Leaving Work Behind

Why I’ve Gone Carless (And Why You Should Too)

Written by Tom Ewer on June 10, 2014. 41 Comments

Crushed carsI sold my car today.

For the first time in my adult life I am carless, and I plan to be carless for the foreseeable future.

My love affair with cars started at the age of eighteen, when my father generously purchased me a four year old Ford Fiesta. A few years later I upgraded to a Renault Clio.

It was my next purchase that took me into the big leagues though, when I purchased a brand new Jaguar XF worth about £36,000 (~$60,000). I drove her for about 3 1/2 years – up to the point when I decided, just a few months ago, that I should upgrade again.

That upgrade was a Jaguar XKR.

This was my ‘dream car’ – I even mentioned it in a previous post on LWB back in 2011. It had a 5 litre V8 supercharged engine and went from 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds. It was worth about £85,000 (~$140,000) brand new; I got it for a snip at just £42,000 (~$70,000).

But now it’s gone. Just an hour ago, only a few months after I purchased it, I sold the car for £37,000 (~$62,000), realizing a substantial loss.

You may be wondering why I sold a car that I had bought only a few months before. You might assume that it was due to financial struggles, but it wasn’t that at all. I could certainly afford the car. In this article I intend to explain my reasoning behind not only selling the car, but why I don’t intend to buy another for the foreseeable future.

Cars: An Insidious ‘Necessity’

Cars are one of those things that we assume we ‘must’ own.

For many of us, that might certainly seem to be the case. I am sure that many LWB readers could not continue living the way they do with a car. However, I have come to the conclusion that to simply assume that life would be impossible to live without a car is most unimaginative.

For what it’s worth, if we go back just a few weeks, I was amongst those of us who consider our cars a necessity. Although I live in the centre of Birmingham (a major city), I still ‘needed’ my car to socialize, drive outside of the city and so on. At least, that’s what I thought.

However, after a lot of thinking, I’ve come to the firm conclusion that I absolutely do not need a car. Not by a long shot. In fact, when I take into account all of the alternative methods of transport available, a car falls firmly into the ‘luxury’ category for me.

More on that later – first, I want to talk about what your car really costs you.

The Cost of Your Car

The amount we spend on cars is astounding.

In the UK we can split car expenditure into the following:

When most people think of the cost of their car, they might forget (or simply be ignorant of) one or more of the above factors. Two of the most costly – depreciation and cost of capital – are commonly overlooked.

Overlooked or not, your wallet or purse is still getting pounded on a daily basis.

According to the AA, a decent diesel car will set you the average UK car driver around £4,000 (~$7,000) per year when all relevant costs are taken into account.

To put that into perspective, £4,000 is about 20% of the average UK post-tax salary.

Those of you in the USA aren’t doing any better either. According to AAA’s 2013 study, it costs over $9,000 per year, on average, to own and operate a sedan. That’s a fair old chunk of money!

As always, and with reference to leaving work behind, this comes down to the hours you spend working and what you get in return. If you work eight hours a day and spend say 25% of your salary on your car, it means that two hours of your working day – every day – is used just to pay for your vehicle.

But What’s the Alternative?

You may be thinking this is all very well and good, but utterly irrelevant to you, as you need a car. Fair enough. All I ask is that you hear me out. There are actually quite a few alternatives to throwing your money away on a car.

Go Cheaper

The first ‘alternative’ to car ownership is to own a less expensive car. Obviously, this is more a lesser evil than a true alternative, but depreciation is one of the biggest killers when it comes to car ownership, and you can reduce that liability by purchasing an older vehicle.

Consider for example that a brand new car drops double digit percentage points in value as soon as you drive it off the forecourt. One cannot possibly justify the logic of purchasing a brand new car other than to say, “Screw it, it’s worth the $x,000 I’ve literally just thrown down the drain to have a brand new car.”

At the very least, purchase a nearly-new car. You’ll get 90% of the benefits of a brand new car and save yourself a whole load money.

However, you can do even better though and go older. If you take a little time and do your research, you’ll find that you can get the vast majority of what you want for far less than you might otherwise pay.

For example, here in the UK you can get your hands on a brand new mk7 Volkswagen Golf for around £20,000 (~$33,000). She’s certainly a pretty car:

Volkswagen Golf Mk7

Alternatively, you can shoot for the older mk6 model, which was released in 2008. You can pick one up from Volkswagen, with an approved used one year warranty, from around £7,000 (~$11,700). Here’s what she looks like:

Volkswagen Golf Mk6

No, they’re not the same car. Look closely and you’ll see some differences.

I went into a Volkswagen dealership recently and challenged the salesman to ‘sell’ the mk7 to me over the mk6. His response was simple: if you’re not that fussed about having the latest number plate or model, there’s no compelling reason to choose the mk7 over the mk6. Your repair bills will almost certainly be higher with the older model, but nowhere near enough to make up the mammoth difference in price.

After all, we’re talking about spending well over £10,000 less on car here. Can you really justify the material benefits you will experience from choosing a newer vehicle when it comes down to such an enormous amount of money? That’s the question you need to ask yourself.

Reevaluate Your Driving Decisions

The second ‘alternative,’ again, is not actually an alternative but a means of reducing your financial liability.

It comes down to thinking carefully about what your car actually costs you, per mile. Consider for example that the average American sedan costs $9,000 for 15,000 miles driven in a year.

Let’s quantify that.

Each mile is costing you $0.60. If you take a trip to the shops just down the road, it might cost you a couple of bucks just to get there and back. And what of all the other numerous trivial trips you take, possibly on a daily basis?

I believe that most of us don’t thoroughly consider the cost of our travel. I know I haven’t in the past. But that changed when I bought my XKR and realized that a round trip to my home town and back (~70 miles) would cost me about £20 (~$33) in fuel alone.

Jaguar XKR

She’s hungry.

My point is this: it pays (or saves, more appropriately) to have a rough estimate of the total cost of your car (per mile) in your head so that you can make informed decisions about the times you choose to use it. Perhaps it might be better to walk, ride your bike, or skip the trip altogether (perhaps combine it with another upcoming trip?).

Ditch the Car – Use Public Transport and Your Own Power

I appreciate that there are many people who feel that they simply can’t live without a car.

Perhaps you live in a remote area, or simply are not well-served by quality public transportation links. Either way, you feel that you need a car to get them from A to B.

I’m not going to argue with you. The necessity of car ownership is something you need to figure out for yourself.

However, there are a lot of stories out there about people who are living normal lives without a car.

How about John and Beth? They’re a couple who are living in Oklahoma City without a car. Pretty impressive.

But they’re not the only ones. Turns out Phil is doing it in Strasbourg. This CEO is carless too. Francesca is rocking the carless lifestyle in San Francisco. And the list goes on.

It turns out that more and more Americans are going without the ‘necessity’ of a car. In fact, the percentage of American households without a car has doubled to nearly 10% over the past two decades. Top US Cities with carless citizens include New York City (duh), Washington D.C., Seattle and Chicago.

How are people living without cars, you may ask? Primarily, public transportation and good old fashioned self-propulsion are doing the job.

One thing I realized when I was considering selling my car was that I could possibly get by with public transportation alone. It wouldn’t be easy – I’d probably need to buy a bike, and even then there would be certain situations where I would struggle – but it was possible, and worth investigating.

Perhaps the same can be said for you. Or perhaps you will find that you can replace some of your journeys with public transport, at a lower cost than the equivalent journey would be in your car. You’ll never know unless you investigate further.

Car Hire and Car Clubs

It was when I considered car hire and car clubs that I really saw the light.

Because like I said, public transport wasn’t always going to suffice. It would still be convenient for me to have access to a vehicle without me having to cope with all of the associated ownership and running costs.

I tried asking my girlfriend if we could share her car, but she was having none of it. So instead I thought of car hire, and that’s when I came across the concept of car clubs.

For those of you who don’t know, car clubs are like super-flexible car hire companies. In locations across America and Europe, cars owned by the likes of Car2Go are parked up in designated bays, ready for you to drive. Make a simple booking and you can unlock the car via your smartphone and be on your merry way.

You’ll typically be charged by the hour or per day, and the cost is relatively comparable to car hire (in my experience).

With my new discovery in hand, I did some research and found that:

  1. There is a car club vehicle just down the road from me
  2. There is a car rental location just down the road from me

At this point the argument for no longer owning a car was getting pretty damn strong. I live in a city, I have access to a decent public transportation network, and I can rent a car when I need one.

I figured the last thing to do was to figure out how much money I could save.

The Cost of Vehicle Ownership vs. Going Carless

This is where my mind was blown.

A rough comparison was easy enough to do – I simply compared the annual costs of:

  1. Owning a car worth up to £16,000 (~$27,000) driven around 5,000 miles per mile
  2. Using public transport, car hire and car clubs to complete similar journeys

Using the AA’s Motoring Cost survey results, I figured out that a car would cost me around £3,300 (~$5,500) per year.

Meanwhile, the equivalent alternative cost was just £1,900 (~$3,200).

In short, I could save nearly £1,500 ($2,500) a year by going carless – and that was with a relatively modest car. Compared to my Jaguar XKR, I’ll be saving well over £10,000 per year.

If that’s not enough and you want a particularly compelling car ownership vs. going carless argument, check out John’s here.

So Why Go Carless?

My new experiment starts today. Rather innocuously in fact, as I won’t even need to use anything but my feet for transportation until Saturday. On that day I plan to hire a car for 24 hours, which will set me back around £35 (~$60).

I’d like to think that I’ve made a pretty compelling argument for considering going carless above, but I’d like to take this opportunity to recap my thoughts, along with mentioning some benefits that I haven’t even touched upon:

  1. Save money
  2. Benefit the environment
  3. Exercise more
  4. Reduce stress (fewer traffic jams and parking space finding journeys!)
  5. Use your time more productively (if you’re not driving you can read, write, etc.)

The big one for me is money. The amount one can spend on transportation is insane, and when it comes to leaving work behind, going carless can make a huge difference.

For example, consider this: how much does your commute to work cost you? If you didn’t have to commute and could work from home, how much less would you need to make? Would working from home mean that you wouldn’t need a car?

Although I earn enough to afford the car I sold, ultimately I realized that it was an extreme luxury. Owning it simply didn’t align with the outlook I wrote about in my recent brief guide to money. So my original plan was to purchase something less ostentatious, but I could never figure out what exactly.

The decision-making process (or more accurately, the lack of an effective decision making process) was beginning to seriously stress me out. It took me a long time to realize that the best decision to make was to eliminate the issue altogether. No car at all would mean spending far less money and not having to make the decision as to exactly which car was the most economical/practical/good-looking for a ‘reasonable’ price (whatever ‘reasonable’ is – it all comes down to a small fortune regardless).

Maybe I haven’t convinced you to go carless, but perhaps I have given you a different perspective from which you can view the necessity of your existing car and the regularity with which you need to use it. Because believe me: that car could be the difference between leaving work behind and going nowhere.

Photo Credit: johnrobertshepherd

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41 Responses to “Why I’ve Gone Carless (And Why You Should Too)”

  1. Gina H.
    June 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Good luck going car-less Tom! This might sound absurd, but we own 3 vehicles (none of them new) and are contemplating getting rid of 1; seems a no brainier, huh?

  2. John Shea
    June 10, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Interesting post Tom. Cars are actually one of the biggest money pits I’ve ever encountered.

    I find it to be sort of an addiction and I just outright enjoy them. I’ve owned something like 8-9 cars in about 10 years.

    I spent 2-3 years of my life using every other pay check from my job to build up an 1988 Nissan 300zx and restore it with every crazy modification I could find. I ended up spending over $25,000 and really only drive it to car shows.

    I’ve also owned two WRX’s which are very expensive to maintain once you start modding them, I currently have one as a daily driver.

    I figure if I’m going to be commuting to work and elsewhere I want to have fun doing it.. it’s a pretty penny to afford everything that goes along with them but I’ve always found it to be worth it the end 🙂

    • Tom Ewer
      June 11, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Hey John,

      Well that’s a different story I suppose – you have a passion for cars, and it’s a (costly!) hobby. I suppose this post was more for people who see cars as a tool. But then I’m guessing you already figured that out 🙂

      Cheers,

      Tom

  3. Kent Faver
    June 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Car-less in Texas Tom? Really not possible unless you live in an urban area and plan to never go anywhere. Same is true for 90% of the U.S. The difficulty in the U.S. is that outer areas are becoming urban areas. So, you move to a suburb of LA and work in another suburb of LA and there is no consistent mass transit between the two locales.

    Of course, I would never live in LA. I chose to live in a smaller city and set up my business here. I’m leaving in a bit for home where I will eat lunch, then back to the office. Total trip? 6 miles and about 15 minutes of total driving. In Dallas, it could take me 15 minutes to get on my first major thoroughfare.

    • Tom Ewer
      June 11, 2014 at 10:45 am

      Hi Kent,

      I’ve got to disagree in part.

      First of all, I’d agree that going completely carless in Texas would be tough for most, and that yes, it would be very difficult for the most part unless you’re in an urban area.

      And perhaps the same is true for “90%” of the US, but certainly not for 90% of the population. The fact that around 10% of Americans don’t own a car proves that point, as does the fact that around 80% of people in the US live in urban areas. Consider that around 50% of the population of NYC, Newark and Jersey City don’t own cars. That’s 5+ million people right there.

      Going carless and maintaining the exact same lifestyle isn’t possible for everyone. It is possible for a lot of people though. Furthermore, changes in lifestyle could enable others to go without a car, and it could be well worth it given the cost. That really was the crux of my argument.

      Cheers,

      Tom

      • Sarah
        June 11, 2014 at 6:54 pm

        Yeah Kent, I’m not sure why you think this is so hard to do in the US. I’m 27, living in Michigan and have never owned a car.

        I used to live just outside of Detroit(the Motor City) in the suburbs and I was able to take buses everywhere that I needed to go and walk the rest of the way. When buses aren’t available or the trip is longer there’s always Zip Cars and car rentals.

        In the US most colleges don’t allow freshman to have cars and everyone seems to get around fine with buses, cabs, greyhound, trains, etc. While in college if I wanted to make the 2 hour trip home, I took the Greyhound.

        When my friend moved from Detroit to Chicago, she was able to make trips home via Megabus.

        If the concern is getting to work, there are many ride shares that you can find online to carpool with someone. And some companies offer transportation for employees. Example, Google has shuttles to get their employees to and from work in California. And in other Google offices, they allow you to rent bikes.

        Speaking of bikes, many places in the US are starting to rent out communal bikes.

        Going carless is definitely doable in the US.

  4. Debashish
    June 10, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    You sold your XKR!!!

    Going carless is something I’d never consider unless I was starving to death. And it’s not because I need a car. It’s because I love them.

    I love driving; I’ve collected toy cars since I was 10; I read auto blogs in my free time; I work for the largest auto manufacturer in India by testing cars for them; and people ask me for advice when buying cars. The point is this is something I want to spend money on. I’ll gladly give up on other luxuries (like central air conditioning) than give up cars (and motorcycles).

    I do respect your decision but, I’d never imagined an XKR buyer would consider cars a mere “luxury”.

    • Tom Ewer
      June 11, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Hey Debashish,

      You’re not my target audience here 🙂

      I suppose I should have made it more clear in the post, but I wasn’t intending to convince car hobbyists and people who truly love driving that they shouldn’t have a car. I was more talking about the practical aspect of car ownership.

      That aside, cars absolutely are a luxury for many people. Furthermore, they are a luxury for the vast majority of people in a sense that they pay more for a vehicle just because it is newer, or faster, or has more modern features.

      I’m not criticizing, as I’m guilty of the same decisions, I’m just making a point.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  5. Chris Wiegman
    June 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    That’s awesome!

    I live in Austin, TX where you simply cannot go without a car and it is one of the [many] reasons we’re planning on moving. My wife and I each had our own car for years and we’re finally in the process of pairing that down to nothing. I can’t wait!

    • Tom Ewer
      June 11, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Not even in downtown Austin Chris? (Love your city by the way :-))

      I love the example you’re setting here though. Moving your location so that you can pare down your outgoings / material possession may seem extreme so some, but I totally get how liberating it can be.

  6. Betty
    June 11, 2014 at 3:06 am

    Good article, but I think the estimate that the “average American sedan costs $9,000 for 15,000 miles driven in a year” is off quite a bit, unless that includes car payments. I don’t know where they came up with that, because it’s not realistic to say the average American can afford $750 a month just for their car. If you have an average car that is paid for and not a big gas guzzler, insurance, gas and maintenance would run you about 2 or 3k a year. Possibly a lot less if you don’t drive much and qualify for cheap insurance. It’s also a fact that Americans are driving less miles per year on average since 2005.

    • Tom Ewer
      June 11, 2014 at 10:52 am

      Hey Betty,

      You’ve forgotten depreciation and cost of capital – two of the biggest expenses. Not to mention tolls, parking tickets, breakdown cover, etc.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  7. Steve Roy
    June 11, 2014 at 3:32 am

    Tom,
    You are a braver man than I am to do this! Obviously having children makes being carless a tad more challenging, especially in a super busy suburban area where I live. I hope it works well for you although picking up a date on your 10 speed probably isn’t that cool 🙂

    • Tom Ewer
      June 11, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Hey Steve,

      Not brave – it’s really easy for me to do this 😉

      I happen to be very fortunate where I live – right next to a car hire place, 20 mins walk from a major train station, and a few mins walk from buses. Not to mention taxis. Short of living in the centre of London, it’s about as easy as it could be for me!

      That said, the post wasn’t necessarily intended to convince people to drop cars altogether, but perhaps reevaluate the choices they make regarding their vehicles and transport options.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  8. Darling Angel Delgado
    June 11, 2014 at 7:03 am

    I would sell my brother before I’d give up my car and its worse than a sedan, I own a minivan. ANd finanically yes it has been a struggle since I’ve not worked steadily in 6 months. However, I currently live in a California desert and would never make it to the bus stop between the heat and the winds. I can’t say as I’ve seen the busses run that frequently out here. I once lived in the Mojave Desert and it took longer to get somewhere via the bus than you did at your location.

    Was I in better shape? Yes. But I paid a price for all that walking in the long run. It isn’t impossible to do and I think its a great build pof character to go without a vehicle for a time. But when that time is up, you quickly begin to rationalize the cost going out to the convience of time gained.

    I don’t know about the Brit’s but us Aerican’s are time control freaks and I dont think most of us read on our public transportation. in fact, many of us are trying to keep the drunk guy from leaning to far over or holding our breath as not pass out from the numerous folks who forgot to bathe or deodorize themselves in a while.

    Not that public transportation can’t be a fun adventure from time to time. But when you have to be there a a specific time, this is not the way to go, at least no wehre I’ve lived carless in the last 25 years.

    So my brother is a funny guy,he’ll have you in stitches for hours, has a great heart but he is mooody and he doesn’t always pick up after himself. you may not be willing to buy him straight off BUT I’m offering a great rental rate for him in exchange for that lofty car payment, insurance & full tank of gas on a 6 cylinder.

    And family & friends just don’t seem to live around the corner anymore. I admire your journey and look forward to your posts, I am sure that you will have MANY more things to blog about because if nothing else public transportation is ALWAYS good for some wild, crazy, hilarious to read about stories. This adventure will serve you well, Tom! Do keep us entertained. 😉

    • Tom Ewer
      June 11, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Haha, thanks Darling 🙂

      Sounds like you pretty much need a car for your locale and lifestyle. It was never my intention to claim that no one needs a car; I hope it didn’t come off like that.

  9. Darling Angel Delgado
    June 11, 2014 at 7:15 am

    My apologies in reference to my post above… My keyboard seems to like to play games and retype for me. Most notably Americans, conveinence, of not pof. and a few others I’m sure such as where, not weher, and spacing. My phone does this too. They look fine til I hit send & next thing I know half of what I wrote looks like a foreign language I’me not familiar with. or things that make no sense beyond a chuckle of nonsense. Thank you for indulging me.

  10. Trevor
    June 11, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Several years ago I was not able to drive for six months as i was banned due to speeding offences and i was amazed at the amount of money i saved. I was lucky at the time as i worked only 3 miles away and could bike to and from work.

    Now it would be impossible to be without a car as i have a much longer drive to the office or i have to go to various airports as i might be visiting clients all over europe. I also have a kid now and need to collect her from her mum at weekends and ferry her to parties etc and grandparents who live in a rural area. The good news? It’s a company car changed before it’s a year old which only costs me some money each month in increased tax taken from my salary.

    But if my circumstances were different i would have no problem being without a car especially if i lived in a large city like London with good public transport.

  11. Hassan
    June 11, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Awesome post Tom. I like how you actually broke down the mathematics to create a logical basis for your choice. I definitely get what you mean considering the fact that I spent two years in car sales. We’d probably spend about £200 a week and over 2-3 hours to maintain a car.

    And Tom do you ever come to central library in Birmingham? I’m typing from there now! 😛

    • Tom Ewer
      June 11, 2014 at 10:57 am

      No way! I used to work from there but it was a nightmare finding a seat sometimes, so I gave up and got some office space instead 🙂

  12. Vickram
    June 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Tom,

    Good luck with your ‘CAR’less experiment. I figured this out couple of years back ( when I left my last corporate job 3 years back). I have been very calculative about my finances from then on.

    A ‘car’ never meant a necessity to me right from the start. I do own a two wheeler but the maintenance and fuel costs are completely in a different level of atmosphere.

    IMO, you went too deep explaining and convincing the reader that CAR is not a necessity but a LUXURY. To be honest, everyone knew that in the deep of the heart. But, they have been made to believe otherwise by WONDERFUL sales people and Marketing agencies through advertisements.

    I was thinking about the same for my SMART PHONE. Is it possible to go PHONEless in this connected world ? I was absolutely sure it could also be done but with careful planning. I am not yet ready for that EXPERIMENT. Will do a blog post when I do.

    Good luck.
    -Vickram.

    • Tom Ewer
      June 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks Vickram! I think you’d be surprised by the amount of people (especially in the Western world) who consider a car a necessity though…

    • Elizabeth Gross
      June 11, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      Hey Vickram. As to going phoneless…it is possible. Have you considered Skype? I have talked my family members into using it and it’s free when you call someone who has it. To receive calls, you can get a Skype phone number for a much smaller fee than a smart phone costs. A lot of businesses use it as well.

    • Bree
      June 12, 2014 at 1:04 am

      I’ve been without a smartphone for years, Vickram. My husband owns one, but the pressures he gets to “upgrade” all the time are ridiculous. I am considering getting a smartphone if only for better communication when I attend conferences and such, but so far, I haven’t needed it. Do I miss out on stuff? Sure, but I can guarantee you I don’t stress as much as other people do because of it.

  13. Bree
    June 12, 2014 at 1:00 am

    Love it, Tom! So glad you’ve taken this leap.

    As for my husband and I, we’ve only ever bought cars we could pay in full, with cash. That means we’ve only ever owned two cars, both Honda Civics from the 1990s, each around $3000 USD each.

    Our first was a 1996, got 30-35 mpg for about $30 a week with our commute, and lasted until 170,000 miles before she started showing really bad signs of wear. My husband did the math and figured out that it only cost us about 10 cents every mile we drove for maintenance and gas.

    When we moved to AZ, we sold that car and kept our 1995 Honda Civic, which gets the same gas mileage but was “newer” because it had less miles. In fact, it JUST hit 100,000 miles last week! And the even better thing about this car is that we live only a mile from hubby’s work, so he bikes every day. Now, we only ever use our car if we need to travel around the Valley (my sisters and mom live 30 min. away and our bus system takes FOREVER to make those trips worth it). We maybe spend $30-60 on gas per month, maximum.

    Were they pretty cars? Nope, not at all. But they work!

  14. Joe
    June 12, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Public transport can be pretty brutal and while it might be cheaper, it can be really demoralising and a big waste of time.

    “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.”

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Margaret_Thatcher

    We don’t have a car but I can definitely see the attraction, and if time is money, wouldn’t it make sense to get their quicker?

    • Tom Ewer
      June 12, 2014 at 9:33 am

      You do realize that you linked to a page saying that quote is apocryphal 😉

      To answer your question, it depends entirely upon the quality of public transportation in your locale and the time spent/wasted.

      For example, if it takes me an hour to drive somewhere or two hours via public transport, you might argue that to drive is better. But an alternative argument would be that the hour in the car is wasted time, while the two hours on public transport could be spent doing something productive.

  15. Mina
    June 13, 2014 at 4:00 am

    This is really good for people who live in places with public transportation that runs 24/7 and frequently. If not, this is a no no. I currently live where there is no public transportation and you either walk or take a taxi. You absolutely need a car. I also lived places where the public transportation ran in 30-45 minute increments and it could take you an hour to get somewhere. They stopped at night by 10:00 and around 7:00 on Sat. No transportation at all on Sunday. And this was a medium sized city. So, it is good idea but make sure that you can make it to places like hospitals and grocery stores with no problem.

    • John
      June 13, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      You don’t need 24/7 public transportation — you do sleep, don’t ya? Planning transportation into your daily life isn’t that difficult; sure it’s not as easy as having a car, but if your main concerns are saving money, polluting less, and decreasing your likelihood of fatal injury in a vehicle collision, public transit (regardless of the constraints) begins to look like a godsend. Plus, bicycles and walking are available 24/7; car-sharing services, Uber, Lyft, and taxis are typically available 24/7. Put them all into a transportation mosaic, and you’ve got a much more affordable way to get around.

  16. Tom Southern
    June 19, 2014 at 8:41 am

    A convert! Yay!

    In the 6 years I’ve not had a car, I’ve saved £14,000. It could have been more but for 4 of these 6 years I had a scooter (now gone too).

    I had a friend who lived in LA for a year in 1978. He kept getting stopped by police when out walking. Once they heard his English accent, they usually laughed then explained that nobody walks in LA. When he said it helped him exercise, they told him to jog instead.

    I also don’t have a smartphone. Or a land line. I do have a cheap mobile phone with pay-as-you-go. Luckily, I don’t have a TV either, so no World Cup!

  17. S. Ryan
    July 8, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    After 20 years in NYC I moved to Richmond VA for a new job and was told by everyone around me that I would “finally” have to get a drivers license and a car. I thought they might be right, though I have to admit I was often taken aback by the strange undercurrent of satisfaction that so many of them seemed to display when telling me so.

    18 months later I’m still a happy non-driver, far more financially stable (cost of living here is far better!) and more convinced than ever that all the comments about “90% of the US” requiring are just way off the mark. Sure there are absolutely situations and places where it’s not possible. But what a lot of people seem to miss is that the circumstances that are “forcing” them to get a car are circumstances they chose in the first place, and choices that were made under the assumption that a car is a “given”. When I moved I chose to live within easy walking distance of work. I looked at where my grocery stores were, and nightlife, and researched cab companies and prices. What I figured out was I could get a nicer apartment, have everything I considered essential and STILL have money left over from not having a car.

    The important take away is everyone has different priorities. For me, a spacious apartment with 10 foot tall ceilings, beautiful wood floors, and a 10 minute walk to work through tree lined streets… far outweighs any advantage a car would bring. For others who love driving or working on cars the choices would be different. But reminding yourself that these are choices and not “requirements” is the key.

    • Tom Ewer
      July 14, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story S! It’s provided me with a nice boost of motivation to remain without a car as I continue this experiment 🙂

  18. George@floorjackkiller.com
    January 25, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    We’ve been car free for almost 4 years now. It was a very rough transition – we were living in a slightly remote area of the city when we lost the car – and we had to makes some locational decisions based on not having a car, but frankly, it’s been fabulous.

  19. Rog in Miami Gardens
    May 8, 2016 at 1:14 am

    I have recently become car free, and it really has not been bad at all, and I live in a suburb of South Florida. The bus routes aren’t bad in terms of getting to work, and once you get beyond the so-called “shame” that many non-car owners in the South feel, life can still be good.

    I hang out with friends a few times a month, and I’ve used Uber to do that, and sometimes they insist on picking me up. I don’t turn them down all the time, and I always give them a little something for gas and their “troubles”. I carry my groceries on my bicycle. There’s a bike path behind my apartment building that traverses several different neighborhoods. I can visit my library, my barber, my grocery stores, my favorite department store, three different downtown areas, my favorite Jamaican and Haitian takeout places all by transit or my bicycle.

    Frankly, living carless forces you to develop a level of planning skills that car-owners/users don’t even have to think about.

    So far, so good.

  20. Adi
    November 20, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Hi Tom I am really thrilled to read yr detailed account on not having a car. I really appreciate you sir. But using a car depends upon ones geo economical back ground and the real necessary of having a own transport oweing to lack of public transport in certain localities. I owned a car and sold it off few months back. Before selling, I took a lengthy cross country drive which was satisfactory. Now being careless feels kinda good. May be in future I might buy one but not sure. But at present it feels good by the way I wish you all the very best on yr experiment.

    Regards
    Adi

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