When my daughter is ready for new library books, we walk over and bring them home. She’s young, so she either holds my hand the whole way or rides in a wagon while I pull her through the fresh air, laughing all the way (ha ha ha).
When I suddenly realize I need heavy whipping cream for a butter chicken recipe, it’s no big deal. I trot over to the grocery store and buy it. I appreciate the opportunity for extra steps.
If there’s a prescription to pick up… you guessed it: I walk over and pick it up.
For free entertainment with the little one, we walk or bike to a nearby park or school playground.
And when there’s clutter that needs to immediately leave the premises, I pack it in my backpack, or strap it to my bike, or toss it in my bike trailer, and pedal it over to the nearby thrift store. I arrive at the donation drop zone where other families—in a lineup of giant SUVs—are also unloading their clutter. Oh, and while I’m there I might go around to the front of the store and find some nice two-dollar shirts to replace the worn out ones in my closet.
I love living this way and I think you would too. Let me tell you why.
What is a Local Lifestyle?
A local lifestyle is an underrated way to live. It’s a utopia where everything you need on a daily basis is within walking or biking distance from your home.
It means that you and your family conduct business, run errands, and find adventure within a short radius. Let’s say, three miles or less. And your work might a bit farther out, like five miles. But it’s still within a reasonable biking distance.
A local lifestyle means you live within walking or biking distance to often used places like:
- Grocery stores
- Movie theaters
- Thrift stores
- Your job
- Friends and family
This is an excellent arrangement. It brings efficiency, exercise, and joy to your everyday activities. And none of it requires a vehicle.
Less Vehicles, Less Problems
When you don’t need a vehicle to live a high-quality life, two tons of weight vanish from your shoulders. You can now bike, skip, and prance your way to useful and nearby destinations. You get stronger, happier, and healthier every step of the way.
Even if your family still owns one vehicle, its purpose is for infrequent out-of-town trips. Or for hauling what is otherwise unhaulable. Everything else ignores the car and the endless problems that go along with it.
Eliminate the Negatives
A local lifestyle can help obsolete a long list of negatives that people struggle with on a daily basis:
- Wasting time in traffic
- Car maintenance
- Flat tires
- Parking tickets
- Fender benders
- Horrific flaming multiple-vehicle crashes
- Pathetic step counts
- Vitamin d deficiency
- Car alarms
- Car insurance
- Parking tickets
- Fuel costs
- Comically-large car keys and key chains
- Bad mood
- Gym memberships
- Destroying the planet
- Road rage
Wow! After a list like that, it seems a local lifestyle should be the holy grail for the majority of the population.
Location, location, location they say. And we do have Walk Score. Some people glance at that. But at best it’s a footnote on the nice-to-have list when people choose where to live. Otherwise, a local lifestyle is barely a consideration. Why is this?
Housing in the United States generally isn’t built with a local lifestyle in mind. Most of us don’t have it because we don’t demand it or even look for it. We don’t realize it’s possible to achieve such a lifestyle outside the urban cores of our major cities. Instead, we accept sprawl, wider highways, and the oppressive dominance of car culture into our daily lives.
We trade away the freedom of being able to use our legs to walk our kids to school. We trade the convenience of using our legs to go outside, to go places, and get things done.
We pass up these wholesome, natural conveniences for more sinister conveniences. We want more square footage. We want high-end finishes. We want every member of our household to have their very own vehicle so they can drive three miles to the grocery store.
We think we need our space, our yards, and our driveways to be happy. And, of course, our barking dogs. Thank God for those dogs, because if we didn’t have to walk the poor things around the block every once in a while, many of us wouldn’t walk outside at all!
Forget all that, though, because a local lifestyle is a high-quality, happy life. It’s almost guaranteed. But to get there takes intention and commitment. It’s not easy to find the right location to position yourself. Especially when communities aren’t designed for local lifestyles.
But it’s worth every effort to seek out a local lifestyle and make it your reality. The rewards compound day after day, saving you time, money, and health.
You save time because don’t spend your free time in traffic. You don’t motor across town to go to work, or a more expensive grocery store, or a hot new restaurant, or a distant school.
You learn to use and appreciate what’s around you. With your extra time you improve your neighborhood and volunteer. You become a present and positive force within your radius. You get out there and visible, not hidden away in your house and your car.
You save money because local activities tend to be inexpensive activities. You avoid costly fuel, wear and tear on vehicles, and other transportation costs.
And it’s an active lifestyle. So you can forgo a costly gym membership. You do plenty of walking and biking simply by living your day-to-day life. You can do the rest with simple weights in your garage. This all adds up to more cost savings, more time savings, and more quality of life.
You save health without even trying, because exercise isn’t something you cram into the end of your busy day if there’s time. It is your day.
Freedom is not a driver’s license. Nor is it a mid-size military tank that many call their family vehicle. Freedom is living close to what you need, getting there using the power of your own two legs, and leaving your car behind. It might not be easy to achieve a local lifestyle. But it’s worth the effort because the rewards are massive.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my Chipotle order is almost ready. I need to walk over and pick it up.