Getting Around the Frugal Way-How to go Car-Free and What to do if you Can’t

The most frugal form of transportation is walking of course, followed by the bicycle. In the developed world the third place is taken by public transportation though in the less industrialized places animal based transportation would tie with public transportation for third place. Scooters and motorcycles are the most frugal of the motorized ways to get around. The private car is the least frugal choice by far, even the newer hybrids. When the electric car becomes common it will be better than any combustion engine, but not as good as walking, cycling, and public transportation.

A Reliable Used Car

But in the world as it is today it is not necessarily practical to walk, and many communities have virtually no public transportation options. Where I live, for instance, the nearest bus is three miles away down a road that is too dangerous to bike or walk. For short trips to town it would be possible to take a motorized scooter, but that being said, without a car I would be housebound. And I am hardly alone in that regard. If we could all work at home it would be less of an issue, but for people that are forcibly frugal that is a luxury that is out of reach. We work wear we are needed, and we have to get there somehow.

If your life has been disrupted and you are planning on moving anyhow, why not move to someplace with a high walkability index? This index is a measure of how many basic functions can be fulfilled within walking distance. Can you buy all of your food? See a movie? Go to a Laundromat? Find work? The more the answer to these questions is yes the higher the walkability index. Most places with a higher index number are big cities, but not all. There are still small towns in this country where it is possible to do all of these things.

If the index is a little lower it may still be possible to remain car-free by getting a bicycle. Some places are a little spread out but have good bike paths. Or if that fails, there may be a world class public transportation system. In big cities all of these options may be open. In smaller towns there may be a decent enough public system. The best thing is too do an online search for public transportation and the name of your region, city, or county if you are unsure. This is a good idea if you are unable to relocate to a place that is easier to get around. Don’t assume you are stuck with the car until you know for sure.

But what if you are stuck in an under-served rural area, or one of the sprawling suburbs? The only choice then is to get something with an engine, which also means maintenance, registration, maybe a smog, and insurance. If you are brave, have great driving skills, and no family to haul around, consider a scooter or motorcycle. Otherwise it has to be a car. Gas mileage should be foremost in your mind as you search for a frugal car.

When I was looking for a car it became quite clear that around $4000.00 was the cut-off for getting something that would run reliably and be safe for a non-mechanic. If you are a mechanic or have one close enough to you both in relationship and distance to do any good, you could go lower, maybe even a lot lower. If you search for a $500.00 car you could end up with something scary. And if your used car is your only means of transportation it is a good idea to get comprehensive insurance even if it is a larger monthly expense. It was probably hard enough to get the money together—you don’t want to lose it.

Here are some links to help get you on your way:

http://www.kbb.com/used-cars Make sure to check before you buy

http://www.kbb.com/othervehicles#zipo=c5a679ba0875f561a6739c04db2194a1 For Motorcycles

http://www.motorscootershopper.com/motor-scooter.asp Scooters!

http://www.walkscore.com/ Walkability Index for any address

http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites The main site for craigslist, the starting point for used cars and bikes. Pick your city and click it.

http://www.amazon.com/Richards-21st-Century-Bicycle-Book/dp/1585671126/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289704557&sr=1-7 Information on bikes

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Idiots-Guide-Cycling/dp/0028629299/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289704557&sr=1-3 And the Idiot’s Guide

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