Our family moved to a central location after spending a year in Switzerland. When we lived in die Schweiz we were able to walk everywhere we needed to go. This time away made my wife and I realize that we both really hate driving. In fact, we hated everything about commuting. At the time, we had one car, and would drive into work together (25 minutes) and we’d take turns taking the bus home (45 minutes) since we worked different schedules. Everything about it sucked. We hated it. This story is about how our lives got so much happier when we (1) moved somewhere we didn’t need a car to survive (2) bought our Yuba Spicy Curry cargo bike.
Note: This post contains affiliate links to some bike accessories. Please see our affiliate policy. This post was not sponsored in any way by Yuba.
Money well spent
Our best life decision was selling our house and moving “downtown” in 2011. This was long before we had thought about the financial independence movement or “optimizing happiness”. We just had a long conversation about what we wanted from life and what we wanted to do with our money. I had gotten a promotion and we were trying to figure out how to make our life *better* with the money. It seemed like getting rid of the commute would make our life much happier.
So we sold our house at what turned out to be the rock bottom of our city’s great recession at a loss. (In fact, we lost most of the equity we had in the house). However, it was a great time to buy a house in the new, desirable neighborhood.*
The new home was picked based solely on geography and cost. We used a compass and map to draw 2 mile radii around our workplaces and told the realtor that our house needed to be in the overlapping region. We also had budget restrictions as we were planning on putting 20% down. There weren’t a lot of options. We ended up in a former college rental that had penises and the number “69” painted all over the basement walls, vomit caked on closet walls and holes all over the plaster. But it fit our criteria.
Our lives got immediately better. Instead of being tense from driving to work every day, I was refreshed from a quiet little (1.5 mile) bike ride. Furthermore, my wife had a 4 block walk to work (which had an attached daycare). Everyone was getting outside at least twice a day to commute. We also added at least an hour of time back into our day. It was heaven.
Our new bike lives
Moving downtown allowed us to walk or bike to many of the best restaurants, bars, and entertainment areas in our city. This was fine for me. But we were a family of four at the time and (back then) Mrs. Fig cycled at a much different (slower) speed than I did. We tried many different bike options those first few years. I think this 4-seater was my favorite.
The tandom+tag along+ iBert was a way for our family of 4 to get somewhere at the same speed all together. But it was a BEAST to ride. For those of you who have ridden a tandem, you know that you need to synchronize your pedaling. This can be difficult when starting/stopping in the absence of children. Now imagine doing it while balancing a baby on the handlebars and a toddler on the back with an insanely heavy trailer.
It was pretty much a quad-buster to start the big bike at any intersection. And it was hard to balance. Therefore it was pretty difficult to maneuver the big bike through traffic.
How we decided on the Spicy Curry cargo bike
Then one day when we were on vacation, we saw Yuba Mom-Go at a festival with her cargo bike. It was the first time I’d seen a cargo bike in real life. I was in love. Michelle was kind enough to let me try her bike with the kiddos. Compared to the bus bike, it handled like a dream. Mrs. Fig and I knew that we *needed* one of these in our lives.
We ended up going with the Yuba Spicy Curry cargo bike, which has an electric power-assist. Prior to buying the e-bike, I thought they were for losers who were out of shape. But when I was test-riding bikes, it felt pretty sweet to have that extra boost. And hauling 2 (and later 3) kids is hard to do all by yourself. Especially when there are hills.
Another advantage of the power assist is that you can never use the excuse “I’m too tired” to bike somewhere. You can just crank the power assist up and you get all of the benefits of biking (freedom of movement, absence of traffic, free parking) without worrying about whether or not you’ll be tired and crabby and sweaty half-way there. Having the power assist has made the Spicy Curry cargo bike our go-to mode of transportation. The power assist has also greatly extended the range that we consider “bikeable” as a family.
Our Spicy Curry cargo bike life
We are a much happier family that we bike almost everywhere. I feel like this cartoon pretty much perfectly captures the joys of biking with kids.
We use the cargo bike to buy our groceries eight months out of the year (because, snow.). And we use the cargo bike as the primary way to go everywhere we want to go in the city with the kids. Despite what you’d imagine, we bike through all sorts of weather and surprisingly, the kids don’t complain. The only thing that stops our biking is the snow/ice/slush/salt that fills our roads from late December to early March.
One feature that we really like about the bike is that it’s compatible with the Yepp Maxi bicycle seat. So as soon as our littlest one was a year she could go everywhere with us on the bike. We really like how the seat attaches firmly to the cargo bike frame and that it has a five-point harness.
The only downside of the cargo bike is that it has made our kids hate getting in the car. If we have to go somewhere that’s a 20 minute car ride, they start complaining and asking “are we there yet?”
In truth, having the Spicy Curry cargo bike has made us all a little spoiled when it comes to transportation.
Moving to a walkable/bikeable neighborhood and buying the Spicy Curry cargo bike have added so much happiness into our lives. Not only do they they increase our happiness, but they’ve also saved us time and money. It’s a triple win (more happiness, less time, less money). What could be better?
* It wasn’t all bad. We sold our old home at a $16,000 loss. Since 2011 the old house appreciated $42k but our current residence appreciated $119k. So even with the sunk costs, we did really well financially by moving. Not to mention our lives are 1,000 times better!!!
**I now see that Yuba is selling an electric bakfiet. I really really want this bike even though it probably isn’t practical for our family any more. (UPDATE!- I just talked to Mrs. Fig and she really wants this bike too!!)
What do you think? Could you bike commute just one day a week? How might it change your life?
SamSam i.e. "Gov Worker" started working for the government at age 18 and loved it so much that he never left. He started GovernmentWorkerFI in 2019 to help fellow federal employees understand their benefits, take control of their finances, and live their best lives.
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