The Car-Free Life: One Year in Review

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.

Join the Conversation

8 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh! That is so awesome. I live in a rural community where that is absolutely impossible for my family, but I never even thought of how bad our priorities slip w/ a vehicle and we can just go wherever. This fall I’m going to college & will NOT have a car w/ me, but will be bussing it, as you do. You’ve gotten me excited about it. . . while scaring me at the same time. lol. Not sure the horror stories helped. :)
    Thanks.
    Blessings,
    Em

  2. Well, the horror stories are few and far between, especially if you’re not riding the bus through sketchy parts of town after midnight. Have fun at college!

  3. We live in the suburbs of Ottawa, Ontario and have been car-free for four months now. It has been really easy.

    Our city has great transit, we usually got where we had to go in the past by bus or train quicker than by car anyway. We hardly ever used our car as a result. It cost a lot in insurance and other fixed costs to watch it sitting there rusting.

    Now we cycle, walk or quadracycle when we go out. Our two-seat side-by-side quadracycle has been great for grocery shopping and even hauling 120 lbs of bark mulch home. We get so many questions about the quadracycle that we started a website about it http://web.ncf.ca/adamandruth/quadracycle/

    Breaking the car addiction is easier than most people fear it will be. The price of gas is going to go way up in the next few years. The economic basics of supply and demand dictate this, as world demand is growing fast while world production is decreasing slightly. We all need to be prepared for this.

  4. I just paid our car insurance bill yesterday. Ouch.

    It’s nice not worrying about a car. I take Caltrain regularly to work to lower gas costs, my carbon footprint, and my traffic headaches. But last week, I got stuck on three-hour commute when the engine died. I drove my own car for the rest of the week.

  5. My family never owned a car ever since I was a three year old and nor do they now. We personally never need a private vehicle as public transport and chartered buses do the job of transporting each of my family members.
    Personally I find not owning a car beneficial as I walk to the markets to get stuff and at least I walk. This makes me a lot more healthier.

  6. Love your site and reading those Ubuntu-related posts, but this one is special as we’ve also given up our car last year and are without it.
    I am living in Frankfurt/Germany and local public transport is a good alternative here. I miss driving a car from time to time (love driving) and even fixing it (1989 VW Golf II) similar to how you like fixing Ubuntu-related problems, but thinking about the costs that come with a car, I am really happy that I can perfectly do without one.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *