Prospering in an Anti-Mustachian City

I’ve just spent the past week in one of the Earth’s ultimate hotbeds of shiny and beautiful, yet occasionally stupid and irrational, prosperity: Phoenix, Arizona.

Now, I’m no stranger to riches – I grew up moderately-rich Canada, before moving to the ultimately-rich USA. Since then, I have visited pretty much all of this country’s biggest and richest cities from coast to coast through a mixture of business and pleasure trips.

But spending some more time in Phoenix for the first time since becoming Mr. Money Mustache provided me with a new opportunity to have my mind exploded. Let’s do a little summary, in case you’ve never been there.

Phoenix is a giant sheet of city that has been stamped down on an infinitely large expanse of flat desert plain, with nice mountains out on the horizon in each direction. If you were playing a video game where you design cities, and you zoomed out to the maximum level and clicked the mouse in one corner and dragged and dragged diagonally and kept dragging until you reached the maximum size limit, you would have designed Phoenix. There are a few small scenic mountains sprinkled throughout middle, just to keep things interesting.

There is an infinite amount of flat space in which to expand, no rules against sprawl, and unusually good access to electricity, water, and mining wealth. When you add in a climate of constant heat and sunshine that keeps plants growing and buildings and concrete looking shiny and unweathered forever, this city is a nice experiment in urban planning under the heading “what if you put all the video games settings on “easy” and see what happens”.

The result is astounding. Although the city was small only a few decades ago, it is ENORMOUS now, stretching about 62 miles (100km) when measured diagonally. Inside, every street contains about 6 grotesquely wide lanes, all packed with $100,000 cars and SUVs driving quickly through well-timed traffic lights at the 45MPH speed limit. On each side of each road is a row of fancy gardens and palm trees, then a thousand-acre parking lot, then a row of gleaming office buildings or high-end retail stores made of glass, copper, and aluminum. At intervals, you will see wide winding streets leading to residential areas off to the side where large stucco luxury homes with tile roofs and impeccable landscaping perch on large lots behind “no parking” signs. Then if you drive far enough, you’ll eventually reach an airport-runway-sized intersection where you are offered on-ramps to the freeway that runs on a hundred-mile-plus journey around the city. Once on the freeway, you’ll find an infinite number of lanes of immaculate black pavement, moderately but not overly packed with $100,000 cars and SUVs traveling at about 75MPH. Each vehicle is always populated by only one person, of course.

If you live in Boston or Toronto, or if you spent your youngest years in a poor small town like I did, it can all sound a bit mouth-watering at first. Phoenix is a driver’s paradise, and I found myself fantasizing about owning an electric Tesla Roadster if I lived there to make the most of the conditions.

But then I slapped myself in the face and realized how stupid it all was. Here I was surrounded by a bunch of tragic, clueless people who actually thought it was a good idea to spend $100k on their cars – even while statistically speaking I knew that the majority of them were compete fakers who couldn’t actually afford the cars (most high-end cars are still bought on credit, by people with less than $1M net worth). These people were all driving around, despite the fact that there were totally empty wide sidewalks and bike lanes available and the weather was beautiful. And they were spending hours going from one store to another to take care of their basic needs as well as to buy plenty of useless yet expensive crap. And it was happening every day, multiplied across an area of over one thousand square miles.

Even I found myself driving the family around excessively: in the process of going out to hiking spots and other attractions and meeting up with people, we cranked out about 250 miles on the car, all while ending up at the same hotel we started at at the beginning of the week. Doing the math, this put us up at almost the national average driving level, and it felt weird – almost all my memories involve whizzing along a highway in one direction or another.

I even drove to a grocery store, if you can believe it – the nearest shop was a Trader Joe’s about 2 miles from the hotel, but with no bike and no knowledge of the area, I actually voluntarily got into a car and endured six-lane intersections and car lineups and a treacherous U-turn. All to travel TWO. MILES. I felt like a complete idiot after that experience.

All of this made me wonder: was this city crushing out all of Mr. Money Mustache’s superpowers? Am I only able to live an efficient life because I live in a city that is only 5×5 miles? How can someone grow rich in this bigger city, when the social norms are all based on overconsumption and extreme amounts of driving? There are no positive role models to live up to, so you’d expect easy credit to rule the day. And rule it does: Phoenix had one of the biggest credit-fueled house price booms in the country in the mid-2000s, and is still reeling from one of the biggest crashes to this day. $50,000 house with palm trees on a golf course, anyone?

But never fear, because there IS an answer. You just have to dare to be different, just as I always suggest.

During the visit, I had the good fortune of meeting up with several groups of Mustachians who responded to my earlier invitation. Different people came to various events* and I got to hear the insider’s perspective on growing a Money Mustache in the desert. One guy had strategically arranged very low housing costs for himself and was saving about 60% of his tech worker salary. Another had sold his car almost a year ago and was happily traveling everywhere by bike. A couple with two young kids had sold both of their expensive cars and bought a single older Honda minivan with hail dents at a massive discount, slicing their car expenses way down – and they are now in the process of renting out their paid-off house and buying a new deeply discounted foreclosure house close to work to eliminate a commute. And still other newer converts were just coming to terms with the idea that they could become debt-free forever, but had not yet put all the steps into action**.

By the end of the week, I was starting to get a handle on living there, and I think the same methods apply in both giant rich cities, and small average cities:

1: Lead a Local Life:
Just because the Phoenix metro area all looks like one city, doesn’t mean you have to treat it like one. For example, we know that my own city is about 5 miles square. Then there’s a 12-mile stretch of mostly open terrain, and the similar-sized city of Boulder starts. A few more miles of cows, then you get into the 2.5 million person Denver metro area. From my house to the very heart of downtown Denver is about 38 miles by road. But I don’t just hop in the car to go there for a sandwich! That’s several worlds away, and if I found myself needing to visit there more than about once a year, I’d seriously consider moving there to reduce the commute. This is to be compared with the 62 mile diagonal width of Phoenix (from Sun City to Apache Junction), 80 mile length of Los Angeles (Northwest corner just before Simi valley, down to Mission Viejo) and 65 mile sprawl of San Francisco/Silicon Valley (San Pablo to Los Paseos). If you’re wondering how I define the edge of a metro area, it is this: the buildings are gone and you see only cows, cacti, or snowy mountains.

Using my local lifestyle rules, even a trip to Boulder is a special occasion that would have to involve seeing people that I really like and hopefully several courses of delicious food. I’m not going to drive to Boulder just to get my nails done or pick up some used beermaking equipment from Craigslist. That shit can wait, and we’ve all got other local things to do on our to-do lists.

This local lifestyle applies to finding friends too. I have dear friends that live outside of biking distance, and great friends that live well within. I spend a lot more time with the local ones, which leads to meeting more local friends, which further builds the non-car lifestyle. I miss you guys, all the girls and fellas living down near Denver.. but living a real life (and the accompanying early retirement that it leads to) is worth making a few choices for. You still love your friends in other states, right? But you don’t fly there after work on Wednesdays for a poker game. It’s the same thing.

Once you open your eyes to what is near you, you realize you don’t have to travel as far as you thought. Opening up Google Maps for the area near my hotel, I see there is a bike-friendly route that would take me 1.7 miles to Trader Joe’s, Costco is 3 miles away, and there is a huge business park to the East with financial, high-tech, medical, and outdoors companies. I could get a job there if I needed one.  There’s also the McDowell Sonoran Preserve just another couple miles East as well as golf courses, restaurants, all the usual high-end car dealerships, a fucking enormous shopping mall, and plenty of people. So even in the most distant and glitzy Scottsdale area at the Northeast corner of Phoenix, a local life would be possible. Better yet, if I was moving there I would choose Tempe, in the area near the university, the waterways, and the nightlife and light rail line. Down there, people actually ride bikes.

2: Convert Envy to Pity:
With transportation addressed, the other factor is what other people think of you. Or more accurately, what you think other people are thiniking about you. Because regardless of reality, it’s the way you feel about yourself that matters.

An Antimustachian would probably envy all the pale-skinned big-sunglasses ladies in their 50s driving the Mercedes AMG C63s ($95,000, 451 horsepower, as common in Scottsdale as Honda Accords in my hometown).  “Wow, look at that beautiful machine – they’ve really hit the big time. I sure feel embarrassed parking my little Scion hatchback next to it”.

But with enriched powers, you now know you are in the right. You can’t afford that car right now, because you are not retired yet. So obviously it is only rational to want the least costly car for your needs, because your goal is financial independence. Any unnecessary spending is not a treat – it’s a curse! It just sucked you away from the pleasure of being free for life!

But even more significantly, you wouldn’t want that car regardless of your wealth. I could line my driveway with those things without going into debt, but holy shit, the very idea of even a quarter of that amount of money going to such an inefficient, uncharitable, environmentally unfriendly cause as a fast car just makes me want to pick up the thing and throw it into a metal recycling facility to reclaim its wasted resources. Money is not purchasing power – money is the freedom to live life and to do good in the world, and regardless of where you live, it must be respected properly.

3: Use the Fake Rich People to Your Advantage
Jobs in wealthy cities pay higher. People in these cities buy ridiculous things at high prices. You could be a Professional Dog Walker or a Poodle Groomer in Phoenix/Scottsdale and make $80,000 per year. I could open up a high-end renovations company there and jack up my own rates to $80 per hour ($160k annualized). Any losses caused by higher costs of living are more than compensated for by the increased income potential for a resourceful and entrepreneurial person.  The key is to fine-tune your skills to meet the market. If you are never planning to work anywhere other than the Wal-mart or Subway, do it Detroit so you can live for free in an abandoned house. But if you’re going to be around big-spenders anyway, you might as well capitalize on it!

So, thanks Phoenix for all the sunshine and the fun, and the education too. I’ll be back!



*One of these people happened to be the guy who runs Global Bikes in Phoenix, and he and his wife even lent me a very sweet mountain bike and took me out on a cactusy roller-coaster of a trail out in the foothills. Thanks Nicole and  Mark!
**(like ditching the Toyota Tundra in favor of something with no loan and good for at least 35MPG, hint, hint ;-)

  • Jeh December 28, 2011, 7:26 am

    What an awesome post. Always something new to learn about being ‘stachian, no matter what your day brings you eh?

    I’m glad you brought this subject up because where you live does have a huge impact on HOW you’re going to go about being ‘stachian. For instance, I live about 8 miles from the nearest gas station, and at least as far from everything else I might need to do (groceries, work, etc.). That presents some interesting challenges when it comes to growing my stache, but I’m enjoying the ride and working hard at being as ‘stachian as possible given my unique circumstance.

  • jlcollinsnh December 28, 2011, 7:45 am

    Nice post here Mr. MM….

    The last time I was in Phoenix was about 25 years ago. I went to visit a girlfriend from college who had just left Ringling Brothers Circus as a show girl and was settling down to teach grade schoolers. Sounds like it was a very different place then.

    We also drove up in her battered little Honda to visit Mariah International, a gold mining company that was busy flushing my 50k investment down the sewer. Maybe I should have bought a Benz….

    Like you, I’ve spent some time around rich folks, or at least the “fake rich people” (great line, BTW) who drive expensive cars. While they are all deeply concerned about what their car says about them, I’ve never once heard any of them say, “Wow, look at that Whiz Bang 9000 Pete’s driving these days. What a superior human being he must be.”

    More than once, however, I did hear them say something like, “Wow, look at that Whiz Bang 9000 Pete’s driving these days. What a loser. The Hoopla 3.6 is the only way to go.”

    Of course, there was the upscale bar in CA that one time. Guy pulled up in a Ferrari. Once inside the pretty young plastic girls were all over him. So if your your goal is pretty young plastic girls….

    • Jonathan October 13, 2016, 1:08 pm

      Living in Philly, and the wife and I were enjoying a nice work sponsored lunch overlooking the posh Rittenhouse Square. When the guy next to us sits down at his table and – thunk – sets down his Ferrari key on the tabletop. I’m sure he was an awesome person and his parents loved him very much, but my wife was like what a D-bag. Good to know she’s not a plastic gal.

  • anonymous December 28, 2011, 7:55 am

    >> So if your your goal is pretty young plastic girls….

    the big question is how to get those pretty young plastic girls on a shoe-string budget. The next question is how to careful manage them so they don’t evolve into this scary species:

    >> the pale-skinned big-sunglasses ladies in their 50s driving the Mercedes AMG C63s ($95,000, 451 horsepower

  • Sergey December 28, 2011, 9:23 am

    Down in Southern California (Orange County, to be exact) I met so many people driving around in expensive cars but… so many of them were broke that they couldn’t even afford to pay me for a computer repair…

  • Jackson December 28, 2011, 10:03 am

    $50,000 house on a golf course in the Phoenix area? I’m interested. What street is it on? I want to look it up on Google Maps.

  • mike crosby December 28, 2011, 10:16 am

    Money is not purchasing power – money is the freedom to live life and to do good in the world, and regardless of where you live, it must be respected properly.

    Thanks Mr Mustache. I live in the urban sprawl that is LA. My specific town is Brea in Orange County. Many people come here to enjoy its fine restaurants and drinking establishments. We often choose to go somewhere else. It’s unreal what I have right in my back yard, I need to make it my priority. I loved your quote too. Thanks you again for your thoughts.

  • Tanner December 28, 2011, 10:23 am

    One of the great things about Metro Phoenix is the communities of Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa and Chandler all rank as top cities for riding your bike ( Although Boulder is #1).


    They generally have great bike lanes, paths, canals and WEATHER to get places very efficiently; which I realized you take for granted when you go to other cities that don’t have these things. Even with 6, 7, even 8 lane super streets, there are plenty of paths that go through back roads and neigborhoods so you don’t feel threatened by the F-350 super dually trying to otherwise run you over.

    Even though there is Urban Sprawl I think there is a small collective trying to change the driving culture in Metro Phoenix area, but it is small. When I ride my bike to work in the morning it is rare to see more than a half dozen people enjoying the beautiful weather and joining me in a bike commute to work or school.

  • couponco December 28, 2011, 10:40 am

    One of the best articles you have written. Instead of making excuses for where you live, how many kids you have etc. I see in this article ideas for making your life more “mustachian” regardless of where you are located or what your circumstances are . Thanks.

    • EarningAndLearning April 28, 2017, 10:23 pm

      Agreed, I loved this article! I laughed out loud when I read “and a fucking enormous mall” :)

      And like the reader above, I too loved this phrase: “Money is not purchasing power – money is the freedom to live life and to do good in the world.” I’m writing that on a sticky note and putting it on my fridge to inspire me! One of the many wonderful things I’ve learned from your blog (reading from the beginning, and this is the last article from 2011, moving onto 2012)!

  • Matt December 28, 2011, 10:50 am

    My brother does heating and air conditioning work and some of the pale skinned folks in big homes (which they struggle to afford) have some of the best lines about paying him. After working all day one guy was surprised that my brother gave him a bill. The guy was under the impression my brother was doing him a favor because they had a mutual acquaintance. Another lady paid a bill and had my brother drive back and give her $0.20 in change he forgot to leave. The irony is only appreciated after working in their 3 million dollar homes for a few hours and being treated like “the help”.

    But in all these criticisms there should be some distinction between the justly rich and those that are faking it. The justly rich have worked hard to improve the lives of people around them through employment and advancements in the market . Most of the time their stories of struggle and success are inspiring. The justly rich give a ton of money to charity (e.g. Bill Gates giving half his money to his foundation, Buffet gave 40 billion and plans on giving the rest when he dies). The unjustly rich are those that received welfare through a trust fund or those that get bail out money (or other nefarious means). The fake rich should be ridiculed and shamed because they are parasites and pretenders. The fake rich create bubbles of fake wealth and make everyone’s life worse.

    • David October 3, 2012, 11:57 am

      I’ve done in-home computer support/repair and found that the fake rich are generally the ones driving big cars and making you drive back for $0.20 change and the justly rich are the ones that will cook you a meal and give you a tip on top of the bill.

      • Bakari October 3, 2012, 4:45 pm

        It may just be that I attract a certain kind of client, but in my experience, rich poor and middle are all just about equally likely to make me a meal while I work, and both rich and poor clients tip pretty regularly.

  • Diane December 28, 2011, 10:55 am

    I’m a recent Mustachian convert and have a loooong way to go. But, I made a huge step by getting my bicycle last month and an even bigger step by actually using it for transportation. This is pathetic, but my house is about .6 of a mile from the cemetary that my grandma is buried. It’s never occurred to me to get there any way other than my car. Monday, I bundled up (it’s cold in MD) and rode my bike to visit my Gma’s grave. Not only did I feel great getting even a tiny bit of exercise, but finally felt that I do have a bit of control over my own financial state. The next challenge is biking to work. It’s “only” about 8 miles, but it’s a straight shot from one end of town to the other and the thoughts of “What would people say?” creep in. There isn’t even bicycle parking here at work, so I know I’d stick out like a sore thumb. My co-worker already laughed, “Hey, can we get you a basket?” I replied, “Yes, please!” Thank you, MMM.

    • Douglas Pepelko December 29, 2011, 7:24 am

      Mocking people because they choose to do something like biking is infuriating. I have been biking to work for about 10 years and I love it. I ride in all kinds of weather and people stopped mocking and started looking in awe as I rode over snow mounds and through 8 degree weather.

      The only thing to do is increase the smugness. You are doing the right thing and others are jealous, so they make fun of you. Next time someone questions your biking challenge them to a ride. It will shut them up.


      • Co December 29, 2011, 9:20 am

        yes, I second that. Although I am almost 60 I rode my bike over 1,000 miles last year. With panniers and a basket I can carry almost everything. Back when I was working I rode my bike in the summer and drove my beat up old Honda in the winter as we get over 200″ of snow here. My coworkers used to sometimes snicker but guess what? They are still working.

    • Andre January 2, 2012, 4:33 am

      Diane, I know what you mean about lack of bicycle parking at your workplace. My employer just finished building a 5-story, $15 million dollar office building w/ an attached 5-story (auto) parking garage. Zero bike racks. Zero showers.

    • EarningAndLearning April 28, 2017, 10:51 pm

      I was so touched by your comment about visiting your Grandma’s grave by bicycle, and also your observation that you do have control over your finances. I could relate very much to what you said about that beginning of a feeling of control over your finances, agreed. And I hope tha feeling of control continues to grow, for both of us! I’m not sure if you’ll even see this post, but I just had to reply. :)

  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple December 28, 2011, 11:46 am

    We spent some time in Phoenix this summer on our grand vacation (Grand Canyon, Page, Phoenix to visit a friend, Tucson). I am always surprised and amazed at many of these big cities in the west…mall and strip mall after mall and strip mall.

    My own city of Santa Barbara is much smaller. We still have consumerism, expensive cars, and stores…but less so than bigger cities to the south. While access to “big shopping” like Target is sometimes tempting, I prefer to keep it local for the most part.

  • Shawn December 28, 2011, 11:58 am

    Great piece on your time in Phoenix. As usual, your sensible insight contains pearls for me to apply to my life and ways of thinking.
    I did vacation coverage for a place in Winslow, AZ a few years ago and I would fly in to PHX. I would always go a few days early and stay a few days late. Being from the midwest, the time spent there gave me a chance to explore Phoenix, Mesa, Sedona, Flagstaff, and the Grand Canyon. I think you pegged Phoenix! I guess it still is LA “light.”
    Going north, I always enjoyed Flagstaff. I think that the vibe there would be very conducive to the Mustachian way.

  • Will December 28, 2011, 12:04 pm

    Great piece on Phoenix. We flew in there en route to a dude ranch in Wickenburg and I was amazed how huge the Phoenix area was. It really is like pure desolation outside of the settled area. It’s hard to imagine flying in that it would take you an hour and a half to drive around the city and suburbs proper.

  • Amy December 28, 2011, 12:07 pm

    I was just thinking about you yesterday wondering when your next post would be out and remembered you are on vacation with the family. Then I thought, it must be such an anti-mustachian endeavor for you to vacation in a big city, and not be able to bike everywhere. What a coincidence that this was what your post was about!

    Thanks for your blog, you have inspired me and I have purchased my first bike.

  • Valerie December 28, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Missed you Mr MM! Merry Christmas!

    “Money is not purchasing power – money is the freedom to live life and to do good in the world,…” – Yes! Love this.

    Actually the whole “Convert Envy to Pity” section is a much needed breath of sane air. I purchased a ‘sensible’ used Toyota Matrix this summer and sometimes find myself envying friends and family with more expensive cars. Then I inhale, – remind myself that I paid cash for it, and that I also could have paid cash for the newer more expensive car but chose not to – and then exhale.

    My mustachian super-powers are very wimpy I’m afraid. (I hung the bike up in the garage on Monday, and yesterday the first snow of the season started falling here in Southwestern Ontario.) I’ve been looking at all the snow falling over the last 24 hours, and I enjoy walking the dog in it every day, but I think – there’s no way I can bike in that. I am definitely not bad-ass enough and have been looking longingly at the remote car starters for my ride in the Best Buy flyers!

    My point is that I need other like-minded people to improve (or find) these mustachian super-powers within! Almost every time I read a new post – I’m all “YES! I need to stay on this path so I can jump off the hamster wheel a little sooner!”

  • Joe December 28, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Thanks for putting so eloquently into words what I have always felt in suburban sprawl areas like Phoenix or Irvine, CA. With everything so new and spread out and manicured and perfect, it all feels so fake and I even feel guilty being there. There is no spontaneous naturally beauty, it is all planned and orchestrated and maybe some people like that feeling because it seems safe for raising a child in, but it just seems to lack any culture or soul. I much prefer smaller towns with character, or large cities with hustle, to these spread out suburban behemoths.

    Great job summarizing the city!

  • Dancedancekj December 28, 2011, 7:04 pm

    One need not even head to a gaudy city like Phoenix to experience an Anti-Mustachian city. My humble little midwest city of Omaha does a fine job of being ridiculous despite it’s far smaller population, size, and more temperate climate. The western reaches of the city offer much the same cheap real estate for suburban, and are developing much the same as any other meaningless suburb of the larger cities it is trying to emulate. People choose the 30-45 minute commute, because they got a great deal on a house out west, next to the trendier shopping center.
    The infrastructure for things like public transportation is pretty much nonexistent (although they just started putting in some bike lanes. Yay!) and the idea of being Mustachian is sometimes I feel far too easily interpreted as being poor or backwards. Since my city is so far behind the progressive curve (it still barely has a downtown area) I appear to be going backwards instead of forwards in my progress to some people. Of course, for that to matter at all, it would mean I would give a fuck towards what people think, and I do not, of course.
    It would be easy to assume that the Midwest might be able to escape the thrall of becoming the glittery fake rich that the West coast and Southwest seem to be known for. Yet, I might argue that many in the Midwest are even more easily tempted into the traps, since many times the only option seems to be: get a job –> buy a house –> buy lots of cheap unfulfilling crap to fill the house with –> work harder and longer at job for more cheap crap –> continue endlessly.
    Since I’m not technically from here, I just pretend to be really eccentric. It works most of the time, although people assume I’m from California for some reason..

    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple December 30, 2011, 12:28 pm

      Ha on the California thing.

      I’m from PA, and it sounds similar. My sister in law has a horrendous commute. her car is 6 months old and has 18,000 miles on it already.

  • Smurph December 28, 2011, 9:15 pm

    According to Salary.com, the median salary for a n Animal Groomer / Bather in Phoenix, AZ is $30,290. Granted that’s the average so some people make more, but I would highly doubt anyone is making 80k as a pet groomer or dog walker. There are also no Wal-mart’s in Detroit (at least in the city proper), though there are plenty of Subways. I don’t mean to be a troll but I do get prickly when people say things about Detroit that are inaccurate.

    This is a great article though. It’s surprising how much even a small area of anti-mustacianness can effect a city. A few years ago I was living about 0.6 miles from my office, but I still drove every single day. The reason being that in order to walk/ride my bike there I would have had to go down a highway with no sidewalk where cars would tend to go 60+ mph regardless of speed limit. I grew up in very bike-able suburb only 5 miles away, and it was odd how different the two areas were.

    • MMM December 28, 2011, 10:00 pm

      Well yeah, that’s because you looked for “salary”. I was talking a guess at how it might work out from an entrepreneurial point of view focusing on grooming for the Fake Rich of Scottsdale :-)

      Similarly, salary.com says a carpenter earns $20 per hour, when an entrepreneurial carpenter can make several times that. (And in yet another field, ask MMM reader Jim from the Arizona Pedicab company how much he can make on a major event weekend shuttling around Phoenix revelers downtown.)

      I’m intrigued by your old office commute story. Are you willing to throw out the approximate start/end addresses so we can all look it up on Google Maps and see if there is another way?

      • Smurph December 28, 2011, 10:35 pm

        Sure, it was roughly this:
        Coachman Drive, Troy, MI
        Research Drive, Troy, MI

        Looking at it now there are plenty of obvious options that would not have required any gasoline at all, and I feel stupid for not taking them. If I were in the same position today, I would jump at the chance to walk to work even in 5 degree weather (heck, I did it in college). The 60+ mph road was Stephenson Hwy, which Google Maps wisely advises me to avoid. I think I was stupid enough to drive a route and then think “man, this would suck to walk this way”. I was straight out of college at that point and was more concerned with fitting in with my coworkers than being smart. Obviously hadn’t converted to mustachianism yet.

        • MMM December 29, 2011, 11:07 am

          EXCELLENT!! Thanks Smurph – it means a lot to hear you see it a new way like this.

          You’ve just summed up the whole reason I write this blog. I try to present options that get people quickly and happily to financial independence and early retirement. I already know they work, because I’m not just making all this shit up – I’ve researched and tested these ideas for my whole life. But people STILL occasionally write in with objections explaining how wrong I am. But as soon as they stop focusing on the objections, and instead start focusing on finding their own solutions… DING!! They become rich.

        • Stavros March 29, 2012, 10:15 am

          What’s up fellow SE Michigan Mustachian. This reply comes very late, and doubt you’ll even see it as I’m just working my way through the archive. I grew up on the East side (Sterling Heights) and just recently moved to the Ann Arbor area (South Lyon). Metro Detroit is NOT very bicycle/pedestrian friendly as the city design was spearheaded by the Big3. I wish I would have found MMM prior to my move to the A2 area so I would’ve picked a house closer than the 15 miles for my commute. It’s just a tiny bit too far for me.

          Being a mustachian is a tough thing in Metro Detroit though, the culture here is HEAVY car (and new car at that) and everyone lives about 20-50 miles from their friends and family due to sprawl around ‘the donut.’

          • Stavros March 29, 2012, 10:16 am

            Forgot to hit notify me, needs to be an option to do it after you post! Ignore this post.

          • Tracey August 4, 2013, 10:12 am

            I love this site and am drilling through the posts. And actually Stavros (and Sterling Heights is not even close to Detroit) comments actually go to a great MM point. Metro Detroit (I live in the city proper) DOES have bicycle/pedestrian friendly sections, but you may have to work a little bit to figure out the places that are close to you and make it work for you. I don’t even live in a affluent or upcoming neighborhood, but I find ways to bike and walk to the things I need which goes to the point: Lead a Local Life. Just because it isn’t smack in your face doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Dig a little and find it or create it. You can be amazed at what you find with a little effort.

      • El-D December 31, 2011, 2:24 am

        I don’t doubt that there might be a few dog groomers out there knocking down 80k. But that certainly isn’t the norm, not even here in San Francisco. Not impossible, but it is a little like saying that basketball players knock down millions. Sure, *some* of them do: those few hundred pros out there!

        I’m also sure the pedicab guys do well during events. When there are events, of course. Of course, that’s the same kind of mentality that makes you think that an $80/hr billing rate translates into a $160k/yr income. Let me know when you’ve figured out a way to consistently and sustainably bill 2000 hours a year without any overhead, because my consultancy sure could use that kind of knowledge.

        • MMM December 31, 2011, 2:03 pm

          OK, OK, you’ve caught me in some rhetorical ranting in my otherwise dead-serious blog. I hereby admit that I know fuck-all about dog grooming.

          You’re also right that it would be tricky to bill 2000 hours per year. But who wants to work 2000 hours per year anyway?! The reason I bring these examples up is because they fit well with an early retirement lifestyle: flexible schedule, high hourly wage. Dynamite!

          • tct February 12, 2014, 11:19 am

            You were right on about the dog grooming. I personally know a women in the PHX area that earns exactly 80k a year running a mobile dog grooming business. I’m sure she burns a lot of gas driving that sheep dog all over town.

  • pachipres December 28, 2011, 9:26 pm

    Thanks for the post MMM. Makes me wonder if we should rebuild our cabin as we were forced to demolish it this past summer. We are not yet retired so your comment “You can’t afford that car(or in our case a cabin) right now because you are not retired yet.” On the other hand we could look upon it as a second property to sell someday. I am torn. But I appreciate your insight and wisdom. I even have a notebook to jot down everything I read that jumps out at me either what you say or your readers.

  • Mr. Frugal Toque December 28, 2011, 9:46 pm

    ” … the other factor is what other people think of you. Or more accurately, what you think other people are thinking about you.”

    I heard it put best as:

    “We wouldn’t worry so much about what people thought about us if we realized how seldom they did.”

  • LG December 28, 2011, 10:54 pm

    Funny that you mention the Roadster. I was just talking to a friend who works for the Scottsdale dealerships about why we hardly ever see them here… it really would be perfect.

    More mind-boggling than our abundance of gas guzzlers is simple the plight of Phoenix metro in the summer. We siphon off huge amounts from the Colorado (uh, sorry Mexico?) and our power use *TRIPLES* to keep our homes at even 80 degrees.

  • TLV December 29, 2011, 8:49 am

    I’m in the middle of a two-week trip to visit relatives in a similarly anti-Mustachian area. Central/Northern UT metro area is a corridor almost 100 miles long and only 10-20 miles wide. I’m always amazed at how big I-15 has gotten (5 lanes each way for much of it and still with heavy traffic) until my inlaws announce a trip to a shopping mall 40 miles away when there’s a perfectly good (bad?) one 3 miles down the road.

  • jon bon van dame December 29, 2011, 10:03 am

    I have been looking into the possibility of foregoing a car in exchange for public transportation however biking is even better. The only problem which I do not see addressed here is how do you get away with biking to work when you work in a business setting? It is impossible to keep from sweating on bike rides even as short as half a mile. Are all the mustachians working in industries outside of business?

    • MMM December 29, 2011, 10:59 am

      For most of us, once you are in shape, biking is about the same difficulty as walking. So you don’t get any sweatier than you would during a walk of the same duration. The only difference is when riding a bike, you can cover a mile every three or four minutes.

      For extreme heat or humidity, there is always the option of keeping a dry change of clothes at work for when you arrive. Remember, ever since deodorant/antiperspirant was invented, sweat is just water – it’s not stinky. So you dry off, and you’re ready to go.

      In the long run, I also do recommend moving towards a setting where funny business costumes are not required. If Steve Jobs can run a $2-billion-per-month company with just black jeans and a turtleneck, you and I can surely at least originate some loans or write legal documents with a nice casual button-up shirt and some khaki pants.

      • Bakari December 31, 2011, 3:13 pm

        Even if you aren’t in shape, you always have the option of biking slower.

        I discovered that hand-sanitizer makes a more effective deodorant than anything designed for that purpose.

    • Nathan Pickard December 30, 2011, 5:17 am

      I work in a government environment where suits are required and I have been commuting by bicycle for almost six years. We are in cubicles and I have a very small cubicle closet where I keep all my dress pants. I then keep three suit jackets on the department coat rack. I keep my ties in a drawer.

      On the 100 degree humid summer days, I wear shorts or jeans, undershirt, and dress shirt with only a couple buttons done and untucked. Like Triple M says, it isn’t much different than walking. By the time I get to the office I am sweaty. I take off my dress shirt and put it on a hanger. I then cool off for about 10 minutes in my cubicle. After that, I put on my suit and am ready to go.

      I used to have a little desk fan which dried me off faster than 10 minutes, but desk fans are no longer allowed. I do try to make it to work in the dark. That helps a lot to beat the sun out on the really hot summer days. On the way home I can sweat as much as I wan’t so it isn’t a big deal. I just throw my dress shirt in my pannier and where my undershirt and shorts or jeans. Sometimes I were jeans all summer because I don’t always like wearing shorts into and out of work.

  • Danielle December 29, 2011, 11:23 am

    One of my best friends went to graduate school at Arizona State in Tempe (a suburb of AZ). She and her girlfriend had no car, they commuted by bike everywhere. They just made their mind up to not buy a car (she still doesn’t have one) and her lifestyle evolved from that decision. It can be done.

  • Dividend Mantra December 29, 2011, 5:06 pm

    Good stuff! I completely agree with making your life local. When my lease was up on my apartment last fall, I purposely looked for an apartment close to everything I would need–the bus line, food, pharmacy and basic necessities. It worked out perfectly as the bus picks me up/drops me off just outside the front door and a grocery store and pharmacy are just under 1 mile away. I’ve been without a car for over 6 months and I would say that designing your lifestyle/housing location around being car-free is extremely important.

  • Pablo December 29, 2011, 8:08 pm

    Hey Mr. Money Moustache,

    Another fantastic article and it’s nice to see that you are a fellow Canadian. When I get bored, I like using Google maps too to check out local areas in big cities that people usually associate with driving. Every Canadian city has a cool local area to live in: Calgary — Beltline, Edmonton — Oliver, Toronto — West End, Vancouver — Kitslano, etc.

    I really liked your point about making more in big cities! Another plus with the big cities is that the dumpster diving and public transportation are much better: more people = more trash to pick from = more bus routes and subway stations. :)

  • Bakari December 30, 2011, 7:12 pm

    Hey, come on!

    Good post overall, but the San Francisco Greater Bay Area really doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with Phoenix and LA.

    Not only are San Pablo and Los Paseos totally independent cities from San Francisco, they aren’t even in the same County. The Bay Area includes 9 different counties, and over 100 separate cities – 3 of which are actually bigger than San Francisco itself.
    They have their own governments, transit systems, different demographics and economics and politics.

    Oakland and San Jose in particular are metropolitan areas in their own right; they each even have there own international airports. There is really no sense in which they are neighborhoods/suburbs of SF. It would be more accurate to call Longmont is a neighborhood of Boulder.

    There are people everywhere who consider a 50 mile drive as short, but I don’t think anyone who lives in San Pablo to consider Los Paseos to be the same area. Actually, I went to High School in San Pablo and I live there now, and I never even heard of Los Paseos.

    Incidentally, we happen to be home to two of the greenest, most bike-friendly cities in the entire nation, Berkeley and Oakland.
    We also have a huge number of anti-consumerist people who live here, so much so that no one seems to think its strange.
    Housing is expensive (unless you live in an RV, or bought back before the bubble began), but aside from that, it is very easy to live simple here.

    • MMM December 31, 2011, 2:09 pm

      All good points, Bakari.. But there are no cows separating the adjacent cities, therefore they are all one metro area according to the MMM definition. I only gave that example to help Bay area people appreciate the incredible size of a 60 mile city. But I do agree that they should be treated as separately as possible as suggested in the article.

      • Bakari December 31, 2011, 3:09 pm

        When I first read that phoenix was 60 miles across, I thought you were exaggerating in a comically specific way, like the freeway with infinite lanes.
        In fact, I actually stopped reading at that point and googled it.
        I thought, “thats insane, that would be like if the ENTIRE bay area was just one giant city!”
        So, since that turned out to be true, was it also no exaggeration that commercial streets have 6 lanes and parking lots have 1000 acres? 1000!? That has to be hyperbole. Doesn’t it? I’m not sure anymore.

        There actually are a few pockets of cows, and even farmland, within the Bay Area, but I do see what your saying. It was very strange to me when I was in VA last winter, and everything is so FAR AWAY from everything else. I think in a way there is an advantage to having nearby cities adjacent: any service your small city may lack is still within biking distance away, and one light rail system can cover the entire area.

        Overall, I was really just offended at being lumped in with LA.

        • MMM December 31, 2011, 5:38 pm

          Yeah, now that you mention it, I was going a little off-the-hook in that description. The commercial streets DID tend to have 3 lanes in each direction including the turning lanes. The 60+ miles diagonal part was true too. But the thousand-acre parking lots were just my feeling about the amount of wasted space. Really, the lots probably range from 1-10 acres (did you know that you can only fit about 100 cars per acre in a typical suburban parking lot??).

          Just for fun: one acre of space can also generate about 600,000 watts of power during full sun if you line it with average solar panels, enough to power about 1445 MMM households at their average level of consumption – even though that many of my houses on my size of lot would take up 240 acres. Even after scaling that all way down for hours of sun per day, etc., it shows there is plenty of power to go around – even just in the area occupied by parking lots.

          • Bakari January 1, 2012, 5:12 am

            plus they would shield all the cars from the sun ;)

        • BobTX June 5, 2013, 1:47 am

          Reading my way through from the beginning, so forgive the more-than-a-year later post:

          I do research involving land use patterns, specifically looking at development spatial patterns and their effects on biodiversity. When I’ve given talks / taught on the subject, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Houston are the cities I use to show the West/SW ridiculous sprawl form of development.

          For instance, the city of Houston that I live in right now, is larger than the last state I lived in! (CT). That’s insane.

          MMM – I do have to point out that Longmont may eventually get devoured by Denver, and become part of its sprawl. Good luck with trying to discourage long commutes from your town – that’s the primary evil here. ;-)

  • ermine December 31, 2011, 6:46 pm

    biking? In Phoenix? WTF?

    I’ve only ever been there once, but the concept of doing any kind of exercise in that sort of heat is out of this world crazy. Those guys are in their motors to get away from the heat.

    Like when I was in LA in July, I drove distances I’d never dream of driving at home, simply to get out of the heat.

    I’d go as far as classing Phoenix unfit for human habitation without aircon. There’s a reason some parts of the US didn’t get highly populated until modern times. You just shouldn’t build a city in a desert ;)

    • Bakari January 1, 2012, 5:10 am

      I could be mistaken on the numbers, but I believe a majority of the world population lives within the tropics, and can’t afford air conditioning. I know when I rode through Mexico, in the desert and in the tropics, A/C was a rare luxury.

      • Andrea Harris January 1, 2012, 3:30 pm

        I grew up in Miami, Florida in the Seventies, without air-conditioning. I hated it. I was miserable all the time, tired and sweaty and headachy due to the heat, and I lived for those few weeks out of the year in the “winter” when the temperature would drop to something livable like 76 (when everyone else would get out their sweaters). And our house was one of the original old ones built in the 1920s, with huge screened windows and a giant tree in the front yard that shaded the house. It didn’t do any good; the heat and humidity were unbearable to me.

        So yeah, most of humanity “lives in the tropics” without a/c. And they don’t do a whole heck of a lot during the day, because they can’t, because they’d drop dead of heat exhaustion. That’s why they nap in the middle of the day — it’s not because they’re lazy, they’re waiting for the goddamn sun to go down.

        And Phoenix isn’t in the “tropics” anyway, it’s in the desert. That’s a whole different kind of heat, but it’s not any easier for people, especially people descended from pasty-skinned Northern Europeans, to put up with. It might be great biking weather during the cooler season, but in the summer temperatures in Phoenix regularly go up to over 100. No one should be outside when it’s that hot, much less biking anywhere.

        • Bakari January 1, 2012, 4:05 pm

          I’ll grant that it may be more difficult for the pigment impaired.

          As for napping mid-day though, I think that fits right in with the Mustacian lifestyle, heat or no heat!

        • poko January 1, 2012, 4:16 pm

          I live in Austin, where we had a record of consecutive 100+ degree days this summer (22). I would take that over sub 50 degree temps any day! I biked to work on those 100+ days, and it actually made me more tolerant of the heat which was a nice bonus side effect!

          • MMM January 1, 2012, 10:40 pm

            That is quite badass! Although I do find it funny that you refer to “Sub 50 degree” as the threshold of an unpleasantly cool day. I’d put that number at about 30 :-)

          • BDub January 4, 2012, 11:58 am

            When I lived in Austin, several of my co-workers and myself would run at lunchtime. We did this year around, including the summer.
            How else can you drop 5 pounds by covering 3 miles?!

            The only thing that kept us inside were thunderstorms and ice storms.

          • BDub January 4, 2012, 11:59 am

            I should also mention I now live in Minneapolis and routinely run outside down to -10F. Anything colder than that and some very important body parts tend to get VERY cold…

          • poko January 4, 2012, 12:26 pm

            Yeah, I am a huge baby when it comes to cold — part of the reason I moved to Texas.

            The ironic thing about that is that myself and my family are from one of the colder parts of the world: Russia. “Worst Russian” is what my friends call me when I start complaining about 60 degrees come fall.

        • MMM January 1, 2012, 10:44 pm

          Well.. 100F in Phoenix and other desert areas is barely uncomfortable at all. 120F, on the other hand, is pretty tough for most white folks. Still, the thing I’m objecting to is the spread-out urban planning. Cars and wide-open asphalt areas are not an efficient solution to heat. Close-together buildings with wide overhangs, underground passageways, and lots of shade trees, combined with public transit and walking/biking for the 8 months of the year when the heat IS reasonable, would work much better.

          • Joy April 29, 2012, 1:48 am

            While I’m aware that you already “know” them, because they introduced me to you, my teacher friends in Las Vegas bike often. They’ve situated themselves close to the husband’s school and lots of shopping.

            I’m a newbie to this amazing life, but just signed a lease on a home faaar away from the school to which I just transferred–the school where the wife of this amazing couple, who own several homes and are set to retire at 30 or 32, works, and I used to.

            The kicker? Before I devolved, I lived in the same low-cost apartment/condo complex as them, with super-close access to that same shopping!

            The shame.

            Upside: I am investing in a bike soon, and close enough to grocery stores to at least do that commute. And I agree with your comments about desert heat, as a transplant from Florida/Georgia:

            100F=easy. I wear jeans.

            Shade does wonders. So does running at night (because, of course, I wised up about gym fees, and am happily done with those!)

            I am working, MMM! 5K car loan almost paid off, starting small, but seriously negative. You live, you learn!

    • JZ January 1, 2012, 10:43 pm

      I bike in New Orleans. Slightly less hot, but it’s a wet heat.

      The other thing about riding a bike is that it has this powerful fan for air conditioning as long as you’re moving. It beats walking by a long shot, and the smile on my face from getting some light exercise doing something fun beats the irritable, tense weariness that comes from sitting in a rolling sofa stuck in traffic.

  • poko January 1, 2012, 3:36 pm

    “Any unnecessary spending is not a treat – it’s a curse!” — I am going to keep this in mind, my husband likes to justify lots of our spending “as a treat”. Now I have a good come back :)

  • pachipres January 1, 2012, 6:08 pm

    So are any of you guys saying including MMM that you don’t turn on your air conditioner in the summer months?

    • MMM January 1, 2012, 10:39 pm

      In Phoenix, I would of course use A/C for a good portion of the year. I’m a wimpy English descendant evolved for fairly cool weather.
      I’d just try to keep it at the high end of my comfort level, and push the threshold higher as my body allowed it. In Colorado, this ends up being when the indoor temp hits around 82F (although I’m not usually indoors at that time anyway). http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/07/18/how-not-to-use-your-air-conditioning/

  • Hilary January 1, 2012, 9:16 pm

    A bicycling/car-free article I came across today!


    Really enjoyed this blog entry, MMM.

  • Andre January 2, 2012, 4:25 am

    Great post! Reminds me of when I lived on Miami Beach from ’90 – ’98. Miami Beach was booming as a trendy, glamorous, international hot spot. Same kind of (deficit) spending and (fake) showoff behavior.

  • Jeremy February 18, 2013, 3:46 pm

    I lived in Phoenix for college, and I rode my bike for a majority of my first two years living in Tempe.

    Once the Downtown ASU campus was opened, my options were either to take the bus, which I did often, or find alternative transportation if the buses weren’t running. They had a different weekend schedule, and sometimes I had one class after another on different campuses and couldn’t afford the possibility of the bus being late.

    So I got a scooter. For all the same reasons the weather is perfect for biking, it’s perfect for using a scooter. My first 6 months’ insurance, helmet, bike lock, and the MSRP came out to about $2,300. Gas was between $5-15/week depending on how often I needed to go out to Phoenix on my own. I couldn’t have spent more than $5000 total for 2 years of driving it, so that was pretty awesome.

    • SarahA October 13, 2016, 11:35 am

      Super late, but yes! I’m just ending my second year as a solo-scooter driver in Los Angeles. It’s lovely! My numbers are about the same, except I got a 2 year old scooter for MSRP $1800 and then the helmet, cover, boots, jacket put me up to 2300.

      Often the fancy rich will buy a 9k scooter for the cuteness, have it towed to their house, never use it, and sell it back to the dealership a couple years later. Mine had some miles because my guy had been a commuter, but I’ve seen “used” scooters for sale with 7 miles on them.

  • Tim March 6, 2013, 9:30 pm

    I realize I’m late to the party here, but this a great post and very applicable to my life. I’m a Phoenix resident and about 6 months ago I ditched automobiles altogether. Now instead of driving 45 minutes each way to work, I moved to the urban core in downtown Phoenix and rely mostly on public transportation. I use a combination mostly of the light rail, buses, Zipcar (car-sharing), borrowing cars from friends or family and car rentals if I really need to. Plus, the grocery store delivers for free if you order more than $150 online, so I just stock up and hit up the farmers market in between for perishables.

    Most people in Phoenix look at me like I’m an alien when I tell them I don’t own a vehicle and I get some unusual reactions waiting for the bus in my shirt and tie, but I consider that part of the fun. The financial savings are tremendous and it hasn’t been too much of a hardship yet, the weather is stellar during the fall, winter and spring. I’m planning on living without a car through at least one summer, partially to prove that it can be done, but that will definitely be more challenging. I think I can manage through a combination of taking a change of clothes to work and working four 10-hour days per week instead of five 8-hour days during the summer. Going in to work earlier and working later will help me to avoid being outdoors too much during the really excruciating times of the day.

    • Darren December 28, 2016, 10:46 am

      Hi Tim,

      I’m Darren, also a new reader perusing the numerous articles in this blog, and I also live in Phoenix! I was very pleasantly surprised to see this article and curious to find out MMM’s reaction to the Valley of the Sun.

      A little more about me: I work the traditional 9-5 office job as a computer programmer (much like MMM did), I’m getting tired of my job, I yearn for more freedom, both financial and chronological, I’m still learning how to cut my spending, and I’d like to increase my income without trading hours for dollars. My girlfriend and I bought bikes a few weeks ago and I’m looking for a bike trailer so that we don’t have to drive to the grocery store.

      It would be great to start a group of like-minded people here in Phoenix. We could share stories and ideas, teach and inspire, laugh and learn, and make new friends.

      My email is dastanis3@gmail.com. Fire one over to me if you ever want to chat – I’d love to hear about another Phoenician’s adventures in life and pursuing financial freedom through badassity!


  • SarahT May 9, 2013, 3:00 pm

    I have a belated tip for prospering in an anti-Mustachian city:

    I live in a very affluent neighborhood of Chicago (average home price is over 800K), and I spend almost nothing on housing. How? I own single family home with a small basement apartment, and I rent that basement apartment on Airbnb. I’ve met a lot of fun travelers from all over the world, and I earn about 75% of my total mortgage payment (including taxes and insurance) in the process.

  • Dan October 27, 2013, 8:55 pm

    You nailed North Scottsdale/Paradise Valley perfectly. My brother and his wife, a specialist doctor, have their second house there (their primary residence, a 4,500 sq ft. $1Mil. home is in Prescott, about 90 min. North of Phoenix). They built this second house so that my nephew can go to school to BASIS (google it, those are some very good charter schools). Financially, these people driving $100K cars live on a different planet. In my brother’s case, for the 2 of them + nephew they have 3 expensive German cars (including a giant SUV). Nephew just getting his driver license, so they are looking to buy a 4th car, a Maserati. One expensive vacation per season: winter skiing in Austria, spring in Aruba, summer in Spain, fall in Hawaii etc. I have met some of their friends, also doctors. They work 10-12 hours a day, and only think in terms of income, not net worth. They can’t retire as they would blow through a few millions in a few years. Simply put, retirement money would not allow them to continue with their lifestyle, so they don’t think about it, or want it. Some of them make and spend $800K or more per year. I know a guy who makes $20K per weekend just to be on call, even if he does not see any patient. He bought a $1Mil. vacation home at Lake Powell (and boat, and truck to tow it) with less thought than most people put into buying a dishwasher.

    About me: came in this country in 1994 from Eastern Europe, at age 27, with $500 I borrowed from my uncle. Had a scholarship at a University here in the States. Wife joined me in 1995. She finished her Masters in Computer Science in 1997 and got a job right away. I got my PhD in Math and first job in 1999. Also bought our 2600 sq. ft., 4 bedroom suburban home in 1999. Our salaries have always been in the upper 5 digits, decent for Midwest but obviously far from spectacular. Today our home is paid and our net worth is over $1.2Mil. I drive a Honda CR-V. My neighbor (in his early 50s) is worth over $2Mil. and he drives an Elantra. While our net worths are seizable, and we sleep soundly knowing we don’t have to work a single day in our lives if we don’t want to, we also know we can’t afford a lifestyle like the people mentioned above. No hard feelings or envy. But if Phoenix is any clue to the future (a few very rich, and the rest serving them), and it may be, I am not sure I like it.

  • Andy November 5, 2013, 4:36 pm

    “almost all my memories involve whizzing along a highway in one direction or another”

    Wow MMM, You have summed up my memories of Phoenix in one sentence! While there, I did spend an obscene amount of time in the car. Everything we wanted to do was a minimum of 5-10 miles of driving each way!

  • David December 23, 2013, 12:36 am

    I just found your blog yesterday and was pleased to see a post about my hometown. I do hate the car centric culture of Phoenix. I am working on finding a job closer to my home. I used to commute 30 minutes to north Scottsdale and I hated it. I could afford the gas on my salary but the commute was stressful. I have no desire to live in north Scottsdale mainly because of the type of people you describe. One big help for living a Mustachian lifestyle is that housing is now pretty affordable here after the crash. I am looking at buying a 3 or 4 unit property and living in one of the units. I have been doing some research and I think it could create some extra income that I could invest in dividend stocks, especially if I do most of the landscaping and maintenance stuff myself. For now I am just living rent free with my parents and saving up as much as I can.

  • Jrez January 4, 2014, 8:36 am

    I read this post because I currently live in NYC — another giant money-wasting enterprise of cosmopolitan greed and fancy pants living. I find it very difficult to live a mustachian life here — mostly because of the outrageous cost of renting an apartment. If I were living here long-term (which I won’t be), I would try to buy a place I suppose, but it would still be a gigantic waste of resources.

    If you want to give up quality of life you can house-share. Hmmm…

    Biking is treacherous, even in Brooklyn. I used to bike everywhere, but when I almost got killed several days in a row by butt head drivers who seem to hate the bike lanes, I stopped. I’d rather bite the bullet and spend the money than get killed.

    Funny, though, what you said about dog walking. I do it professionally here, definitely NOT $80,000/year. More like $30,000 — a little more if you own your own company and have employees, but then you have expenses.

    There was definitely some useful info in the post and comments — keep up the good work — but in general I think NYC is as anti-mustachian as you can get when it comes to big cities.

  • Melissa Wannabe blogger March 21, 2014, 11:45 am

    Hey MMM
    I don’t know if this classifies me as a conplainypants but I apparently have a really hard time making friends… I went off to college in MI and now live in Anaheim so no college friends for me to visit locally… Then I spend 10.5 hrs a day away from home for work … I have 2 kids and a husband I want to spend time with… So I don’t go out much on weekends but I want to have a healthy social life( not spending money but interacting with people who I can have conversations about stuff ) being out of school or participating in social activities often how the heck to do make friends locally when you have so much constraint on your time already… That’s like an honest question… Maybe not so much to you MMM since you have time to go out and do activities you love and therefor meet like minded people… Maybe mores a question for other readers who still have to work and have kids how do you make local friends? This blog has provided some support but sometimes I just want to talk about stuff in person…

    • super saver in disguise July 4, 2014, 3:43 pm

      Have you checked out the Junior League? I know there is one in Orange County. Not totally MMM because it has yearly dues; however, where MMM spends extra money on a nice house, I spend extra money on this. Mrs MMM likes crossfit, I like the Junior League.

    • EdwinJames November 22, 2016, 1:43 pm

      I suggest you get active in your local church or synagogue. This is a no-brainer opportunity for making friends. What about an alumni chapter of your college? How about getting involved with the PTA of your kids’ school? … Maybe you could voluteer to help out with whatever organizations your kids are involved in.

  • James Pagdilao September 17, 2015, 2:56 pm

    One place you should look into is Flagstaff, AZ! It’s a beautiful college town that’s bike friendly, with all of your basic needs within biking distance. Great organic markets, beautiful bike paths, and much more! Nature is abundant in that area too, it’s almost reminiscent of Colorado. Speaking of which, many college students at the local university, Northern Arizona University, are also from Colorado.

  • Lillian September 29, 2015, 2:02 pm

    If you think that’s bad, try living in Westchester, NY and working in Greenwich, CT. My goodness. Everyone drives Tesla’s and eat gluten-free, diary-free, vegan only, coffee!

  • Greg January 5, 2016, 5:08 am

    Another fine post! Like several others above this one is the money quote: “Money is not purchasing power – money is the freedom to live life and to do good in the world, and regardless of where you live, it must be respected properly.”
    It’s pithy, wise, stuff like that that keeps me hooked as I read on through the site. Thanks MMM – I love your attitude and perspective on life.

    • Amonymous August 9, 2016, 5:00 am

      “Money Quote” sounds like a good additional section in this site or the forums.

      P.S. Wow an emoji! The first of its kind as I’m going through the archives 😁

  • Erica November 21, 2016, 11:16 pm

    Yay!! This is where I live! We also would like to live in Tempe, actually, and did previously but we moved to Scottsdale last year since it was so very close to our employer. We are early employees of a small businesses that is now pushing 600 and just opened an international office. Although (like I have mentioned before) I have recently left the full work force my partner still works there in a management position.

    The nice thing about the Phoenix Valley is that despite the sprawl the designers are very good at making hubs. You’ll frequently find 3-4 grocery stores within a mile radius, often other favorite conveniences like a Goodwill and a bike shop in the mix too. The part of Scottsdale i live in has a natural grocer, a Kroger’s(Fry’s here), a Safeway, a Bashas (local chain), less than a mile away. Plus two parks, one with a dedicated bike path! If I venture 2 miles I find Old Town filled with delicious local restaurants, a weekend Farmer’s Market, a library, more parks and another grocery store.

    I’m less of a fan of the local events that happen in Scottsdale, but we’re satisfied for now. When the little ones are older and the mister is ready to retire we will likely move back to Tempe near ASU. There is a vibrant community, and the events are plentiful and local oriented.

  • Rachel December 4, 2016, 11:55 am

    Hi! I’m a new reader and I’m still making my way through the blog posts in chronological order. I’m so happy to see this post on Phoenix as it’s my hometown and where I currently live. I’m trying to forge a semi-mustachian lifestyle and have hit a few hurdles. We are in North Phoenix, where our house backs a mountain preserve, which is very convenient, as we don’t have to travel for hiking, adventures, and scenery all too often. But, we don’t have any grocery stores within a 5 mile radius, unless you count a very big discount retailer that I choose not to support monetarily based on moral principle. Soon we’ll have a Fry’s down the road and I cannot wait, I will then invest in a bike and trailer and grocery shop gasoline-free, taking a step closer to financial independence.

  • Kevin March 11, 2017, 8:55 pm

    probably driving their car to the gym so they can ride the stationary bike. i’ve always thought that was the silliest piece of exercise equipment for everyone who isn’t a pro athlete.

  • Jeremy Collins April 5, 2017, 10:41 pm

    Just finished 2011 posts in my journey through the MMM blog. So far we’ve sold our second car, canceled a dozen or so completely unnecessary monthly expenses, started tracking and reducing our utilities (dryer rack, clothesline, lowered the scalding water heater temp), and I could go on. In short, I’ve seen the light. I’m also reading The Magic Of Thinking Big. My wife and I have never felt so optimistic about our financial direction. We had this sad running joke for years that we had no idea where our money was going and suspected maybe there were gnomes sneaking into our home and stealing it. In fact, as you said it was just that a minimal amount of attention was needed. We’ve got a long road ahead but it’s an exciting journey. We’ve made more progress in just a month or two than I thought was possible. Thanks for creating such a motivating and inspiring blog!

  • EarningAndLearning April 28, 2017, 11:39 pm

    Like Jeremy above, I’m also reading through all the posts & wonderful comments & yay, done with 2011! Inspired by Jeremy above, I’ll share my baby Mustachian steps in the past 3 weeks or so since I discovered your blog:

    -understood then destroyed my electricity bill: baseboard heaters off, cozy clothes on. Lights off all the time now (I used to leave lamps on cause it looked better, yikes!). Learned about phantom power & cut lots of that out – have to buy a power bar with off switch for the TV & Apple TV. Will turn down my water heater tomorrow! Only use clothes dryer for a few minutes (so no wrinkles) then hang drying.
    -got on my bike today for the first time in 1.5 years! I was blissful! Thank u for the inspiration!
    -made a spreadsheet of my monthly expenses, with a column of budgeted low amounts for me to aim for every month. I thought I hated budgets, but I love updating it & calculating how much over or under I am in various areas & working to spend less.
    -noted all this month in my digital calendar “No Spend Day” on days when I didn’t spend any money & so far I have 15! Will increase that next month – no more unnecessary spending!
    -resigned from a part-time job that I had to drive half hour down a highway to get to, will find a part time job within walking or biking distance from home.

    Feeling very badass as I continue on my Maximum Mustache journey! This is the first blog I’ve ever really properly read, and I’m loving it, thank you MMM!

  • Drew Hanessian September 20, 2017, 10:27 am

    Just added this sentence to my page of Core Values:

    “Money is not purchasing power – money is the freedom to live life and to do good in the world, and regardless of where you live, it must be respected properly.”

    Man, am I glad I found this world of FI.

  • Dominic June 10, 2019, 3:14 pm

    Super late here, but the next time you are in Arizona, check out Tucson or Flagstaff. Tucson is much smaller, slightly cooler, and one of the top bike friendly cities in the country. Tucson also recently completed The Loop, which is a 131 mile bicycle path that completely circumnavigates the city. I have biked it and it is one of my favorite things about Tucson. I hereby challenge you to complete it the next time you are in Arizona!

    Flagstaff is even smaller and has a climate similar to Denver. Since it is completely surrounded by the Coconino National Forest, it can’t sprawl out and it’s also a bike friendly city. It has a very mustacian, outdoorsman vibe (NAU’s mascot is a lumberjack) and is where I like to visit at least once in the summer.

    I can’t stand Phoenix, it just kills me to see how much water and air can are wasted there. You’re in the freaking desert, its supposed to be hot here!


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