Last year, suburbanites from birth, my wife and I gave up our car and took a leap into the car-free life void.
I have to say a year later that I have no regrets about that decision, even after my dad came to visit and waited with us for 20 minutes for a bus that was extremely crowded, and that had a broken backdoor and ticket machine. Yes, there are bus nightmares. Sometimes the bus driver is scary or rude. Sometimes there are people who will yell racial epithets at you or anybody else nearby. Sometimes the bus just doesn’t come. Sometimes you wish you could just hop in your car and zip to a location and sing along to the CDs in your car.
For the most part, though, I don’t miss the costs of owning a car—both psychological and financial. I don’t miss worrying about whether the car got broken into the night before, whether we have a ticket or not after forgetting about street “cleaning,” whether the car now makes a funny noise and has to be repaired, or how much the gas prices have gone up. I don’t miss scouring for parking, feeding the meter, paying the car insurance premium, or taking the car for oil changes.
Without a car, I’m walking more, I’m reading more, and I’m generally more relaxed. With the advent of NextBus, I also rarely have to wait too long for the bus (they haven’t quite perfected the system yet, so sometimes I do have to wait a long time). If we need to drive somewhere for a few hours or the day, we can rent a Zip Car. And if we’re really so desperate to get home, it’s cold out, a bus is nowhere in sight, and we’re not dressed to walk long distances, we can call a cab.
It was a scary step to take last year, but as long as we’re living in a city (not the suburbs or a rural community), I think we’re going to stay without a car… and reap the benefits.