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How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life Paperback – Sep 1 2006
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About the Author
Chris Balish is an award-winning feature writer, reporter, and broadcast journalist. He began his writing career working for Writer’s Digest magazine and Writer’s Digest Books. Since 1995 he has been a full-time reporter and television news anchor. Chris is the recipient of nearly thirty awards for excellence in journalism and writing, including six regional Emmy Awards. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. But most important, Chris is passionate about how going car-free improved his life and how it can improve the lives of others. He commutes by bicycle year-round and travels all over on foot, on mass transit, and by carpooling with friends, girlfriends, and coworkers. Chris is single and has a vibrant car-free dating and social life.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author saved about 40K or more in 4 years of living without a car. To say he did not EVER USE a car, however, would not be totally true. He bumped up against reality sometime and had to rent a car on occasion...but mostly he made do by bicycling, walking or using public transportation or taxis.
"Wait", you might say, "Take a taxi? Aren't they expensive?" Not as part of an overall plan that allows one to stop paying for auto insurance, car maintenance, buying a car, etc.
The author makes a convincing argument and I have cut down on my use of our auto as a result, walking as much as possible. I'd do away with it forever if we had reliable public transportation and if our kids weren't involved in activities that were out of the public transportation loop, sometimes out of the city.
But I still have hope of living "car free" and I am aiming for a life where using our car isn't necessary, in a town with good public transportation and mild winters...someday. In the meantime, this book has given me a road map (pun intended) for a simpler, less auto-dependent lifestyle.
And as Balish points out, time in a car is wasted time compare to time bicycling, walking or using public transit. The first two modes give you an opportunity to exercise, and the last gives you an opportunity for productive reading (unless, of course, you live in a place where transit is TOO good, in which case you will not have a seat to yourself and thus will have less opportunity to read).
Also, Balish does not limit himself to walking and public transit, but instead discusses less obvious (to me) alternatives such as carsharing, bicycling, carpooling and motorcycles. He even cites websites devoted to these modes, to assist those of us who don't know much about these options.
Having said that, this book is not for everyone. Balish himself points out that "Families with children might find it difficult" to live car-free as well as "People who live in rural areas." Even these groups can get something out of the book: for example, Balish discusses how a two-car family might be able to function as a one-car family.
And I do wish Balish had addressed a few more objections in more detail, such as:
*In some cities, it may be hard to avoid driving without either (1) living in (or at least passing through) high-crime areas or (2) spending a premium on housing in order to live in a coveted intown neighborhood.
*The difficulties of living in Sunbelt cities (like, say, Jacksonville) that are far more car-dependent than Balish's native St. Louis.
*The concern (for single men) that women won't view you as a real protector or provider if you don't drive them anywhere.
*Once you are married, the difficulties that arise when you and your spouse work in different parts of a region.
But having said that, this book is worth reading for anyone who can possibly get to work without driving.
Besides, the book is just an enjoyable read. It's filled with testimonials from people all over the place who have reduced their car dependence and the subsequent rewards they've realized by doing so. Comedic and pointed illustrations and quotes kept me turning pages of a book that takes a serious yet lighthearted look at car ownership and alternatives to it. If you're thinking of buying a car, first read this book, then decide.
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