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How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life Paperback – September 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

• The first practical, accessible, and sensible guide to living in North America without owning a car. • Exposes the true costs of car ownership and shows how getting rid of your car can simplify your life and put you on the road to financial freedom. • Packed with realistic, economical alternatives to owning a car, including chapters on carsharing, carpooling, and even car-free dating. • Includes more than 100 real-world tips, strategies, and success stories from people who are happily car-free or "car-lite," from cities to suburbs. • According to a 2004 American Automobile Association study, the average American spends $8,410 per year (roughly $700 per month) to own a vehicle.

About the Author

Chris Balish is an award-winning feature writer, reporter, and broadcast journalist. He began his writing career working for Writer’s Digest magazine and Writer’s Digest Books. Since 1995 he has been a full-time reporter and television news anchor. Chris is the recipient of nearly thirty awards for excellence in journalism and writing, including six regional Emmy Awards. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. But most important, Chris is passionate about how going car-free improved his life and how it can improve the lives of others. He commutes by bicycle year-round and travels all over on foot, on mass transit, and by carpooling with friends, girlfriends, and coworkers. Chris is single and has a vibrant car-free dating and social life.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (August 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580087574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580087575
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By D. M. Kerwin on October 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
A fine little book, but not for anyone who has already decided to take the step to become carless or car-lite. This book is 10% manual, made up mostly of common sense ideas (never a bad thing), and 90% arguments and statistics meant to convince you to go car free. If you're on the fence about giving up your ride, this is a great read. If you're looking for a book about the experience of being car free or a good instruction manual on doing so, maybe not the way to go. An interesting little read, though.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 3, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First off, I am NOT car-free. I'll admit that up front. But I would LIKE to be and this book has convinced me that I'd save a TON of money if I were able to reduce or eliminate my dependence on our car.

The author saved about 40K or more in 4 years of living without a car. To say he did not EVER USE a car, however, would not be totally true. He bumped up against reality sometime and had to rent a car on occasion...but mostly he made do by bicycling, walking or using public transportation or taxis.

"Wait", you might say, "Take a taxi? Aren't they expensive?" Not as part of an overall plan that allows one to stop paying for auto insurance, car maintenance, buying a car, etc.

The author makes a convincing argument and I have cut down on my use of our auto as a result, walking as much as possible. I'd do away with it forever if we had reliable public transportation and if our kids weren't involved in activities that were out of the public transportation loop, sometimes out of the city.

But I still have hope of living "car free" and I am aiming for a life where using our car isn't necessary, in a town with good public transportation and mild winters...someday. In the meantime, this book has given me a road map (pun intended) for a simpler, less auto-dependent lifestyle.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Candice M. Kelsey on August 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Before reading this book, I scoffed at the idea of surviving without an automobile. A victim of our "car-as-necessity" culture, I was curious to see HOW someone could actually do it. Balish not only shows you how to do it, but how to DO IT WELL! If you are fed up with shelling out over $800 per month... nagging neck and back pain... being stuck in traffic staring at billboards... BUY THIS BOOK NOW! I'm seriously considering trading in my SUV for a car-free, stress-free life.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on May 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
What I liked best about this book is that rather than relying on idealistic enviro-speak, it focused primarily on the fiscal benefits of not owning a car. Balish articulately argues that if you can do the home-to-work commute without a car, spending money on car ownership is throwing money into a sewer. I especially liked Ch. 6, which describes Balish's own non-idealistic journey from SUV driver to nondriver.

And as Balish points out, time in a car is wasted time compare to time bicycling, walking or using public transit. The first two modes give you an opportunity to exercise, and the last gives you an opportunity for productive reading (unless, of course, you live in a place where transit is TOO good, in which case you will not have a seat to yourself and thus will have less opportunity to read).

Also, Balish does not limit himself to walking and public transit, but instead discusses less obvious (to me) alternatives such as carsharing, bicycling, carpooling and motorcycles. He even cites websites devoted to these modes, to assist those of us who don't know much about these options.

Having said that, this book is not for everyone. Balish himself points out that "Families with children might find it difficult" to live car-free as well as "People who live in rural areas." Even these groups can get something out of the book: for example, Balish discusses how a two-car family might be able to function as a one-car family.

And I do wish Balish had addressed a few more objections in more detail, such as:

*In some cities, it may be hard to avoid driving without either (1) living in (or at least passing through) high-crime areas or (2) spending a premium on housing in order to live in a coveted intown neighborhood.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By FN on November 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Anyone who's looking for a way to save money fast should read How to Live Well Without Owning A Car. But that's not all. Chris Balish breaks down and challenges the assumptions about car ownership, then offers step-by-step suggestions for getting out of the car-ownership trap -- including suggestions for dealing with the mindset (of ourselves and others) that it's somehow abnormal to not want a car. The book examines the seductive advertising claims of automakers and juxtaposes those claims against real-world car-ownership needs. Chris shows us how getting rid of one's car doesn't mean "giving up," it means getting free.

Besides, the book is just an enjoyable read. It's filled with testimonials from people all over the place who have reduced their car dependence and the subsequent rewards they've realized by doing so. Comedic and pointed illustrations and quotes kept me turning pages of a book that takes a serious yet lighthearted look at car ownership and alternatives to it. If you're thinking of buying a car, first read this book, then decide.
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