Saturday, December 3, 2011

Commuting, Work, Dreams

I don't know about blogger etiquette, but they solicited everyone to link to their blog anyway, so I have their consent.
This post is so dead-on, and covers just about every tiny facet of fiscal reasons why living close to work is important. Any how you should buy a car, which car, why, etc.

The True Cost of Commuting

When I was 20 (some time in the last century in a land far, far away), my car broke down and I had to hoof it to work. That was crazy long and hard. So I bought a 10-speed for 10$ at a garage sale. Even biking took its toll on me (I was no athlete back then [how ironic that this older version of me can run circles around my younger self]). The lesson was learned: Always find work close to home so you have the option to walk, run, and/or bike to work - or take public transportation.

I also refuse to buy cars with a loan. If the money isn't in the bank, I can't afford it. People say that's crazy! It sure has saved me several thousand dollars in interest over the past few decades. Also, many insurance companies charge you higher rates if you have a lien on your car. If you get a loan on a car, it should be to boost your credit rating. You don't need to take the full term to pay it off. You can pay it off a couple months afterwards and your credit rating will soar.
But if I want a higher credit rating, I'll do it with a lower-interest loan, and do the same thing - pay it off after a couple of months. Auto loans charge the highest interest rates of any loan you can get.

I currently work 5.4 miles from work, if I drive the back-roads, which are safer and more predictable.
If I take the highway, good luck with the traffic-jams, but it's only 5.3 miles. It's more reliable going home, and some days I can get home in only 5 minutes.
But if I ride my bike, that's dangerous as hell. The area between home and work is a cluster-phuk of interstate highways, one-way streets, railroad tracks, Lightrail tracks, and clogged streets. So to ride my bike the safest way, I have to go the wrong way in many places to avoid the most dangerous sections. This takes me through Washington Park, then along the Cherry Creek paths. The air quality is horrible, especially in winter, so someone with asthma like myself is not actually getting healthier by biking to work.
Light-rail requires that I walk/jog 3.9 miles round-trip, so public transit isn't fast. There's a way to take your bike on Lightrail, but seriously, at the times I go to and from work, the trains are sardine cans. There are times a train stops and the doors open, and its all the passengers can do to keep from spilling out - there's no room for more, much less an entire bike. If I have to wait for a later train, I'm late for work.
We need more trains, but they're spending all their money expanding the tracks to newer routes east and west and diverting jammed-up trains from busy routes to new routes, leaving even fewer trains for the busy routes. Yikes! Suffice it to say that Lightrail hasn't worked out for me.

I know several people who live in Colorado Springs, Boulder, Ft. Collins, yet they work in Denver. They spend all their free time (and money) driving. I won't judge too harshly - many had the perfect formula, work and home close, they start a family, then they lose their job. To keep the house, and to provide for the mortgage, the kids, and everything, they are desperate.

My dream is to work from home. How's that for a commute? I could go home for lunch every day! I want a two-car garage-sized shop that I can work in, and an income from my shop, and income from my technical skills, some through the Internet and some from making house calls to fix computers or set up Internet/networking stuff. All I would need is an Internet connection, UPS/FedEx, and a workshop.
At that point, I'd be extremely mobile and could live just about anywhere. My dream is to move to Salida, Colorado, or somewhere like that, with a lot of land to play on.

It snowed Thursday, and I had a beautiful run in Elk Meadow. Now Saturday, it's snowing again. I love fluffy new snow! I like walking through it and the unique "smunching" sound it makes.

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