Car-free and not just pretending anymore

I’ve mentioned a few times that I was experimenting with living car free.  I held on to my car because I needed a way to visit my son every other month who lives out-of-town.  I finally found a way to have access to a car for those trips and be free of my car every other day of the year.

I had fallen in the trap of believing a car was a necessary part of life.  I also drooled over the classic cars,  especially those early Mustangs.  But my experiment has shown me a whole new way of living I never considered before.

I first decided to try living car-free in March when the warmer weather arrived extra early this year.  It’s been wonderful.  I love the people I  have met, the fresh air as I wander around town.  The change of pace from rushing all over in a car and dealing with crazy drivers and traffic has been a treat for me.

Saying good-bye to a reliable friend

Having a car isn’t the solution for everyone, and it’s not for me.  I never thought I would ever picture myself without one, but times change and so have I.

The only other times I’ve used the car was to drive my DIL when her husband needed theirs for work.  So I have signed the car over to them.  My car gets much better mileage than their SUV (which is needed for him to get to work in the winter months as the roads he uses aren’t cleared well)  so this is a better option for local errands for them.  The agreement is that I can borrow the car when I need to go out-of-town. I offered to rent the car for say $10 per day plus gas, but they wouldn’t hear of it.

I am saving the following:

  • $25. per month of insurance (to let it sit most of the time)
  • $36 per year in registration fees
  • $$ for state inspections and emissions tests yearly.  This amount varies yearly (this year I would have needed tires and a repair to the exhaust) at least $200.
  • $25 for oil changes,
  • then there is the wiper blades that crack from sitting in the sun. $15 per pair to install them myself

The savings for one year is: $576 not counting the cost of gas to drive it.  That means one oil change, and one pair of wipers — and no surprises along the way.

My car has been a dependable machine, and that’s what it is a  machine.  We lived without machines before and can do it again.  But as a machine, letting it sit all but 12 days out of the year hasn’t been good for it.  If I continued to hold on to it, it would  have eventually fell apart from sitting outside in the elements.

Today was the Farmer’s Market.  My DIL brought the grand-kids over to meet me and we left together, WALKING. The kids will be 4 next month yet look forward to the walk and the time at the market.  The walk is 2.5 miles from my home (one way), yet the kids can easily walk both directions and run around playing in the gardens while we are there.  I feel as if I am setting an example for the children that they can get around on their own two feet.  It’s definitely healthier for them to walk and get in the habit at a young age.

We found a treasure at the market that both adults and children enjoy equally.  A tree was shaped to make a canopy over a seating area.  I hope you can see what I mean by this in the picture.

View from outside the tree
View from under the tree looking skyward

There is a comfortable bench for adults and a table and chairs for the children.  Getting the kids out of there and back into the sun can take a while, but the peaceful atmosphere makes it easy to give in to the children and stay a bit longer.

Have you ever thought about how you would live if you didn’t have a car or how much it costs yearly to own one?   Would you ever consider giving up your car?

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6 thoughts on “Car-free and not just pretending anymore

  1. I have never owned a car (although I can drive). I don’t really ever want to own a car. Maybe in the future I will have more need for one, but right now I love walking and a car would distract from my life not give to it.

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    1. I have heard that more young people are putting off getting a car. I couldn’t wait to get a car when I was young. I begged for a year, till I was permitted to get my license at 17 and bought my first car shortly after. Before that I walked, bused, and even took a ferry to get to the beaches. Looking back I really didn’t mind, but the car did give me more freedom to go further. I have never been without a car since, until now. After traveling and seeing the world, airplanes terrify me so I stuck to cars, I no longer have the need to travel and enjoy staying close to home. I do enjoy life more this way. I’m glad you enjoy life the way you do. Sure took me a long time to realize how much the car distracted from life.

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  2. I have such a love/hate relationship with my car. Part of me would love to just be free of it – I hate nothing more than driving… but there are times when it’s pretty much essential. Maybe I should do the math and figure out exactly what the trade off would be to have all of the things that are too heavy to carry shipped to my house (like cat litter and cat food.)

    But there are other issues… like getting my cats to the vet. I could switch to a closer vet, but I finally found one I like (which was a challenge.) I could take a taxi, but I dunno…. and what if there’s an emergency and I need to take one of them to the emergency vet in the middle of the night? Or what about getting to the doctor if I’m sick?

    Plus, during the winter months it can be hard to walk/bike everywhere. My knee is just now getting back to normal function after blowing it out 4 years ago… but there were many months there when walking and biking just weren’t possibilities.

    Soooo… at the moment I still have my 22 year old Honda. I’ve only driven about 350 miles all year… and I’m actually trying to drive more to keep the battery from wearing out so quickly. I know it’s a luxury item, and one that I’m probably not making the best use of… but I’m just not quite ready to let it go yet.

    I’m really impressed that you were able to make the leap!

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    1. In some ways I already have the problem of doctors worked out. I always knew there may come a day when my disability could make me unsafe behind a wheel. But because I am disabled, I can get free rides through the Lift program that would take me there. I could pay a small fee, usually $5. per trip to get groceries or go to the mall, like that would happen, I hate the mall.

      For the past few months I’ve been holding on to the car to visit my son who lives 120 miles from me and to have a vehicle if my eldest son were at work and his family needed something. By giving him the car, I solved the issue of what would happen if he had the car at work in an emergency. And by gifting them with the car I can still borrow it every other month for my trips out-of-town.

      I took these past few months to see if there was anything I couldn’t get without a car, and there really isn’t anything that I need. Like you, not driving it enough was damaging the car. I gave serious consideration to winter, then realized other than food I don’t need anything. My DIL usually asks me to go with her every other week. I can make do during that time.

      Maybe you could find someone you could share your vehicle with like I am?

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  3. We have been a single car family for about 8 years now and we are trying to keep it that way. We live in a semi-rural area, so we still need a car. All our neighbours have at least 2 cars, so we probably seem a bit weird to them. My husband cycles to work every day. We use the car to take my daughter to and from sports activities, and for the food shopping mainly, and to visit family.
    I can’t imagine having 2 cars now.

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    1. That’s great that you can live with one car in a semi-rural area. Growing up my grandfather refused to get a second car. If my grandmother wanted to use the car he either walked or rode the bus to work. He thought two cars was being wasteful. Guess his opinions rubbed off on me more than I had realized at the time.

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