The Beginning of a Car-Free Life

Car free and loving it.

How I lost 3000 pounds and saved $7000 dollars. I sold my car last week. It was the last big purchase I made in 2006, and the last debt we paid in 2010. For a long time, I loved my car. I thought I deserved a nice, comfortable car.

It was comfortable because ….

  • It was paid for
  • It was nice to be able to “run to the store” anytime
  • I’ve had a car of my own since I was 16
  • It had heated seats
  • Most everyone I know has a car

When I quit my job last year to do work I love, I anticipated working locally, but my business took a completely different direction and now my clients are world-wide. I work by Skype, email, phone and occasional in person meetings. I didn’t really need a car for work anymore, but I kept it just in case.

I kept my very comfortable car just in case, but my very comfortable car started to become uncomfortable when I thought about the true cost of driving the car.

Between gas, maintenance, insurance, registration, inspection and the other special things comfortable cars need, I was spending between $5000 and $7000 a year without a car payment. That is uncomfortable.

I know you might be thinking one of 3 things right now.

  1. Woo Hoo! You did it! So happy for you.
  2. It’s no big deal because your husband has a car.
  3. I could never do that.

Maybe you are thinking some combination of the 3, or something completely different.

To attempt to address your reactions

WooHoo! You did it! So happy for you.
Thank you. Your support means so much and knowing that you show up to read my work and implement positive change in your own life, inspires me to continue to move away from comfortable and into wonderful.

It’s no big deal because your husband and daughter have a car.
While having another car in the family makes things easier in terms of eliminating the “just in case” excuses, I don’t use a car often. My husband needs his car for work. There will be days when I have a medical appointment or the weather is really bad when I drive him to work so I can have a set of wheels. I consider this a great opportunity to live with less and look forward to the challenge.

I could never do that.
I thought the same thing! In fact, in 2010, I wrote about driving less. I wasn’t ready to go car-free then, but the seed had been planted. I had every reason to keep my car. I needed a car for work, the grocery store, meeting friends, driving my daughter places, for my own freedom. Now some of those reasons don’t exist and some of them don’t matter. It took a while to get here, but I’m a firm believer in slow and steady progress over radical change.

My Car-Free Plan

I don’t plan on relying on the other car in my family for transportation on a daily basis, or even a weekly basis. Instead, I am mapping out my local grocery store, library, coffee shop, and other places I can visit on my bike.

Each step I take to simplify my life inspires another. 

I am so excited to burn more calories, reduce my footprint and save thousands of dollars.

My car was comfortable, but I have a feeling that our family will continue to embrace moving from comfortable to wonderful.

Are you car-free? Do you want to be?

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I read this post just hours after having a car accident. Our trusty, beloved Honda Civic hybrid has been our pride and joy. We happily downsized to just one car about 3 years ago since both my husband and I work out of our home and our children are sprung. We don’t live in the heart of a city, but we do live in a small city and are a mile from a shopping center, post office, and bus lines. BUT this was our only car and now we will have a big repair bill and be car-less for about 2 weeks. Aarrgh! Although our situation may not be typical and many people would have a harder time managing on just one car, it has worked for us. Occasionally we will borrow a car from a friendly neighbor who has 2 cars and we return the favor with other neighborly favors. Still, this is not a happy day. I just hope our car is salvageable. Looking for an acceptable, affordable different car is a huge time hog. Time cannot be banked.

    • Courtney Carver says

      I’m so glad you are ok, and hope everyone else is too. What a scary day! Be well and I’ll be hoping you can keep your car!

  2. says

    Ok, I am not car free. My job prevents that, but on my days off I pretend to be. I try to go the whole weekend without crank the car. I take the bike to the gym, the grocery, to the waterfront, and we bike to a restaurant on our weekly dinner date.

    Congrats
    Dan @ ZenPresence

  3. Morghan says

    I sold mine upon moving in to town. Far too much of my money was going towards insurance and fuel when the furthest place from my door was only 1.8 miles. I will be buying another in a few years when I go back to the country, but by then I will have already saved enough to pay for a truck instead of stubbornly holding on to a car that I’m not currently using.

  4. Kate S. says

    My husband and I have one car between us. It seems like a minor adaptation, until you consider that my husband commutes to work and is gone (with the car) 10-12 hours a day. Plus we live in a tiny, rural town–the closest grocery store is a 25-minute drive and it’s a Wal-Mart, any real store is 45-minutes or more. I’ve learned to walk long distances for anything small we might need, how to ride my bike for miles, how to balance groceries and other heavy items on a bike, how to make thorough grocery lists (the kind where you don’t forget anything) and how to grocery shop just twice/month. Friends who still live in the city have marveled that we manage and I tell them, we don’t just manage, we thrive. I’m really, truly happy we have just one car.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Thanks for sharing that very inspiring story with me Kate. I’ll be keeping it in mind on my first bike ride to the grocery store!

    • says

      An inspiring comment, Kate! My wife and I have a car that’s a ’99 and when it goes, we’ll be down to one car. We live in Houston, which is not walker/biker friendly in the least, but it should be far easier than your situation and like you say, you’re thriving!

    • Rufuszulu says

      I used to balance shopping on my bike, but then discovered the joy of trailers. I use a Burley Travoy now and am always looking for an excuse to hitch it up.

      True, it is no small outlay, but I haven’t regretted it

  5. says

    Indeed, not have a car (or having fewer) is a *tremendous* savings of both time and money. Congratulations! :-)

    Me, I don’t just have 1 car, but I have a 2nd as a spare too. Seems like one can’t do anything in the town I live in without going several miles. Of course, if I didn’t have a car, I really wouldn’t need much income at all. Sometimes it feels like I pretty much own cars so I can get to work, to make money to have cars that I just use to get to work…

  6. says

    I want to comment on the house sale you mentioned. We sold our house at the beginning of this year and moved across town into a rented apartment. It was a fantastic move for us. We are saving a ton by renting a smaller place closer to work. We ended up in a fantastic community with close proximity to everything we need. We started walking and biking more often instead of driving. We also freed up a lot of time since we no longer have the home maintenance hassles and also have a shorter commute. We put some of that time to good use by making an effort to get healthier and start focusing on our fitness. It was an all around great move for us, and I’m excited to see that you are considering a similar move.

      • says

        I would love to sell this house. It is a small, two-bedroom townhouse, but there are only two of us. I see Tammy Strobel’s house online and think, I could live in a place that size! A neighbor recently told me she’s moving to a house in Colorado but has to add on a room because “there’s not enough room for all my stuff.” Meanwhile, I’m thinking about how I could live in half the space we currently own. Oh boy, Courtney! Now you really have me thinking – once again! Many thanks.

        • MotherLodeBeth says

          Our place is 400sq ft and we have belonged to the Small House Society for a good six years. I sew, do water colours and even pottery as well. So being ‘small’ doesn’t mean lacking what we love. Love to cook and treasure the Le Creuset, All Clad items I have. Having a great lay out makes it all work. Also helps keep dust catchers out of the place. Also adhere to Audrey Hepburn’s rules per clothes. Select classics in a nice armoire.

  7. says

    Hi. Like others who have posted, my husband and I only have one car as well. We both work outside our home, but staying with one car was really important to us so we moved to an apartment within a 20 minute walk of hubby’s work. We joke that he takes the “shoe-lace express” to work. :)

    We really want to downsize to zero cars, but that won’t be doable until I can work closer to home since work is 80 miles away for me (Yes, 160 miles round trip two to three times a week). Oh well, at least I can fantasize about the zero car lifestyle.

    Best!

  8. Sarah T. says

    We have one car with 4 kids ages 6 and under. The hubs bikes to work most every day. We have to juggle at times logistically, but we don’t see it as a hardship at all. We just do what we do.

  9. says

    After relocating from Montreal to New York, I left my car behind in Montreal. In NY since mass transit is so prevalent that’s what we use to get around and for the moment we don’t own a car here.
    I am now debating the pros/cons of selling my car in Montreal. It’s been paid off for awhile now, but I still pay monthly underground parking fees, registration and insurance to keep a car that I use perhaps a couple days every month. I love the convenience of having my car to move around with, but I could just rent one over there if I absolutely need to. I enjoyed this post and congratulations on selling your car!

  10. says

    Congratulations on a big decision!

    I would love to be totally “car-free” but since I live alone it just isn’t terribly practical. I drive very little – I’m at about 540 miles for the year so far, and basically just use my car for occasional trips to places that are either too far to walk/bike or require the hauling of heavy objects, or that have to be made at night. I’m actually trying to drive a bit more because I’ve been having a devil of a time keeping the battery charged!

    I know it would be possible to go completely car-free, but I’d have to pay to have certain things delivered (like cat litter)… and public transportation is relatively expensive here. Plus, there would be occasional taxi rides for emergencies like today when I had to rush a cat to the vet – I guess that’s the primary reason I would never get rid of it. I recognize that it’s a luxury item, but not one I’m willing to give up at the moment.

    All in all my 22 year old Honda Civic has served me quite well, and I think that the relatively minor expense of owning it is WELL worth the peace of mind. That being said, I’m hoping that this will be the one and only car of my adult life – here’s hoping I can keep her running for another 22 years!

    • says

      Buy a driploader for your battery, then you don’t have to drive unnecessary.
      We have a biketrailer for the heavy stuff we buy in the store and we rent a car when the is no alternative.

      • says

        Thanks for your thoughts Jooost.

        Is a driploader different than a regular battery charger? I have a charger, but you’re not supposed to leave it attached after the battery is charged because it can damage the battery or something like that, so it’s not terribly convenient for topping off the charge.

        I thought about getting a bike trailer, but decided against it because I’d have to haul the heavy load up a VERY steep hill (10% grade) that I can barely get up without a heavy load… plus getting to the store in question would mean crossing two major 6-lane thoroughfares, and riding on some very busy streets with no bike lanes. And after getting hit by a car once, I’ve decided that it’s just not worth the risk.

        Anyhow, since there is no zipcar or other easy means to rent something here, I think that sticking with “car-lite” is what makes the most sense for me at the moment.

  11. CindyP says

    Courtney. I curious what part of the country you live in. I checked and couldn’t find anything about that, though I’m sure I just didn’t look carefully enough.

    Right now it’s 33 degrees and raining where I live. Public transit is just about non-existent and the cab service here is sketchy at best. In another month or so we will have snow that can often be measured in feet and temperatures falling below 20 degrees on a regular basis. Global warming or not, we won’t have bicycle weather here again until April at the very earliest, and that will still be some darned cold biking. Not to mention the fact that it’s dark in the morning when I leave for work and dark again when I come home for the day, traveling through some less than safe neighborhoods.

    Usually when anyone talks about eliminating a car from their life they live somewhere where they have fair weather year round and/or good public transportation. I’m not sure that this is the case in a large part of the country. .

    I don’t mean to sound negative, I love it that you can get by happily without a car, but for many of us it is not realistic.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Cindy, I live in Salt Lake City, UT and there will be many days over the next several months that I can’t ride my bike somewhere. We are outside of the city enough that public transportation will be a challenge, but in all fairness, I haven’t tested it out. Because I don’t need to go somewhere everyday, I think it will be ok.

      I understand that this isn’t right for everyone, and it sounds like a car is a necessity for you (as it was for me for a long time).

      I don’t think your post is negative at all! We are all living different lives and have to do what’s best. For some that means driving everyday, not at all or just a few days a week.

  12. MotherLodeBeth says

    It would be easier to be car free if one lived in or near a city with mass transit, as well as bike lanes. There is NO way I could be car free here in the California Sierras where the nearest grocery store with decent prices and healthy choices is twenty miles away on wild mountain roads. I may go to town once every 2-3 months, that’s how little I drive.

    Applaud anyone who can be car free.

    The car I have is a 2003 Toyota Matrix which we bought new, and has 35k miles on it, which is very low mileage, because I don’t drive much at all. When I do drive to town to shop I go with a list, map out the route so I don’t repeat my path, and as such use less fuel. Having a car is a necessity for me. But used wisely. Cannot even remember when I ever just jumped in the car to go to the store for something I needed. Makes for wiser cooking since I use what I have on hand and make do, much like my elders have done past and present.

    • Courtney Carver says

      So smart Beth! I am not in the city but I’m looking forward to seeing how I do without a car everyday. I think I’ll go out less and make even better choices about what I need from the store. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. says

    Congratulations on going car free! :)

    I’m not car free, but I’m very aware of the considerable amount of money I’m spending with it, and also of the pollution involved in driving…

    In the last few weeks I’ve been thinking of ways to use it less (like using public transportation) – and I’ve started replacing the car, whenever possible. Still, and given that I currently live in a very small village with no services at all, it would be impossible for me to completely let go of it. But in the future I intend to live in a place where going car-free is a feasible option!

    • Courtney Carver says

      That’s great that you are making an effort to research public transportation and look for alternatives to driving everywhere.

  14. says

    we have one car for two adults. technically speaking the car is my husbands. we work near each other and commute to and from work each day together and with a co-worker. i take transit when our schedules don’t mess. we use it to go on errands but i also walk to the grocery, etc. i would like to walk longer distance and transition to biking or using tranist for work. my hubs would like to bike. however, winter is coming and neither of us is a fan of being cold outside…hehe…so we shall see. anyway, great food for thought.

  15. Londa says

    This is just what I needed! I have my car for sale right now and when it goes, I have no plans to replace it. My goal is to become debt free (sooner) and healthier. I live in a small town with little to no public transportation and at times it is -20 in the Winter. My husband, who works from home will keep his car,and I have made plans with my work partner to help cover me when walking isn’t possible. For the most part, my plan is to walk most of the time.

    Many people I’ve shared this with have not been supportive. They have all kinds of excuses why this won’t work. I’m not saying that it will always be convenient and at times I’m going to cry actual tears of frustration but I’m looking forward to the challenge and to having a few (thousands) extra dollars to pay down debt, save, or make improvements on our home.

    To be fair I have several things going for me that will make it easier than it might be for some. 1. We still have one car in the family 2. My kids grown and in college so I’m not having to transport them or myself to their activities. 3. The size of my town makes walking or biking anywhere possible.

    Anyone want to buy a 2006 Jeep Liberty? :)

  16. Morghan says

    I lived out of a backpack for a long time, kinda went overboard when I had the space to store things, upon realizing that I never used any of the junk I had collected I boxed it all up. That’s where a vehicle would come in handy. They’re all just sitting there waiting to be donated.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Many areas have services that will pick up donated items. Or call local churches and see if they need what you have.

    • Courtney Carver says

      You could always challenge yourself to car-free days during the week and build up your cycling skills! You are in a great community of cyclists. ;)

  17. says

    I sold my first and only car when I was 23 and left Australia to go and live in the UK – for a year – 16 years of travelling the world and living in the UK, China and France, I now find myself living in Japan with my husband and my toddler daughter…and still no car. I don’t even have a licence anymore. Sure – sometimes I have to ask for a lift, and sometimes, I ask my friends to come to me when I go home to Sydney as Sydney is a very PT and bike unfriendly city and sometimes, we borrow my FIL’s car when we want to go away for the weekend, but other than that, we survive perfectly well without one. Tokyo has a great transport system and I recently got a beautiful red bike with a child seat on the back ( a bit daunting, considering the very precious almost two year old cargo on the back!) and am loving it. I don’t miss having to wash it, insure it, park it or any of those other car-related hassles. Hooray for car-free.

  18. says

    Congrats on your transition to being car-free! I do wonder, though, why you chose to sell the newest car rather than one of the older cars. It seems like the decreased repair costs of a newer car (by virtue of fewer things breaking) would be a significant savings. Admittedly, they’d be offset by the higher cost of insuring a new vehicle, but insurance costs would drop every year as the car ages. Was there some other factor in your thinking that I’m unaware of?

    My wife and I have one car, and except for a few months have gotten by with only one for the entire duration of our marriage (20+ years now). We’ve discussed the possibility of going car-free, but given the necessity of taking our special-needs kids to frequent medical appointments, it’s just not in the cards right now. But, I do try to lighten our car use as much as possible by walking when I can. our daughter is 17 and still doesn’t drive – she’s mastered the local transit system and just hops a bus to go wherever she wants to go.

    • MotherLodeBeth says

      Like Jason I was curious why someone would sell a newer, more fuel efficient vehicle since that would seem to save money in the long run. Unless its a smaller 1960’s car with fewer electronic things to go bad.

    • Courtney Carver says

      My car was really expensive in terms of maintenance even though it was newer AND with the sale we were able to almost max our emergency fund so if we have issues with the other vehicles, it won’t be a big deal.

  19. Linda Long says

    I live in the city and a car would be a pain to find somewhere to park. Luv being care-free, I mean car free.

  20. Rebecca L. says

    That is awesome. My family is currently car lite as in we have only one car for 3 people. When my husband needed is own transportation to work and I needed the car for errands and Dr. appointments I pushed him into getting a motorcycle.

    The reason I pushed him into a motorcycle was because I really did not want us to have yet another car, and the expense of owning a car. Plus where we live we had experimented with not using our car but, instead bicycles and public transport for longer trips. Our town to say the least is not very friendly towards bicyclists. Of course this maybe due to the fact that many do not follow traffic rules.

    Have you read Divorce Your Car? Sorry the authors name escapes me. Also have you read How to live Well Without Owning a Car? Again the authors name escapes me. These are books I read that really made me want to just get rid of my car until I found out I was pregnant. Some day I will no longer have my car it is a goal.

  21. Sharon says

    We live in a small rural town in northern Alberta, so going completely car free isn’t really a viable option for us. Having said that we hardly use our car at all. We both work in the “down town” area and walk to work. We also tend to pick up small bags of groceries that can be carried home, rather than getting a huge load all at once. We walk everywhere and when the ground isn’t covered with snow and ice have a really nifty bag on wheels that we use for shopping. Actually if we had a car rental agency here we might consider going car free. We would simply rent a car for a day on the occasions we have to go into the city. It would be waaaay cheaper than running our own.

  22. says

    I’ve been considering going officially car-free; just recently it was concluded that my car (my first and only) is no longer safe to drive, and the repairs will be way more than the car is worth. Right now I’m car free because I can’t afford another car, but I’m seriously considering staying car free.

  23. Morghan says

    Newer cars have always been more expensive for me. They get better mileage, but cars that are newer than the 60s seem to have been designed to fail.

    My old Chevy had one problem the entire time I owned it, my new car never didn’t have something wrong with it. Of course a SS Nova gets 12MPG if you’re gentle on the pedal, so maybe doubling that makes up for always needing to fix something on it.

  24. says

    I too went car free as of this spring. It was a natural progression from moving to a small apartment (300 sq ft) in the middle of everything my small town has to offer. The furthest anything is from me is 2.5 miles. I love the freedom that came from not having a car and the amazing people I have met while out and about. It also helps my grand kids who enjoy walking everywhere. They are curious and enjoy seeing what new things we will find on our walks, things you totally miss from inside a speeding car.

  25. says

    Congratulations on getting rid of expense and maxing out your emergency fund! Way to go!

    We are a household of 6. Two parents and 4 daughters. Of that number, we have 4 drivers, and we own two cars. Of those 4 drivers, 3 have regular jobs which have irregular hours. I’m the driver without a (paying) job who makes sure everyone gets where they need to go when they need to be there. One of our drivers is soon to add another part time job to her schedule, and the another one will begin classes at the local college again in January in addition to the work she does now. This is merely a season in our lives when our grown daughters still live at home and we provide nearly everything for them. Since they are both working, they have begun to pay for their fuel, which helps our budget greatly.

    Going car-free isn’t even close to an option right now, but we have discussed solutions to needing more than we have. My husband has considered riding his bike to work (as many of your readers’ comments here suggest), and may have to do that soon, but it would significantly change his ability to do things like coming home for lunch because of the time it would take him to get here and then return (the bike ride would be about 25 minutes instead of the 8 it takes him to drive).

    Lots of things to think about, right? What complicates life right now, and what simplifies it? That’s really the question. Thanks for sharing the varying answers that are working for you along this Journey, Courtney.

  26. Shar says

    I loved being able to walk to everything or take public transportation if needed while in Italy. What are the most pedestrian friendly places in the US?

  27. Charmaine says

    Congrats on your decision! We are a car-free family of four and though it isn’t always easy it has been a good decision for us. We may decide to go ‘car-lite’ at some point (though is some ways I guess we are already that now since we do rent cars fairly frequently) but for now we are happy without the hassle of a car. I’m 37 and have only owned a car for 2 years of my life. :)

    • Charmaine says

      Just to clarify – my parents owned a car so I had one growing up (though I didn’t own it myself!) – I’ve only had a car for 2 years of my adult life! ;)

  28. says

    I’ve been relying on my bike for about 6 months now as my main source of transportation. Not looking forward to the snow though.
    If anyone has any tips for being car free in the (Canadian) winter I’d love to hear them.

    • says

      Studded bike tires? Seriously, they do exist.

      Actually, I have lived in both Norway and Colorado, and of the two Norway was a MUCH easier place to bike in the winter time. In Colorado, while we do get plenty of snow, it doesn’t stick around all winter like it does in Norway. This is great in general, but it also means that there are lots of days of melting snow, slippery ice, and plowed streets with enormous piles of snow to navigate. In Norway, though, once the snow falls it’s there until spring. So they don’t plow, they pack the snow – and packed snow is actually very easy to ride on.

      Not sure how that translates when it comes to riding advice except that if you can find a way to ride on snowpack you’re good to go!

    • Charmaine says

      Where in Canada are you? I’m in Halifax, so we don’t get heaps of snow, but instead have the fun of snow, slush, ice, rain, mess, etc. Though our winter last year was such a non-event – rather hoping for the same again this year! Make sure you have good outerwear. We don’t bike, so I can’t offer advice in that way. We walk or bus or rent cars as needed. (At the moment we can rent a car for the weekend for $25 so we do that once a month to get out of the city and also to run errands that are a pain without a car.)Do you have a car share service near you? That can help for one-off errands. My husband walks the two miles to and from work every day and enjoys how he often goes faster than cars, especially in the winter when the roads are a mess! Of course that also means the sidewalks are a mess! :)

    • Carrie says

      My husband and I both bike to work year round, although we live in Vancouver so the weather issue is usually rain or freezing rain and not snow [if it actually does snow I take the bus]. The key has been to spend the money to get the right clothing: gortex jackets (brightly coloured and reflective), gortex booties, biking rain pants, headband to keep the ears warm, and liner gloves inside of waterproof winter mitts [for me, my hands are always freezing]. As long as you are not only biking downhill, you will produce more body heat than you would just walking outside, so you don’t need as much warm clothing. This site [http://www.greenlivingonline.com/article/winter-biking-basics] seems to have some good information. Make sure you are visible with lots of blinking lights!

  29. PurplwPrussia says

    I have been without a car, and have been riding a scooter for over two years now. It is a small 49 cc, so it doesn’t have to be registered where I live. I love the freedom of riding, but i love spending less on gas even more 😃 It’s the best decision I have ever made!

  30. Julie Nicholson says

    Out of my 42 years on this earth, I have had access to a car for 4 of them. My parents never drove, so I was used to going shopping on foot or by bus. When I was 18 I worked on the other side of town which meant several buses. That’s when I bought a car. After 4 years in the world of banking I had had enough, and sold my car and moved abroad for a year. Since then I have never had a car. My husband was brought up in a car household, and when he was a youth also owned a car for a few short years. He isn’t interested in owning a car either. We are in Edinburgh, Scotland by the way!

    When we had a baby various people offered us a car for free. But although I was tempted, we never took them up on their offer. Occasionally when I’ve borrowed a car from a friend something would go wrong like the exhaust falling off, breaking down, tyre problems, windscreen wipers… all in all I found looking after a car (especially if it was not my own) very stressful!

    We can get heavy shopping delivered by the supermarket, or I can go out with my pull along shopping trolley and carry a load of stuff home. We travel by bus or train (sometimes cycle). Sometimes there are things we can’t do because we don’t have a car, but that’s life!

  31. says

    I have been carfree for 18 years after being a car owner for ten years or so. I live Sydney Australia and have access to good public transport. I love not spending money on running costs and maintenance, and I love not spending time on cleaning the car. I like not having to think about oil and air-pressure and other things I don’t understand. I get a taxi if I really need to and people are shocked because its “so expensive”. I have to laugh because most people spend more on car insurance alone than I would on taxis. I think I am still well ahead financially.

    • MotherLodeBeth says

      With gas and insurance I spend around $50 a month. $50 would get me one taxi ride to the nearest grocery store , or one ride to the bigger grocery store. That’s all. Sadly, rural and even suburban folks often spend dearly if they take a taxi. I do a lot of volunteer work which requires me to drive at least nine miles one way and you take your life in your hands here in the Sierras if you ride a bike on mountain roads.

  32. says

    I don’t have a car or drive. I have never even gone for my drivers licence. And, I manage to run a successful green cleaning business. Peddle power is all I need.

    My partner has a car. It spends easily 98% of the month (literally; it’s driven less than 7 hours per month) in a secure garage that we pay to use. Then there is the car loan, fuel, tyres, servicing, registration, insurance… and the list goes on. My partner rides or walks to work and we only use the car for the odd weekend drive–which we could easily change; we only go on them because the car is there.

    I’m trying to convince my partner to get rid of it but he is adamant that it is useful. Which it is, but only because it is there. The city in which I life has a decent car-share (GoGet) network so it’s not like we’d ever be without access to a car if we really needed one. Further, if we want to go on a longer road trip–there’s a Hertz, Budget and Avis office all within walking distance.

    Wish me luck.

  33. Daniela says

    I had to smile when I read your post today. I never owned a car myself – living in European cities I used my bike and public transport, sometimes rented one for the weekend and trips to the swedish furniture company and sometimes rode with a friend. I do like nice cars and when I rented one I picked the nice ones, but I never had any interest (and need) to own one. When I moved to Sydney, my then boyfriend, now husband had already a car, and we managed well with one. As we moved to Germany last year we sold our car and decided not to buy a new one. And it works well: we life in the city so my husband uses public transport to commute to work. If the weather permits I do everything by bike – I have one of these huge holland bikes with a basket in the front big enough for a crate of water/drinks (yes, people do look when the basket is full ;-)) and when the weather isn’t that nice (which is more often the case then I like) I also use public transport. We rent a car approx every 4 to 6 weeks for weekend trips and big shoppings trips to the supermarket – they are not the nice ones anymore, but more the practical station wagon.
    What helps is: planning family meals for a week and writing grocery lists for my weekly trip by bike to the market and grocery store, align trips to be more efficient and a good rain coat just in case :-)

    • Daniela says

      Oh, and yes, I also bike in the winter, when it snows! It’s actually really nice, as the snow softens every sound and less people occupy the bike lane ;-). in that case, good gloves, scarf and a blanket for my daughter in her seat replace the raincoat :-)

  34. says

    What an exciting, fantastic change! I was car free when I lived in Westchester County (NY)…well, my ex and I were a 1-car family, and I used public transportation a lot. I’d like to move closer to my job to enable me to walk or bike to work, but I am not sure that will happen. I do think about getting rid of our second car, though. N takes the bus to work, and unless he has to drive in to attend union meetings, the second car just sits in a commuter lot all day. Maybe this is the year we figure out a better way! You inspire, as always!

  35. says

    I have been car-free for 18 months. We have one car (my husband uses it for work) that is 12 years old with 180,000 miles. We are fortunate to live in a small city in northern New England where I can walk or bike to go banking, see friends, etc., and I work from home. Once a week I do use the family car if I need to go out of town or to run errands quickly. But for the most part we share the car. I have found it is less of a burden (financially) to own just one car. Congratulations on making the leap!

  36. Meghan says

    Congratulations! My husband and I began our car-free life almost 1 year ago, and we have never looked back! Tammy Strobel’s book was a huge inspiration and we read it several times before taking the plunge. We love being able to bike everywhere and when that is not an option, public transit and car sharing is usually available. I cannot begin to describe the wonderful feeling it is to be car free and wish you the best of luck with your transition!

    PS. We love being car free so much we just recently bought a tandem bike and it is a blast! :)

  37. rebecca says

    Love this idea! We’re in a rural mountain town so walking/biking aren’t an options many months of the year. Hey, what about a post on being “Car Lite”? Strategies for reducing car use when a car is still a must?

  38. says

    Wow, there’s so much curiosity about this idea! I had to smile several times when you talked about how uncomfortable the cost of having two cars is. I live a good 20 minutes, more than 10 miles, from the closest store. I couldn’t and wouldn’t bike that far because the journey would actually be dangerous on the small roads here. But, I could consider returning to sharing a car with my husband. You’ve got me thinking…

  39. Nikki says

    We are a family of nine and have been car free for three years. We bike or walk everywhere. It is two and a half miles to the store and three miles to work. We live in a small town so there isn’t much public transportation. The only thing that is difficult is going out of town. On the few occasions we have needed to we have rented a car. It can be done and you will get in better shape. Hiking and walking also puts you in a better mood and makes you more aware of the world around you. Have fun on your new adventure.

  40. Susan says

    Congratulations. Courtney, to you on selling your car and finding alternative ways to get from point A to point B. Living in Montana, 78 miles from the nearest large city with the mandatory Costco and Target, etc….I don’t see myself giving up my trusty Subaru Forester EVER. I would rather sell my limited edition Coach Elisa bag OR have a vital organ removed (spleen or appendix) than live without my car. I shall think of other ways to cut back on spending. Long solitary drives are when I do my most creative thinking. LONG LIVE MY BABY ROO!!

  41. says

    My fiance and I are hoping to drop down to one car.

    I didn’t get my first car until I was in my early thirties, as I had a motorbike for a few years and used public transport for a long time.

    I’m now only 35 and can’t believe how attached I became to the car lifestyle in a short time, but at the same I can’t wait to step back down.

    I will be sharing my fiances little car and getting rid of my big beast. Sometime early next year.

    I can’t wait!

  42. Dustin Guy says

    This was great to read. I’m always happy to hear about someone making this choice and enjoying it’s benefits. My wife and I are car-free and have a 2 month old daughter here in Seattle. I’ve been biking to work for the past 15 years. Between public transportation, delivery services, and a walkable community, it’s really easier to live car-free (or even car-light) than some might think. Enjoy the extra savings, exercise, and simplicity!

  43. Daniela says

    After reading all the posts, I have a question for those who are care free: how to you explain it to others? I always get a very surprised/bizare look when I say we don’t own a car, and then feel as if I have to justify this. Which is something I don’t like.

  44. Courtney Carver says

    Thanks for your wonderful support and inspiration. Your stories will help other readers considering a car-free life or other big changes. I love that we are all in this together. xoxo

  45. MotherLodeBeth says

    Am interested in hearing from folks who have a serious medical issue who are also car free. Having a child who often has to be taken to the ER, not having a car would be hard, and would cost us a lot of money per ambulance or alas taxi to the hospital 12 miles away.

    And if you live in an area where the temps are 100+ in the summer and snow four feet and more in the winter how do you handle bike riding, walking to places?

    • Jenny says

      I live in a place with mild winters, so I can’t offer suggestions about excessive snow, but the summers here are not only HOT like yours; they’re also extremely humid, which means I’m sweaty as soon as I step outside. I walk to work most days (3 miles each way), and I’ve developed a few strategies for dealing with the heat (& sweat!).

      1) Walk early in the morning if you have a flexible schedule; even 10 degrees cooler feels a lot better than peak heat.
      2) Always, always, always carry water with you, especially if you’ll be climbing a hill! I climb a long, steep hill on my way home from work, and I’ve skipped carrying water twice during the summer. Both times, I nearly fainted on the side of the road. It’s simply not safe to skip the water.
      3) Carry a small washcloth or rag, too. When you arrive at your destination, run it under cold water in the bathroom sink, wring it out, and put it on the back of your neck. You can do this with a paper towel, too, if you forget the washcloth. It’s my favorite trick for cooling down fast!
      4) Bring a change of clothes, especially if you need look more professional. Don’t forget dry underclothes! I usually wear a tank top, yoga pants, and barefoot (aka lightweight) athletic shoes to and from work, and change into a casual skirt, lightweight top, and flats at work. I can fit the full change (including a fresh bra & underwear) in a cloth grocery bag or large purse.
      5) Every now and then I’ll just plan to shower at the gym near work, but I’ve found that it’s usually more hassle than it’s worth because I don’t have a locker for storing a towel/shampoo/etc.

      Regarding the hospital issue — I think your two best options are to either move within walking distance of the hospital or just keep the car! Like Courtney said, reducing a car just isn’t feasible in some situations. I’m not terribly creative, though, so perhaps others will have better ideas for you. :-)

  46. Don says

    Hey you Guy’s are soon cool I’m 71 and thinking about it your right on track who cares about what other people think,just live your life the way you want at the end of it all that’s all that matters good luck

  47. says

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, but just wanted to let you know I’m in the ‘woo hoo!’ camp, Courtney, and want to affirm your choice to let go of the car.

    For two years of my life, about ten years ago, I made a conscious decision to go car-free when I lived in a small town in Western Massachusetts where everything was very walkable. And there were good bus lines to other towns.

    There were certainly challenges during those two years, but the benefits far outweighed the challenges. I got in great shape, I met a lot more people, and I saved enough money to make huge progress on paying down a big credit card debt I had back in those days.

    The fitness and the finance part of being car-free are kind of obvious, but I think we often don’t realize how socially isolated we can become when we depend on our cars. We usually only come in contact with people in our families, in our workplaces, and select friends. During my car-free years, I loved meeting people who lived in my surrounding neighborhoods, hanging out in nearby parks and having conversations with parents and kids there, and talking to some very interesting older folks who took the bus. I met a whole cross-section of people I wouldn’t have otherwise had contact with, and I felt much more a part of my community.

    Going car-free was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. At some point I will write more about it, but until then I wish you well in your new adventure!

  48. says

    Congrats, Courtney, on choosing to be car-free! :):) I have been car-free for 5 years now. I live in the Washington, DC area, and bicycle to work everyday, and there’s also the option of bus, subway, Zipcar, Enterprise Rentals, Megabus, Amtrak, and planes to go places. It sometimes takes a little logistical planning, but it is do-able in this area. I saved up enough money to purchase a house earlier this year – – something I thought would never happen! People sometimes have a hard time understanding why I prefer to be car-free, and they wonder how in the world I do it, because they can’t imagine life without a car. There are many good things about it and it’s not as hard as you might think.

  49. says

    I sold my car before my 20-month travel sabbatical in Latin America. When I came back to Columbus, Ohio this past summer, I decided I did not want to be burdened by the costs of having a car, especially since I live near downtown and enjoy riding my bike. The past two months have certainly been a challenge though. Every time something goes wrong (let’s say… the pedal falls off my bike halfway to work), my friends respond by saying, “You should get a car.” Every time I hear that, I am more determined to live car-free.

  50. says

    I became basically car-free when we moved to Pittsburgh. We do still have one vehicle, but my husband uses it for work everyday. I have ALWAYS wanted to be car-free, so I’m pretty excited that the only time I drive now is to take the laundry to the laundromat once a week (haven’t figured out how to do that without a car yet.)

  51. Londa says

    It’s SOLD! I drove my Jeep Liberty last night for the last time. I had a Jackson Browne “Car Concert”, it was bittersweet. The kid who bought it is in love with it, seems like an emotional purchase for him and it’s an emotional sale for me. Happiness all around. Wish me luck on this!

  52. Jim says

    The fastest way to give up your dependence to the automobile is to surrender your drivers license due to a chronic illness and never miss it. Living in a largest metropolitan city in the U.S. and working from home helps too.

  53. says

    We have never owned a car in our nearly eight years of marriage. We have two children. We live in Salt Lake City (well, west valley right now, but hoping to move back into the millcreek/sugarhouse/downtown areas soon). We get by quite well most of the time. There are the occasional snags, but overall it has worked out quite well for us. I credit not having a car with being able to make it two years unemployed (what a cost savings not to have a car!). Most of my friends and family don’t get it, and talk about how they could never give up their cars because they need them for work… try telling them to move closer to work, or to bike, but they don’t want to give up the convenience. Not having a car allows my family to survive on one low income, and allows me to pursue my interests that aren’t so lucrative and be with my children more. I’m happy this way.

  54. Jim says

    A car, it’s a convenience. My wife and I don’t use a car to commute but it is nice to go to a supermarket of your choice and buy what you need without worrying how you’re going to get it home. A vacation, well it’s nice to have a way to get there without renting a car. The car is 16 year old former company car so it was free, insurance is cheap and I do my own repairs. I would never consider a new car with a loan or the high insurance. How I justify having a car, I could care less about the latest thing but I’ll hold on to my car for now. I’ll buy another beater when the time comes and I’ll save money in other parts of my life.

  55. says

    I sold my car about 4 years ago. My motivation was wanting to do things that I couldn’t afford to do as a single woman with a house payment. I wanted to travel and I wanted to be able to quit my soul-sucking job and start a new life doing something I loved. Living without a car has enabled me to do all of those things. It’s an adjustment and truth be told, there are days that I miss having a car. But overall – it has been the best choice for me and I wouldn’t go back.

  56. Karin says

    I’ve always tried to use a car as little as possible, since the 70s when I got my drivers license. It never felt right to blow stinking fumes toward the beautiful sky. So I rode Vespas and caught buses, I hitch-hiked and took trains. Until I lived out in the country and had two children, a few cats, quite a bit of shopping to do and appointments to make. Now my daughters are grown up and I am really enjoying a life-style which gets simpler and simpler, without a car for one year now. What a relieve! I work at home, ptivate teaching and delivering newspapers by bicycle or on foot in the mornings. And I don’t have to worry about insurance or unexpected costs for car repairs. The really good thing nowadays is, of course, online-shopping.

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