As I write this post, I’ve been in my new apartment for just shy of two months. I made the move for a number of reasons, one of which being that I was simply getting tired of a daily commute in lock step with thousands of others every morning and every evening back and forth to and from downtown Portland and the ‘burbs where my old place was. I now walk to work and home every day. Much more relaxing. Much more fun as I often walk home past lines of commuters in cars waiting in traffic light gridlock and I’m past all of them and in my front door before any of them even makes it three blocks.
I also made what some folks I know consider the drastic and surprising step of getting rid of my car. Yup, for the first time since, well, ever in my adult life anyway, I do not own a car. I sold my trusty ol’ Jetta wagon as I finished up the move just before Thanksgiving. “But isn’t that awfully inconvenient?” I’ve been asked. “Awfully” inconvenient? Nah. Requiring a slightly greater level of planning? Sure. Most places I need to get to on a daily basis are a reasonable walk or a short bus or streetcar ride away. The weekly grocery run – walk or bus with a foldable cart to carry my stuff home. Doctor’s appointments – Max to bus 70 or the N-S streetcar to NW Portland. Shopping, in most cases, Max / bus / streetcar. So I have to plan to get to a transit stop in time to catch a bus or a train. Meh, big deal. Having an unlimited Tri-Met pass that I buy through work is a good thing.
For the trips where transit is a little impractical? I’m a ZipCar member. So when I want to head out to pick up something large or bulky or from someplace far off a bus line, I have my pick of a bunch of different cars to use – all with gas included.
For a day out of the city to go see the sights? Well, that’s why I still have two motorcycles down in the garage.
When I made this move, I made the conscious decision to commit to the idea of in-city life without my own automobile. So far, a couple of months in at least, I’m happy with the decision. Walking is relaxing and very good for you and I can certainly benefit from the routine daily exercise. Tri-Met, our local transit provider, goes almost everywhere I need to be – although, I have discovered some of what one might call “transit deserts” around town where it’s clear that walking, biking and any other mode of transport besides a motorized one was never considered by the town fathers of that area. We have some ‘burbs around Portland that are, if not impossible to get around without a car, certainly highly inconvenient to do so.
This is all pretty new for me still. I first moved to Portland 22 years ago from the east coast, but I’ve never done the “living right int he middle of downtown” thing before. My overall stress level is certainly less not having to deal with the daily grind of traffic, parking, and living for a good hour plus every day in the driver’s seat. The only thing I’m really still having an adjustment period with is the general level of street noise outside – especially from whoever the guy is that runs his super high powered and expensive sports car at full throttle from stoplight to stoplight every morning at about 2:15am or so – but I’m getting used to it, and my building is really quiet anyway, so it’s all good. An unexpected benefit I hadn’t thought about before the move is that I often come home for lunch nowadays. That’s really nice.
Of course, I’m sure I’ll experience the downside to living SO close to the office eventually. But, quick IN to work is also quick HOME.