Apr 182013

And no, this has nothing to do with national events.  I’m letting that subject go and moving on to other things now.

Chase pointed this out to me yesterday morning and I had seen it while perusing the interweb news sites.  The AAA has published it’s annual report on the cost of driving a vehicle to work.  Assuming you are too lazy to click the link, let me summarize a bit:

$9100 a year to drive 4000 lbs of steel, plastic, and rich corinthian leather to get you to your worker bee hive and back.  That’s everything, fuel, insurance, maintenance, loan payments, fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror, $9100.  $11600 if you drive an urban assault vehicle.

So, if you are part of the 1% and make around $10 an hour in your worker bee hive, take out for taxes, and clear around $16500 or so, that means that over 50% of your net income goes to pay for your ability to go someplace and get said income.  More if you drive a big SUV.  (Quick side note:  While walking across the parking lot at Key Plaza yesterday I saw some overcompensating idiot driving a huge solid black Hummer with temp tags on it.  He actually stopped and sloooooooowly eased that big monster over a gigantic 3 inch high speed bump.  You would have thought he was going to flip that ugly bastard over the way he creeped over that huge obstacle.  A jeep would have hit it full speed and never slowed down.  Big sissy.)  Anyways, 1/2 of your income goes to pay for your commute to work and back, if you do indeed commute to work and back in a vehicle and make $10 an hour.  (That’s the average working wage in the Key’s and surely, nobody makes more than that, do they?)  So I am sitting here looking at my puny monthly budget, wondering what kind of percentage I am paying out in transport costs.  Try 1.25%.  And that may go up a bit if I have to replace either my rear tire or get a new bike by summer time.  But right now, 1.25% or less than $54 dollars.  A 1/2 a tank a gas for most vehicles.  That is what I have spent on transportation costs so far this year.

Yes, I know.  I live on an island.  It’s only 4 miles end to end.  I work at home.  But still, $54 to go to the store, meet with the occasional client, catch a sunset, ride to the end of the world, sit on the seawall and wonder what the hell I did with my wasted, sordid, life.  You can’t beat it.  Transportation is not even a concern for me anymore.  I barely notice the price of gas.  Scratches and dents are of no concern.  Haven’t had to make an insurance or car loan payment in years.  A flat tire or repair takes minutes, and I don’t have to schedule an appointment with some over priced repair shop.  A $10 lock keeps people honest and even if  the bike was stolen, it’s a minor distraction.  With a dozen or so bike shops on the island, I’m pretty sure I can find another one.

$9100 is a lot of money to us great unwashed masses.  Just to piss away on being able to get from one place to another.  On my current minimalist budget, $9100 pays the bills for 6 months.  Rent for a year, food for two years.  I could do a lot on the Fritter for $9100.  Or find a new Fritter.  But right now it’s not money I don’t have, just money I’m not spending.  Still trying to work out that whole income thingy.  Nevertheless, it’s way more better to be pedaling right now than burning fossil fuels and adding to the traffic.

Can’t ride a bike?   The bus system here in Key West is great.  Go anywhere on the island for $2.  BobbyB told me the other day that on occasion he and his wife will jump on the bus and take a ride around the island, just for fun.  Hey, you are in the ac, first class view, no driving to worry about, interesting and colorful riding companions.  Entertainment on the cheap.  The city continues to add to the bicycle infrastructure.  North Roosevelt, if and when it is finished will be a very nice and wide bike path.  There is no real reason to own a vehicle down here.

So, if you happen to have read my incredibly wonderful, well thought out, book about Moving To The Florida Keys, (available on the iBookstore or right over there on the right as a PDF file), and you are thinking about moving to the Keys, or anywhere else other than the pit of hell you are residing in now,  take these figures I mentioned above into account.  Is the place you are planning to move to bike friendly?  What about the bus system?  Can you get by without a vehicle?  Can you get by with a less expensive vehicle?  Knowing that you could reduce your transportation costs from $9100 to a couple hundred dollars or less over a year can make a big difference in where and how you want to live.  When you can reduce your transportation costs down to virtually nothing, getting around becomes a secondary issue.  No more worries about where to park, how the traffic is, or filling up the tank yet again.  It frees you up to constipate on more important things like food, a roof over your head, (or a hull floating under your feet), and living a lifestyle that’s less confining.  You can still travel, just let somebody else do the driving.

Capt. Fritter

I did a pie chart to see what percentage of my money was going where.  42% to rent, 28% to consumables, and that’s as far as I got.  I saw pie, remembered that it has been almost two whole weeks since I had any Key Lime Pie, so I hopped on the bike, pedaled to the Publix, got a 1/2 a pie, a bag of shrimp on sale, some corn on the cob, and fixin’ to have me a classic Key West dinner.  If I was drivin’ the jeep it would be stone soup and watery gruel.   See how well you can live without the burden of a vehicle?

  2 Responses to “I Keep Getting Amazed By This…”

  1. I am tempted to just stay in KW when we come down in 2 weeks. Tell Honda and Jeep to shove it, we are giving our cars back! I have two bikes in my basement that’ll work just fine.
    Since that’s not a reality, we will plan for when it can be…in about 2 years. Just need to find some sucker to buy our house…..

  2. I’m definitely looking forward to the day when it is not a necessity for me to own a car. What a waste of money!