Sunday, May 19, 2013

No-Car Update: It's No Accident. Pun Intended.

Look out.

*hauling out soapbox*
*stepping onto said box*

Living without a car is not an afterthought or add-on to your life.  It's not a lifestyle aspect you can graft onto your existing life after you've chosen all your other priorities.

You must intentionally set up your living situation ahead of time in order to accommodate this lifestyle.  There are sacrifices involved.  You might have to give up a bigger house and yard for a smaller place in the city or closer to a bus route, workplace, or school.  You might have to take on fewer extracurricular activities and commitments, or choose them carefully based on travel requirements.  You will surely need to clear more time, space, and flexibility in your schedule--to live a slowly-paced life.  You must be willing to ask for help when you need it, and be ready and available (i.e. not over-booked) to offer other kinds of help in return.

So please don't tell me you would LOVE to be able to live without a car, but you can't because you live outside the city, or not close enough to bus lines, or school is too far away, or work is too far away, or your partner needs the car for work, or you've got to get you and your kids to a-b-c-d-x-y-z.

It's likely that you had some choice in where you live and the activities you participate in--that they were not forced upon you.

So instead of flippantly stating, "Oh, well I'd love to do that too, but..." perhaps instead say that you would like to live without a car, but that you didn't purposefully set up your living situation and make the sacrifices necessary so you would not need a car in the first place.  You simply had different priorities.

I'd totally respect this response.  I've never heard it.  But I'd respect it if I did.

(Other answer I respect:  "You're completely nuts.  I love my car and I love having a car.  I couldn't live without it." No excuses.)

*stepping down from and (temporarily) storing soap box...*

photo credit


Anne said...

Hello! Just found your blog as my husband and I are considering a move to Luxembourg with our baby daughter. We've both lost quite a few hours reading your posts!

We've always survived in London without a car and were feeling a little disheartened at the prospect of having to get one in Luxembourg, so read this post with interest! Can I ask which area of Luxembourg you live as perhaps we can use the car budget towards an apartment closer to the action. We are visiting this weekend to have as look about.
Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Ha! Rosie, you belong at Hyde Park, Speakers Corner! Once you hop over to England, you can go from LGW there via public transport. If memory serves me, Marble Arch is the closest Tube station. ;)

Tara said...

Rosie, there is one answer that is an honest one that may not occur to you. That is "I've never thought about it before you gave me reason to, and THUS my life is currently not set up for it." Which is true for certainly 90% of Americans, I would think. It is still such a countercultural position to take in most places that many of those decisions have been made before (what seems to you but I assure you is not) the obvious thought occurs that we CAN choose to structure our lives this way. So at the time it wasn't a matter of priorities, but a matter of honest awareness of the option. I certainly never thought about it while choosing our current house, so it was not a matter of thinking about it and then discarding it as a way of life. It never occurred to us. But now I would definitely do things differently.
You do a great job of provoking your readers to think more deeply about slow-life issues, and you have certainly caused me to reevaluate and make a few changes and tweaks based on your writings. Just don't forget how new and/or foreign many of those issues are to "average Jane and Joe."
Keep that soapbox handy!

Pete and Rosie said...

Hi, Anne! Thanks for your comment. This is exactly what we did..used our car budget toward an apartment close to the center. We live about 10 minutes walk west of the Hamilius bus station on the west side of the city center. We are close to Merl Park. We can take the 15, 7, or 6 into town and the 6 or 7 to our favorite grocery store (Delhaize on route de Longwy, and there's another on Route D'arlon on line 8). We can also walk a couple blocks to a smaller grocery store (Alima in Belair). Of course it depends on where you work, but if you are considering no car, I think the best areas would be generally be Belair/Merl/Hollerich (where we are), Limpertsberg, Really, though, you've had experience with the "tough" parts before - grocery shopping, getting to the doctor, etc. If you've wrapped your mind around the lifestyle already, you're most of the way there! It's not London, but the bus system is quite efficient. (and is wonderful in a pinch). Plus it's just so small that that walking is very efficient as well. Try riding the buses around when you visit and see how it goes. There is an app, which is great but it will be a bit confusing until you get your bearings. Pick up some good ol' fashioned paper maps of the lines! Here are the 25 city linesé/Autobus/Horaires_+lignes+et+trajets-p-63910/Les+25+lignes+d_autobus.html Best of luck to you!

Pete and Rosie said...

Tara, good point, and I'm very glad you brought it to light. I don't mean to imply that the answers I listed are the only ones I'd ever respect. I completely respect an "I'd never thought or considered that could be an option" response. That was certainly us not too many years ago. I guess all I'm saying is exactly's such a strong, intentional pointing of lifestyle and priorities that would cause you to choose that path. For us, it did come out of our desire for a simple, minimalist lifestyle. So you are absolutely right--It must occur to you! And strongly!! :) More than people seem to think or acknowledge (hence the soapbox, I guess). It has to not only occur to you, but then be a strong enough force to motivate you, either at a crossroads in your life when you have some decisions to make about your career or location or priorities or whatever - or, it has to motivate you enough to shake you out of your current situation or way of thinking, spurring you on to make drastic changes when you could just leave things the status quo. One of the reasons we took the opportunity to move here in the first place was the prospect of trying to live car-less--that it could be possible here. And one thing that I do hope when people read about our no-car lifestyle here is that it might open someone's mind to the possibility (like Anne above...that she could maybe even do it here too!)

Anne said...

Hi Rosie, thank you so much for your reply. We are visiting this weekend to check out Luxembourg, plus travelling for the first time with our 10 week old baby, so feeling excited / apprehensive!
If its OK I might have more questions for you if we decide to make the move. Thanks again! Anne