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best smaller cities to live without a car


Guest Gnome Chomsky

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Hey everyone,

I was wondering if you have any idea as to how successful I'll be in applying for top American/Canadian PhD programs with the following (quite a funny mixture): mediocre transcript and GRE scores, BUT coming from a top school, a strong personal statement, very strong writing sample and reference letters, and a history of 2 serious publications as well as a serious conference presentation.

Good luck for everyone applying this year!

Edited by Olgalencz
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  • 2 months later...

I've found Denver to be accommodating ( I live in an urban neighborhood Cap Hill). I bike, bus, and light rail everywhere. It sucks to not have a car to travel to the mountains, but many of my friends take me.  Parking downtown is hard and Denver is notorious for having the worst parking ticket frequency in the country... by outside of downtown there is street parking that isn't bad.

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  • 1 month later...

Seattle is not a small city. Also, we've only got buses, unless you're in South Seattle. You could easily function without a car if you like to bike and want to take buses. But we don't have a real metro system (it's in the works still).

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Went to UC Davis for my undergrad (didn't read all the posts yet, so if someone answered, I'm sorry!) I actually didn't receive my driver's license til after graduation because the public transportation  + biking town made it so easy to not need to drive anywhere. Getting out of Davis becomes a bit more questionable, but even then, there's an Amtrak to San Francisco/San Jose/most of California, daily shuttles to Berkeley, bus lines to west of Davis and to Sacramento. I didn't leave the town that often, but I rarely had troubles doing so when I had to. Definitely a dream for those without cars or licenses, and I absolutely loved it! In fact, depending on where you live and want to go, having a car might become a pain in the ass.

 

I actually disagree with those above comments about the heat. I'm from Colorado, then moved to LA before going to Davis, and get terrible rashes in hot weather and from sweat. Yes, the weather in Davis gets hot in spring/summer (worst heat wave brought 101F +), but it was dry heat, and there are so many trees in Davis anyway and every building was so cold that when I worked in the summer I had to bring a sweater anyway. In fact, if you leave to get to school early enough (earlier than 9) and get home past 7, you'll probably want a light jacket since it gets cool in the nights. I think humid heat is worse, since it gets inside you and sticks to you and makes everything feel sticky. No offense to those who love it ;)

Edited by scientific
Talk about weather
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  • 8 months later...

Davis is super easy to get around without a car, it's a very contained college town. You'll need a bike though. The only school I can think of that that might not be true is the med school, but then again since they moved it to Sacramento it might actually be easier without a car than before since the med center/hospitals are in Sac. I'd say San Francisco is probably easier to get around without a car too because parking and traffic are a nightmare (like NYC), but ask around if your school is anywhere else in the bay. I could see a Stanford student get around fairly easily without a car since Palo Alto's small, but not a San Jose State student.

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  • 6 months later...
On 20.06.2012 at 0:54 AM, Guest Gnome Chomsky said:

I know major cities like NY, Chicago, DC, Philly, Boston are very easy to live without a car. But how about smaller cities like Minneapolis, Seattle, Madison WI, Davis CA, and other places?

It`s interesting to me how can it be easy to live without a car in such big cities like Chicago or NY? Can you explain me, please?:)

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8 hours ago, AlexaBarret said:

It`s interesting to me how can it be easy to live without a car in such big cities like Chicago or NY? Can you explain me, please?:)

In big cities *with good public transportation*, it can be easier to live without a car than if you lived in a suburb. Big cities generally have your necessities closer together and lots of buses/trains/etc to get you to where you are. In suburbs, public transit is harder to find and you might have to travel quite far to get to things. I lived in a suburb for my PhD and basically everything was a 25-40 minute car ride away, or over an hour on the bus (and most places don't even have good bus routes). 

Also, there is more incentive to avoid using a car in a big city where there might be a lot of traffic and/or very expensive parking so that walking or taking a train might be just as fast and much cheaper than driving!

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  • 6 months later...

Interesting topic! I asked my classmates a similar question last week, they recommended the twin cities for decent public transit. It might also depend on your cost of living, SF has BART but is costly like NYC. Maybe Florida has some decent transit systems in the mid-small cities?

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 1/30/2018 at 4:30 AM, AccessGranted said:

Interesting topic! I asked my classmates a similar question last week, they recommended the twin cities for decent public transit. It might also depend on your cost of living, SF has BART but is costly like NYC. Maybe Florida has some decent transit systems in the mid-small cities?

(Native) Floridian here! There is no public transportation here at all. We all Uber everywhere. Lol 

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  • 1 year later...

Chapel Hill, NC is very walkable itself. If you need to explore the area more freely, you sure need a car though. 
New Orleans is that way as well. Itself manageable without owning a car. But exploring the area at large, surrounding cities etc. You do need a car.

It will not be the choice of someone who finds Miami heat and east coast humidity unacceptable. Had you been ok with those, these might have been nice picks. 

 

 

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  • 7 months later...

Lived in Providence for two years sans car while doing my masters. I'd say it's a pretty good small city to live in without a car, although colleges are on a hill (aptly named college hill) so it did give my calves a workout. That said, us RISD hooligans mostly stayed downhill from the Ivy kids, minimizing unnecessary calf exercises. Halfway through my first year I started going out with someone who has a car and I must say that did broaden my horizons exponentially, especially for summer downtime.

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On 4/19/2019 at 2:22 PM, sgaw10 said:

Is there any chance I could get by in St. Louis without a car? Coming from Chicago, I prefer not to own a car. But I realize public transit down there isn't so great.

Depending on where you live, it could be very easy to live and get by without a car. There are a lot of transportation options near Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis University, University of Missouri - St. Louis and Webster University. Options around Downtown are also plentiful. Transportation options become harder when you move toward the suburbs which are more than 20 miles away from St. Louis city. However, St. Louis is affordable and has a wide variety of neighborhoods available depending on your preferences.

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  • 2 months later...

Durham is very easy to get around in with just a bike. There are buses too, but I don't use them. Most people here have cars because it's impossible to get to the other cities in the Triangle (Raleigh and Chapel Hill) without one, but if you just want to hang out in town, it's honestly small enough to walk. \

I also used to live in the SF Bay, and was totally fine without a car there for six years. SF probably doesn't count as a small city (800k), but Berkeley/Oakland do. 

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