I have been without a car for 4 years. Here are the biggest pros and cons
I’m happy with a life without a car, but it’s not good for everyone.
- Being car-free could save you money and be more convenient.
- There are downsides, like not having as much freedom or flexibility.
- Reliable alternative transport is essential if you decide to get rid of your car.
In 2018, I decided to move from the United States to Colombia. As part of my preparation for the move, I sold my Nissan Altima on Craigslist. Even though I knew I had to, not having a car seemed strange to me. Until then, I had had one all my adult life.
Since then, I no longer have a car. I’ve lived in six different cities, visited several more, and been successful with alternative transportation. I get around using carpooling, walking, public transportation and the very occasional rental car when I need it.
If you’re tired of paying car loans, insurance, and gas, going without a car might seem appealing. It’s certainly possible, but it’s also a huge lifestyle change, so it helps to know what you’re getting into.
The benefits of being car-free
The advantage of not having a car is that it can save you quite a bit of money, as owning a car is often expensive. The average new car payment recently hit $656, and that’s just one of the bills a car adds to your life. There is also car insurance, gas, maintenance and possibly parking.
You’ll still need to move around, though, so there’s a trade-off. If you don’t have good public transport, you may need to use carpooling more.
In my case, I still took the lead. I made an average of $250-$300 a month carpooling while spending a few months in Los Angeles. That’s way less than I would pay for a decent car and all that.
Another thing I love about not having a car is the convenience factor. I never have to search for a parking space when I go out or come home, and there’s no exaggeration how nice it is. I also don’t need to worry about bringing a car in for maintenance or dealing with one of those pesky mechanical issues that can crop up without warning.
Last but not least, I walk a lot more now than when I had a car, and that’s a plus for me. I like to go for walks and explore new places, and it’s a good way to stay active.
The biggest problem with life without a car is that it’s not realistic for everyone. This works well for me because I work remotely, so getting out of bed is pretty much my daily commute. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, not having a car can be inconvenient or nearly impossible.
You give up some freedom and flexibility when you don’t have a vehicle. You don’t have the ability to jump in your car and drive wherever you want at any time. So while being car-free is often convenient, it can also complicate some things.
Need a few items from the store? You will have to walk, pay for carpooling or use public transport. Want to visit a nearby city for a few days? You may need to rent a car to get there and back. Do you rely on carpooling to get around? Sometimes Uber and Lyft don’t have anyone nearby, which is a problem when you have a tight schedule.
It is certainly more difficult to get around without a car. In most cities you can do this, but the other transport options all have their downsides:
- The walk is great, but it takes time and is not an option for long distances.
- Public transport is hit or miss depending on the city, and it usually takes much longer than driving.
- Carpools are the closest thing to driving, but they can be expensive.
How to decide if you need a car
If you like the idea of being car-free, but aren’t sure if it’s feasible, here are some questions to think about:
- How are you going to get around? Plan what your usual means of transport will be, whether it’s carpooling, public transport, a bicycle or something different.
- How much will it cost? Estimate what you will spend per month and compare it to your current costs with your car.
- Will it be more or less practical? If finding parking is still a problem and you don’t drive much anyway, getting rid of your car could be a huge relief. But if you often have to travel by car, it can be frustrating to rely on carpooling or public transport.
It’s also a good idea to take a test drive (pun intended) before you commit. Spend a few weeks living like you don’t have a car to see if you like it and how much it costs. Trying it out is the best way to find out if it’s a realistic option for you.
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