Forget Walkscore. Determine What is Walkable for You.

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I have never owned a car and can’t imagine that I ever will.  It began as a way to save money, but despite the fact that people told me I couldn’t have kids if I didn’t have a car or that our lives would be miserable, we’ve done very well without one.

My current home has been assessed by Walkscore as having a score of 43 which falls into the “car dependent” category and apparently “most errands require a car.”  By whose standard?  How far is too far to walk somewhere? I have lived here quite happily for almost thirteen years without a car.  I can walk to the library, a store to buy milk, even my doctor’s office if I’m not too ill.  I did wish that we lived closer to a grocery store, but that was the only thing I longed for and it was easy to get to one by bicycle or public transit.

My new address has a walkscore of 56 which is deemed “somewhat walkable” and “some errands can be accomplished on foot.” I can’t imagine what can’t be done on foot since everything in this well-serviced city is within a half-hour walk from my house.  There are three grocery stores, a library, two pharmacies, a hospital, two walk-in clinics, two of my favourite clothing stores, a movie theatre, a live theatre, a beautiful waterfront, a quaint downtown area, cute little museums, city hall, parks, trails, a recreation centre, banks, a post office, a veterinarian. I have so many friends who live close by. It does not have a lot of great restaurants, but that’s okay…especially when I am living a simpler life.

How on earth is that not fully walkable?

I’m sure that for many people Walkscore is handy.  But it is ridiculous to allow some website to determine what is walkable for individuals.  This was how they determined walkability: “Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30 minute walk.” So, a healthy thirty-minute walk is not considered walkable.  What bullshit for most reasonably healthy people.  Most people should walk more, not less.

1 King Street West in Toronto has been given a Walkscore of 100.  And yet, I would absolutely hate to live there.  It’s expensive, noisy, and ugly.

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My House is Sold!!!

And I made enough to buy my beautiful new house outright with $100k in cash to spare.  I will be mortgage free!  That’s going to be fantastic.

Remarkably, it sold in a day and a half and without a home inspection.  It’s a good house, so I don’t worry about there being unexpected surprises for the new owners, but I would never want to buy a house without a home inspection.

I close on my current house on Februrary 26, and the new one on February 28, so I’ve got time to pack and organize as I go.  I’m glad for that.

I have loved living here and raised my children here.  It was a good life.  But it’s time to start a new chapter.  I am ready.

 

Selling My House

Preparing my house for sale is NOT a simple endeavour.

I’ve got three separate people doing repairs and small renovations to get it ready for sale and I’m hoping it can hit the market by December 2.

I was thinking of contracting out the cleaning, but with a couple of weeks to go, I can get it done myself.  Cleaning out the oven is a pain in the arse for sure.  I sprayed and cleaned it out today and I’ll have to do that again some other time this week.

However, I am much excited about the new place, so that helps me deal with the drudgery.  I really, really hate cleaning.

 

 

 

Hooray! I Bought a Beautiful House

It was a very successful week.  R’s job is going well, and after viewing five properties, I had an offer accepted on the one I knew I’d want.

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I have a long closing date since I have surgery in January and still have to sell my house here.  But by March, I should be living here.

I had brainstormed what I need in life to make me happy.  This house fits much of what is on the list.

What I require to live comfortably/happily:

1.  Trees  Preferably on my property, but certainly nearby and lots of them.  Yes!  It’s almost too shaded.  I’d wanted to have a vegetable garden, but it wasn’t a necessity for my happiness.  Trees are.  It’s also really private and on a tree-lined street where houses are a decent distance apart.

2.  A cozy chair with a nice view.  It has that. I will bring my cozy chair with me.  I love the bay window in the living room.  I imagine that’s where I’ll spend a lot of time daydreaming with cups of tea.  

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3.  Four seasons. Definitely.  But more winter than I’m used to.  We’ll see how I deal with that.

4.  A comfortable bed, electric blanket and duvet. This one has always been easy to accomplish.

5.  I want to live near water…preferably an ocean, but Lake Ontario is okay.  It’s a ten-minute walk to the harbour.  I am so excited about that.  And ocean.  Ocean!!!

6.  A good bicycle. Two good bicycles.  Because this is near the trailer where I spend my summers and I already have a bike there, I now have two!

7.  A library. According to google maps, the new library is an eight-minute walk away.

8.  Pleasant places to walk and cycle. It is right in the heritage district of the city I am moving to. Lots of cute little museums and heritage houses. The harbourfront is lovely to walk along.  Plus, there is a cute coffee shop in the quaint downtown area which abuts the waterfront. Also, there is a rail trail not far away.

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9.  Internet The little city is well-serviced with internet.

10.  Warm, dry, and well-fed, with something to preoccupy my mind and people I love nearby. All of these things can happen here. My son, who is nineteen, has decided not to move with me which I understand even if I wish he were.  I get it.  It’s not exactly a happening place for young people.  I’ve told him that he will always have a place to live with me should he need it.

Also, this property has an adequate space for my puppies to play.  The city has a hospital and two walk-in clinics. It has a garage for storing my bikes and garbage bins and gardening implements.  I love the little lamp post in front of it.

 Perhaps the best thing about it is that I felt really good living according to my values while purchasing it.  It is important to me to be as fair as possible.  The increase in property values here means that I could buy this place with the equity of my current home.  It is currently owned by an older Acadian woman and there was no way I wanted to be the arsehole from Ontario swooping in and low balling an offer even though it has technically been on the market for over a year.  So, I offered 95% of her asking price.  R thought I was offering too high, but really, it was such a good deal…especially after viewing all the scary properties I would never entertain buying.  She came back with an offer mid-way between the list price and my offer and I accepted.  So, the entire transaction has been fair and mutually beneficial.  That is very important to me.

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Chapter of My Life

Tomorrow I am flying to a different province to see my partner of ten years. He is currently working and living where we hope to live permanently.

I’m so excited to see him, and I’m also really excited that I will be checking out houses to buy.  One, in particular, intrigues me.  R has already viewed it and made a video which prompted me to contact my real estate agent about selling my house here and caused me to move up my planned trip to see him by a couple of weeks. So, by Thursday or Friday of this week, I may have put in an offer on a house.

Really, the whole home buying and selling experience is hardly an exercise in simplicity.  But it is the necessary means to the end of being mortgage-free and living in a walkable city in a province I love. It has been part of my plan since I took early retirement from a career that was causing me ill-health.  I need to keep my monthly expenses low in order to live on my savings.  Discharging the mortgage will certainly help with that.

In the meanwhile, I have to get my house ready for sale.  There are a lot of little things that need to be done and some bigger ones.  But if all goes well, I should be able to sell my house here, pay for fees and closing and moving costs, and pocket around $20k.   Then, I am hoping that living a frugal and simple life on about $15k/year will allow me to stay retired.  My health and happiness depend on it.

There are a lot of people who are more frugal and greater adherents to the simplicity movement than I am.  So, perhaps I should define what frugality and simple living mean to me.

First of all, I need to live a life that reflects my values as much as possible. So, I will often eschew businesses and products that run contrary to my beliefs.  For example, I would not hire someone to work on my house if I found their views about the rights of other human beings repugnant, regardless of how cheaply they might complete the job.  Also, I did tell the people who are working on my house that I want to pay a decent wage and not rock bottom.  I believe that working people deserve to be fairly remunerated for their work.

As far as frugality goes, I aim to be careful with my money, but am willing to spend on things and experiences that will be meaningful to me. I do participate in rewards programs such as airmiles and Shoppers Optimum, but won’t chase miles and points.  I rarely use coupons because many times they exist only for products I wouldn’t use.  I do shop loss leaders and use the flyers and will go to two or three grocery stores in a given week if necessary to get the best deals.  I can do this easily since I am no longer working and work the grocery trips into my daily exercise.  I try to utilize the second-hand market as much as possible.  I will need new living room furniture and maybe new dining room furniture when I move and I plan to source that from kijiji if possible. Currently, there is a seemingly acceptable living room set available for $300.

What others might view as extravagant are my ancient travel trailer and campground lot and the fact that I have four pets: two cats and two dogs.  However, all of these things have been important to my happiness, so they are worth it to me.  They may not be worth it to everyone, but they are worth it to me.

I do mostly agree with this definition of voluntary simplicity as explained by the Simplicity Collective.

My goal with this blog is to present what I think is a healthy, happy way to live in Canada for me, and perhaps to inspire some others, but I am not aiming to prescribe to others how they must live.  I have a perhaps naive idea that most people are good people and if they consciously lived according to the values of the world they want to inhabit, the world would be a better place.  There will always be assholes, but I think the genuinely overall good people outnumber them.

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