Even though I was the one who nudged my wife to get rid of the car, she seems to be appreciating it a lot more than I am. I love it, but she keeps remarking how good it is to be without a car—probably because until recently she was the main person using it. We both grew up in the suburbs, and both her parents and my parents had at least two cars at any given time. You had to drive to get to the grocery store, to get to the library, to get to a friend’s house, to get just about anywhere except the woods.
Once we moved to a city, we still needed a car. She was working in the city, but I was working about thirty minutes away by highway. Then, she was in school and needed to constantly lug things around, leave dangerous areas late at night, and be in several places around the bay within a short time period.
Now we finally both work in the city and can be without a car. We donated it a few weeks ago, and, as my wife keeps remarking, our life is a lot better (and less stressful) now. At a conservative estimate, we’re saving about $2000 a year (and we owned our car, so that does not include car payments). We walk more. My wife gets more reading done on the bus and waiting for the bus. I get dizzy when reading on moving vehicles, so I listen to music and just people-watch. We don’t have to worry about the car being broken into, the car not starting, the car getting ticketed (for street “cleaning”); the car insurance, the gas, parking, oil changes, registration, smog checks… the list just goes on and on.
If you live and work in a city and have ever considered going car-free, I would highly recommend it. I’d also highly recommend reading How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life by Chris Balish. We checked that book out of the library, and that was what assured us that taking that final step of actually getting rid of the car… wasn’t so scary after all.