Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Move to a Car-Less {or Car-Limited) Life

I'm always a bit hesitant to talk about cars in our household, mostly because I realize what a true dependency is present in our lives. While I love my bicycles and ride whenever possible, vehicles have also been a huge part of my life since the day I earned my driver's license at age 16. I have had a love of cars that has been quite intense, but over the years that love has slowly waned. In our time together (about a decade), we have been a two-car household, but for the first time in our lives we will very soon be a one-car home - by choice.
*Image from
The Brief Back Story...
Both of us have always been car people, and by car people I don't mean that we feel the need to go everywhere in a car, but rather that we've both always been in to cars. We appreciate the looks, the feel, and the speed. Unfortunately, it's difficult to tell someone who is completely in love with the very idea of cars to just give them up, particularly when said person doesn't live in an area with a lot of good public transportation or bicycle infrastructure. Even with our extreme love of getting around by bicycle, it's no easy feat to say adios to the four-wheeled transportation.

Sam grew up with a father as a mechanic and definitely got a lot of skill and aptitude from him (as well as a love for cars). He grew up working on his own vehicle and helping out friends who weren't as blessed with the mechanical gift. He's certainly seen his fair share of cars, and quite honestly, I've probably been the worst influence on him when it comes to new cars - thanks, at least in part, to my obsessive need to check out the latest vehicle on the market. I've been no better having owned nearly a couple dozen cars during the driving portion of my life.

Somewhat recently, I was sucked in by the Fiat 500 commercials (I'm not a huge JLo fan, but that car is adorable and quirky - like me!) and I made it my mission to talk Sam into coming with me to take a test drive. While normally this would start an instant need-to-have obsession that wouldn't stop until purchase of the vehicle, something surprising happened. I didn't love the car, or, at least the idea of the car. Sure it was cute, unique, and fun to drive, and people were staring and smiling as we went down the road, but something clicked in my head. It started with questions about whether or not it was actually functional for me. On a regular basis I have three dogs to haul around, and on top of that, I have large paintings that have to be carted as well. Is this really an appropriate choice for our needs (not my wants)?

The Reality Check...
Beyond functionality of a new vehicle, we have two late-model cars that run perfectly fine. For years now, we've talked about living somewhere that would allow us to live car-free (or at least with only one car that we don't make payments on), and while we're not exactly in that location, we've discussed the very real possibility of selling one of the cars and finally being free of at least a portion of the monthly shackles. Buying a new car is certainly not taking us in that direction. Am I suddenly becoming logical and reasonable? Am I (God forbid) growing up?

This week, we've made contact with a few places to get bids for the purchase of one of the vehicles in our household. The best part about this potential sale is that it's going to eliminate a $390/month car payment, $40/month in insurance, and about $100/month in gas - not to mention car registration costs, maintenance, and so on. This in turn may actually allow me to pursue my dream of working solely as an artist. Once we realized that the costs of this one vehicle would cover the costs of my school loan repayment, how could we not give it up?

A Brighter Future...
While this isn't going to leave us completely car-less (I'm honestly not sure that our location and responsibilities will ever allow us to be completely car-free), it is moving us in a direction that we believe to be much more positive in respect to both our overall health (we'll definitely ride more if a car isn't always at our disposal), and our pocket book (the cost savings of over $500/month is well worth the loss of a car, in my opinion). I know it will take some adjustment for both of us, but I am thrilled to be moving down a path that will actually allow for more freedom. After hearing the local story about the folks who lost their cars, I think the sooner we become less dependent on this machinery, the happier we will be in the long run.

1 comment:

  1. I was big into Mustangs as a younger person. BIG. Anyway, when we first gave up my car and I started riding more we often talked about what car we would eventually replace the lost car with.

    I talked up an older model Jeep Cherokee, my wife leaned more toward another Forester (like our current car) and we've tossed around the idea of getting a newer VW van (or maybe an older one!) but these days instead of talking about what second car we'll get we talk about what we'll do when the '99 Forester with 270k miles on it finally dies.

    We're still talking about replacing a car, but not a SECOND car. I think we've finally moved past the point of believing we will ever need a second car again. It's a very liberating feeling.


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