Over the weekend, Kim and I began our hunt for a new home. We spent several hours combing local listings on Zillow and Redfin. We flagged the homes that looked interesting to us. Because I’m a total nerd, I compiled a spreadsheet of our absolute faves, listing important stats like price, home size, lot size, and — perhaps most important of all — walk score.
In the olden days, I picked my homes based on emotion. When my ex-wife and I bought our old farmhouse in 2004, that decision was rushed and irrational. I liked the idea of the place. I liked the large yard (two-thirds of an acre close in to Portland), the hundred-year-old house, and the cute hobbit-hole window in the living room. I didn’t consider the massive amount of lawnmowing and yardwork. And I didn’t pay attention to the fact that I’d have to drive almost anywhere I wanted to go.
A Driver’s Life
When Kris and I moved into that drafty old house, we did a lot of driving. At the time, I was still working for the family box factory. Every morning, I spent half an hour driving twenty miles to work. Every evening, I did the reverse commute. We drove to buy groceries. We drove to visit friends. We drove to go out to dinner. I did go for walks through the neighborhood, but those were leisurely strolls without any particular purpose.
After I chose to become a money boss, I paid closer attention to my transportation costs. I looked for ways to drive less and walk more. At the time, I found that 90% of my driving was to the following locations:
- The gym, which was 8.5 miles (20 minutes) from home. It took 40 minutes to get there via a 2.5-mile pedestrian trail (which required illegally crossing a railroad bridge). I could bike the 8.5-mile route in 40 minutes.
- The nearest town, which was three miles (ten minutes of driving) from the house. It took 48 minutes to make the walk and 18 minutes to bike.
- The grocery store, which was one mile (five minutes driving) from home. Walking took me 15 minutes; biking took me six.
- Downtown Portland, which was ten miles (20 minutes) from home. Walking took three hours (I timed it once!), but biking took just 45 minutes.
Based on these times and distances, I changed my habits. I still drove to Portland most of the time, and I often drove to the nearby town. But since it took no longer than driving, I started biking to the grocery store. And when I had time — which was almost always — I walked to the gym instead of biking or driving. (Every time I crossed that railroad bridge, I thought of Stand By Me!) [Read more…]