revenue to increase service in the evening and add trips to overloaded peak routes. Major capital projects are also essential, but they have a decade-long time horizon, and Seattle’s need to grow can’t wait that long.

  5. Those neighborhoods don’t seem to be the places that the truly transit dependent people, rather than those who choose to be car free, can afford to live. Is there someplace in Seattle that one can be car free because they can’t afford a car, or is it just a matter of choice for the economically privileged?

    1. Unfortunately, the shortage of neighborhoods that truly work car-free (which is to say, the shortage of truly walkable neighborhoods with good transit service to the major destinations) means that demand exceeds supply, and those neighborhoods have become quite expensive.

      This is why we need more such neighborhoods, which implies both better transit (see Bruce’s post above) and better land use policy.

    2. This is the perennial supply/demand debate. Places with good transit service are in high demand, so prices are high. Build up and more people can afford to live there.

      What are your current options? Find a way to live smaller. If the apartment you rent there doesn’t have parking, that’ll save you a bundle. In the extreme there’s always aPodments.

      There still are a few not-high-end areas and even subsidized housing with great connections. Check out housing near King Street Station, for one. Continue up Jackson for more options. There are reasonable apartments past 14th, though for great transit you’ll have to walk down to 14th or up to 23rd.

      1. This is exactly what shaped my decision to own a car. For my daily needs and work, I almost exclusively use the bike/bus/foot combo. However, many of my friends recently bought homes. Like many people, they wanted SFH, not apartment living, and so they were forced to buy in areas that simply aren’t accessible very well by transit. I’m sure they would all have loved to live in Wallingford or S. Ballard, or Columbia City, but those really aren’t options for most regularly paid families.

        The great part about a lot of Seattle’s neighborhoods is the spectrum from SFH to aPodment. Wallingford, where I live in a wonderful little apartment, is very walkable and transit friendly. It also has housing options for people that want small units, to big houses, to townhomes, to artists lofts, etc.

        I’ve said this before, but I think its important that instead of focusing all of our energy on high density infill (which I certianly think is great in some areas as well), we should work on making what are currently very low density suburbs and making them slightly denser, thus hugely improving the transit and walkability options.

    3. I disagree that only expensive neighborhoods are practical for car-free living.

      The good transit neighborhoods are probably downtown, Sodo, SLU, Capitol Hill, and the U-District. Central Fremont, the West Seattle Junction, Mt. Baker Station, Othello, parts of the CD, and Westwood Village are also pretty decent in that they have frequent lines going in out in multiple directions.

      1. It is all relative Martin. Those are certainly more expensive (for an SFH) than parts of Shoreline, N. Bothell, Seatac, etc.

      2. Martin:
        Most of those neighborhoods are not cheap (not even close for some). Especially when you have a family and want at least 2 bedrooms. If you want to buy, there are few condos coming on the market, as apartments are mainly being built. That leaves the suburbs or the outskirts of Seattle which have lousy transit connections.

      3. phil,

        I understand that some of them are expensive. But I assure you that Othello and Westwood Village are inexpensive, and for the others your mileage will vary.

        JoshMahar,

        I’m not sure what your point is. Mine is that there are transit-accessible neighborhoods at a variety of price points. And interestingly, Seatac happens to be a case where the transit access is pretty good.

    4. Rainier Valley is the only area with lower rents and lots of transit. Even there the $600K houses are spreading, but for now there are still tons of carless people filling the 7 all day with intra-valley trips. Other areas with lots of transit usually have the highest rents (U-District, Capitol Hill, Fremont), while areas with lower rent have limited transit (Delridge, Lake City, Greenwood north of 85th, south King County).

      1. But the flip side is that the U-District and Capitol Hill have so much density that they always have the most vacancies and studios available, so if you look hard and are single and don’t mind a small unit, you can often find something that costs no more than something in Greenwood or Lake City or Lynnwood.

      2. Ya this is totally true. The North section of town (Wallingford, Fremont, Greenlake) could absolutely use more apartment housing. It’s generally very tough to find vacancies around here.

      3. As someone currently looking for a place to live, U District and the aforementioned North section of Seattle are top of my list for transit access. And given that I’ve been able to get by with just a couple part-time jobs over the past few years, I’d say the rents aren’t THAT high. Your point about the multiple vacancies are spot-on, however.

  6. I primarily get around via bus, biking, running or car2go now, but I still have a car, as much as I’d like to get rid of it.

    The reason I still keep it around is convenience. I have family that lives in a city, that would take about 2+ hours by bus, plus a 30+ minute walk or less than an hour to drive. I tend to hike a lot, even multi-day trips, so it’s nice to be able to abandon my car at the trailhead. Even though I live within 5-10 minutes walks of no less than three large grocery stores, sometimes, you have to make a trip that’s just too large to carry and too inconvenient for a wheelbarrow or car2go (which tend to be clustered in the single family neighborhoods surrounding mine).

    Cost is definitely an issue, but I have a late 90s Volkswagen, which cost $2000 back in 2006 and has averaged around $500/year in maintenance, I have a free, secure parking spot, I pay $30/month in liability only insurance (everything and everyone in an accident is covered, except my car), and I fill up every one to two months.

    So while not having a car more than likely cheaper on paper and I would love the idea of being car free (and where I live, it’s extremely possible), the benefit of spontaneous convenience still outweighs the on-paper costs for me.

    1. Holy crap, where’d you get insurance that cheap?

      My insurance on a 02 Passat went from $80 to $150 for liability only when I moved here.

      1. Mutual of Enumclaw on a ’98 Jetta with a 13 year, perfect driving record. And I looked for the first time in a while and it’s a hair over $40/month now, but still cheap.

  7. Your career field can make it very challenging to live around here without a car–having worked in biotech in the past, if one doesn’t have the luxury of working at the UW, you have to consider working in small to medium sized companies that are primarily located in Snohomish County and the Eastside, areas that for the most part necessitate car travel for timely and reliable commutes.

    Our political leadership and our employers have always assumed “just drive in yer car”.

  8. I hate how one person can write a story like this and everything she says is gospel just because its printed somewhere. For example, this does not mention Hertz rentals, which have daily and weekend rates and you can book online, open with an FOB and return after hours (like Zipcar). That IS the entry in the market she is asking for.
    I haven’t been auto-dependent for 9 years. I’ve lived in SF, but downtown Seattle has all the transit I need. I checked out a few places in the CD and Madison Park neighborhoods, but after 7pm, 30 minute transit service isn’t good enough for me. In SF only routes from 1am to 5am run every 30 minutes (unless its a small community circulator with a 30ft bus). So, yes self selection is a reality. Groceries are a problem, but I find the best way is to take transit/bike both ways for small trips and take transit one way and cab back for large trips. Maybe the cabbie will even help you like in the movies.

    1. Have you used the Hertz fob yet? I wasn’t aware of the service until you mentioned it, and it looks like their sign-up website is broken. From a news search it looks like they charge around $8 an hour and have no annual fee. That could be quite useful. Of course, another website says they’ll roll out this service “by 2016”, so please confirm you’ve used it in Seattle.

      1. Its called Hertz 24/7. I personally have only used the key drop service, the FOB is very new. They have locations in Seattle http://www.hertz247.com/Location/HLE. But even a key drop is better than waiting till Monday morning to drop off your car for a weekend trip and it saves money. Weekend rates are affordable, and there are no decals on the car (at least the last one I rented).

      2. I use Hertz–don’t they charge you for the rental until the office opens Monday morning? E.g. even if you drop the car off at 7pm on Saturday, you still have to pay for it until 7am Monday.

        BTW, the location downtown next to the Convention Center is open on Sundays. Limited hours, but better than paying $15 a day to pay for the new Rental Car Facility at the airport.

      3. It appear that the service is available here under the name Hertz 24/7, though the only location in central Seattle is in on Westlake in South Lake Union, and there are only 2 cars. From what I could tell without actually signing up, the cost is comparable to ZipCar, at about $22 estimated cost for 2 hours (about $88 for a 24-hour period) including insurance and gas, with 180 miles included per reservation and a damage deductible of $250. Downsides include a fee for using the toll transponder of $4.95 per day, plus the actual cost of the toll.

      4. Ok, I just signed up as an experiment. There are two cars at the Westlake office available right now. A Chevy Sonic at $9.59 an hour ($9 + $0.59 tax), and a Chevy Impala at $12.78 an hour. The South Seattle location has a Jetta at $11.72/hr. SeaTac has a Nissan Versa at $9.59/hr. North Seattle has a Mazda 3 for $10.12/hr.

        And that’s it. But hey, it’s a start.

      5. Rather surprisingly, I tend to find hourly rentals that useful. The general reason is that if I’m going somewhere that I am willing to pay for a rental car to get to, it’s mostly likely somewhere where I’m going to want to send some time there. $8 per hour you’re actually driving is relatively cheap. $8 per hour the car is sitting there parked at your destination starts to get expensive. Enough so that renting a car for an evening is only a few dollars cheaper than renting a car for an entire day.

        About the only time when an hourly rental is useful is shopping trips, but ordering online and paying for shipping is usually cheaper and less hassle.

    2. They might be changing their cost model, but I am a Hertz #1 club member and there are a lot of discounts that make weekend rentals or any sort of off season/peak rentals cheaper. I was not charged for Monday during my last Sunday drop off. When I was in SF I used the huge fleet at Mason St near Union Square. I guess they are smaller up here.

      Truth is that these traditional rental agencies overwhelmingly rent cars to business customers during the week. They don’t have too much business on the weekends so many of the offices close. Now that there is vehicle tracking technology/FOBs etc, they can rent their excess fleet on the weekends. Hertz just started doing this and the possibility is endless. Suppose the City of Seattle contracts with hertz/enterprise/dollar for a bunch of its sedans during the week. These sedans are then rented out on the weekends, saving the City money on leases and providing residents with weekend options without more road space being used. There are thousands of cars that are parked all weekend. We just need have some business sense and cut through the red tape (insurance/customer behavior/counter productive legislation).

  9. I have a car and won’t give it up. Multiple times a week I use my vehicle to haul more than I can carry. Sometimes these trips are planned and sometimes they’re spontaneous, making renting another vehicle costly. Delivery is often not an option.

    1. That’s exactly what cars are for, and housholds that do that frequently should have one. I use a car about 5 times a year for large trips to Costco, to move furniture, to attend weekend events outside King County, or because I’m with somebody who insists on driving. Otherwise I do all my grocery shopping and other shopping on the bus, and when I didn’t have a washing machine I walked to the laundromat with my wheeled suitcase (1 mile each way). To me this beats the cost and stress of having a car, dealing with parking, and worrying about accidents. I don’t have any large-gardening or construction hobbies that would require frequently porting large materials.

      1. “stress of having a car, dealing with parking, and worrying about accidents”

        I’ve never stressed about those things.

  10. I lived in Seattle for 12 years without a car (or even a license) and I never really felt put out by it. I lived in Lake City (for one year), Roosevelt, Wallingford, East Ballard (near the 44/28 intersection) and West Greenwood (near the 28/48 intersection). One observation is the degree of inconvenience obviously has a lot to do with the social networks you’re embedded in. I was always friends with, and indeed roommates with many people whom owned cars, who are also the people I would be most likely to go on a weekend hike or a visit to someone in a suburb or whatever with. This obviously made it a lot easier. Also, my job has always required lots and lots of reading, and I just do that on the bus. Annoyingly long bus journey? Great, I’ll finally finish up that paper I started reading. It was part of the rhthym of my work life. Or, to put it another way, my time was a lot more flexible than my budget.

    Bikes are a big deal, too, if you don’t live in a core neighborhood, even if you’re not a brave and badass spandexified Seattle biker. When I lived in East Ballard, I was a solid 20 minute walk to downtown ballard, 25 to Fremont, and 20ish to Phinney Ridge, but there was little within the first mile or so. I’m was never brave or athletic enough to attempt bike commuting to my first hill job from this location, but the bike made Fremont and Ballard much closer than they otherwise would have been.

    1. You did use the car–indirectly—-you just used a circle of friends to depend on when you wanted to go places in the boonies that required a car.

      Going carless in Seattle is made easier if you are extroverted:).

      1. Fair point (for the record, not extroverted; these were pre-existing social networks, and income level precluded the possibility of living alone for most of those years).

  11. I have great transit service, and I ride a bike.

    Groceries for me are a problem where I cannot see getting around a car, even in a dense environment.

    It’s a hot day.

    I need to get my 10 one gallon bottles of Crystal Springs Geyser water, some eggs, cheese and fresh seafood.

    Potentially by bus I could be waiting up to an hour.

    BIcycle? No way.

    Car — air conditioned.

    Before I go there, I realize I need to buy a fan from Home Depot. I can change my mind immediately.

    Guess it’s getting harder to go all transit. Well how about Car2Go? What is that $8 an hour? Heck I can get an Enterprise for $20 a day (or less) and they pick you up.

    But suddenly at 11pm I feel like going to 24 Hour Fitness and having a swim. Too dark and dangerous to ride, but a quick car ride and I’m there.

    The modern 21st life requires personal door to door service. More than ever. Maybe Google cars are the right answer. I don’t know, but I know I need a car.

    1. One may desire “personal door to door service”; instant gratification is not a requirement to living in the 21st century world.

    2. Groceries for me are a problem where I cannot see getting around a car, even in a dense environment.

      It’s a hot day.

      I need to get my 10 one gallon bottles of Crystal Springs Geyser water, some eggs, cheese and fresh seafood.

      You do realize most tap water is perfectly safe, especially with a good filter, and big jugs of water are a waste of plastic and other resources, right? And if you still need a ton of groceries, just make multiple trips throughout the week. In a really dense city like NYC, you might even be able to walk straight to the store.

      “Potentially by bus I could be waiting up to an hour.” Well there’s your problem!

      “Before I go there, I realize I need to buy a fan from Home Depot. I can change my mind immediately.” Ignoring the likely response from the regulars here that “with sufficiently frequent service you can take spontaneous trips like that easily”, or the fact that you’d probably be going to a small hardware store in a dense environment, my hunch is that when you start taking the bus regularly the way you think about things like this is different, and “changing your mind immediately” is something that happens a lot less often anyway.

      “But suddenly at 11pm I feel like going to 24 Hour Fitness and having a swim. Too dark and dangerous to ride, but a quick car ride and I’m there.” I bet you’d be surprised how easy this would be without a car in a really dense city that actually values transit like NYC. Assuming, again, you still think the same way; in a dense environment where you walk regularly you probably get so much exercise you don’t need a special place and a special time to get it in. Oh wait, you probably think dense cities are just swarming with hoodlums and other baddies at night. Never mind.

      1. Morgan,

        Some routes do get sketchy at night. Take a ride on the 358 or 7 after 11pm. There’s a definite change in demographic.

        If you’ve been reading John’s posts over the months or years, he’s stated that he lives on Kent’s East Hill. He may not have the means to live in town, but the existing transit service serves most of his needs. I can’t speak for John. …but John may opt to drive at night rather than ride the bus because he is concerned for his personal safety. Have you been robbed by hoodlums? It’s happened twice to me, and I don’t ride the bus at night for that reason.

      2. I’ve taken the 7 between midnight and 2 am multiple times, and never felt concerned for my safety. Bad stuff can happen in broad daylight or in the middle of the night, in the suburbs or downtown. No reason to further the perception of danger on the bus after sunset.

      3. You do realize most tap water is perfectly safe, especially with a good filter, and big jugs of water are a waste of plastic and other resources, right?

        No, I don’t. Because after a decade of experimentation with filters, including a GE reverse osmosis system, I found I could not get adequately pollution free water (albeit, I may be more sensitive than most. I get skin tags and other illnesses from drinking the tap water here. Many complaints, all unheeded.)

        The only solution right now happens to be this brand of bottled water (even some of those have been detrimental).

        I just don’t see how I can get all the bargains and products I need in a reasonable amount of time and with flexibility without a car given my chosen (and liked) environment.

    3. “I have great transit service [but] Groceries for me are a problem where I cannot see getting around a car, even in a dense environment.”

      Two things. This shows how different people define “great transit” differently, and it also shows the benefits of walkability. It also shows how carless urbanites and carred suburbanites structure their lives differently and buy different things.

      JB has said he lives near the shopping center at 104th & Kent-Kangley Road. The area is roughly similar to 130th & Aurora: a supermarket, a couple big box stores, some strip-mall action, and Metro’s least-known frequent bus corridor. (This is the furthest point where the 164, 168, and 169 overlap to give combined 15-minute service to Kent Station, albeit on alternating sides of the street.) This is a surprisingly urban location for an anti-urbanist, because most suburbanites live in single-family neighborhoods with no supermarket or quasi-frequent bus corridor within walking distance.

      Nevertheless, JB has trouble with groceries, while urbanists like myself don’t. Why is that? Most of it is walkability, which is related to density. The large parking lots you have to walk through and past. The isolated stores, one per block, with no housing or businesses around them that you might live in or go to. Medium-to-high density is what makes a walk interesting, both because of the multitude of architecture to look at and the other pedestrians around. Plus the pleasantness of not having to walk as far to your destination, because more destinations are within a 10-minute walk circle. This is the scale small towns used to have (which JB professes to approve of), and it works with or without transit. But it works better with frequent transit stop.

      In large dense cities like New York and Boston, people get large purchases delivered and take taxis to the supermarket. I’m not sure if supermarket deliveries are traditional there, but Amazon Fresh is the same conept. So that’s how they get their cases of water and large fans. But living in small dwellings and nearby stores, they don’t have much need for water by the case or large furniture. Indeed, I’ve found a small hardware store on Capitol Hill (12th & Madison) that stocks “apartment needs”: range burners, hammers, screws, electric outlets, all that stuff, but not 20,000 square feet like Home Depot. And Bed, Bath & Beyond downtown has fans, and at least the kind I get I can carry on the bus. (Vornado air circulators are the bomb; much more effective than regular fans.)

      FWIW, Seattle’s water is one of the cleanest in the country. The water utility says, “The reason it sometimes smells like chlorine is because there’s nothing else smelly in it, so the minute trace of chlorine is not masked.” Bellevue is mostly on Seattle water but takes some Cedar River water at peaks which is not as clean. Kent may on Cedar River water, I don’t know. But I bet even that is cleaner than most of the water on the country because it also originates in the Cascades.

      1. It also has a lot to do with your style of eating and cooking. If most of what you buy is produce or “I’m cooking this today or tomorrow” stuff, grocery shopping without a car is a breeze. If you’re the more common “I’m stocking up my pantry and fridge on this once-a-month trip”, then driving is really the most efficient way to get that done. I drive to get groceries about once a month to buy things like paper products, detergents, liquor, 12-can flats of black beans, etc. But for most trips when all I need is some greens or peaches or whatever, my bike works just as well since Trader Joe’s, the Madison Coop, Grocery Outlet, and Red Apple are all within ~1 mile.

      2. At the risk of appearing to be a creepy internet stalker… Zabasearch shows JB only 0.8 miles from Top Food and Target, and Home Depot is across the street from Top Food on the same block. A 15 minute walk each way, easily fast enough to keep wrapped fish fresh and tow water in a folding grocery basket.

        When I lived within a few blocks I was more likely to shop with a bicycle and trailer, rather than on foot, but walking is a perfectly reasonable alternative in that dense of a neighborhood.

  12. I’m relatively new to car ownership after living car free for many years, but I feel I could write an article about what a hassle it is to live with a car.

    I bought my car outright so don’t have the $300-$500 payments of many car owners. However in July I payed $140 in car insurance, $230 in gasoline, and $150 in parking, tolls, and ferry fares. Plus, I’ve paid $1600 this year in routine auto maintenance. I have to park my car everywhere I go including paying for garages and meters. I have to drink carefully since I’m driving. Traffic is terrible. And half my front yard is filled with gravel so I have somewhere to keep the thing. It’s crazy.

    1. Just because you own a car doesn’t mean you have to drive everywhere. If I am going DT where parking is expensive, I take the bus. I don’t drive. Given the expenses you are running up, it looks like you’re trying to make up for lost time. ;)

      For me, the car is for trips that are not convenient by transit or by walking.

    2. Just because you have a car doesn’t mean you have to drive it. I like the idea that we could just keep some old beater around with low insurance for those times where we need it but rely on bike/bus the rest of the time.

      1. I did that 2005 through last year – and it was a beater. It died, amd now carless and doing vwry well w/ bus/Zip/walking/friends to get around.

      2. That’s possible if you live in a house. :) It’s not possible if you live in an apartment where parking was $125/month two years ago, $150 now, and about to jump to $200. The parking ends up being the biggest car expense!

      3. That’s what Zipcar and Car2Go are for. And, unlike the old beater, they are accessible from anywhere in the city, not just your home.

  13. I live in the southeast Green Lake area, which is kind of a hub for a bunch of different bus routes: the 26 express and local, 16, 48, plus the 316/76 commuter buses which I use to ride to work downtown, as well as others. There’s at least one direct bus to the Eastside that originates near Green Lake. And there are multiple Zipcars and Car2Gos around, too. Living without a car is not very difficult, even in a lower density area like mine. I have many of the benefits of living in a dense, walkable area, plus the privacy and quiet of a small SFH that I rent.

    The main current drawback is that I don’t really live within walking distance of a good grocery store (until PCC completes construction in 2014). I could use the bus, Zipcar, or Car2Go, but I like to bike to the Wallingford QFC or U-District Trader Joe’s once a week and fill up my backpack for the exercise.

    I might’ve been one of those people who’d love to give up their car, except for (groceries/going out of town/etc.). That changed when my car was destroyed by an irresponsible tailgater on the freeway 5 years ago. It ended up being a blessing in disguise. Now, even with my bus pass and Zipcar membership, I save a ton of money every month, I pollute less, and I get more exercise than I used to. I’ve found that it’s more than worth the tradeoff of convenience.

    I wonder if just one out of every 10 person who says “I’d love to give up my car, except…” actually ripped off the Band-Aid and gave up the car, they would find that it wasn’t nearly the horrible ordeal that they thought it would be. Not to mention the benefits from a decrease in carbon emissions and traffic congestion.

    1. Where exactly are you? You might be able to walk across the freeway to the Roosevelt Safeway or QFC (unless/until the latter is already closed for Link construction). If you’re regularly using the I-5/65th buses walking under the freeway shouldn’t be too problematic, though biking may be another matter.

      1. Haha, yes, I deliberately omitted Whole Foods because of their prices. I’m near the Latona/65th intersection, so Safeway is about a mile from where I am. I guess it’s doable on foot, but I prefer biking to QFC on 45th because it’s a flat, quick route.

        I don’t think the QFC you’re referring to exists anymore. Is that what used to be at the big lot where they’re building the Link station?

  14. It is hard to live carless with kids. Bringing wiggly toddlers along with all the stuff they require for an outing is ridiculously stressful. Now imagine doing it while carrying groceries. Next time you’re on a bus with a parent attempting this feat, please be kind to him/her and don’t give them the stink eye if their child is being loud or whiny. I guarantee you they’re having a crappier bus experience than you are at that moment.

    It would help immensely if Metro allowed people to leave their strollers open on buses, or better still, had stroller parking.

    Also, it would help if transit-awesome neighborhoods had larger apartments. Or, that more family-sized-apartment/house-neighborhoods had more grocery stores within walking distance. Honestly, grocery store within walking distance is the key criteria to making a neighborhood family-friendly and transit-friendly. Amazon Fresh is awesome but expensive.

    1. I’m not sure which is harder, convincing people to give up their cars or not to add to the population problem.

    2. From where I live in NYC, carless is the norm for parents. Key things making this possible: 1) everything within walking distance, 2) no social pressure to drive — friends and relatives who live in/move to the ‘burbs do so knowing they’ll need to pick you up at the train station if they ever want you to visit, 3) most stores deliver, 4) zipcar/rental car a few times a year for rural adventures, etc.

      Several neighborhoods in Seattle work for #1 (though as noted, they’re not cheap), and #4 is the same, but Seattle needs progress on #2 and #3 before there will be a non-trivial number of car-free parents.

      1. And there are great benefits to living in a good transit city with kids. Friends of mine live in Bangkok and their daughters take the skytrain or ferries to school, to friends’ houses, to after school and summer activities… A large job of the suburban parent is being a chauffer, and that job all but goes away in the city once your kids are old enough to figure out transit (depending on your risk tolerance level, of course, though I’ll bet the risk is far higher to drive your kids in the car than to let them wander free on the bus).

      2. @Matt:

        There’s a significant difference between young kids and older kids. With kids too young to allow out on public transit you go from chauffer to chaperone — in my experience, you manage to combine most of the disadvantages of PT with most of the disadvantages of driving your kids around. With older kids things are so much easier [especially in a world with cheap cell phones].

        When that transition occurs depends a lot on one’s comfort level, the other parent’s comfort level and the kid.

      3. I’ll buy that. I enjoy taking my young kids on the bus – it’s far more enjoyable than driving (4yr old talks to people, looks out the window, gets to pull cord – little one doesn’t have to be locked in a carseat). Then again, I’m not car-free – I’m sure I could feel differently if we had to use the bus on an evening where they’re both asleep or having a bad day.

      4. @Matt: Exactly. I also enjoy taking my kids on the bus, but there’s a caveat there: the journey is, at least in part, the destination. Also we’re chosing when and where to go: obviously we do so in a way that minimizes hassle, and maximizes transit interesrtingness.

  15. Kudos to you, Martin, for presenting views of others even though the original publisher was a Seattle Times column. The wider the perspectives presented in the blog, the richer the understanding of ALL transit users.

  16. I lived without a car from 2005-2012, and I look forward to the day I can again ditch having one, but for the time being, purchasing a cheap car last year was undoubtedly the right decision. In the past year, I’ve put 6,000 miles on my car, spent $1,000 on capital, $500 on insurance, $800 on gas, $300 on maintenance, and probably $100 on metered parking. Considering I have a cheap Central District apartment, free transit via ORCA Passport, a nice bicycle, and free residential parking (yeah, I know, externalities…) $225/month is a pretty good deal to get night/weekend/intercity mobility back. Next year I’ll only pay $140/month since the car is now paid off.

    I bike to work every day, I bus between neighborhoods during the day, and I use Car2Go in a pinch, but for round-trips from home of >5 miles on nights and/or on weekends, driving can’t be beat. I value my time and sanity enough to never drive during peak and to drive when transit headways drop to 30 minutes.

    I’ll gladly ditch my car again when we have a reliable, comprehensive, frequent, faster-than-bicycling bus network; bicycle accommodations on Greyhound/Trailways/non-Cascades Amtrak, and decent transit options to places like Olympia, etc.

  17. My husband and I went without a car for ~10 years. We live in Greenwood. Walked orbiked to work, to PCC, the post office, bank, library,lots of restaurants. We rented a car once in a while to visit out of town. But after we retired, we wanted to go hiking out in the mountains more, travel,all that stuff. So now we’ve got a car. We’re not sorry we got it, but I think we showed that for at least some people–childless, fully ambulatory for example–can do fine without a car in Seattle.

    PS–One of the reasons we were able to retire was because of all the $ we saved by not having a car for those 10 years.

  18. Been here almost six years without a car. While it’s certainly not as easy being car-free in Seattle as it is in flatter cities with better transit systems, we’ve never found it as onerous or expensive as Ms. Tan suggests, and Car2Go has been a game-changer. It would be much easier to evaluate her criticisms if she mentioned where either she or her “hour away” family live. I also would have liked to have seen a more granular accounting of how she spent “hundreds a month” on car-sharing, rentals, and the like.

    Few other problems. She mentions Amtrak, but not BoltBus, where she went on Amtrak and why, or that Amtrak prices aren’t a Seattle-specific issue. She highlights one of the least-functional transit corridors in the city—Capitol Hill to South Lake Union—but fails to mention that it is a fast, dead-cheap Car2Go trip in neighborhoods where vehicles are usually plentiful (at least in our not-insignificant anecdotal experience).

    And while we all know Metro could be better, claiming schedule unpredictability robs us of “autonomy” seems a stretch to say the least. Do I have to plan more because I don’t have a car? Sure. But do I no longer govern myself because I coordinate when I walk out the front door with when OneBusAway tells me a bus will arrive at a stop five blocks away?

    Hardly.

    Ultimately, if she has “a hard time dealing with 20 percent uncertainty” of a transit agency that hits its schedule 80 percent of the time—in a world with OneBusAway, importantly—it’s quite possible the being car-free just isn’t for her. That’s not a swipe, just an observation.

    In any event, props to anyone on the Times’ editorial page getting behind increased transit funding.

    1. The Times has been getting better in general anyway recently (too bad all of it is now behind the paper paywall). SBB has run at least three pieces on pro-bike editorials they’ve run.

  19. I spent 2004 carless in Capitol Hill, mostly walking, biking, and driving Zipcars (then called Flexcar), though I also rented cars for long trips on occasion and took the bus when I had to (though those trips usually didn’t work out very well). It was an interesting experience, and I’m glad I went through it, but I will probably never choose to repeat it. You’d think it would have been a slam dunk, since I was a fit single guy living in a dense central neighborhood, but not having a car made life substantially more difficult. Getting around was far more expensive than I had expected, my schedule became inflexible, I wasted enormous amounts of time working around other people’s schedules, spontaneity disappeared, dealing with the unexpected became much more stressful, and I basically just didn’t go hiking or skiing. I admire the people who can live happily this way, but it really did not work for me. It would have required a whole different kind of life.

  20. Homo Sapiens, for the last 200,000 years, did just fine without a car, and with a lot less whining. Is the transportation system broken, or are WE broken?

  21. It’s true that some people would happily put up with some of the inconveniences of no car lifestyle — the ones that discourage the author of the editorial. But the viewpoint of the author is important because it is from a pretty average person trying to go car free, and finding it too difficult. It’s great that there are people who will do whatever it takes to live car free (I’m one of them) but I think it’s really important to hear the voice of someone not like me. This is the kind of person for whom transit needs to be a lot better. Transit should be so convenient, safe, and pleasant that it’s a no-brainer for the author to give up their car. We are nowhere near that yet.

  22. It is now been about 3 years since I last had a car and it’s been working out quite well, in spite of the fact that, on paper, the only buses within 1/4 mile of my home is the 30, 68, 74, 243, and 372, each of which, I almost never ride. (The 68, 74, 243, and 372 have very limited hours and the 30 is so short that anywhere it goes, it’s quicker and easier to just walk or bike). I do have a dedicated parking space with my apartment, but with the car gone, I managed to re-purpose it for the storage of bikes and bike-related equipment. Once a month, I move my stuff out of the way so the person I hire to clean my apartment can park there (I live in an RPZ, so no street parking for non-residents). With all the money saved by not having car expenses, paying for a monthly cleaning is no problem.

    Of course, there was a considerable amount of trial-and-error to getting things to work, including a few inevitable bad experiences when I made mistakes. Overall, getting rid of the car was a great decision, but here are some tips and tricks I discovered that make things a lot easier.

    The biggest thing to keep in mind is that if you want a good car-free experience in Seattle, you really need to be active. In Manhatten, you can get around almost anywhere very quickly on public transit without walking more than a block or so. In Seattle, life without a car will get frustrating very quick if you are not willing to walk more than a block. There are a lot of trips out there where walking up to a mile or biking up to 5 miles can save huge amount of time and hassle. That’s not to say you have to be in tip-top shape before you give up your car – just living without a car, alone, will help get you into shape, without a single trip to the gym – but if you have an injury or some other medical condition which makes walking a mile difficult, you should be aware that car-free living may not work for you.

    With that out of the way, here are some tips and tricks for how to handle specific types of trips:

    I: Grocery Shopping
    – Walk or bike to the store, whenever possible, rather than relying on the bus.
    – When shopping on foot, bring a large backpack (like what you would use to go backpacking in the wilderness) to carry your groceries home. A good backpack costs at least a couple hundred dollars, but when you are using it every week for shopping, it’s well worth it. A good backpack is much more comfortable than shopping bags. I routinely walk about a mile each way to the Roosevelt Whole Foods, mostly through Ravenna Park, and carrying groceries home in a backpack is easy.
    – Never depend on the flimsy paper bags the store gives you if you have to walk more than a block or so – they will tear and everything will fall out. If it’s raining outside, paper bags won’t last more than about half a block. If you need to do shopping now and don’t have your backpack with you, bite the bullet and buy a reusable bag. It’s only $1, and it’s well worth it.
    – For large, bulky items, don’t go to the store at all. Shop online instead. For the past 3 years, virtually all of my paper towels, toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, and laundry detergent has been ordered in bulk of Amazon. It’s easy, UPS delivers the package right to your door, and you don’t have to worry about it again for almost a year. Again, with all the money saved by not owning a car, I really don’t care if it costs a little bit more than Safeway, after shipping costs are factored in.
    – If you live in a central part of the city, there is really no need to ever visit a big-box store like Costco, unless you happen to be passing by it and it’s on your way. Everything you can get there, you can get somewhere closer and more convenient. If shopping at a neighborhood store costs a little bit more, time is money, so who cares. It’s chump change, compared to the car expenses you don’t have to pay.
    – Resist the temptation to buy more stuff than you are equipped to comfortably carry. I consider this a feature, as it reduces the amount of money squandered on impulse buys.
    II: Socialization and Entertainment
    – Try to pick a place to live so that as much entertainment opportunities as possible (or at least the entertainment opportunities you care about) are within walking or biking distance. For short jaunts around the city, human-powered transportation is the way to go, especially in the evening, when bus service starts to get sparse. That being said, there are a few transit corridors that do have good bus service as late as midnight, such as the 44 and 49. For stuff on the eastside, use Sound Transit to get across the lake and human-powered transit within Seattle.
    – Don’t penny-pinch. If there’s something you really want to do, there’s always a way to get there. Finding a friend with a car to go with you is one option, but there are others. Zipcar is one. Going with a meetup group is another. Depending on the location, Car2Go, taxis, Lyft, Uber, etc., may also be options. In general, not having a car is an excuse for not going places you didn’t really want to go to anyway. If you really want to get somewhere, there is always a way.
    – For almost all types of parties and social get-togethers, the general rule is that if you can get there, you can get back. Even if the bus isn’t running anymore when it’s time to go back, anytime there’s lots of people around, the odds are good you can find someone headed your way to drive you. Worst case, you can always call a cab. Since living without a car, I have been to many social get-togethers that some car-owning invitees could not make it to because their car broke down.
    – Find close-in subsitutes for distant events. Instead of driving out to Renton to go to a restaurant simply because your friend in Renton recommended it, eat somewhere closer to home that you can walk to. Or, if the restaurant in Renton is really special, rent a car and drive there once a year to celebrate a special occasion.

    III: Hiking and outdoors
    – Many trailheads are reachable by Metro and Sound Transit. Discovery Park Carkeek Park, and Seward Park are good, close-in options. Virtually all of the Issaquah Alps is accessible from Sound Transit route 554, Metro route 209, or Metro route 240. You can even day-hike Mt. Si by riding the 209 bus to North Bend! If you willing to ride a bike 20-30 miles past North Bend and camp, you can get almost anywhere in the I-90 hiking corridor without setting foot in a car. If you’re looking for a group of people to do bus hikes with, check out the Seattle Transit Hikers: http://www.meetup.com/Seattle-Transit-Hikers/.
    – If the bus is too slow, or connections downtown are unreliable or badly timed, consider driving a Car2Go to downtown and taking transit from there. If you’re close enough, biking downtown may also be an option. With Car2Go + 554, it is possible to get from the U-district to Issaquah Transit Center, door-to-door, in as little as 45 minutes, without traffic, for only $6 – a trip that would take close to an hour and a half busing it all the way.
    – For dayhikes to transit-inaccessible trailheads, hiking groups are your friend. Meetup has numerous hikes available all over the Cascades which meet for carpooling at P&R lots with bus service. Again, if you have to be at Issaquah P&R at 7:00 on a Sunday morning, don’t lose sleep and mess with local buses to get downtown – just take Car2Go.
    – If you are arranging an ad-hoc carpool through a meetup discussion board, it is a good courtesy to the driver to meet them at a central place that’s on his/her way, rather than asking them to come by your house – even if you have to use Car2Go to get there.

    IV: Random errands
    – Not owning a car means you will have a lot less random errands to begin with. First, every trip related to car maintenance (car wash, oil change, etc.) immediately disappears. Second, there’s the phenomenon that owning a car often comes with the social obligation to use it, an obligation that goes away when the car goes away. For example, a mom in Olympia having computer trouble might ask you to drive over and help her troubleshoot if you have a car, yet be content with talking it over the phone if you don’t. Similarly, if you have a car and relatives visit you from out of town, you will feel obligated to drive to the airport to pick them up and drop them off. Without a car (even though a round trip to the airport is just $10 with Zipcar), asking them to take Link or a cab is no big deal.
    – You don’t need to go to the gym, at least for the treadmill, as you already get that benefit anytime you travel anywhere. If the weight machines alone justify the cost of a gym membership, find a gym close to home, run there, skip the treadmill, go straight to the weights, and when you’re done, run back home.
    – Shop online. If you can’t walk or bike to the store, don’t take the time for a long bus ride to visit the store. Use Amazon. If you use Amazon frequently, sign up for Amazon Prime.
    – Use errands as an excuse to go out for a bike ride.
    – If you need to transfer buses downtown, take a break and stop somewhere downtown for a bite to eat, if your schedule permits. It breaks up the trip and makes the experience more relaxing.
    – For most airport trips, Car2Go+Link is fast and affordable. For 6 AM flights, use Flat Rate For Hire to get to the airport. The rate from the U-district is $35, compared to $50 for a regular taxi. I have found them to be quite reliable with reasonable advance notice. Lyft or Sidecar may be a good option as well.
    – When choosing a doctor or dentist, being close to work is more important than being close to home, since these appointments tend to be in the middle of the day.

    1. V: Formal Occasions

      – Larger purse, whatever ridiculous heels, + fold-up flats (http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Scholls-Fast-Flats-sizes/dp/B0040BHYJU/). Tacit pride that you look just as polished, without the valet parking, gym membership, or bronzer.

      Things that have made living car-free in Seattle painless for me:

      1. Having been raised by non-drivers. I was with grandparents until age 4, and they lived a wholly pedestrian, urban life. This is why I think it is so important for cities to make it possible for families to live there: it imprints on the child. I wasn’t raised to fear strangers, or to perceive foreign sounds, sights, or smells as assaults to my right to the sanitized existence that automobiles provide inside their walls.

      My parents also chose a house in the burbs, but it was close enough to the Post Road that I could walk to my dentist, a cafe, Trader Joe’s, etc — that is, in a town with a walk score of 31, they chose a house with walk score of 76.

      1.5. Having never lived in a city with “proper” transit (Boston), but having made great use of passable transit (Providence, New Haven).

      2. Location of work, home, and play. There are at least four dance studios and four yoga studios within a half hour’s walk, and an infinite number of bars. My transit commute sometimes beats my (vanpool + walk from garage to desk) commute time, and if I want to trade time for laziness, I can have door-to-door transit commutes in both directions.

      3. Extraordinary luck? Bellevue / Pine –> dropping off guacamole at Belmont / Republican –> Montlake at 9pm was somehow possible and seamless that one evening…

      4. Friends with cars.
      4.01. Friends who have also chosen their apartments for transit accessibility.
      4.02. Friends who tolerate my kvetching about buses being late or OBA’s data being stale.

      5. Lack of interest in hiking, camping, skiing, climbing, diving, road tripping, etc.
      5.01. Enjoyment of walking fast, sprinting, listening to podcasts, dawdling
      5.02. Lack of a kid, parents who may require immediate care from me, and any actual responsibilities.

    2. Other tips:
      – Get a smartphone and data plan. Compared to a car, it’s cheap, and there are so many apps out there that make car-free living much easier. Great mobile apps for car-free transportation include Google Maps, OneBusAway, Car2Go, Lyft, Sidecar, and TaxiMagic. Of the major smartphone platforms, I have generally found Android to be the best for car-free-transportatio-related apps.
      – In winter, never leave home without a hat, gloves, and jacket. A rain hat or umbrella may be advisable too. If you bike in the winter, buy a hat that fits under your helmet and a waterproof layer that fits over your shoes. Never bike in the winter without gloves, especially when it’s raining. Your hands will get cold really fast.
      – If you can walk somewhere in under 30 minutes, don’t even bother looking at bus schedules. Just walk. If you happen to see a bus coming, though, feel free to hop on. If you don’t have time to walk, bike.
      – A bike trailer is a great way to carry occasional heavily loads for short distances, which most people think they need a car to carry.
      – For formal occasions, don’t wear dress shoes while you travel there. Wear whatever shoes you are most comfortable in for the trip down, carry dress shoes in a backpack, and change footwear when you arrive. If you need dress shoes for work, simply leave them there, rather that carry them back and forth. Your feet with thank you!

    3. That makes me feel better about having to move to a lower-cost neighborhood next year, where I may end up in the land of half-hourly buses (or yikes! hourly evenings).

      I always keep a hat in my jacket pocket, and two canvas bags in my backpack for spontaneous shopping. A wheeled suitcase or fold-up cart can also help.

      For groceries, I have a bipolar preference for quality food on the one hand and wholesale prices on the other, so I get some things at Costco, some at the natural food stores and Trader Joe’s, and some at Pike Place, all on the bus. That’s a lot of trips and takes some 6 hours a wek. I could shave 5/6 off that time if I just went to QFC, which is the supermarket with the most walkable locations.

      The main problem I have is going to MMA events, which are mostly outside King County or at hard-to-reach casinos. I could take a bus to Arlington Saturday afternoon, but I couldn’t come back till Monday morning.

  23. I’m currently without a car in ‘condo Ballard,’ but I’m just a lowly bachelor so the barriers to entry aren’t very high. I usually just bike everywhere, even when hauling stuff. For huge things, I generally opt for delivery or having a family member or friend assist. For trips out into the middle of nowhere that aren’t specifically bicycle tours, I go with friends who have cars.

    1. I personally know two carless families with children. One lives in Fremont, the other in Wedgwood, so, yes, it can be done. However, it should be noted that each of these two families only have one child. Both rely heavily on walking and biking and are not dependent on the bus for every trip.

  24. “I’m not sure which is harder, convincing people to give up their cars or not to add to the population problem.”

    [Ad hom]

    “Homo Sapiens, for the last 200,000 years, did just fine without a car”

    That’s certainly the dumbest thing I’ve read all week. You are welcome to go live as a cave man if you like.

      1. The 19th Century was most assuredly full of civilization. (Which just means “cities”.) Just ask anyone in London.

        Of course, the rich had horses and carriages.

      2. Ah yes, I forgot, the century of imperialism, slavery, no political and social freedom and a life expectancy of 45. How could we not miss it?

  25. ““I’m not sure which is harder, convincing people to give up their cars or not to add to the population problem.”

    Well I’m certainly happy my parents didn’t feel that way.

    1. I bet you they did. The majority of women do not want more than 2 kids. Many do not want more than 1.

      If you have 11 siblings and are happy about it, I retract my statement.

    2. Things change, and sometimes it takes people a long time to realize it. The US is not adding much to the world’s population, and European countries are already subtracting from it. The countries with the highest birthrates, in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, have seen sharp dropoffs after spreading women’s education, which is giving women autonomy to choose how many children they want, and most women are choosing to have 0-2 children (i.e., at or below replacement level). There’s a 20-year lag before its full effect can be seen, as their children grow up and start making family decisions. So the world’s population is expected to increase from 6 billion to 9 billion and then stabilize. But population in western countries is expected to decline, Russia’s most dramatically.

  26. A month and a half ago I decided to start using Amazon Fresh so that I see if I can untether myself from my location close to a grocery store.

    * I love it and am not going back to a store unless I absolutely have to (e.g. item not sold online)
    * I did not find prices to be higher and shipping is free for orders of $50 or above for me now (after doing one full month of only Amazon Fresh shopping).
    * By the time I used to finish my grocery list, I am now done with grocery shopping, saving me some 2-4 hours a month of 100% wasted time (grocery shopping was a chore).
    * They can enter my apartment building by themselves and just leave the groceries in front of my door – I don’t have to be there at all and they are in thermally insulated bags with ice packs inside so they can sit there for a while until I am back – absolutely love it

    and no, I don’t work for Amazon! but this means that I can move out to neighborhoods that don’t have a good grocery store close by and I am excited.

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