Can I survive in Ann Arbor without a car?

Can I survive in Ann Arbor without a car?

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0 thoughts on “Can I survive in Ann Arbor without a car?”

  1. If you’re a young, fit, & UM undergrad student living in a dorm on Central Campus, you can survive without a car, as long as you can bike a number of places. Ann Arbor is a concentrated city with a heart & spokes radiating out in all directions. If you have money for ZipCar, Uber, Lyft & taxis you can easily get to & from the spoke regions from the heart.
    If you live any place but a dorm, you need supplies from the spokes. Thus, although parking is terrible in Ann Arbor, anyone over age 22 is strongly dependent on having a personal vehicle (or prepared to use ZipCar).
    If you live in any of the non-downtown areas, you must have a vehicle or live on a bus line or be prepared for biking. Bikes are often stolen in Ann Arbor, so a good lock & chain are needed.

  2. I’m currently a student without a car living in Ann Arbor. The public transit system is quite extensive and can get you to grocery stores or the mall. Additionally, it is a fairly bike friendly place. Depending on where you are living there’s also stuff within walking distance. Overall, living in Ann Arbor is doable without a car.

  3. It depends greatly on where you live in Ann Arbor, and where you need to go. I did it for quite some time (well, I had a car, but only used it on trips out of town, or the rare case of picking up something large from a store). I lived on the Old West Side and worked on Central Campus. It was a 20-minute walk or 10-minute bike ride through downtown to and from work, and on days when the weather was truly horrid, I was about 200′ from a bus stop. I could get most of my shopping done at places like the Food Co-Op, and even though I was paying more for groceries perhaps than a trip to Kroger or Meijer, I was saving a lot of gas and time (5 minutes out of my way on the walk home to the Food Co-Op). It was actually dangerous to my food budget, as I would often be walking home in the evening hungry after work (I was in a long distance relationship and living alone), and the delicious aromas from some downtown restaurant would often lure me in for supper, rather than me going home and cooking myself a meal.
    One thing not mentioned here previously: the U of M campus buses are absolutely free to all, you don’t have to show a U-M ID or anything. That can often get you to/from places you might want to go if they are anywhere near Central, South, North campuses or any of the extensive U-M-owned medical facilities/hospitals. Check it out here: Bus Routes and Schedules . Also if you’re Faculty or Staff (don’t know one way or the other if you’re a student), you can show your U-M ID and ride the AAATA buses for free.
    Another good resource is here: Apartments for Rent (walkscore dot com — I don’t know why it comes through as “Apartments for Rent”). It scores walkability/public transit/bikeability on scales of 0–100. for any given address for the cities it “knows,” and it knows Ann Arbor. For instance, where I lived on the Old West Side, it scored: 93/100 (“walker’s paradise. Daily errands do not require a car”) for walking, 61 (“good transit. Many nearby public transportation options”) for public transit, and 98 (“flat as a pancake, excellent bike lanes”) for bicycling.
    Where I live now (a condo off Huron Parkway, near Huron High School) is a counterexample. Walkscore only gives it 13, 39, and 63, respectively. I have to choose between an 8-minute drive to where I work now (near Domino’s Farms), or a 60-minute walk, or a 20-minute walk to a bus stop + a 15-minute bus ride, or a 20-minute bike ride that starts with a steep uphill up Glazier Way (I don’t choose that option nearly enough).

  4. Yes! Ann Arbor has a great mass transit system, and is a very compact city. Having a car is, as always, really nice, but you can live happily in A2 without one – and parking downtown is a bear, so you may actually be better off.

  5. It depends on what your activities are. If you’re a student, and you can get an apartment close to the downtown area, and you don’t look for any activities outside of the downtown area, it is conceivable that you can get anywhere you want to go just by walking. In pretty much any other circumstance, I’d say that a car will make your life bearable. The public transit system simply sucks (or at least it used to a couple years ago; apparently now buses run somewhat more frequently, but by now I’ve just gotten used to going everywhere in my car).

  6. Back in the mid to late 1980s, I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment just outside of downtown Ann Arbor without a car and commuted to work primarily by walking to a UofM bus stop or bicycling.
    Back then, there were a few grocery stores semi-convenient to me – including a small Kroger (that’s been an empty field for 20 years now) and a tiny grocery on the edge of campus. Not having car payments made my particular situation affordable. There was also more useful general retail in downtown Ann Arbor than there is now.
    I didn’t have (or want) Cable TV, and because of the particular part of the University I worked for, I got internet service (at the 9600bps) for free because I was part of a pre-DSL, pre-ISDN trial servicecalled Data Over Voice (DOV.)
    These days, the public transit system is much better than it was then and some employers (including UofM) will pay for your use of the public transit system (to some extent.)
    The groceries left near downtown includes the People’s Food Co-Op, the Kerrytown shops, and the Argus Farm Stop (new in the past 5 years.)
    The north side of Ann Arbor is much more walkable than it was back in the 1980s – there’s a large Kroger on the edge of North Campus.
    But housing costs are way up.
    It’s doable – but hard.

    Victor Allen’s

  7. It really depends on how close you are to a major street. The AATA has multiple routes throughout the city with connecting routes that travel to any area of the city, and transporting your bike on the bus to your destination. Now with the options of delivery of groceries from major stores, shopping is less of a chore. Ann Arbor is designed for bike riding, especially near Main Campus. Just a word of caution, please obey the traffic rules and safety! I have witnessed too many close calls due to people not following the traffic signals.

  8. If your social and work life are centered around downtown or the University, then yes, you don’t need a car. This mainly applies to students and young professionals without children. The only challenge will be getting groceries, as most of the big stores are kind of far from downtown. But you can manage if you learn the bus routes or use Uber. Both will be cheaper than a car payment and repairs. The only caveat is that rent is generally more expensive near downtown and houses are mostly unaffordable right now for the average person.
    All in all, if you were to look for a city you could live in where you don’t need a car, Ann Arbor would be a great choice.


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