Think you could live without a car?
The other day, I drove a car for the first time in 4 and a half years. For many people, that’s hard to fathom.
Of those 4+ years, two were spent living in West Africa where I didn’t need a car and the other two were spent living in Bloomington, Indiana while attending grad school. For both, I got around by foot, bike, public transit, taxi, Uber, and occasionally the kindness of friends.
Now, however, I am preparing to move to DC and my parents have offered to sell me a car for low monthly payments. I don’t have to have a car, but it would be nice to have. It would make it easier to move my stuff out to DC from Kentucky. Having a car would enable quick weekend trips from DC.
This is why I drove yesterday. My parents wanted to make sure I still knew how to drive! Good news, at 27-years-old, my father signed off on my driving.
But, in the end, will owning a car be worth the expense and trouble? Am I better off sticking to pedal power and public transportation?
A sign from the internet?
Funny enough, while trying to decide if I should continue to live without a car, someone reached out to me after finding my blog.
Nick Switzer wanted to know if I’d be interested in a Guest Post on my blog. The topic? “5 Reasons I Sold My Car.”
This has given me more to think about. While I haven’t decided what I’ll do yet, it was good to hear another person’s story and their decision to live without a car. Check out Nick’s Guest Post below, and let him and me know what you think!
Find the original article here.
5 Reasons I Sold My Car
By Nick Switzer
I finally did it this week! I sold my car and committed to testing the car-less lifestyle. This had been a goal of mine for a while.Like many things in life, I view this as a simple, reversible experiment. If it does not work out and I need a car, I will easily be able to find another used car and get back on the road as a driver. If it does work – awesome!! I’ll be living a simpler, more environmentally friendly life.
Here are the reasons why:
Cars cost money. Not only can you sell a car for immediate cash, but getting rid of your car also eliminates insurance costs, maintenance, gas and repairs.
With the cash from selling my old Volvo, I bought a Shocke Electric Bike. This will be my primary personal vehicle, although I plan to do lots of carpooling and Ubering as well. The remainder of the money is going towards a trip to India to attend a good friend’s wedding.
My monthly insurance savings are now auto-transferred into a savings account for other fun purposes. If I still had college debt, I’d use the savings to pay that down.
The maintenance costs will probably be enough to cover all maintenance on my electric bicycle, and my old gas costs will probably end up in the pockets of my carpool partners, Uber drivers, and of course my own.
2. Environmental Impact
Selling my car has left me with environmentally friendly options for commuting. Now I either carpool or ride my electric bike. When I had my car, it was too easy to make excuses:
“My schedule does not allow me to wait for my carpool driver.”
“I am too tired to bike.”
Each gallon of gas used puts about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. My trip to work used about 1 gallon – which means that every day I carpool or bike saves 40 pounds of CO2. That is an immediate impact I am proud of.
3. Life Simplification
I am excited to learn more about the mental benefits of not having a car. I have just started experimenting with ‘less’: Less clothing in my closet makes getting dressed in the morning easier. Less food in my fridge makes my eating decisions easier.
Not having a car has eliminated all worries about the car I used to have: when will I schedule my oil change? When will get these brakes changed? How often do I need to replace my transmission fluid again?
Unless you’re a shade-tree mechanic, these are just distractions and time sinks that take your mind away from the things that excite you.
One place I have already noticed the simplification is in my keys. Now my keys consist of a simple bottle opener, keys to my condo and a Tile in case I lose it. This combo is so light that I feel like I lost some weight when I pick it up.
In densely populated areas, parking is a pain and sometimes costs money. In my condo complex in a Silicon Valley suburb, we are limited to one space per condo (plus our garage). With some chivalry in mind, I end up parking off-site while my wife takes a nice spot in the complex. This leaves me driving for a bit searching for street parking. Not how I want to spend my time.
In my life, I have pulled off some awesome reverse and parallel parking jobs. Ladies and guys were impressed. I have also scraped my fender at the library, put the first barely-noticeable dent in my wife’s bumper and completely sheared off a side view mirror in parking garages*. Tons of accidents and minor damage happens to cars when parking – so I am happy to say “Good riddance” to this practice for a while.
As a carpooler / bike rider, I take up one less parking space which makes parking better for everyone else at my workplace and in my neighborhood. You’re welcome, other drivers.
This Freakonomics podcast best describes the problem of parking.
*During my Dad’s early time in the military, he drove a massive supply truck dubbed the “Deuce and Half” around the narrow streets of Athens, Greece in 1980s allegedly without incident. That makes these admissions of driving failures even more embarrassing, but I think they are important for you, the reader. Thanks for your service, Dad.
Living in the Silicon Valley / Bay Area, traffic is always a concern. Thankfully, carpooling gets my carpool partners and me in the HOV lane, bypassing would be stalls and brake lights. This helps makes up for time spent waiting for my carpool partner.
Much like the parking effect, taking one car off the road makes driving better for the other vehicles. BOOM. You’re welcome again, other drivers.
Even if you love driving on open roads, then I recommend you get your friends to become carpoolers / bicycle commuters. Then you will have the roads to yourself.
How do you get started?
If you live within 10 miles of work, use Google Maps to find the best bike route. If it looks legitimate, give it a try! For rides over 5 miles, I recommend investigating an electric bike.
I rode home in 90 degree weather today on an electric bike and barely broke a sweat and I’m the type of guy who sweats through his shirt during lunch basketball. The electric bike widens the range of potential bike commuting.
If you live greater than 10 miles from work, I recommend you go directly for the carpooling route. Start by asking around at work – who else lives in your area and wants to get some gas money? Alternatively, post your rideshare idea on Craigslist.
Also, check out www.Car.ma. This app is in early stages, but it automatically finds other people making the same commute as you. If you join, use offer code NickS5 for free credit. Even better, recruit your coworkers & neighbors to sign up.
If you love your car and you love your driving, consider joining www.Car.Ma as a driver. It’s a great way to get paid for your driving and for you to contribute to the environment.