I was living in southern Arizona near the U.S.-Mexico border, too far from civilization to even consider living without a vehicle. But as violence from drug trafficking and the subsequent overrun of human rights as perpetrated by Homeland Security pushed me to move someplace safer, I also thought about moving someplace where I could live with little to no dependence on my car. (It’s a van, actually; a big gas-gorging cargo van I named Duke and outfitted to camp in.)
Living car-free or car-lite was a dream, but nothing I seriously considered until I became more involved in the minimalist movement. Blogs such as RowdyKittens and Zen Habits got me excited again about minimizing my impact and I thought about where I could move that would fit my lifestyle. I make my living as a freelance editor, so I can live anywhere in the world I want.
Places on my list included Portland, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Denver, Las Vegas, and Flagstaff. I thought about living location-free and simply living out of my backpack for a while, but current family obligations are keeping me grounded for a while. (My first grandchild is on her way!) I narrowed my list to Portland and Albuquerque and my love of the sun brought me to Albuquerque, 500 miles from where I lived in Arizona.
The next step was to choose a place in the city that made logistical sense for getting around primarily by walking, biking, or busing. I had almost given up and was ready to look at another city when I found a house for rent on Craigslist that was in a quiet neighborhood, was two blocks from the library and a large park, was near the bus line and the bike path, yet was close to necessary shopping. Perfect! I saw the house that afternoon and signed a lease the next morning.
I’ve been here a month, now, and know I made the right choice. I only drive the van about twice a week and even those trips are very short. As I get settled in and plan my necessary driving trips even better, that will go down to only once per week. (There’s a jam session I go to that is too far to bike with a big, clunky guitar and the bus doesn’t run that way on Sundays.) I love being car-lite and the sense of freedom I feel is exhilarating. Going from car-heavy to car-lite is the first step on my way to being completely car-free.