Get Rich With: Your Own Urban Tribe

A small tribe of Mustachians gathers in a Seattle Park

A small tribe of Mustachians gathers in a Seattle Park earlier this summer

Here in the MMM family household, we live a lifestyle that could be considered unrecognizably oddball, or classically familiar depending on who you ask. Although the fairly well-appointed house in an expensive area probably does a good job at reassuring certain neighbors that we fit in, our lives are pretty different.

We spend most of our time within a 2-mile circle with home at the center. The car is just starting in on its third tank of gas for the year, and I’m expecting this one to make it through December. We often go months without visiting any store besides the grocery, and the half million dollar house contains no TV set, clothes dryer, powered lawnmower, ties or suit jackets of any sort, and no items of clothing (other than great hiking shoes) worth more than about $50.

None of this is by necessity or due to lack of money, it’s just how we’ve ended up after ten years of  freedom from conventional work, while trying to optimize our lives for happiness rather than maximum consumption. But the end result is still pretty powerful, as I can’t seem to blow more than about $25,000 per year no matter how luxurious we feel our lives are.

The further along we go, the more I realize this is a great way to live, and probably not just for us. Because a life like this comes with other changes aside from the superficial spending-related ones described above. It seems that we are sliding right into the comfortable groove of much older human civilizations, the ones in which all of our instincts are more at home: something you could call the tribe.

The Modern Urban Tribe

I’ve noticed that our life is following a pattern that echoes back to a far distant era. We wake up when our bodies feel they have had enough sleep and the house is brightening with the sky. I walk outside to inspect the sunrise with bare feet and strong coffee, and a relaxed breakfast for all of us is never compromised. Only after this routine, sometimes with music or other times with a chapter of reading from a book, do we start to think about other things like meetings or appointments or heading out for some good old-fashioned hard work.

Our house backs onto a park, which is at the center of a human-friendly community where people actually walk places. Because of this, people tend to just show up throughout the day. Little MM might run out to join some friends after seeing them out throwing toy airplanes in the park, who later join him to make mud rivers in the back yard or come inside for a round of Starcraft II. Kids wander in pairs or groups from one household to another without an armored SUV escort, or even shirts or shoes. We all climb trees and play in the creek. Adult friends might stop in as part of an afternoon walk, which ends up leading to beers and the joint cooking of a feast, which in turn attracts other adults and children, possibly even leading to unexpected tent sleepovers in the back yard.

In such a community, leisure and work tend to blur together. I might recruit a friend to help build a fence, who ends up needing my help to replace a furnace. A third friend might stop by to learn about the installation process, but mention a house he saw for sale down the street which leads to a short-term real estate investment partnership. Everybody could use some help at times, and everyone has some help to offer at other times. As a result, kids and salads, tools and books and loaned vehicles, money and heirloom tomatoes and homebrews tend to circulate freely through the crowd, enriching us all with each transaction.

Such a life is not just the quaint habit of a few lucky rich people in a friendly, safe neighborhood. It is the foundation of human civilization itself. We are meant to live in medium-sized groups, to walk between each other’s dwellings, and to collaborate and play freely with an abundance of unscheduled free time. When you start with these basic building blocks of a community, you automatically press your happiness buttons and suddenly start living a much happier, healthier life.

Lessons in Tribalism from my Summer Vacation

This summer, I had an unusually action-packed trip as I made my way through the cities of Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and surrounding spots in Canada to visit friends and family. With our own lifestyle so bright in my mind, it was fascinating to see how other people live.

Many people we know in Ottawa live in isolated suburbs, scattered 30 miles from their other friends and from work. Some chose their location because they wanted to live on a large plot of land, and others because they wanted a big house that still fit within the limits of their mortgage payment budget. But few if any made the choice based on living within walking distance of friends, family, food and work.

They have adapted to this situation by living more planned lives. A long email discussion of schedules precedes any gathering of friends, and they need to work around traffic and weather and repairs and gas prices. Over the decades, I have watched as friends bought brand new cars which have gone from shiny to dull to rusty to junkyard while my own car seems to resist aging, having yet to lose the stiff blackness of its nearly new seat fabric. Getting together is still fun, but it tends to happen less often and end earlier in the night. I couldn’t help but notice the amount of happiness this physical distance seems to subtract from the equation.

Later I ended up in San Francisco, peeking in on the lives of some new friends as an outsider. As I joined the neighborhood parties and looked at the way this much smaller, bike-scaled city functions, I noticed that the social life of these friends was much more similar to my own despite the much larger population of the city. Spontaneous gatherings and sharing of household amenities was the norm. Patios or parks would fill with neighbors and driveways would fill with bikes. The fact that people lived within walking or biking distance of friends seemed to make all the difference.

The final lesson came when I headed to Victoria, BC for three days. This is an island city of 80,000 people which happens to feature the highest rate of bicycle commuting in Canada. Meeting a friend at a the airport, we immediately went to one neighbor’s house to borrow a bike for the duration of my visit and ditched the car. Then we rode to a barbecue gathering for local business owners. The next day featured a longer ride through the city and out to the surrounding lakes and mountains, then I took a bus downtown to join a meetup of Mustachians in a public park. Afterwards we walked out for a late night dinner, and then I enjoyed an hour-long solo midnight walk back through the city to my temporary home.

I found an amazing similarity to my own life at home in our neighborhood in Small Town Colorado. More seemingly random people knew and cared about each other, spontaneous gatherings and excursions to the mountains were commonplace, and the general consensus was that this was a wonderful and happy place to live. Prosperity and good health seemed to be in abundant supply in these more tribe-oriented places.

So How Can this Make us All Richer?

I believe the close and local community is a big part of what we’ve been losing with modern life. The dual-full-time-income-plus-kids household, ivy-league preschool syndrome, car commuting and suburban sprawl in our city designs have all made it a little harder to live a local lifestyle. But it absolutely does not have to be that way.

There’s a Greek island called Ikaria that pops up regularly in health news because its people enjoy some of the longest, healthiest lives on Earth. At least once a month, somebody emails me a link to one of a few major stories about it, because they notice the parallels to the lifestyle you and I are working towards right here. Plenty of sleep. Some outdoor hard work every day. A high degree of socialization. And of course, olive oil and wine as desired. Ikaria is the Original Island of the Mustachians. Even without much money, these people are wealthier than most of us in rich cities.

Slowly but surely, the US is waking up from its suburban slumber and starting to change the way cities are designed, with groups like Strong Towns pushing and city planners trained in New Urbanism pulling as they gradually start displacing the people who were raised with nothing but cars. But without even waiting for these changes, we can start adding some Ikaria to our own lives.

Great Friends are Hiding Among your Neighbors

Some of my own tribe travels the streets of Longmont, CO

Some of my own tribe travels the streets of Longmont, CO

You just need to start meeting your neighbors. Not just one or two of them, but all of them. Not everybody will be cool or fun or have much in common with you, but some of them actually will.

When I move to a new house, I actually write down the addresses of the 10 nearest houses and then set a goal of filling in a name and summary of the details for each household. Then I keep branching out and making eye contact and meeting people from other nearby blocks, because it is a genuinely happy thing to know people who live so close to you.  Why focus your energy on traveling to meet friends who live several cities away, while ignoring those right next door who you haven’t even met yet?

Joining local groups can facilitate this, whether it’s through a school, business group, church, or bike, sport or volunteer club. Even getting a part-time job at an in-style downtown venue works well. The key to keeping it tribal is simply to keep it local – you need to mingle with people you actually live with. To create an area with a “high social collision rate” as a doctor friend of mine puts it.

Even after 10 years in my own city, I still run into a new person every week who I’d actually like to spend time with, who lives within a five minute walk. As the network grows, so does my happiness. And miraculously, the number of things I can think of to spend money on continues to drop, because a more satisfying life automatically cuts down your desire to doll it up with more toys.

The answer to a better life may be walking past you right now.

Further Reading: 

This year a busy urban neighborhood in South Korea tried banning cars for an entire month. It ended up blowing everyone’s minds for the better: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3045836/heres-what-happened-when-a-neighborhood-decided-to-ban-cars-for-a-month

Are you ready to start making this happen in your own town? The first city in the US to accomplish this feat will start a chain reaction that changes everything.

  • Lily August 19, 2015, 2:01 pm

    I’ve been wondering if you’d found New Urbanism for a while – so much of what you have to say resonates with the goals of the New Urbanists. I heard Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns speak a year or so ago – it was fascinating to here his take on the economics of place. I don’t know if you know about Jeff Speck’s book, Walkable City, or Kevin Klinkenberg’s Why I Walk . Both are excellent books about, basically, saving the world by ditching the car. If anyone’s in New England and would like to hear Chuck or Kevin talk about planning and neighborhoods, they will both be talking at Raising NH in September, more info at raisingnh.org. Chuck’s take on growth is worth it alone.

    Personally I find that I love living within biking distance of work and everything else I want to do. I could walk to work, but biking’s faster so that’s what I mostly do. It’s far more expensive to live in town, and not drive, but so worth it.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 20, 2015, 11:09 am

      Right on Lily.. I first heard the term “New Urban” when I started the my small house building company to build in one of the country’s better known experiments of this type, right here in Longmont: http://www.prospectnewtown.com/

      This ‘hood is now about 15 years into slow development and almost done, and it has turned out really well (very sociable atmosphere with restaurants and other useful stuff mixed right in with the houses). If the residents would gather together and vote to eliminate most of the rules of their own HOA, it would become even better in my opinion.

      As for “far more expensive”, I’m not sure if that is true. As I said in a comment later in this same stream, driving is WAY more expensive than most people think it is, and then even more after factoring in the full cost of burning through cars, plus your time and destroying your health.

      If you include the fact that you are wrecking the living experience of other people by whizzing around their living space in your car, it becomes almost unimaginable to choose to take a car into a city except as a last resort.

      • A Definite Beta Guy August 20, 2015, 6:14 pm

        There’s some serious sticker shock buying a home in some of these neighborhoods, I’d suppose. Seaside, FL is pretty expensive. So is Celebration (New Urbanism brought to you by Disney).

        My Wife and I just bought a home in a community like this. The middle school is 4 houses down, across the street from the Catholic Church. Village Hall, the Library, the Farmer’s Market, the Movie Theater, all the restaraunts, grocery store, police department, everything is within a mile walk. Hospital and Fire department are a mile and a half out, if you get in serious trouble.

        That was about a 30% “premium” over something further out, but worth every penny in terms of lifestyle and community. We get in a 2 mile walk every day. First time I stopped by with the new keys, the neighbor came to say hello: didn’t even have time to unlock the door!

        Easier to mow, too, since it’s not a half acre. I have the same 20″ Scotts as you. My only problem? Makes no noise, so neighbors stop me and try to chat whenever I’m trying to cut my grass!

        See Newtown, Missouri for an example of New Urbanism gone wrong. It’s an Exurb in the middle of nowhere. Feels like a horror movie driving into that town.

  • Daryl August 19, 2015, 2:25 pm

    Don’t overlook small towns – particularly those about 100-150 miles from a major city.

    After living in the city, my older son recently moved to a small town in Minnesota – population 2500. About 100 miles from Minneapolis, it is beyond commuting distance so it is no longer a suburb. But it still close enough for city resources (hospitals etc.) or a big city “fix” if needed.

    They bought a nice house for 1/2 the cost in the city. The grade school and a park are across the street, and the high school is a few blocks away. The kids love it – they can bike all over town with their new friends. His commute is under ten minutes of country driving. His wife works in the high school as a teacher’s aide, and loves it.

    They were concerned about leaving the city, but have been pleasantly surprised. Small town festivals –wineries — microbreweries — parks with uncrowded campgrounds. It may be rural, but there is still plenty to do. And the big city is still only two hours away.

    Looking for a job change, he stumbled – almost by accident – on an executive opportunity with a small medical manufacturer. The company was delighted to get someone with his talent and experience, and they pay him accordingly. The school was delighted to hire his wife too. Big city wages with small town cost of living — how great is that? Plus the quality of life.

    These opportunities abound, but you must seek them out. So if you are not yet financially independent, consider this as one way to speed things up — and enjoy the journey immediately. My son admits he never dreamed they would live like this.

    Me? I grew up in a small town in Nebraska. The common sense I learned there put me on the Mustache path early in life – been FI for many years. As a fellow engineer, I completely agree with MMM’s philosophy and lifestyle. No need to live your life over-consuming in suburban hell when so many other opportunities exist. Best wishes to all!

  • Ben August 19, 2015, 2:41 pm

    Sounds like Shabbat! We don’t live this way every day, but we do once a week, and it is transformative – no cars, phones, work, money, etc.

    • Jay A. August 20, 2015, 6:05 am

      From a secular Israeli, Amen!

  • Jim McG August 19, 2015, 2:59 pm

    It sounds like the only thing you are missing is a good local pub. We have plenty here in the UK but many have been dying out due to the high price of drink versus buying cartloads from the supermarket and tanking up behind closed doors. Hopefully there is a Darwinian aspect to this though. There is a revival of what we call Real Ale (craft beer) in the UK and the food available in pubs has improved by leaps and bounds in the last ten years. Well, in some anyway. A busy local pub is a fantastic asset and, I find, is an easy thing to support!

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 20, 2015, 11:17 am

      I may have forgotten to mention it, but Longmont is Beer Central. We have so many breweries and pubs it is starting to get silly – like the combination of brewery and bike store called “CycleHops”, or brewery and shoe store called “Shoe and Brew”. One brewpub is called “Oskar’s Homemade Liquids and Solids”. Due to the influx of well-off people all of these places are doing great business and more are opening every few months.

      It is good to have so many options, but I recommend those still in the early of financial independence continue to do most of their beer-sharing in the back yard or the living room. Once you are in the millionaire’s club you can afford to start wasting $5 or more on pints that should be $1.25.

      • MarciaB August 20, 2015, 7:58 pm

        There’s a place on the Oregon coast that’s a hardware store by day and a brewpub by night called Screw and Brew…

  • EcoCatLady August 19, 2015, 3:49 pm

    I dunno… I mean I’m all about knowing your neighbors, walkable & bikeable communities, being friendly yadda, yadda, yadda. But personally, the idea of someone putting my name on some sort of a list and setting out to befriend me totally creeps me out. Perhaps this makes me sound like a crazy reclusive cat lady (ahem) but for me a huge part of intentional living is getting to pick and choose with whom I spend my time.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t get to know your neighbors and all, but I have a limited tolerance for people, and honestly, if my neighbors were to start showing up wanting to hang out on a regular basis, I’d be inclined to shutter the doors and windows and pretend I wasn’t home!

    So as y’all set out to make nicey nice with the people down the block, please remember that we’re not all extroverted social butterflies longing for people to hang out with.

    INTROVERTS UNITE!!! (from home, alone, without speaking to each other)

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 19, 2015, 4:21 pm

      Haha.. sounds like you might be fine without such a busy tribe. But my suggested approach won’t harm any introverts – you’d get invited to a few gatherings or dinners, and if you never responded you would naturally fall off the list.

  • MEL810 August 19, 2015, 4:08 pm

    I am in Richmond, VA and this area seems to spread more and more out to the suburbs. The public transit is lousy and doesn’t run at night or on weekends past the city line. I can get to work and back but that is it. I don’t have a car, so I am socially isolated because I live about two miles from the city line. I can’t bike or walk that far for health reasons.We also have a terrible rate or pedestrian and bicycle fatalities by hit and run drivers. Many drivers here won’t use their turn signals, they speed, they tailgate and run red lights regularly. Because I don’t drive, people here think I am weird or else they simply don’t have the time to go pick up a carless person. So they associate with others with cars. In addition, people here seem so bound to their nuclear families that they have no time or interest in meeting people outside of the clan. Many people I meet seem to have no close friends or associates outside of their family. They may go to church but still hang out only with the kin.
    This area is also very socially race and class segregated Blacks hang with blacks; whites hang with whites, etc. I have lived in areas where people are not so segregated or so family bound, so this is not normal to me.
    Maybe the UICC Races coming through here in September will change things up a bit vis-a-vis the car cult.
    It is my fondest desire to move to a smaller, more accepting community where cars and families are not made into demi-gods. .

  • Freedom35 August 19, 2015, 4:45 pm

    The high “social collision rate” and your utopia sounds a lot like what sociologists say is crucial to making close friends: “proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other”; an environment a lot of US adults find hard to replicate after college (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/fashion/the-challenge-of-making-friends-as-an-adult.html)

    This touches on a mistake you mentioned in your previous post: Moving to the suburbs so you can have a backyard for your dog. We previously lived in a great walkable urban neighborhood and had a dog, it was the only experience I knew. A new friend I met who previously lived in the suburbs pointed out that having a dog with a yard is easier because you can just let them out, but a more dense environment ends up being better socialization for the dog and human because people with no yard are forced to walk them to the park and interaction is bound to occur.

    I met and made great friends with so many neighbors (and people willing to dogsit for free) by the sheer repeatedness of being out for leisurely walks and having no planned agenda.

  • Dave August 19, 2015, 4:57 pm

    MMM, on Sunday I was at a new church (walking distance from our new, smaller house) and could not believe that the message was Mustachianism!! http://northpointministries.org/messages/what-makes-you-happy/nothing/ This link doesn’t get religious for quite a while, so it’s worth a listen to even just a few minutes because I’m pretty sure this speaker must be one of your readers. Needless to say, I was nodding and grinning throughout the talk. My wife kept elbowing me because apparently I was “way too into it.” Ties right to this post by you today. It’s about the WHO, not the WHAT. Cheers!!

  • Green Girl August 19, 2015, 5:38 pm

    I’m envious of you! I lived in a lot of places, and two in particular had this dynamic, where there were always neighbors in their garages and front lawns BBQ’ing, drinking beer, playing games, chatting on porch steps. I LOVED it and I am fairly introverted at times. What is the best part though is security. When everyone stays inside and doesn’t know anyone, then we need fancy alarm systems to feel safe. If neighbors know each other though, then any unusual activity is immediately noticed… like an automatic neighborhood watch. I also loved that I could walk over and ask a favor of anyone or ask for assistance in an emergency, and reciprocate. I felt incredibly safe. Unlike any alarm system could provide for me. Community/tribes are hands down the most important thing we need to seek out (after food and safe shelter)… in my opinion, of course.

  • Isabelle August 19, 2015, 5:50 pm

    I live right across Ottawa (on the Québec side, Gatineau),my husband and I work in Ottawa, we have friends there… and you are dead on! We are “far”, we need planning to meet, and it’s not happening often now that we all have kids and jobs and the like. What you describe, your town, it sounds unreal to me, straight out of a fantasy world. Must be nice. We just bought a house and introduced ourselves to the next door neighbors, but that’s it. It’s how it is, it seems. Go outside those boundaries and you are a “wirdo”…. it’s sad.

  • 13 months in ecuador August 19, 2015, 5:58 pm

    sounds like utopia! i want a little more of that action in our city of philadelphia. I do wonder of some of your experiences have been distorted from living in a smaller city like Longmont. I would never let my kids walk from house to house in the crime riden urban jungle. But I like the action and energy of the city and the benefits like getting together with people who live within walking distance.

    BTW – we are living in Ecuador for 13 months. maybe i can catch up with you when you visit next.

  • dan August 19, 2015, 5:59 pm

    The fabulous Unitarian minister who used to live next door, and who was the glue that held our street together, was evicted by the landlords, who have now (against city code) turned that house into a full-time Air B’n’B rental. Sigh. So that’s one adjacent property with no neighbors at all…

  • Dollar Flipper August 19, 2015, 6:01 pm

    This makes such a difference. When I was at my previous apartment, it was in a not-so-nice area and we mostly stayed in doors. Now, we have a bunch of families in our circle of townhomes and all hang out on different nights. So much fun now and we love getting to know (mostly) everyone!

  • The Vigilante August 19, 2015, 7:13 pm

    I stopped immediately on “Starcraft II.”

    Ask Little MMM if he prefers Protoss, Terran, or Zerg, and why. It tells you everything you need to know about a person.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 20, 2015, 10:26 am

      He says, “Protoss, because it is futuristic AND powerful.” Also, he prefers the Purple color scheme for that race.

      • The Vigilante August 20, 2015, 11:40 am

        Protoss? He’s going to be just fine in life. That was always my favorite growing up, although I lean a little toward the more relatable Terrans now, as the Protoss become more splintered…ah, nevermind, I’m talking to the wrong Mustache. I’ll save it for his blog!

  • Norm August 19, 2015, 8:25 pm

    “Such a life is not just the quaint habit of a few lucky rich people…”

    But it is the habit of a few lucky white people, at least going by the photos. It makes me feel a little sad and a little guilty that class privilege plays a part in obtaining the Mustachian lifestyle, whether you like it or not.

    But yeah, Victoria is a perfect city! I’d move there in a heartbeat. I am all for walkable cities, which is why I moved to my current location 7 years ago. Still working on making friends with the neighbors (all renters who move out after a year or two).

    • EcoCatLady August 19, 2015, 9:20 pm

      I’m not entirely sure that neighborhood cohesiveness is exclusive to wealthy white people… in fact, my experience is pretty much the opposite. I am white (as white as they come) and I grew up in a typical middle class white suburb. I knew many of the neighbors, mostly because at that time (back in the ’70’s) all we kids played together outside all day, but other than the kids, people pretty much stuck to themselves.

      Now I live in a working class neighborhood with a large percentage of Mexican immigrants, and I have to say that people in this area are much closer than anything I experienced in my youth. The houses are small, and many people can’t afford air conditioning, so people sit outside on their porches or in their yards during the hot months. Most folks can’t afford to hire out jobs like yard work & minor home repairs, so people are always outside working in their gardens, houses, cars etc. and borrowing a tool from a neighbor, or shoveling someone’s walk for them is pretty much a normal thing. The kids all walk to school and in the summers and after school hours the streets and parks are packed to the gills with children playing. Lots of people walk or bike to do their shopping – at least those who can’t afford cars, and everyone waves, smiles and says hello.

      Of course, we do have the language barrier/cultural divide to contend with, but since I’m an introvert by nature, I’m not terribly eager to be out socializing with everyone and their brother, so it doesn’t bother me. The neighborhood also has a fair amount of bohemian artist types like myself. My best neighbor friends include a wig maker, a jeweler and a professional pet sitter.

      Anyhow, I do a fair amount of cycling, which takes me all over the metro area. And whenever I end up in an upper middle class white neighborhood I’m always struck by the lack of people. The yards are HUGE, with fancy BBQ and patio arrangements. There are beautiful parks everywhere, but the only people you ever see are the “hired help” keeping it all looking nice. I’ve never once seen a child out enjoying any of that expensive playground equipment.

      Of course, most of my neighbors are working folks – the early retired are few and far between in these parts. But I think there’s also a broader definition of work here… in other words, most people don’t commute to some office cubicle somewhere, they do things like clean houses, fix plumbing and maintain all the yards in the white neighborhoods!

      I’m not advocating poverty as some sort of cultural panacea, but I do think that much of the isolation that so many people here describe is largely a “wealthy white” experience.

    • RetiredAt63 August 21, 2015, 6:02 am

      Different places have different minorities, and some are more/less visible than others. According to the 2011 census, Victoria has a population of roughly 82% European origin, 6% aboriginal, and 12% visible minorities. Of the total population only 1% is identified as “black”, most of the visible minorities are Asian. Given Victoria’s geographical location, this makes sense. But in a casual group photo, most of those differences are not going to show. In fact, in all of Canada blacks are 2.9% of the total population – to quote from StatsCan “In 2011, 29.8% of Blacks reported multiple ethnic origins. The top ancestral origins among Blacks were Caribbean and African such as Jamaican (22.8%), Haitian (13.9%), Somali (4.4%) and Trinidadian/Tobagonian (3.7%). These origins were reported by Blacks either alone or with other origins. There were also Blacks who reported British Isles (10.9%), Canadian (10.8%) and French (4.3%) origins.” People with South Asian origins, on the other hand, make up 4.8% of the population, and Chinese make up 4%. These are all self-identified, by the way, in the census. We are also a mixed-marriages country, quite often, I know one little girl whose grandparents are Canadian (white), African (black) and Japanese.

      What I noticed as a regional difference, and didn’t really realize on my visit to BC until I was on my way home, was the absence of hijabs. They are common in Ontario, and there were many women wearing them at the Toronto and Ottawa airports. This highlights that there are major regional differences in Canada, since we are a big country (i.e. lots of different places to settle) and have a large immigrant population (i.e. “recent” immigrants, we are all relatively recent except aboriginals, they immigrated a lot earlier). People coming from Haiti are gong to end up in Montreal and Ottawa for linguistic reasons. Those from Jamaica are less likely to, again for linguistic reasons.

    • Frugal Bazooka August 23, 2015, 6:47 pm

      Despite media reports to the contrary approx 70% of the US is still pretty pale so using a bunch of photos on a website such as this to assume that this lifestyle is “white”and based on class privilege is kind of silly and statistically unprovable. In fact I would argue that those 2 divides are completely unrelated. There is a thriving black middle and upper class in America that gets little to no media play unless they are celebs or in a scandal. Why is that? Could it be that a successful Black middle class does not sell papers (or warrant clicks) to those who, like yourself harbor feelings of guilt and sadness for communities that neither want nor need your guilt? By ignoring minority successes, the media can continue the false narrative that minority communities are dependent on the gov’t and white guilt noblesse oblige? Do you find it a bit odd that you immediately equated non-white with a less than desirable class position? In my neighborhood, none of your assumptions are correct and I would argue that things have changed dramatically since the 1960s, 80s and even 90s.

      • RetiredAt63 August 24, 2015, 5:34 am

        What you say is true, but the point I tried to make was that the meet-up was in Victoria, which is in British Columbia, Canada. This means the demographics of the region are not USian demographics, they are Canadian demographics. Projecting USian demographic responses onto a Canadian picture doesn’t compute. I can count just over 20 people, which means their ethnic background “should be” 20 European, 1 native, and 1 Asian. Not going to show in that picture.

        Also, the history of Blacks in Canada is very different from that of their history in the US. We were the terminal for the UnderGround Railway, after all. Our major shame as a country (and it definitely exists) isn’t how we treat blacks, it is how we have treated natives. And our major divisor is not race, it is language, which will also not show in a picture. If you are black and immigrate to Montreal, your experience will be vastly different depending on which Caribbean Island you are from. From Haiti? You will be in the Francophone community. Jamaica? You will be in the Anglophone community. And I can think off the top of my head of two women of colour prominent in Canada who fit these two models – Gail Vaz Oxlade and Michaëlle Jean.

  • Jess August 19, 2015, 8:57 pm

    “The first city in the US to accomplish this feat will start a chain reaction that changes everything.”

    You should check out Mackinac Island Michigan. No Cars allowed….

    • Freedom35 August 19, 2015, 10:44 pm

      Cool place, thanks for sharing. You learn something new all the time here.
      Catalina Island is also neat in that regard, I think there is currently a 14 year wait list to get a permit for a car, and they only issue a new permit for every two that are surrendered.

  • Longworth August 19, 2015, 9:46 pm

    Oh, MMM – the good-natured bragging about your idyllic lifestyle is best tempered with equal parts visionary brilliance like this:

    ‘We are meant to live in medium-sized groups, to walk between each other’s dwellings, and to collaborate and play freely with an abundance of unscheduled free time. When you start with these basic building blocks of a community, you automatically press your happiness buttons and suddenly start living a much happier, healthier life.’

    Sparing the details, I had been a nomad for a long time – east coast to west coast to south america – and have found no better place to foster tribalism than the SF Bay Area. Of course there are others but it’ll be long before I find them again. I misread my future (and family) and returned to NJ where I’m saddled with an underwater mortgage in a crappy, depreciating neighborhood. So what does one do in this predicament to promote community? Start at home in one’s own backyard, I guess – carve out a humble 40 ft x 30 ft urban paradise, grow lots of organic vegetables, and host many BBQs. Unfortunately guests have to drive to BBQ and move their cars every 2 hrs to comply with resident street parking laws. Do mustachians even exist in central jersey? Anybody want to start a mustachian clan here and get rich?

  • Frugal Bazooka August 19, 2015, 11:04 pm

    I enjoyed reading this particular post because whether you like it or not it’s a trip back in time to a nicer, gentler America. It describes a world where people not only trust each other, but might actually like each other if they got the chance to hang out and talk once in a while.
    I, of course, blame the media 100% for causing most of modern problems having to do with the dumbing down and emotional ransacking of the general population. People seemed to be shell shocked after hearing so much bad news 24 hours a day and since some of them don’t have their bullshit detectors on at full strength, they let the negativity infect their thinking and their interacting. The world by many measures is a much safer and better place to live in today and yet the media barrage of negativity about our world is never ending.

    Be that as it may, to the point of the post – my general feeling about the tribe concept is somewhat muted. I work in a field where I must be “on” for a large portion of my work day and coming home to the exurbs is a relief from that performance. Don’t get me wrong, I like performing and I get paid well for being “on” but it can be emotionally tiring. This place away from my job, is my sanctuary where I can NOT be “on” and I can let the shit fly whether someone likes it or not. I have several friends in our local area, and we often come together to talk and share food, but it’s not at will. We set up those play dates because whether we like it or not, when we are interacting with humans we (at least I) go into a different mode of behavior and that takes effort. Sometimes I need to be able to put forth no effort at all. That recharges my psychic batteries and makes me good for the next time.

    If I was 100% out of the workplace, i might be able to hang in the utopian tribal milieu you describe. Until that day arrives, my home is a place where I can relax and avoid the urban tribe – no matter how wonderful that tribe might be.

  • Bee August 20, 2015, 3:41 am

    I’ve been keenly checking MMM for a new post the last couple of weeks, this article was fantastic! My husband and I are actively looking to move to an area that feels more like a community. Where we live at the moment, I can take my dog for a walk around the streets for over an hour and I may only see 10-20 people out walking. I really want to live in an area where people are out and about, where playgrounds have children in them and where I join some sporting groups/social groups etc.

  • Phil Pogson August 20, 2015, 5:30 am

    What a fabulous post! Thanks heaps

  • Basenji August 20, 2015, 5:38 am

    The most lyrical and compelling post you’ve ever written. Nice job. I just finished reading Jared Diamond’s “The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?” and I suspect you’ve read it, too. Similar conclusions about how humans are meant to live. I’m doing your notebook of neighbors to meet. I have long felt my future friends were waiting to me us, we just suffered from, oh I don’t want to bother people. Or laziness. Thank you for this.

  • Philip Rubin August 20, 2015, 7:29 am


    Your thoughts on tribal living have some excellent points, but I have a different take on this type of Living. My wife describes me as follows: I will help/lend anything to anyone at anytime, but I refuse to ask anyone for anything. The mingling and chatting with neighbors is fun and mostly enjoyable, but I much prefer to complete my activities by myself or if I need assistance I will ask my great wife/partner. We did a lot of boating which by nature is a solitary activity, making you self sufficient. In my thought process I do not want owe anything to anyone. Where I come from we would call that a Marker and unlike a financial dept with a stated repayment schedule (which at your own decision you can accelerate) you can be called upon to repay this dept at anytime/anyplace. I dislike uncertainty .
    We have been in the same TWO neighborhoods until recently. (We lived in a suburb of Orlando for work and on the weekends would drive for two hours to our waterfront home) My wife retired 5 years ago and I retired 1 year ago (age 59) On the Orlando side we knew all our neighbors but did not social with anyone, my wife and I both worked long hours, but we enjoyed our work, it kept us both in “The ARENA” After retiring we did sell the Orlando home, Having the two homes at the time was a decision with the future intent of retiring to a waterfront community that we could afford. Now we have a second place in TN so we can escape the heat of the summer with the intention of making TN our permanent base in about 5 more years. That property is 12 Ac. and extremely remote, but still only 7 miles to town with “all rights no lights” to the local Lowes/Food City!! What I like best about the Tn location is similar to your description in one of your first post “sweeping the driveway at 11AM in your robe” as a pleasurable activity…for me it is also, but without the robe. I am new to your site and am slowly catching up. Thanks for all your insight

    Just a quick Phil & Linda Bio: No dept, when our yearly salary started increasing we did not increase our life styles, we just saved the money, not to say we did not enjoy some of the amenities (We have owned boats for 30 years) but they did not sit at the dock, we used them all extensively. When we purchased the second home, we had a 15 yr mortgage, but paid it off in 5 yrs and have paid cash for all and any purchases. Yes we have three vehicles for the two of us but all were purchased when they were at least 2 years old and have a specific use, 2001 F250 for towing, 2002 Jag for just the wife and 2005 Mini Van for road trips and family time. I believe that this does not describe your perfect setting, but works perfectly for our situation wants and needs.

  • Matt August 20, 2015, 8:40 am

    Here in Pittsburgh we’ve been having Open Streets PGH for a few days during the summer and it’s pretty incredible to see the positive response to shutting down the streets to traffic and opening everything up to walkers/runners/bikers/dancers/yogis/etc. The Open Streets Project is a cool place to start reading about this kind of initiative. It’s a small step in the right direction, I think.

  • NathanS August 20, 2015, 9:21 am

    What would you do… stay pat or move (we have two kids under 5 and a new one arriving in the next week):

    Staying put: 2200 sqft 1850s farmhouse on an acre in a small village pop.2000 (with sidewalks that are plowed by the village in the winter!!) with all the local amenities we could possibly need (except a hardware store). But… its 25 miles/25 minutes to jobs and grandparents. Property tax burden is currently $5K/yr. I should note that we have great neighbors (more so than anywhere else I’ve lived), always getting together for s’mores, potlucks, kids playing…

    or Move: to a great Rochester suburb within Bus/Bike/Walking of workplaces and grandparents/family and nearly everything else. But, housing is significantly more expensive (we’d downsize significantly and still pay 20% more than what do now). PLUS: property tax burden moves to 4.5% of property value, or about $10K/yr (or more!). The Property tax burden is what is really hard to stomach. We’d save about $2,500 yr on gas, but mortgage&taxes up $8,100/ yr. Further, we are about to go from a family of 4 to a family of 5 with 3 kids under age 5 (downsizing seems like a foolish move at this point in our lives).

    I am so torn. The ideal location is really ideal. But the costs, particularly the taxes (which do not provide a form of equity accumulation), just seem to make it prohibitive. If we don’t move, FIRE is between 6 and 16 years away (reach vs full replacement of post-tax income).

    **Monroe County, NY (i.e., Rochester) has the highest property tax burden in the country when based as a % of housing values.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 20, 2015, 10:16 am

      This is a really interesting question!

      First of all, if your gas costs alone are $2500/year, your actual commuting costs might be closer to $10k since gas is the cheapest part of operating a car (the biggest is depreciation/wear/maintenance). If you add in the value of your time (which is essential if you value being a living human), you double or triple that figure again.

      Secondly, you might look into the rental prices in that city – they might be lower than the ownership costs. If not, you can at least do the fixer-upper trick: buy a house that is spacious but butt-ugly inside and thus cheap. This will lock in lower property taxes and save you money. Then fix it up to become as beautiful as you like, while not paying excessive tax on the fact that you have good design taste.

    • Rochestarian August 20, 2015, 12:15 pm

      I can’t help but notice that “move into the city of Rochester” didn’t make it onto your list of options. The cost of home ownership in the city is quite low relative to the suburbs, and there are some very nice neighborhoods. $80-$120K will get you a lovely 3-4 bedroom house in my hood, and it’s a pretty darn pleasant place to live most of the time. From a Mustachian commuting perspective, the $1-per-ride public transit and ever-growing network of bike lanes have certainly helped my family keep costs down.

      Oh, and before you say, “But the schools!” there are lots of families that have used a little creativity to make it work for them, either with homeschooling (which is quite popular in my neighborhood, making for a great support system), charters, or some of the nicer public schools accessible through a lottery system or strategic neighborhood choice.

      There’s a lot of optimism in Rochester right now from younger folks who want to revive it as a place to enjoy a convenient, local urban lifestyle. Life in the city is getting better all the time, so it might be worth considering for reasons of both finance and fun. You could check out things like The Rochestariat, the Young Urban Preservationists, and Rochester Subway to get a sense of the brewing enthusiasm for building community and improving local urban life.

      • NathanS August 24, 2015, 7:32 am

        Thanks for the comment, MMM. We are considering fixer-uppers as an entry point into the particular area we want.

        Thanks for the comment, Rochestarian: “but the schools” is actually a paramount factor. With three kids expected to go through the public school system (both my wife and I are big believers in public schools), we’ve decided the risks (i.e., violence) are too great in the city schools (I’m a graduate of them from many years ago), particularly during the middle-school and high-school years. When you live in the burbs, you know exactly what schools the children will go through.

        The other key factor is location: Brighton, in particular, which provides for all of the awesome commuting assets you mention above. The grandparents live in the city on the edge of Brighton. One of us works at Strong while the other works in Brighton. If we do move, the resulting location will be a short walk to 12 corners and to the highland/winton area. With the location being paramount (again, walking distance to 90% of our daily lives: grandparents, work), we’ve narrowed our focus to a few particular sidewalk neighborhoods in Brighton or, we will not move at all. We are not about to trade a 25 minute commute for a 10-15 minute commute (we enjoy our current community too much). It’s not the sticker prices in Brighton but rather its steep property taxes (even after downsizing!!) which has made me hesitant to move. However, when I do consider the less explicit vehicle costs (using half the federal mileage rate), we would come out way ahead if we were to move.

  • JCGurl August 20, 2015, 9:25 am

    Thank you so much MMM for describing the life I’ve been trying to create for myself for the last 20 years (since leaving the small town in which I grew up). I’ve found a lot of what you describe in downtown Jersey City, NJ. People move here because of the laid back neighborhood vibe. There are several lovely parks which are surrounded on all sides by brownstones and act as public squares. The local neighborhood associations are very active and the many activities there (movies in the park, farmer’s markets, festivals) create much of the atmosphere you mention. But the cost of living in Jersey City is HIGH. And most of the residents, myself included, derive their income from jobs in New York City which involves a soul-crushing commute.

    There are so many lovely small towns in New York State with really low housing costs… places where you can buy a spacious home with historic details for $75,000 or less. But much of the infrastructure necessary for the socially vibrant lifestyle described in this article (like functioning Main Streets) were destroyed by interstate highways, big box stores and online shopping.

    I would love to hear from fellow Mustachians in what small cities they live and enjoy the lifestyle described. I would love to relocate to a small city where I can live and work and a find like-minded tribe. Has anyone found this kind of lifestyle in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic? New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania?

    • Freedom35 August 20, 2015, 3:51 pm

      You are the second person I’ve heard recently rave about the neighborhood vibe in Jersey City, I think I’m going to have to check that out when I get the chance.

      In the Mid-Atlantic, we previously lived in Baltimore, and really liked it. Certain neighborhoods are really great and have a strong community, I think it has to do with the history, the quirkiness, and the more working class background of the city.

      It’s also relatively affordable for a city located on that coveted DC – Boston corridor. Someone recently wrote “The city is ideally positioned between New York and Washington so that all the ambitious people are siphoned off — the ones who crave wealth and fame to the north, the ones who lust for power to the south — leaving the lazier, saner remainder in peace to enjoy low rents, cheap beers and a life undisturbed by the clamorous egos of the driven.”

      He might have meant it derisively, but it also has a nice ring to it.

      • Jcgurl August 20, 2015, 8:35 pm

        That is an awesome quote.

  • Mike August 20, 2015, 11:33 am

    Regarding the further reading, I wonder how someone who drives more than 10 minutes to work would handle something like that. Assuming they don’t use the highway that’s easily a 20-30 bike ride and if we add the highway back in, it’s even worse.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 21, 2015, 8:49 am

      I think for the South Korea experiment, you could leave your car just outside the no car zone. But note that biking in an urban area like that is usually much FASTER than using a car anyway. Even in my much lower density city in Colorado the bike beats the car. Cars only start to win out when you are on an uncrowded highway, an uncommon thing in busy metro areas.

    • The Frugal One August 21, 2015, 10:12 am

      I currently live in a city whose idea of urban planning is build a two- or four-lane road to everything and pepper them with as many traffic lights as possible. The congestion is insane. It can take an hour to go 5-7 miles at times. Bikes are faster in the busiest parts of town. They’re not much slower throughout the rest. My motorcycle gives me an average MPH reading. From red light to red light on one of the busiest roads, the average speed was 23.5 MPH, even though the limit was 45. What’s the average MPH for a casual cyclist?

      • Dōitashimashite August 26, 2015, 7:32 pm

        I average 12 mph on the flats of central Florida. I’d guess most people could do 8-16 mph, depending on fitness and motivation.

  • John Wolfstone August 20, 2015, 11:51 am


    Thanks so much for this article – hailing from Fort Collins, it’s so inspiring to hear of this happening in Longmont. I’d love to connect in person when I’m back home this fall. Thank you for helping to lead the way.

    – John Wolfstone

  • Rick in Baltimore August 20, 2015, 12:46 pm

    MMM, you need to meet (and maybe go bowling with) Robert Putnam!

  • Aurelia August 20, 2015, 1:01 pm

    Hi MMM,

    Just started reading your blog, I really enjoy it! One of the things I love is how enthusiastic you are about bikes. I’m from the Netherlands (Holland, if you will) and the whole country loves to ride bikes. The funny thing is, up until the 1970s, cars were rapidly overtaking the major cities. The (local) government then made a surprisingly Badass move to discourage car use. It definitely worked; there are more bikes than people! Everyone uses bikes; kids to grannies, business men to homeless men, our prime minister, moms with kids and groceries, every age, race and gender. If you like to get an impression of my hometown’s bike habits, just search Utrecht + bike on youtube. You’ll find a few fun videos! It shows you what can happen when a community just puts its foot down, looks to mother Earth and start to use their own legs for locomotion.
    Anyway, I’m off to read more posts!

  • Jeff August 20, 2015, 2:28 pm

    My wife and I just decided we are moving to the Longmont area in about 2 years. We’ve been in a self-inflicted suburban lifestyle for the first 10 years of our marriage, and we’re finally (partially through this blog) beginning to realize how silly it all has been. We have a beautiful (too big) house that backs up to a state park with trails and a river you can kayak on, but the only time we ever get out there is on weekends. I work from home, and the seclusion is killing me.

    Thanks for your blog and thank you in particular for this quite timely piece.

  • julie sunday August 20, 2015, 3:09 pm


  • Leslie August 20, 2015, 6:16 pm

    Are there any Mustachians living in San Clemente, CA? I hear it is pedestrian friendly with a laid back vibe.

  • Pam August 21, 2015, 12:35 am

    Totally on board with this. I want to ditch the gas burning car. Sitting is the new smoking. We need to use our legs. How many times have you accidentally been bumped into by a pedestrian who exlaims, oh, I’m so sorry; and you say, No problem…while walking. Contrast. How many times has someone bumped into your car or cut you off or driven funny and somneone says, sorry and the other says, no problem…you first. It’s not people.. it’s CARS everyone is honkng at a screaming at. On foot or bike, it’s people we interact with. you can actually meet a friend on the street, in a bike shop, or even on public transportation.
    PS> Glad to see someone from the Seattle tribe rides RAGBRAI. I know they come from CO every year.
    ps. Some sociologist calls local close friends, “refrigerator friends” and theories we are depressed in the US because people need friends who can help themselves to the refrigerator or walk right in.

    That all for now. I’t 1:35 am.

  • HenryDavid August 21, 2015, 6:02 am

    Yup, the urban village is a great life. Discovered this in Toronto in the late 70s/early 80s, and never looked back.
    Now in Calgary–a real car-town–but have still managed to construct something sort-of close. Only problem is friends scattered outside the 10k easy-cycling (in winter) range. But we have lots of chatty neighbours in all directions, most stuff is walkable/bikeable (including work of course), and we only need to leave the “village” occasionally.
    What puzzles me is that sadly, through their own choice, many of our friends in the same damn city have organized their lives to include daily zig-zag commutes at peak times from home to school to work to school to lessons to the gym to the store to the organic market to home to that coffee place really far away to lessons to school . . . . aaaggghhhh. This “requires” them to buy or lease SUVs for “safety,” which requires a bigger paycheque, which requires longer hours, etc etc. Are you doing this? You can change it!

  • The Frugal One August 21, 2015, 6:12 am

    On the flip side of finding your tribe where you live now, we’ve just sold everything that won’t fit in the car and parked my motorcycle in a friend’s garage to take a year-long sabbatical to tour the country. We’ll spend less than $25,000 to do it, and that’s including short-term rent in each city. Urban tribes may inspire you to spend less, but nomads know how to get by on less and save just as well.

    The goal is to find a melting pot of close outdoor activities and a worthwhile community with close amenities. I’ve lived with it in California and Colorado, now I’m curious where else that kind of ideal condition can be found. It’s going to be a blast finding out.

    • mikey g August 21, 2015, 5:50 pm

      awesome! I wish I could do that, will you be blogging your journey hopefully?

      • The Frugal One August 21, 2015, 6:33 pm

        I think sharing in the journey would be a fantastic way to reflect on the experiences great adventures bring. I loved reading travelogues growing up. I can’t wait to be the one sharing my own this time. I’m even more excited to share the minutiae of how we’ll be able to do something so cool in a frugal fashion. And the pictures. There will be so many pictures!

        MMM will be winding up a fist learning that I’ll be piloting a sedan instead of a hatchback to get us around, but maybe I’ll be forgiven knowing that I’m looking for a place to settle down where I can drop the car altogether.

  • Alexandra August 21, 2015, 9:34 am

    After I finish taking my son on this world tour, I would totally consider moving to CO. This is an amazing idea! Everyone thinks you have to do everything alone and its just not the case. I desperately wish I could convince my friends/family to do this, but they are all infatuated with the rat race and all the other BS. I will have to find some new like minded people to surround myself with!

  • Elisabeth W August 21, 2015, 9:36 am

    It is totally possible to recreate this in large cities. I live and work in Alexandria, VA, right outside of DC. My boyfriend and I chose to live in an awesome little neighborhood in Alexandria called Del Ray. We can walk/bike to everything we need, including an organic grocery store, the metro, and the neighborhood’s main street, which has some awesome local restaurants and bars. We live in an apartment complex with an amazing, oak-filled 2-acre courtyard right outside our door that we never have to mow. I have two small potted vegetable gardens out the front door and back door. Our rent is reasonable because we share a one-bedroom apartment and we have plenty of space because we don’t care very much about stuff. We don’t know all of our neighbors but we have a few good friends in the building, including one neighbor whose dog I walk daily at lunch for extra cash.

    There are a couple downsides to our situation. My boyfriend has to drive out to Herndon twice a week for his job, which is about a 45 minutes away. They haven’t built a metro stop that far out yet so he has no choice but to drive. He gets to work from home the other days of the week, though. Also, our friend group started out in Arlington when we all graduated from UVA and moved up to the DC area three years ago but is now spread out in DC, Falls Church, and Alexandria. They are still our main group of friends but it can be a hassle getting to each other’s places. If we were planning to stay in the DC area, we would figure out solutions to these problems, such as my boyfriend finding a job in Alexandria and making more really good friends in our neighborhood. However, we have one big adventure left in us and want to try a different city for a few years before moving closer to our parents in central VA. I just wanted to write and say this is totally possible in a big city. :)

    And in case you’re thinking, “You’re not really in the city! Alexandria is the ‘burbs!” I would tell you that we have friends who live in Adams Morgan, Shaw, Navy Yard, and Capital Hill (all neighborhoods in DC) that have very similar set ups.

    • Elisabeth W August 21, 2015, 9:40 am

      And when we move, we will DEFINITELY be recreating the walkability situation we have now. Except this time we are determined to both not have to drive to work.

    • Mallary August 22, 2015, 4:54 pm

      Yes! Agree totally and want to encourage all to remember it is up to us to find/make Mustachianism in our local tribe within the larger environment. Never let the logistics defeat you – whether you find new (additional) friends, move, or adapt to the immediate surroundings you can keep creating frugal, common-sense (no clownish consumerism) behavior WHEREVER you are.

      I live in Alexandria and love it; remember we would have been part of D.C. if the original plan had survived.

  • Hans August 21, 2015, 12:44 pm

    Thanks MMM for a very refreshing article as usual. I was wondering if you could write in future about how you approached the estate planning for your family. Would love to get your thoughts on that topic, as there is so much noise out there.

  • Michelle August 21, 2015, 1:13 pm

    I live in Denver and I find it quite easy to live a car free life. It is not unusual to see people riding their bikes in work clothing or to events. That said it also depends on where you live in whatever city you’re in. I live within 2 blocks walking distance of a bus stop and close to 3 light rail stops that will transport me from my home, to south Denver, and next year the airport. If you have the option to live within close proximity of public transit I would take it every time. Also, my job gave me a free transit pass-why pay for a car too? I saved a ton of $$ with that option.

  • Heidi August 21, 2015, 3:56 pm

    We’re a military family who are on a desperate search for our “Urban Tribe” home in about 5-7 years. Problem is, we live where the Army tells us (which so far are NOT places we want to retire). Any suggestions for an Urban Tribe community like MMM describes in Florida? Or Texas? Or someplace with lots of outdoor activities?

    • The Frugal One August 22, 2015, 6:34 pm

      I’m hard-pressed to think of great urban tribe areas in the areas of Florida I’ve been to where there’s much to do outdoors that doesn’t include a long drive. Unless you like the beach. Then you can get a condo or apartment on the beach and be able to walk to grocery stores, the gym, food joints, thrift stores, whatever. You can live inland, around Oviedo, or look around Seminole County.

      Gainesville has some great neighborhoods. And a lot of parks and places to hike, but if you go in the summer you will be living through the movie Arachnophobia. The traffic is the worst I have ever experienced, with a mix of impulsive college kids and people too old to be safely driving. Downtown is a sad wasteland of untapped opportunity.

      There are a lot of places here you can live where walking or biking to most places is easy enough. You’ll have a much harder time mixing that with finding a great neighborhood full of awesome people, and finding things to do outdoors close by.

      I’d recommend looking around Homosassa, Seminole County, Tampa, St Petersburg, Bradenton, Melbourne Beach, Oviedo. Check out the forums on city-data.com and see what locals have to say.

      The Navy spoiled me by sending me to San Diego. I’ve been to a lot of states, a lot of cities, I haven’t found anything quite like what Sunny D offered. I hope your family can find its oasis somewhere along the way in the next few years.

  • Melinda August 22, 2015, 12:39 am

    Hi, I have just have a question for MMM, if you only use your car so infrequently, why do you own two cars and not one. My husband and I have shared a car on and off for over twenty years and only had two when he had a company car and our three children were at an age when a lot of running around was required. Also at this point in time my husband worked a considerable distance from home. Also we moved to a new area on a small acreage and find that the neighbours are just busy with their own lives and have had difficulty meeting people with common interests and even less likely a MMM lifestyle which we like to follow these guidelines.

  • Jeffk August 22, 2015, 8:07 am

    I just wanted to second the point made in the post: Strongtowns.org is a fantastic group encourages people to push for policies at a local level that enable Mustachianism. It’s really important, very much off the political map, and I encourage everyone to check them out. There’s a section on the front page with suggested reading for newcomers.

  • Teri August 22, 2015, 5:47 pm

    Ah – Longmont would indeed be a better place for the no-car experiment! I live next door in Frederick and while I’ve been here for 12 years, I have yet to embrace our little community. Lack of work opportunities in Carbon Valley landed me in Boulder, and I opted to put my kids in school in Longmont as they outperform locally. Now… if only there were a safe way to bike to all of our stops in one day that didn’t take 2 hours!

    It’s been a lesson to me. I bought my house here after leaving downtown Denver rental life with only a 2-year old. I wish I had thought more about the future when we decided to buy as we have not yet been willing to sell our house and move. At this point I think we’re committed to staying 8 more years until both kids have moved out, and we’ll be back to downtown Denver!

  • Josh August 23, 2015, 12:18 pm

    It’s interesting because the lifestyle you describe reminds of the years living on campus during college. I didn’t care about money, I walked everywhere, and I had friends located close by all over campus.

    Turns out these were also the happiest years of my life. Maybe there’s something to this theory. :)

  • Dom August 23, 2015, 2:26 pm

    I think building a community could be one of the most rewarding things you can do with your life.

    I think the CEOs call it social capital.

    Here you’ve managed to create an online community and an offline one, bravo!

    I think this may just compel me to actually speak to my neighbours.

    Wish me good luck!

  • Ripley August 23, 2015, 5:11 pm

    I live in a new urbanist neighborhood in Colorado and it’s exactly like this here. The neighborhood is intentionally designed to encourage neighborhood interaction by being walkable, having porches, having lots of pocket parks, and lots of interesting places to walk to, so people run into each other a lot and get to know each other. Works awesome as I know all my neighbors and I talk to many pretty much every day, and we have frequent neighborhood events. Is a great place to live and makes me very happy. I’ve visited about 10 other new urbaist neighborhoods in Colorado and Florida and asked people there if their experience is similar to mine, so far everyone I’ve asked has said yes. Moving here from a traditional suburb where no one spoke to each other has dramatically improved my entire family’s quality of life.

    For those looking for tribe friendly communities, check out new urbanist neighborhoods in your area if there are any, and old urban neighborhoods on which these places are based. Walkable seems to be a good indicator of a potentially close knit community. Communities built by design or happenstance for people and not cars. Only wrinkle, these neighborhoods tend to be very popular and there aren’t enough of them to fill demand, so can have high housing prices. Not sure how or if that can be fixed, as I don’t see many of these neighborhoods being built because they are complicated to do.

  • Joe August 23, 2015, 10:02 pm

    Seattle folks on Cap Hill and the CD (and surrounding neighborhoods): I made a FB group to help facilitate us meeting each other and forming a “tribe”:


    Please join and invite your neighbors!

  • Mrs PoP August 24, 2015, 11:13 am

    I’m late to comment here, but just wanted to share this great article on NYTimes today about a “social street” in Italy and how building a local community has changed the lives of those that participate.

  • Dan August 24, 2015, 12:09 pm

    Hey, those are some cool rear racks on those bikes. Long enough for two kids w/ foot rests, etc. Some custom welding, or can they be purchased somewhere?


  • Nick August 24, 2015, 3:28 pm

    Any communities like this in the United Kingdom or Ireland?


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